The Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards: 2020 finalists

Black and white photo of some pebbles, each painted with text: Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards

It’s been nearly six months since we shortlisted our 48 nominees for the 2020 Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards. After a spring and summer we could never have predicted, we’re ready at last to announce our finalists. Drumroll, please…

I never manage to read every category prior to first round voting, but I must shamefully admit that this year I only managed to complete half of them. 2020, folks. It’s been a beast. Thankfully, we have more panellists this year, so between us we managed quorum in every category – and we have our finalists.

So, without further ado:

Best Fantasy

  • Realm of Ash – Tasha Suri
  • Kingdom of Souls – Rena Barron
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January – Alix E Harrow

Deep respect to all our fantasy nominees this year – it was an incredibly strong category that caused much soul-searching and hair-rending. Amazingly, two of the three finalists are debuts. The future of fantasy is looking very bright…

Best SF

  • A Memory Called Empire – Arkady Martine
  • All City – Alex diFrancesco

Another tough category here, so I am deeply grateful to my fellow panellists for winnowing down my choices (although I still intend to read the rest of the shortlist eventually). Political space opera meets climate change social drama: this will be quite the tussle.

Best Blurred Boundaries

  • Gideon the Ninth – Tamsyn Muir
  • David Mogo, Godhunter – Suyi Davies Okungbowa
  • The Migration – Helen Marshall

I’m really excited to read the finalists in this category, which – as usual – are so very different to one another.

Best Novella

  • This Is How You Lose The Time War – Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone
  • The Deep – Rivers Solomon

Our most divisive category: novellas provoked some entertaining discussion as the panel embraced our subjectivity to the full. Much love for both of our finalists – is any category going to be an easy choice this year? No, clearly not.

Best Series

  • Elemental Logic – Laurie Marks
  • Rosewater – Tade Thompson

Series takes the gong for being the most open category this year, where the finalist spots were up for grabs until the final vote (followed by screaming as beloved series didn’t quite squeak through).

Short fiction

This category has been a delight of excellent reading, and every bit as subjective as you’d expect. Two clear front-runners emerged and are neck and neck after initial voting, so we’re all set for some great debates in the final round.

What happens next?

More reading! You don’t get to vote in a category in any given round unless you’ve read every (remaining) nominee, so most of the panel have some more reading to do to ensure we each vote in as many categories as possible.

The winners will be announced in the autumn… at some point. Usually we have a convention date to work to; this year, we’re embracing chaos and seeing how long it takes us all to get to a point where we’re happy to start voting.

Will either (or both!) Rivers Solomon or Tade Thompson become the first author to win two Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards pebbles? Watch this space…