The Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards 2022

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

Five years ago, C of The Middle Shelf floated the idea of a jury-based award given by a panel of bloggers to their pick of the best works of genre fiction each year. Fast forward to 2022 and our fifth annual Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards will be bigger and more chaotic than ever, with more categories, more nominees and more opinions. Buckle up, it’s time to say hello to our 2022 panel and subjective shortlist!

And Now We Are Five

For our fifth birthday, we thought we’d get all official – so before we look at this year’s nominees, I invite you to admire our spiffy new website. The panel will continue to share our reading thoughts and shortlist updates on our own blogs too (one cannot simply contain chaos in one website), but our Kind of Awards now have an official kind of home. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering who made the shortlist back in 2019, it’s now dead easy to find out.

Award Kind of What Chaos?

The Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards are an annual celebration of science fiction, fantasy, and stories that blur the boundaries between genres. Each year, a rotating panel of book lovers nominates, reads, debates and eventually votes to award the very best across a number of award categories. Our guiding principles are to have fun, to be respectful, to read every novel/novella nominee in a category (at least in part), and to embrace chaos.

This year features our biggest panel yet, some lengthy shortlists and two new categories! So without further ado, let’s take a look at our nominees for the best in class of 2021.

Drumroll please…

Best Fantasy

  • Wendy, Darling – AC Wise
  • The Unbroken – CL Clark
  • The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina – Zoraida Córdova
  • She Who Became The Sun – Shelley Parker-Chan
  • A Master of Djinn – P Djèlí Clark
  • The Jasmine Throne – Tasha Suri
  • Sistersong – Lucy Holland
  • Blackheart Knights – Laure Eve
  • The House of Rust – Khadija Abdalla Bajaber

Best SF

  • Far From The Light Of Heaven – Tade Thompson
  • Several People Are Typing – Calvin Kalsuke
  • Notes From The Burning Age – Claire North
  • Meet Me In Another Life – Catriona Silvey
  • A Desolation Called Peace – Arkady Martine
  • Alyx: An AI’s Guide To Love And Murder – Brent A Harris
  • The Unraveling – Benjamin Rosenbaum
  • Firebreak – Nicole Kornher-Stace
  • Shards of Earth – Adrian Tchaikovsky

Best Blurred Boundaries

  • The Cabinet – Un-su Kim
  • Light From Uncommon Stars – Ryka Aoki
  • Nightwatch on the Hinterlands – K Eason
  • The Library of the Dead – TL Huchu
  • On Fragile Waves – E Lily Yu
  • The Light Of The Midnight Stars – Rena Rossner
  • Sorrowland – Rivers Solomon
  • The Velocity of Revolution – Marshall Ryan Maresca
  • The Actual Star – Monica Byrne

Best Debut

  • This Is Our Undoing – Lorraine Wilson
  • Iron Widow – Xiran Jay Zhao
  • Unity – Elly Bangs
  • The Councillor – EJ Beaton
  • The Witch’s Heart – Genevieve Gornichec
  • Inscape – Louise Carey
  • The Wolf And The Woodsman – Ava Reid

Best Young Adult

  • House of Hollow – Krystal Sutherland
  • We Light Up The Sky – Lilliam Rivera
  • The Gilded Ones – Namina Forna
  • The Mirror Season – Anna-Marie McLemore

Best Series

  • Los Nefilim – T Frohock
  • Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman
  • The Expanse – James S A Corey
  • The Kingston Cycle – CL Polk
  • Girls Of Paper And Fire – Natasha Ngan

Best Novella

  • These Lifeless Things – Premee Mohamed
  • A Manslaughter of Crows – Chris Willrich
  • A Psalm For The Wild-Built – Becky Chambers
  • & This Is How To Stay Alive – Shingai Njeri Kagunda
  • The Future God Of Love – Dilman Dila
  • The Past Is Red – Catherynne M Valente
  • The Annual Migration of Clouds – Premee Mohamed
  • A Spindle Splintered – Alix E Harrow
  • Tower of Mud and Straw – Yaroslav Barsukov
  • One Day All This Will Be Yours – Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters – Aimee Ogden
  • Fireheart Tiger – Aliette de Bodard

Best Graphic Novel

  • Lore Olympus – Rachel Smythe
  • The Girl From The Sea – Molly Knox Ostertag
  • Tidesong – Wendy Xu
  • Shadow Life – Hiromi Goto & Ann Xu

Short fiction

The Panel

The Kind of Awards are shaped by the subjective choices of the chaos magnets panellists: we nominate based on what we’ve read and we vote with our hearts as much as our heads. Bringing the chaos this year are:

Adri (@adrijjy) is co-editor of the Hugo Award winning fanzine Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together, and a semi-aquatic mammal currently living in the UK. She divides her time between reading, interacting with dogs, and working in international development. She can also be found at Strange Horizons.

AquaVenatus (@mistyaquavenatus) is an avid reader and a writer of many WIPs, who blogs at Aquavenatus and contributes to Fantasy Faction

Arina (@voyagerarina) is a book reviewer voyaging the worlds of speculative fiction at Queen’s Book Asylum. When not championing indie and inclusive SFF, she enjoys programming, (TT)RPGing, and overall spreading the gospel of her sarcastic, chaotic neutral nature.

Debbie (@Owlphabetical) doesn’t read as much as she’d like to, despite buying them as if she did. She doesn’t have a blog but occasionally tweets things that are not Wordle scores.

Fabienne (@flschwizer) can usually be found reading too many books at the same time and yelling about them to anyone who will listen on Libri Draconis or Grimdark Magazine. A reformed historian, she now spends her days thinking about stories in the publishing industry.

Imyril (@imyril) reviews SFF at There’s Always Room For One More and is the resident spreadsheet dragon for Wyrd and WonderSciFiMonth and Subjective Chaos (yes, even chaos benefits from a little organisation, shh).

Kris Vyas-Myall (@hammard_1987) is the co-founder of Cloaked Creators and someone who reads way too much fiction and likes anything bizarre, the weirder the better. They blog around the internet at various places including Galactic Journey and Geek Syndicate.

Leigh (@leighowyn) never reads enough and always tries to read more. She is generally found hanging about Twitter, reading about science and SFF, when she could be reading more books. Loves a spreadsheet, and is overly fond of exclamation marks!

Lisa (@deargeekplace, she/her) is a lifelong book nerd from Scotland who has gotten this far on the powers of tea, cake and enthusiasm and doesn’t see any reason to stop now. She is a co-host of online events Wyrd and Wonder and SciFiMonth, doesn’t have pets but wishes she could, and always looks both ways before crossing the street.

Matt aka @RunalongWomble is a book tempter – ahem, blogger – at Runalongtheshelves. The sweet voice on your shoulder telling you that it’s ok to get a new book. They are not a Moriarty, honest.



Sun (@suncani1) is a SFF reader who can be found getting overly excited about a bunch of things on Twitter and occasionally pausing to pass longer comment at Libri Draconis as a contributor.

What happens next?

The reading begins! All of us have read some of the nominees already, and each of us must read at least half of every book in every category we have committed to for our first round. I shall be reading SF, Series and Novellas initially, although I’m sorely tempted to jump into Fantasy (and possibly Debut) as well depending on how I get on.

We aim to announce our finalists in July and the winners in September; watch out for our reviews along the way!