Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Winners of the 2008 Marooned Awards

As the year comes to a close, I have just enough time to announce the winners of the 2008 Marooned Awards. For details about the award and a complete list of nominees, please read my blog post of December 23rd.

Here are the winners of the 2008 Marooned Awards:

Best Novel: Mars Life by Ben Bova

Marsbound, by Joe Haldeman, and Rolling Thunder, by John Varley, are interesting, well-written novels that pay subtle tribute to earlier generations of Martian SF authors, but Ben Bova’s Mars Life, the third book in his trilogy starring geologist Jamie Waterman, is the winner of the 2008 Marooned Award for Best Novel.

Sustained by anthropology and linguistics, Mars Life is an intellectual story whose characters seek to understand an extinct Martian civilization and to resolve its meaning for the human race. If you’re a fan of “Omnilingual” (1957), by H. Beam Piper, and “A Rose for Ecclesiastes” (1963), by Roger Zelazny, you’ll probably enjoy Ben Bova’s Mars Life.

It’s worth noting that there are four additional novels that piqued my interest but, for various reasons, I did not have an opportunity to read: In the Courts of the Crimson Kings, by S.M. Stirling; The Martian General’s Daughter, by Theodore Judson; The Martian Confederacy, a graphic novel by Jason McNamara and Paige Braddock; and Iron Jaw and Hummingbird, a YA novel by Chris Roberson. I hope to read at least one of these books in 2009.

Best Novella or Novelette: “Tenbrook of Mars” by Dean McLaughlin

An odd category for such a small reading niche, there are only two nominees here and one, “The Last Temptation of Katerina Savitskaya,” by H. G. Stratmann, failed to entice me. The other, Dean McLaughlin’s “Tenbrook of Mars,” is an unassuming story of hard science and lost romance that recounts the rescue of a group of stranded Mars Petro employees. I was delighted to see engineer Don Tenbrook portrayed as a roughneck instead of a smug scientist, and the whole who’s-going-to-pay-for-this-mission issue confirms that economics has an important place in science fiction. With spaceships named after Burroughs, Schiaparelli, Lowell, and Bradbury, and Katerina Savitskaya nowhere in sight, “Tenbrook of Mars” is the winner of the 2008 Marooned Award for Best Novella or Novelette.

Best Short Story: “Weird Fruits” by Camille Alexa

I thoroughly enjoyed several of the short stories, including “The Film-makers of Mars,” by Geoff Ryman, and “Willpower,” by Jason Stoddard, both of which have clever storylines and demonstrate that Edgar Rice Burroughs continues to influence Martian SF nearly sixty years after his death.

With flickers of a government conspiracy and an old F-150 pickup truck parked in an unusual spot, “Tricks of Light and Shadow,” by Barry Napier, is worth reading. I’ll let the professional pundits spar over whether this work is science fiction or horror.

Two stories I had to re-read several times and probably still don’t fully understand: “The Full Story of the Firstborn Assault on Mars,” by Stephen Baxter and Arthur C. Clarke, and “Catherine Drewe,” by Paul Cornell. Steampunk may be all the rage these days, but “Catherine Drewe" is the most over-hyped Mars story of the year.

Which takes us to one of the least known stories of the year and the winner of the 2008 Marooned Award for Best Short Story: “Weird Fruits,” by Camille Alexa. Better known for Space Westerns set on Mars starring the spunky Matilda Johnson, Alexa shows a more serious side in “Weird Fruits,” a dehumanizing work of dark speculative fiction. More Bradbury than Bova or Burroughs, “Weird Fruits” grows from the ash of a volcanic eruption on Mars into an earthen tale about the rotten fate of humanity.

Best Flash Fiction: "The Elcano Syndrome" by Gustavo Bondoni

A solid collection of flash fiction, the nominees range from the Wellsian “The Button-Pushers of Mars,” by Martin Green, to the humorous “You Might Be A Green-neck If ...,” by Patricia Stewart, to the deadly “Blood and Ozone,” by Steven Rockoff. Interestingly, three of the other nominees are about Olympus Mons. One of them, "The Elcano Syndrome," by Gustavo Bondoni, is the winner of the 2008 Marooned Award for Best Flash Fiction.

Best Poem: “The Last Man on Mars” by John Nichols

Unfortunately, I haven’t read much poetry since the Six Hundred rode into the Valley of Death, but “The Last Man on Mars,” by John Nichols, is my favorite of the nominees, so I’m awarding it the 2008 Marooned Award for Best Poem.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind nod! I'm so glad you enjoyed "Weird Fruits."

Barry Napier said...

Thanks for the mention! I'm glad you enjoyed the story!

Paul said...

Camille and Barry: Your welcome. Thank YOU for the great stories. Looking forward to reading more. Paul