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The OUSFG Award 2008/9 Short List

Back in my student days, I was a member of (indeed, President of) OUSFG, the Oxford University Speculative Fiction Group, a gathering of aficionados of fanciful media of all sorts. I very rarely feel any form of attachment to abstract entities - be they schools, political parties, companies or countries - nevertheless OUSFG earned that loyalty while I was a student and, once earned, my fealty is indefatigable. Now that I am elderly I rarely attend meetings lest I drive off the current generation of students; I fear my haggard features and tales of the ancient past would 'harsh' the 'vibe' as these youngsters would no doubt have it. I therefore find it all the more flattering when I'm ask to run the occasional meeting, and thus both pride and honour demand that I accept.

This term, my task was to help compile a short-list for the OUSFG Award. The aim of this award is to pick the best paperback speculative fiction book published in the previous year. The intent is to give OUSFG members a forum for recommending new fiction to each other, debating its merits, and sharing reading experiences. In this sense, it is much like any other book award and, as with any book award, the winning author reaps the benefits in terms of sales: they are awarded with a copy of the winning book signed by the OUSFG committee.

Our goal was to whittle the long list (loosely, every book eligible, minus spinoffery and other dross) down to a short list of five or six, with the hope that everyone would do their best to develop something approaching an informed opinion on these by next term, when we intend to have a proper discussion followed by a needlessly complicated vote to determine the winner. No-one could reasonably be expected to have read all 70-something of the long list, though, so for this meeting we had to make our picks using other methods: personal experience, hearsay and/or knee-jerk prejudice. As I thought this through before the meeting, it occurred to me that internet acquaintances have already perfected the ideal voting method for making such snap decisions: the GOOD/BAD poll. So, with a bit of tweaking, I produced one in Excel, printed it out onto an A3 sheet and passed it around for completion at the end of the meeting.

Those who bothered to turn up have thus already made their decision, and it's final, but I thought it would be interesting to see what the result would have been if instead made by those who've bothered to read this far and can furthermore be bothered to skim through a huge-ass poll making arbitrary judgements on a shed-load of books. Therefore without further ado (except a reminder that you can skip books on which you can muster no opinion, which is what we did on the night) I present:
Poll #1358514 The OUSFG Award - You should have been there edition

Air Apparent (Xanth Novels) by Piers Anthony (30 Sep 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
4(100.0%)

Of Fire and Night (Saga of Seven Suns) by Kevin J., Anderson (Nov 2007)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
4(100.0%)

Metal Swarm (Saga of Seven Suns) by Kevin J. Anderson (Jun 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
4(100.0%)

Harm by Brian Aldiss (21 Aug 2008)

GOOD!
2(66.7%)
BAD!
1(33.3%)

The H-bomb Girl by Stephen Baxter (1 May 2008)

GOOD!
1(33.3%)
BAD!
2(66.7%)

The Elves of Cintra (Genesis of Shannara) by Terry Brooks (29 Jul 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
5(100.0%)

Now and Forever; Somewhere A Band is Playing & Leviathan '99 by Ray Bradbury (1 Jul 2008)

GOOD!
1(33.3%)
BAD!
2(66.7%)

The Door Through Space by Marion Zimmer Bradley (26 Oct 2007)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
4(100.0%)

God Is Dead by Ron Currie (1 Aug 2008)

GOOD!
2(66.7%)
BAD!
1(33.3%)

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (3 Mar 2008)

GOOD!
4(100.0%)
BAD!
0(0.0%)

Antagonist (Childe Cycle) by Gordon R. Dickson and David W. Wixon (4 Mar 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

The Bonehunters (Malazan Book of the Fallen) by Steven Erikson (Jul 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen) by Steven Erikson (12 Feb 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

Murder in Lamut (Legends of the Riftwar) by Raymond E. Feist and Joel Rosenberg (Jul 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
4(100.0%)

Trouble Magnet (Pip and Flinx Novels) by Alan Dean Foster (18 Jul 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

Exceptions to Reality by Alan Dean Foster (1 Jul 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

Lost and Found by Alan Dean Foster (18 Jul 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

Patrimomy by Alan Dean Foster (1 Sep 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

PAX BRITTANIA: LEVIATHAN RISING (Pax Britannia) by Jonathan Green (15 Mar 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

Jumper by Steven Gould (5 Feb 2008)

GOOD!
1(33.3%)
BAD!
2(66.7%)

The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall (3 April 2008)

GOOD!
2(66.7%)
BAD!
1(33.3%)

Sidney's Comet by Brian Herbert (25 April 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

The Race for God by Brian Herbert (30 Nov 2007)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

Forest Mage (Soldier Son Trilogy) by Robin Hobb (Dec 2007)

GOOD!
1(33.3%)
BAD!
2(66.7%)

The Dreaming Void (Void Trilogy) by Peter F. Hamilton (2 May 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
4(100.0%)

Path of Revenge (Broken Man) by Russell Kirkpatrick (Aug 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

The Right Hand of God (Fire of Heaven Trilogy) by Russell Kirkpatrick (Mar 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

In the Earth Abides the Flame (Fire of Heaven Trilogy) by Russell Kirkpatrick (Feb 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

Across the Face of the World (Fire of Heaven Trilogy) by Russell Kirkpatrick (Jan 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay (5 Feb 2008)

GOOD!
1(33.3%)
BAD!
2(66.7%)

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch (29 Jul 2008)

GOOD!
1(33.3%)
BAD!
2(66.7%)

Netherwood by Michele Lang (25 April 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

The Execution Channel by Ken MacLeod (6 Mar 2008)

GOOD!
4(80.0%)
BAD!
1(20.0%)

Cowboy Angels (Gollancz S.F.) by Paul McAuley (12 Jun 2008)

GOOD!
3(75.0%)
BAD!
1(25.0%)

Brasyl (Gollancz S.F.) by Ian Mcdonald (28 Aug 2008)

GOOD!
6(100.0%)
BAD!
0(0.0%)

Black Man (Gollancz S.F.) by Richard Morgan (1 Nov 2007)

GOOD!
4(100.0%)
BAD!
0(0.0%)

What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson (29 April 2008)

GOOD!
1(33.3%)
BAD!
2(66.7%)

Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson (23 Sep 2008)

GOOD!
1(33.3%)
BAD!
2(66.7%)

Earthbound by Richard Matheson (29 April 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

Maelstrom (Twins of Petaybee) by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (26 Feb 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

OCTAGONAL RAVEN . by L. E. Modesitt and Jr. (30 April 2008)

GOOD!
1(33.3%)
BAD!
2(66.7%)

The Death of Chaos by L.E. Modesitt Jr (5 May 2008)

GOOD!
1(33.3%)
BAD!
2(66.7%)

SOARER'S CHOICE L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (Corean Chronicles) by Jr. L. E. Modesitt (14 Feb 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

The Solaris Book of New Fantasy by George Mann (3 Dec 2007)

GOOD!
1(33.3%)
BAD!
2(66.7%)

Fleet of Worlds by Larry Niven and Edward M Lerner (1 Aug 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

Making Money (Discworld) by Terry Pratchett (16 Jun 2008)

GOOD!
4(66.7%)
BAD!
2(33.3%)

Declare by Tim Powers (18 Jul 2008)

GOOD!
2(50.0%)
BAD!
2(50.0%)

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips (29 May 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

The Prefect (Gollancz S.F.) by Alastair Reynolds (10 April 2008)

GOOD!
3(50.0%)
BAD!
3(50.0%)

Galactic North (Gollancz S.F.) by Alastair Reynolds (8 Nov 2007)

GOOD!
4(66.7%)
BAD!
2(33.3%)

Land Of The Headless (Gollancz S.F.) by Adam Roberts ( 13 Mar 2008)

GOOD!
1(25.0%)
BAD!
3(75.0%)

Sixty Days and Counting by Kim Stanley Robinson (1 Oct 2007)

GOOD!
1(33.3%)
BAD!
2(66.7%)

Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff (7 Jul 2008)

GOOD!
2(66.7%)
BAD!
1(33.3%)

Variable Star (Tor Science Fiction) by Spider Robinson (27 Nov 2007)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

The Modern World (Gollancz S.F.) by Steph Swainston (13 Nov 2008)

GOOD!
3(75.0%)
BAD!
1(25.0%)

Halting State by Charles Stross (4 Sep 2008)

GOOD!
3(75.0%)
BAD!
1(25.0%)

The Family Trade (Merchant Princes 1) by Charles Stross

GOOD!
2(50.0%)
BAD!
2(50.0%)

The Hidden Family (Merchant Princes) by Charles Stross (July 2008)

GOOD!
2(50.0%)
BAD!
2(50.0%)

Tiny Deaths by Robert Shearman (23 Nov 2007)

GOOD!
2(50.0%)
BAD!
2(50.0%)

The Last Colony by John Scalzi (29 Jul 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

The Android's Dream by John Scalzi (12 Nov 2007)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

Island in the Sea of Time by S M Stirling (18 Jul 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

The Sky People by S.M. Stirling (1 Dec 2007)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas ( June 2008)

GOOD!
2(66.7%)
BAD!
1(33.3%)

Beyond the Gap (Opening of the World) by Harry Turtledove (April 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

The Gladiator Gladiator (Crosstime Traffic) by Harry Turtledove (30 Sep 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

The Margarets by Sheri S. Tepper (Jul 2008)

GOOD!
2(50.0%)
BAD!
2(50.0%)

Bloodmind by Liz Williams (15 Feb 2008)

GOOD!
1(33.3%)
BAD!
2(66.7%)

Hell Hath No Fury (Multiverse II) by David Weber (12 Aug 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

Hell's Gate (Multiverse I) by David Weber (29 April 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber (2 Jan 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

With a Single Spell by Lawrence Watt-Evans (25 April 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

The Misenchanted Sword (Legends of Ethshar) by Lawrence Watt-Evans (25 April 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

Ninth Talisman: Annals of the Chosen by Lawrence Watt-Evans (1 May 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

With a Single Spell by Lawrence Watt-Evans (25 April 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

Sword of the Deceiver (Isavalta) by Sarah Zettel (1 April 2008)

GOOD!
0(0.0%)
BAD!
3(100.0%)

Tags:

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
snowking
Mar. 2nd, 2009 10:49 pm (UTC)
Finally an award that uses a sensible system!
oxfordhacker
Mar. 2nd, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
Precisely! I spent far too long wondering how best to adjudicate a simple and arbitrary popularity contest before realising that the answer had been within my friends page all along...

Edited at 2009-03-02 11:19 pm (UTC)
jinty
Mar. 2nd, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC)
Obviously it would be possible to click-thru
...but I feel the ambiance of such gatherings, whereby you harshly judge a book by its cover as well as its reputation, is missing. Would have been a bit too much to ask for you to put in a cover piccy right here on the poll, I admit!
oxfordhacker
Mar. 2nd, 2009 11:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Obviously it would be possible to click-thru
In fact this mirrors the ambience of the night itself quite successfully, in that I only had copies of two of the books to hand, and I'd only actually read one of those...
brixtonbrood
Mar. 2nd, 2009 11:05 pm (UTC)
You missed off the latest Tom Holt - admittedly unlikely and unworthy to be a contender for the shortlist, but probably better than a fair amount of some of the scum of the longlist.
despotliz
Mar. 2nd, 2009 11:33 pm (UTC)
My rule of thumb: if the title contains something in parentheses it's probably rubbish. Excetion to the rule: Discworld.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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