The nomination shortlists for the British Fantasy Awards 2015 have just been announced, and a particularly strong slate for this year seems to almost be making a deliberate effort to put clear blue (Atlantic?) water between these Awards and any hint of Hugos-style Sad/Rabid Puppies conservative influence. For instance, under the Anthology category, Spectral Press’s superb The Spectral Book of Horror Stories is in contention with Horror Uncut: Tales of Social Insecurity and Economic Unease from Gray Friar Press, co-edited by the much-lamented Joel Lane, and Lightspeed Magazine’s special edition Lightspeed: Women Destroy Science Fiction! The Best collection category includes, as well as Helen Marshall’s widely praised Gifts for the One Who Comes After, Hal Duncan’s Scruffians! Stories of Better Sodomites.
Some expected names crop up. Stephen Volk‘s contribution to The Spectral Book of Horror Stories, “Newspaper Heart,” crops up in the Best novella category, while “The Girl on the Suicide Bridge,” Johnny Mains‘s entry in the delightfully off-the-wall Beside the Seaside anthology, is a candidate for Best short story.Simon Marshall-Jones‘s Spectral Press is down for Best independent press. Jim McLeod’s Ginger Nuts of Horror shows up under Best non-fiction. In the August Derleth Award category for Best horror novel we have No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill, and Alison Littlewood ‘s The Unquiet House. All the same, some equally well-known names are conspicuously absent, enough to allay any fears of some sort of old boys’ (but not girls’ or gays’) club.
Not that I’m suggesting that the Awards jurors and the British Fantasy Society committee undertook any kind of systematic ideological program to highlight or exclude any particular tendency or bent in these nominations. I’ve had the pleasure of reading and reviewing many of these entrants throughout the years, and talking to their authors and creators, and a more catholic and more gifted array of talent you could rarely hope to see. This is exactly the kind of unique, broad to the extent of scatty, sometimes whimsical and eccentric, but definitely open-minded and all-embracing compilation of British fantasy, horror, and dark fiction talent that I would expect to see in any typical year – and a standing rebuke to the trans-Atlantic whisper campaign that British weird/dark fiction is somehow colonized by fascists. Great-looking stuff, people, and I look forward to seeing the final winners on October 25th at FantasyCon 2015.