Welcome to 2021: more subjective and more chaotic (yes I mean later) than ever – but we’re still giving out some kind of awards! Our shortlists are as enticing as ever, and we have a new category added to our roster this year: along with Short Stories (returning from last year) we’ll be picking a Best Debut in addition to the usual genre, series and novellas categories.

Book cover: The Edge - James Smythe60-some years after the mysterious Hyvönen Anomaly was first spotted, it looms on Earth’s doorstep. Some worship it; others fear it; only a select few have any idea what it’s capable of. Tomas Hyvönen’s crew have just 4 years left to figure out how to deal with the enigma before it envelops the planet – unless it consumes them first…

Phèdre is back, and the d’Angeline court can’t get enough of her. But the most satisfying patrons in the City of Elua can’t heal the bruises left by Joscelin’s cold shoulder or help her sleep at night. As the pieces start to fall into place, it becomes clear to her that she won’t find her answers in Terre d’Ange – but what will be cost of persuading Joscelin to accompany her to La Serenissima?

Book cover: The Black Coast - Mike Brooks (Orbit UK cover)The God-King of Narida has no heir. His sister can assassinate his rivals, but she is powerless to silence prophecies of a reborn God. Across the ocean, a deathless warrior is uniting the fierce Tjakorshi clans. The Brown Eagle clan has fled to Narida to make peace with townsfolk they have raided for generations – but how long can peace last?

Picking up where Kushiel’s Dart left off, we rejoin Phèdre nó Delaunay at Montrève, breaking the news to her household that she will be returning to the service of Naamah. Cue romantic anguish from a certain former Cassiline and a shudder of delight from the Court. Without Delaunay to guide her, Phèdre must set her own course – without tipping her hand – if she is to find Melisande Shahrizai…

Book cover: Fireheart Tiger - Aliette de BodardThanh is the Empress’s youngest daughter: the expendable one sent to powerful Ephteria as a ‘guest’; the forgotten foreigner they left to burn when their palace caught fire. But Thanh survived to go home, although she has found less herself welcome than she could wish. Now, the arrival of Ephterian envoys is her chance to prove her worth to the Empire… or see her home burn to the ground. 

I am managing my expectations for 2021, which started with me noticing on New Year’s Day that I had acquired a large and rather painful bruise on my knee: 2020’s final gift. It seems as good a metaphor as any for this year. In case I was hoping for better from 2021, I promptly head-butted a door handle. Yes, ridiculous household accidents are my superpower. At least I remember this one…