Subjective Chaos: announcing our 2018 finalists

We’re entering the final phase of the Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards. After the initial phase of nomination and debate, we ended up with 5 categories and 33 nominees. Now we’re down to the wire after six months of reading, discussing and voting: it’s finalist time. So who has made our final cut?


This category rewarded us with excellent, eclectic reads and posed the question: how do you compare fantasy romance to grimdark to magical realism to urban fantasy to gothic fae? The inevitable answer is you don’t. We considered each book on its own merits, and whilst we agonised about how hard this decision would be (and waited for some nail-biting deciding votes to come in), we ended up in whole-hearted agreement about which reads had stood out the most from a very strong field.


Honourable mention to White Tears, which only narrowly missed out on placing. Whilst the other books in this category didn’t win through the discussion phase, I found much to admire (if not always to enjoy) across these nominations. Expect some musings on genre boundaries and comfort zones at some point this summer when I can cudgel my thoughts into coherence.

Science Fiction

After much discussion, almost every book in SF got at least one vote from the judges – making this the least unified category in terms of opinions at this point in the process. Thankfully, the voting process delivered clear results in spite of this, so we were able to agree on 2 finalists as planned!

  • Places in the Darkness – Chris Brookmyre
  • An Unkindness of Ghosts – Rivers Solomon

Honourable mention here goes to The Rift, which came in for much love from the judges if not enough to win through this round.


The biggy – in terms of pages to read, with each nominee representing 2-5 books. All our nominees can be considered complete series (in the sense that their protagonists end up in a stable place, even if there is room for future adventures), so we could consider over-arching narrative and character development as well as craft and enjoyment. Like Fantasy, this category posed questions about how you compare apples and pears and – like SF – ended up splitting the judges… putting us in a tricky position. We’ve, um, got a lot of finalists.

  • Between Two Thorns – Emma Newman
  • Binti – Nnedi Okorafor
  • The Broken Earth – N K Jemisin
  • The Memoirs of Lady Trent – Marie Brennan


This category elicited some strong and strongly divergent opinions about individual books along the way, but resulted with harmony across the judging panel in terms of picking our finalists. Trying to pick between these two may be far more difficult!

  • The Murders of Molly Southbourne – Tade Thompson
  • Passing Strange – Ellen Klages

Honourable mention here goes to Cassandra Khaw, who got nominated in multiple categories without ending up a finalist. Her prose has blown me away in every encounter, and her short-form craft is remarkable.

Blurred Boundaries

The home of fiction that combines elements of multiple sub-genres was always going to make for a tough decision and sure enough we were unable to whittle our field down to just two finalists: three will go through to the final round of debate and decision.


  • The Ninth Rain – Jen Williams
  • The Prey of Gods – Nicky Drayden
  • Winter Tide – Ruthanna Emrys

What happens next?

We’ll be debating for the next month, and announcing our winners at Nine Worlds Geekfest in London, August 10-12th.


Want to guess who our category winners will be? Leave your guesses in the comments – if you call all five categories correctly, your name will go in a hat – winner will get a copy of the winner of their choice.