The Shirley Jackson Awards, first presented in 2007, are awarded annually, so far in conjunction with the science fiction convention Readercon, and have rapidly built a reputation as badges of distinction “for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.” For those interested in building a taxonomy of the current resurgence in American dark and weird fiction, the list of past winners makes exemplary reading. And independent publishers featured handsomely in this year’s winner list as well, presented in Burlington this Sunday.
The Awards “are voted upon by a jury of professional writers, editors, critics, and academics, with input from a Board of Advisors. The awards are given for the best work published in the preceding calendar year in the following categories: Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Single-Author Collection, and Edited Anthology.” They were originally established “in recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s writing, and with permission of the author’s estate.” Shirley Jackson herself produced not only the much-filmed, much-loved novel The Haunting of Hill House, but also the brief and unforgettably brutal short story “The Lottery,” which squats unforgettably somewhere between Harper Lee, Stephen King, McCarthyism, and the Holocaust. Most of the Awards given in her name have so far upheld that legacy.
Winner of the Novel category for 2013 is American Elsewhere, by Robert Jackson Bennett, which is very much in the Shirley Jackson/Stephen King tradition, and from major Orbit. Winner of the Novella category is “Burning Girls” by Veronica Schanoes, published by Macmillan imprint Tor, “acquired and edited for Tor.com by consulting editor Ellen Datlow,” and available to read in full on the Tor.com website. Winner in the Novelette category is “Cry Murder! In a Small Voice,” by Greer Gilman, from independent Small Beer Press, and in the Short Fiction category, “57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides,” by Sam J. Miller.
The Single-Author Collection Award category is shared between Before and Afterlives by Christopher Barzak, from Lethe Press, and the very fine North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud, also from Small Beer Press, and already reviewed on TeleRead. Winner of the Edited Anthology category is the Thomas Ligotti tribute anthology The Grimscribe’s Puppets, edited by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., from Miskatonic River Press.
If you have any doubt as to the excellence of the winners, go check out the ones available for free at the links above. There are great and very strange and dark things happening in American weird fiction right now. Be Disturbed. Be Very Disturbed.