CONTACT: Pam Noles
May 17, 2006
WINNERS OF FIRST CARL BRANDON SOCIETY AWARDS ANNOUNCED
Awards ceremony Sunday, May 28, 8:45 p.m. at WisCon 30, Madison, WI, USA
Madison, WI -- Walter Mosley and Susan Vaught are winners of the debut awards from the Carl Brandon Society recognizing excellence and diversity in speculative fiction. Each winner will receive $1,000 and a trophy at a ceremony held at WisCon 30 in Madison, WI.
Mosley is awarded the Carl Brandon Parallax Award for his young adult novel, 47. The jury deemed this "a powerful, moving work appropriate for young adult readers and yet a good read for adults" with writing that "shows beauty in the depiction of people of great courage, character and creativity in the midst of impossible circumstances."
Vaught is awarded the Carl Brandon Kindred Award for her yhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifoung adult novel, Stormwitch, praised by a juror as "a fine work ... written as a young adult novel, it works for adults as well."
The CBS Parallax Award recognizes works of speculative fiction created by people of color. The CBS Kindred Award recognizes works of speculative fiction dealing with issues of race and ethnicity; CBS Kindred Award writers may be of any ethnic group.
CBS Parallax award jurors were Celu Amberstone, Steven Barnes, Karin Lowachee, MJ Hardman, and http://www.jenniferstevenson.com/. CBS Kindred award jurors were Jewelle Gomez, Ian K. Hagemann, Ursula K. Le Guin, Debbie Notkin and Cecilia Tan.
Each jury also released a shortlist of recommended works; juror commentary for each is below. (Complete short and long lists will be available at the CBS website).
Carl Brandon Society Parallax Award Shortlist
* Banker, Ashok , Prince of Ayodhya (Penguin India)
* Buckell, Tobias , Toy Planes (Nature, Oct. 13, 2005)
* Butler, Octavia E. , Fledgling (Seven Stories Press)
* Chaponda, Daliso , Trees of Bone (Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest, #3)
* Douglas, Marcia , Marie-Ma (Femspec, Vol. 6, #1)
* Goto, Hiromi, Nostalgia. (Nature, Sept. 1, 2005)
* Jemisin, N.K., Cloud Dragon Skies (Strange Horizons, Aug. 1, 2005)
* Jennings, A.H., Owasa (Farthing, July, 2005)
* Johnson, Alaya Dawn . Shard of Glass (Strange Horizons, Feb. 14, 2005)
* Khan, Ahmed, The Meaning of Life and Other Clichés (Another Realm, March, 2005)
* Nyoka, Gail, Mella and the N'anga: An African Tale (Sumach Press)
* Okorafor-Mbachu, Nnedimma , Zahrah the Windseeker. (Houghton Mifflin)
* Shawl, Nisi, Wallamelon (Aeon Magazine, #3)
* Singh, Vandana, The Tetrahedron. (Intranova, March 15, 2005)
Carl Brandon Society Kindred Award Shortlist
* Buckell, Tobias, Toy Planes (Nature, Oct. 13, 2005)
* Butler, Octavia E. , Fledgling ((Seven Stories Press)
* Chaponda, Daliso , Trees of Bone (Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest, #3)
* Gilks, Marg, Before the Altar on The Feast of All Souls (Tesseracts 9)
* Mosley, Walter, 47 (Little, Brown)
* Okorafor-Mbachu, Nnedimma, Zahrah the Windseeker (Houghton Mifflin )
* Williams, Liz, La Gran Muerte (Asimov's Science Fiction, April 2005)
The Carl Brandon Society began in 1997 at WisCon 23 as an informal gathering of people dedicated to addressing the representation of people of color in speculative fiction. It is named after the fictional black fan "Carl Brandon, Jr.," who was created in the mid-1950s by Terry Carr and Peter Graham, just as the Tiptree Award is named after writer Alice Sheldon's pseudonym "James Tiptree, Jr." Much as Alice Sheldon played with concepts of gender in her writing as Tiptree, so did Carr and Graham challenge concepts of race when writing as Brandon.
Among its activities, the society administers the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund, which enables writers of color to attend one of the Clarion writing workshops where the acclaimed writer got her start.
As speculative fiction increases in diversity, the Carl Brandon Society will work to raise awareness of issues of race, ethnicity and culture within this genre we all love, fostering a needed dialog.
We have many ways for you to become directly involved, and our membership is open to all ethnicities. Visit our website for more information.
Carl Brandon Society
Selected jurors' comments on the winning and shortlisted titles (the full text of shortlist comments as well as the long lists will be posted on the Carl Brandon Society website.):
PARALLAX AWARD FINALISTS * PARALLAX AWARD FINALISTS
Walter Mosley. (Little, Brown)
A powerful, moving work appropriate for young adult readers and yet a good read for adults. It is unflinching in its portrayal of slavery in the American south. A young slave boy narrates this electrifying account of how he met one of the mightiest heroes of African-American legend, High John the Conqueror, who is much more than he appears to be, and the marvelous and terrible changes John wrought on a life so downtrodden that he has no name, only a number. The writing shows beauty in the depiction of people of great courage, character and creativity in the midst of impossible circumstances. – JKS
Banker, Ashok, Prince of Ayodhya (Penguin India) The is an Indian epic of awe-inspiring antiquity and complexity. Every thousand years or so someone updates it for contemporary readers. Banker's Ramayana, a five volume series, is a perfect fit with our era's high fantasy genre. Powerful, emotional, fast-moving, many-layered, a cultural trip, a roller-coaster ride. – JKS
Buckell, Tobias, Toy Planes (Nature, Oct. 13, 2005) This story is told with an economy of words and yet manages to give the reader a strong impression of island life and the compromises made by many minority people, to maintain both personal and cultural identity in the larger world outside their own communities. the story also speaks to the economic survival of poorer countries in a world dominated by rich corporations and large nations. – CA
Butler, Octavia E., Fledgling (Seven Stories Press). Octavia Butler’s final novel is a meditation on social and sexual vampirism, viewed through the lens of a 53 year old “juvenile” blood-sucker named Shori. Mature, frightening, and thought-provoking, FLEDGLING simply isn’t like any other vampire story ever written, and a fitting cap to a spectacular—if tragically truncated—career. – SB
Chaponda, Daliso, Trees of Bone (Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest, Issue #3) Spares no one in a rock-plus-hard-place account of hatred, history, cultural transmission, and the price of peace. Set in an African landscape between country and town, past and present, old ways and new ways, this story grants dignity and yet tragedy to an elderly healer and his young apprentice in a time of social turmoil. – JKS
Douglas, Marcia, Marie-Ma. (Femspec, Vol. 6, Issue #1). A chorus of voices imbues this spare but beautifully written story, casting a harmonic note to the narrative about a rather strange neighbor, a family's preconceptions, and a little girl's curiosity. Each uniquely drawn character, different ages from a young daughter to her mother to the odd and exquisite Marie-Ma herself, gives life to the observation and eventual interaction with an unexplainable magic that surrounds each of them in different and unexpected ways. – KL
Goto, Hiromi, Nostalgia. (Nature, Sept. 1, 2005) A very short dense take on futuristic biology and the culture thereby associated and all about the Brontës. – MJH
Jemisin, N.K., Cloud Dragon Skies (Strange Horizons, Aug. 1, 2005) A poetic portrayal from the point of view of Nahautu. Her pristine world with her family is benignly invaded by scientists whose decision to intervene with the cloud dragons of her world wreak unexpected consequences -- especially for her as the daughter of the one man whose opposition to the help goes unheeded. Jemison's deft handling of the protagonist's voice and her inner conflicts perfectly filter the larger issues of technology vs. natural order, and the consequences of humanity's choices in this battle. Though dealing with broader concepts, the story never loses sight of the personal struggle and ramifications on an individual level, and provides a beautifully wrought conclusion to the dilemma with a melancholic weight that truly gives life to this unique character. – KL
Jennings, A.H., Owasa. (Farthing, July, 2005) A suspenseful tale that keeps you guessing about the ramifications and meaning of the characters' actions until the very end, and the ending itself provides an iron anchor to the rest of the narrative. The language is beautiful throughout, while in parts is contrasted sharply by a frank, almost blunt voice. Gods and humanity are tackled in this story, and the conflict is very much worthwhile. – KL
Johnson, Alaya Dawn, Shard of Glass. (Strange Horizons, Feb. 14, 2005) This well-written story intensely illustrates a political struggle turned personal for a black woman who flees her white lover across the world, taking their child and a magical shard of glass. – JS
Khan, Ahmed, The Meaning of Life and Other Cliches (Another Realm, March, 2005) A dialogue between two stranded spacers coping with memories, watching maybe sentient will-o-the-wisps, telling a whole story sparsely. Lovely writing, close to poetry. – MJH
Nyoka, Gail, Mella and the N'anga: An African Tale. (Sumach Press) A perfect young adult novel, a well-crafted story of a princess on a quest to save her father's kingdom. In the process, the story of her encounter with the N'anga becomes a fierce tale of female empowerment, wrapped in sweet, simple prose. – MJH
Okorafor-Mbachu, Nnedimma, Zahrah the Windseeker. (Houghton Mifflin) Zarah is a girl of unique appearance and special abilities that set her apart from friends and family, and this difference troubles her. When her best friend becomes ill after an exploring trip to the forbidden jungle goes awry, she is determined to return to the jungle to bring back a cure for her dying friend. along the way she has many adventures, and meets many interesting friends. This delightful story is the kind of book I wish had been around when I was about ten or eleven. I am very glad it is here to share with my granddaughter. – CA
Shawl, Nisi, Wallamelon (Aeon Magazine, Issue #3) This is a tale in which magic and the traditions of Voudun play an important part in a young girl's becoming an adult. the story also explores the challenge of how to maintain the worship of ancient gods, and a childhood wonder for magic and nature, in a world beset by poverty and urban violence." – CA (NOTE: Since Shawl is currently active on the board of the Carl Brandon Society, her work cannot receive a CBS award. But the jury felt that "Wallamelon" merited being on the Recommended Reading list.)
Singh, Vandana, The Tetrahedron. (Intranova, March 15, 2005) When a large mysterious object suddenly appears in the middle of a street in New Delhi, India, all the world's scientists flock to study the occurrence. The implacable tetrahedron gives little answers, though, save for young university student Maya, who finds herself drawn to the strange shape and questioning her own assumptions about duty, choice, and what it means to be the mystery in one's own life. A sensitive and smart portrayal of the doubts and desires of one modern woman conflicted between the assumptions of the past and the possibilities of the future. Family life in current-day India is engagingly portrayed through the point of view of an intelligent and compassionate protagonist, giving a glimpse into this unique culture (sometimes with a gentle humor) while successfully weaving speculative elements to highlight Maya's personal struggle. – KL
KINDRED AWARD FINALISTS * KINDRED AWARD FINALISTS
Stormwitch, by Susan Vaught (Bloomsbury USA Children's Books) A fine work about a young black woman's journey from the egalitarian Caribbean to the segregated American South. Along the way, she learns about the reasons to "keep her head down" and steps into her own power as a magician and as a woman. Written as a young adult novel, it works for adults as well. – IKH
Buckell, Tobias, Toy Planes (Nature, Oct. 13, 2005). One-page stories with so much substance are very rare. This is beautifully done. – UKL
Butler, Octavia E., Fledgling (Seven Stories Press). It is impossible to comment on this book without taking at least a moment to mourn the loss of one of the deftest, most perceptive, and most complex science fiction and fantasy writers of all time. Her voice will be missed forever.
One of the most direct treatments of racism I've ever seen in a book, and Butler uses the fact that it is science fiction to make the metaphors and parallels all the more clear and to put her message across. The battle is between those with racist attitudes and the forward-thinkers, and the forward-thinkers win. … Butler has taken the traditional Eastern European vampire myth and turned it into a modern science fiction thriller that also stands as an examination of racism and the evils of "racial purity." The writing style is spare and clean, with tight prose which borders on Hemingway-esque. She reveals the answers to the mystery skillfully and the characterizations are realistic and humanistic. -- CT
Chaponda, Daliso, Trees of Bone (Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest, #3). A very moving allegory about post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by racism which was set in Africa. It also has some interesting things to say about living with one's oppressors and living with oneself. -- IKH
Gilks, Marg, Before the Altar on The Feast of All Souls (Tesseracts 9). My favorite short story of all we read. Done with a wonderfully light hand. Most of the people in this story are dead, which is what is so neat about it. – UKL
Mosley, Walter, 47 (Little, Brown). Whenever a slave narrative is moving, evocative, and thoughtful without being sentimental or simplistic, it’s worth honoring. 47 is a fine example. -- DLN
Okorafor-Mbachu, Nnedimma, Zahrah the Windseeker (Houghton Mifflin). Generally hailed by the jury as one of the most entertaining books we read; a young-adult novel with a great deal to recommend to all ages. The author has a special skill at conveying a full sensory experience: and her characters have some remarkable sensory experiences! -- DLN
Williams, Liz, La Gran Muerte (Asimov’s Science Fiction April 2005) Beautifully and painfully written, and flows with wonderful ideas and images. -- JG