19/07/2010. Contributed by Jessica Martin
The Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic is a prized and juried award that is presented annually.
Named after the debut novel by the late Phyllis Gotlieb, one of the first published authors of contemporary Canadian speculative fiction, the award consists of a cash prize of $1,000 and a hand-crafted medallion, which incorporates the "Sunburst" logo, designed by Marcel Gagné. Winners will be announced in the fall of 2010.
The short-listed works in the adult category for the 2010 Sunburst Award are:
Charles de Lint, The Mystery of Grace (Tor, ISBN: 0765317567)
A.M. Dellamonica, Indigo Springs (Tor, ISBN: 0765319470)
Cory Doctorow, Makers (Tor, ISBN: 0765312794) Karl Schroeder, The Sunless Countries (Tor, ISBN: 0765320762)
Robert Charles Wilson, Julian Comstock (Tor, ISBN: 0765319713)
The short-listed works in the young adult category for the 2010 Sunburst Award are:
Megan Crewe, Give Up the Ghost (Henry Holt, ISBN: 0805089306)
Maureen Garvie, Amy By Any Other Name (Key Porter, ISBN: 1554701422) Hiromi Goto, Half World (Penguin, ISBN: 0670069655) Lesley Livingston, Wondrous Strange (HarperTeen, ISBN: 0061575372)
Arthur Slade, The Hunchback Assignment (HarperCollins, ISBN: 1554683548)
The jurors for the 2010 award are Don Bassingthwaite, Gemma Files, Susie Moloney, Ursula Pflug and Ed Willett.
On the books, the Sunburst jury commented,
The Mystery of Grace by Charles de Lint: “On Halloween, artist John Burns meets heavily tattooed garage mechanic Altigracia (‘Grace’) Quintero, and they bond over a shared love of rockabilly music. The two fall into bed and subsequently into love, but the relationship is complicated by the fact that Grace has been dead for two weeks already and may be forever trapped forever inside the neighbourhood she occupied during life.
“Like most de Lint, this book is beautifully written and existentially sad, full of sensual detail and offhand magic; it also has equally interesting things to say about free will, ‘fate’ and the transformative nature of grief. And though the mysteries of Grace are many, de Lint’s talent remains undeniable.”
Indigo Springs by A.M. Dellamonica: “When Astrid returns to the town of Indigo Springs and to the house she has inherited from her father, accompanied by Sahara, the girlfriend she has a crush on, and Jake, her platonic buddy who has a crush on her, she finds that, far from being the dissipated drunk the town thought him, her father was a crafter of magical objects called 'chantments,’ using the power of the mysterious spring of blue waters beneath the house. When Astrid and Sahara learn to use the power for themselves, they discover the magic is both addictive and transformative. As their power grows, their experiments escalate into an ecological crisis ... and open an unbridgeable chasm between them.
“Original, passionate, lyrical and powerful, entertaining and terrifying at once, Dellamonica’s debut novel examines how both good intentions and good people can be overthrown by the temptations of power.”
Makers by Cory Doctorow: “A busy, optimistic, science-exciting, reality-scary story in a near-future time when a meritocracy is the last resort of a world that badly needs fixing. Enter two inventors and DIYers, Lester and Perry, and their bio-blogger, Andrea Fleeks, who documents their rise and fall. While the novel is probably tailor-made for this generation of multi-screen viewers, the pace is sometimes exhausting, but good-exhausting, like the interactive fair rides which figure so prominently. As a comically dystopian view of the near future, it isn’t that far off the mark, and unfortunately is a bit on-the-nose as the world weighs in with fix-it suggestions on the BP leak in the Gulf. As a novel, it rocks: Doctorow at his breathless, peripherally viewed best, half-mocking, half-predicting the pop culture future with Fatkins and modified Elmo dolls. Using left-behind technology to create something new and better is an excellent model for this sadly limping globe.”
The Sunless Countries by Karl Schroeder: “The Sunless Countries returns to the vast world of Virga, a weightless balloon world where heat and light are provided by man-made fusion micro-suns. Here, Schroeder explores the dark regions of Virga. Far from the nearest sun, history tutor Leal hears a vast voice in the darkness and finds that, in the face of ignorance and willful self-interest, she is the only one willing to listen and respond.
“Immediately captivating, this is equal parts great world-building and strong characterization. Wonderfully original settings and visual detail light up this richly imagined world. Leal, her friends and her enemies are vividly drawn and sympathetic. Particularly impressive is Schroeder’s ability to make this, the fourth book in the Virga series, as accessible to readers as the first.”
Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America by Robert Charles Wilson: “Julian Comstock’s plot, about friendships between boys from disparate backgrounds, tested and strengthened in battle, is an old one—altered, but not substantially, by one of them being gay. Wilson bravely brings back a pre-Internet writing style in homage to his Victorian forebears, including Mark Twain; this is particularly apt due to the novel’s post-oil-crash setting of horse-drawn carriages and steam trains. In Julian and Adam, Wilson creates fully-fledged human beings we learn to care about deeply, right through to the heart-wrenching ending. The loyal Sam and plucky Calyxa are also charmingly drawn, as are the detailed sketches of town and country life in this back-to-the-future neo-feudal society.”
Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe: “The first Cass knew of her mysterious ability to see an converse with ghosts was when she found the spirit of her just-drowned sister Penny weeping on her bed because her parents couldn’t sense her presence. Since then, Cass has come to prefer ghosts to 'breathers.' Betrayed and bullied by her best friend in junior high, she has carved a niche in high school by using her ghostly friends as spies to uncover the most intimate and embarrassing secrets of students and teachers alike. But her shell begins to crumble when she agrees to help Tim communicate with his dead mother ... and discovers that maybe the world of the living has more to offer than she’s believed for a very long time.
“A story which seems at first to be simply a novel of wish-fulfillment for anyone who was bullied in school, Give Up the Ghost soon reveals unexpected depths of emotion and characterization that make it stand head and shoulders above the run-of-the-mill school-based YA fantasy.”
Amy by Any Other Name by Maureen Garvie: “Seemingly, Amy by Any Other Name is a fantasy tale about two girls who switch bodies after nearly deadly traumas—walking in front of a truck and jumping into the wrong end of a quarry—and one girl’s attempt to get her body and life back. Garvie nicely takes the story a step further by illustrating how closely we associate our identity with our physical selves, not just how we look, but what we’ve used our bodies for. Amy and Krystal have very different lives, and once the body-switch is made, it is Amy, well-fed, well-raised, well-liked, strong, confident and talented, who takes the biggest hit. Armed with every advantage before the switch, she manages to use those advantages against all odds, recreating herself in Krystal’s body.
“As a YA novel, Amy by Any Other Name rises above the typical peer-pressure-boys-and-clothes of so many of its kind, and deals with messier issues of who we are and want to be. A lovely, thoughtful novel without pat endings or clear heroes.”
Half World by Hiromi Goto: “After her mother suddenly disappears, unpopular oddball Melanie Tamaki accidentally discovers that she is a refugee from Half World, a Boschian third dimension between the worlds of Spirit and Flesh where dead people work out their karmic issues through chaos and entropy. Beyond the hypnagogic wonders of the Half World setting and the clever yet unobtrusive cosmology of its concept, this is a mother-daughter story, a fact which of itself sets the novel apart, for few such are written. Most YA novels focus on peer relationships; Half World does too, but Melanie's best friend is a shape-shifting jade rat pendant.
“Goto's style is gruesome rather than gory; neither horror nor dark fantasy but entirely original and unclassifiable. Richly imagined phantasmagoric scenes decorate every iridescent page. Goto’s stylish incendiary prose lifts Half World above the YA category; this novel crosses age boundaries and could just as easily be categorized as a book for adults.”
Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston: “After being unexpectedly cast as Titania in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 17-year-old Kelley discovers there’s a fairy gate in New York’s Central Park, guarded by hot young changeling Sonny, whom she naturally falls for after a dicey incident with a kelpie. She soon finds herself amidst a dangerous political game among various fairy factions.
“Livingston's style is light and frothy. She succeeds in walking a line between seduction and scares. A soufflé of a book.”
The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade: “Gifted with the ability to temporarily change his appearance, young hunchback Modo has been raised as a secret agent. Sent out into the world on his first assignment, he is plunged into a dastardly plot that threatens both Victorian London and its children.
“The Hunchback Assignments is a great, roaring adventure of a steampunk story set in a world that’s well-imagined, intriguingly familiar yet immediately identifiable. Slade’s writing is direct and efficient, his characters well-sketched and likeable; readers will immediately connect with heroes who are independent and smart (yet flawed enough to be sympathetic), and with villains who are hateable yet also fascinating. Fun, fast-paced, and engaging.”
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