The 2012 Shmebula Awards, Part 2

As I noted yesterday, I recently decided to read all 12 YA/MG books on the Andre Norton Award shortlist so I could vote in this year's Nebula Awards without being a complete ignoramus. After accomplishing this goal, I came up with my own extremely silly awards so more of these fine books could get recognition.

And so, without further ado, let us continue

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The 2012 Shmebula Awards*

*Warning: The following awards are even sillier than yesterday's, which is saying a lot. You won't find any major spoilers below, so don't worry if you haven't yet read all twelve books on the list.

Protagonist With the Most-tagonist

Nominees:

A (Every Day)
Cassel (Black Heart)
Evie (The Diviners)
Liyana (Vessel)
Sunday (Enchanted)

WINNER:

There were so many great protagonists in these 12 books. Just look at this lineup. I loved A's empathy, Sunday's sweetness, Liyana's strength, and Cassel's smart-aleckyness. (Anyone who's read Hammer of Witches knows I can't resist a good smart-aleck.) But I'm giving this one to Evie. She is a delight. A delight I tells ya!

*****

Kickin'est Sidekick (or Secondary Character)

Nominees:

Demetrius (Iron Hearted Violet)
Hoku (Above World)
Rhiannon (Every Day)
Sam (Black Heart)
Theta (The Diviners)

WINNER:

Demetrius. He is too cute. Three cheers for boy characters who upend expectations by being good leaders who are also sweet and kind (and, in this case, nice to animals). Come to think of it, Demetrius and Hoku would make good friends. Sam could be their big brother, Rhiannon could be the cool big sis, and Theta can watch them all while making witty but world-weary comments from the sidelines. Yes. Yes! I smell a fanfic.

*****

Villain Most Likely to Make You Wet Yourself In Fear

Nominees:

Corner (Above)
Fathom (Above World)
John Hobbes (The Diviners)
Nybbas – Especially the part with the lizards. If you read it you know what I mean. Euuugh. (Iron Hearted Violet)
Reverend Poole (Every Day)

WINNER:

John Hobbes, and I can't really say anything more without spoiling things. I will say, though, that I was tempted to pick Reverend Poole, because even though he wasn't nearly as important a character, he might have scared me slightly more, because I can almost imagine him existing in real life.

*****

The Obi Wan Memorial Prize for Best Reasonable Authority Figure

Nominees:

Doctor Marybeth (Above)
Grandad Desi (Black Heart)
Mama (Enchanted)
Orma (Seraphina)
Will (The Diviners)

WINNER:

Grandad Desi. He's a cool guy, and probably the least evil person in that family (although to be fair that's not a really high bar to clear).

*****

Worst Parents

Nominees:

Aluna's Dad, a.k.a. Mr. Yeah-Sure-Let's-Let-Our-Whole-Race-Die-Whaddaya-Gonna-Do? (Above World)
Cassel's Mom, a.k.a. Mrs.-I'm-An-Emotional-Manipulator-Who-Raised-Her-Sons-to-Be-Sociopaths (Black Heart)
Ephraim's Mom, a.k.a. Ms.-Alcoholics-Anonymous-What's-That? (Fair Coin)
Evie's Mom, and I can't say why without spoiling things, but it has to do with World War I (The Diviners)
The Sisters' Papá, a.k.a. Sr.-Adios-Chicas-I-Have-Better-Things-To-Do-Than-Pay-Child-Support (Summer of the Mariposas)

WINNER:

Papá. What's worse than a deadbeat dad? A deadbeat dad who keeps coming back. The crap he pulls in this book... I can't even. I had planned to use some choice words in Spanish to describe this dude, but I was told to keep things clean. So I'll just say he's a butt. A big stinkin' butt.

*****

The “If You Were Ten Years Older and Not Fictional” Award for ZOMG!! Cute Boyz!!1!

Nominees:

Cassel (Black Heart)
Korbyn (Vessel)
Memphis (The Diviners)
Rumbold (Enchanted)
Sam (The Diviners)

WINNER:

This one required a chart.

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Okay, it didn't really require a chart, but my time writing for OverthinkingIt.com has made me chart-happy. So who's my pick?

I'm going to have to go with Korbyn by default, because being a god he's the only one who's technically an adult. I ain't no cradle robber! By the way, young people who may be reading this blog post, if you happen to meet a person like Cassel, Korbyn, or Sam in real life, RUN.

*****

And there you have it! If you'd like to read the above 12 books (and you should), go buy 'em now:

Above – Leah Bobet
Above World – Jenn Reese
Black Heart – Holly Black
Enchanted – Alethea Kontis
Every Day – David Levithan
Fair Coin – E.C. Myers
Iron Hearted Violet – Kelly Barnhill
Railsea – China Miéville
Seraphina – Rachel Hartman
Summer of the Mariposas – Guadalupe Garcia McCall
The Diviners – Libba Bray
Vessel – Sarah Beth Durst

The 2012 Shmebula Awards, Part 1

Earlier this month I made a vow that seemed unwise. 2013 is my first year as a member of SFWA and therefore the first year I can cast a ballot for the Nebula Awards. The Nebula Awards! Frank Herbert's Dune won the Nebula. My favorite writer, Ursula K. LeGuin, won six. Isaac Asimov won. Arthur C. Clarke. Samuel Delany. Connie Willis. The Nebulas are the real deal, the Holy Grail of science-fiction and fantasy*. I simply couldn't wait to vote.

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There was one problem: I'm a stickler when it comes to voting. I've long believed that if you're going to vote in an election, you must research all the candidates. It's only fair. In my mind, voting for a book without having read all the other nominees would be an ethical breach. Not a “trip an old lady crossing the street” breach, but a breach nonetheless.

I knew I wouldn't have time to read every novel, novella, novelette, and short story on the Nebula shortlist by March 30th, but as a writer of young adult fiction I felt it was my duty to at least cast a ballot for the Andre Norton Award. This year 12 books were nominated for the Norton, and I've been so remiss in keeping up with my YA/MG reading over the past year that, as of March 1st, I had read exactly zero of them.

Thus, the vow. I would read all 12 books in four weeks—or, more accurately, 14 books in four weeks. Holly Black's Black Heart is the third in a trilogy I had not read. Of course I would have to read the first two in the series.

I was told such a goal was unreasonable. In fact, I accomplished it in 16 days. You might ask, “Shana, how did you manage to read 14 books in 16 days when you have a job, book promotion and writing duties, and a small but non-negligible social life?” The secret, my friends? Insomnia. It's great! Here's how you do it: You lie in bed and simply don't fall asleep until 5 or 6 in the morning (if at all). If you can get a panic attack going at around 4 or 4:30, all the better. It'll give you more energy for reading**.

Sixteen days later, I've read all the books and feel confident about my pick for the Norton. It makes me sad, though. Fourteen fine books, yet only one can take home the prize. I thought, “Why must there be only one? There should be more winners! More awards!”

So I made some up***.


*I guess the Hugos are okay, too.

**Warning: Side effects may include headaches, walking into doors, and generalized jerkitude.

***Second warning: The following awards are very, very silly. Read at your own discretion. There are no major spoilers below, so don't worry if you haven't read all twelve books yet.

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THE 2012 SHMEBULA AWARDS

Book That Would Make The Best Video Game

Nominees:

Above World (J-RPG)
Every Day (Dating Sim)
Railsea (Train Sim)
Seraphina (Rhythm Game)(Harpsichord Hero? Flute Flute Revolution?)
Summer of the Mariposas (Adventure Game)

WINNER:

Above World. It is so much an RPG. You've got a cast of characters, each of whom has a specific role and fighting style, and their races give them stat bonuses. Throughout the story the characters upgrade their weapons and learn new skills. It's got HydroTek, like Final Fantasy VI's Magitek, there are Domes like in Chrono Trigger, and there's a cute animal mascot. If Above World were an RPG, I would play it SO HARD. You hear that, Ubisoft? Get on this.

*****

The Abed Nazir Award for Best Metaliterary Conceit

Nominees:

Jena the Speculative Fiction Fan (Fair Coin)
Matthew the Teller (Above)
Raven Myths (Vessel)
Storytelling (Enchanted)
The Narrator (Railsea)

WINNER:

Above. I always love the “sewer people invent their own weirdo mythology about the above-worlders” trope, and I think it was handled particularly well here. Sometimes writers use metaliterary devices to get across a simple theme like, “Stories are good!” or “Stories are bad!” but Above did a fine job of navigating between them to give us a more nuanced view.

*****

The GOB Bluth “It's an Allusion, Michael” Award

Nominees:

La Llorona (Summer of the Mariposas)
Moby Dick (Railsea)
Running Up That Hill (Every Day)
The Odyssey (Summer of the Mariposas)
The Frog Prince, Sleeping Beauty, and every other fairytale ever (Enchanted)

WINNER:

We have a tie! First up, Railsea, a cleverly constructed world where people are so busy chasing after symbols they fail to realize there's a whole world out there waiting to be explored. (Not that I identify with such silly characters. Oh no no no.) We also have La Llorona, who in Summer of the Mariposas acts as two-two-two allusions in one! The book both references the folktale and the tale-behind-the-tale of Malinche and Hernán Cortés, which fits in well with the book's theme of syncretism.

*****

Coolest Magic/Pseudoscience/Phlebotinum/Whatever

Nominees:

A's Body Switching (Every Day)
Curse Working (Black Heart)
Seraphina's Garden/Cognitive Architecture (Seraphina)
Sunday's Magic (Enchanted)
The Coin (Fair Coin)

WINNER:

Every Day. Body switching can be (and usually is) the stuff of farce. Here, though, it's used in a quieter, more poetic way. Levithan thought of pretty much every dramatic situation body switching could result in (A's blind! A's a depressive! A's a drug addict!) and how such a lifestyle would realistically affect a person's psychological development.

*****

TOMORROW: More Shmebula Award silliness. We'll look at the best protagonists, villains, sidekicks, and (omg!) boys from the Norton shortlist.