BSFA Awards Shortlist: Thoughts, Predictions & Reading Plans

A few days ago, the shortlist for the 2020 British Science Fiction Association Awards was announced.

One of my 2021 reading plans was to read and review the novels shortlisted for the BSFA Awards. I already do that with the Clarke Award each year and I thought it would be nice to expand this project to another award. However, I didn’t expect TEN novels to be shortlisted this year — apparently there was a multiple tie this year so instead of the usual five novels, ten novels have been shortlisted!

In case you missed it, here are the ten shortlisted novels:

  • Tiffani Angus, Threading the Labyrinth, Unsung Stories.
  • Susanna Clarke, Piranesi, Bloomsbury.
  • M. John Harrison, The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again, Gollancz.
  • N.K. Jemisin, The City We Became, Orbit.
  • Gareth L. Powell, Light of Impossible Stars, Titan Books.
  • Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, Orbit.
  • Nikhil Singh, Club Ded, Luna Press.
  • Adrian Tchaikovsky, The Doors of Eden, Tor.
  • Liz Williams, Comet Weather, Newcon Press.
  • Nick Wood, Water Must Fall, Newcon Press.

The winner will be announced at the beginning of April so, it leaves me about a month to read ten novels (and I have several ARCs to read for March)… That’s a lot of books to read in very short time so I’m pretty sure I won’t get to all of them before the winner’s announcement but still, I will try my best!

my Thoughts

I haven’t read a single shortlisted book (sadly) but five of them were already on my radar (two even made my list of books to read in 2021) and five are completely new to me. I love discovering books that I completely missed when they were released and seeing that half of the shortlist is composed of books I don’t know about is a nice surprise!

I’m pleased to see The City We Became, Light of Impossible Stars, Piranesi, The Ministry for the Future and The Doors of Eden on the shortlist since I already wanted to read them. However, I’m even more glad to see that half the books on the shortlist are completely new to me. That’s why I really enjoy reading books shortlisted for the Clarke and the BSFA, I always discover titles that went under my radar when they were published. That’s the case of Threading the Labyrinth, The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again, Club Ded, Comet Weather and Water Must Fall. I’m very curious about them!


Since five books out of ten are completely new to me, it’s hard for me to predict the winner or what my favorite book is going to be but, I have a feeling I’m going to love The City We Became!

I also like to predict how I am going to feel about the shortlist as a whole, I’m often wrong but it’s always interesting to look back on it so here we go.

From the book I’m expecting to enjoy the most to the one I’m the least excited about:

  1. The City We Became
  2. The Ministry for the Future
  3. Piranesi
  4. Club Ded
  5. The Doors of Eden
  6. Water Must Fall
  7. Threading the Labyrinth
  8. The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again
  9. Light of Impossible Stars
  10. Comet Weather

I have loved every book I’ve read by Jemisin so I’m very excited to read The City We Became. I’m also looking forward to reading The Ministry for the Future since I usually enjoy KSR’s works. My ranking from 3rd to 8th place is very arbitrary, I have heard great things about Piranesi but I don’t know if it’s going to work for me. I loved Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time but I was very disappointed by Cage of Souls so I don’t know how I am going to feel about The Doors of Eden. I love the cover of Club Ded so I’m looking forward to reading it. As I said, my predictions are very arbitrary! πŸ˜‚

Light of Impossible Stars is pretty low on the list not because I don’t enjoy this trilogy (I do) but because even if I liked Embers of War and Fleet of Knives when I read them, they didn’t have a big impact on me. It’s a very fun and enjoyable series but I don’t find it particularly memorable. As for Comet Weather, I tried reading a novella by Liz Williams a few years ago but I put it down pretty quickly because the writing wasn’t working for me. I still want to give this novel a try but it’s probably the book I’m the least excited about.

Reading Plans

I’m going to prioritize reading the books I already own which means that I will read The City We Became, Light of Impossible Stars and The Doors of Eden first. After that, I’m going to have to buy copies of a few books (as if I needed an excuse to indulge in a book shopping spree! :D). I don’t have a specific reading order in mind. I hope I will be able to read the entire shortlist before EasterCon but we’ll have to see if it’s possible or not!

What do you think about the shortlist? πŸ˜€

20 thoughts on “BSFA Awards Shortlist: Thoughts, Predictions & Reading Plans

  1. Oh my, the award season is already on its way? I need to clear up those Netgalley obligations.
    re:shortlist: I’ve read three of those – Piranesi, The Ministry for the Future and The Doors of Eden – and none of them was really outstanding. I had very high expectations for Piranesi, but it was disappointing for me. As a KSR fan I really liked Ministry for the Future, but wouldn’t say that it’s one of his best novels. Doors of Eden was a nice read but clearly no Award material.
    Can’t say anything about the rest, but I noticed very mixed voices about the Jemisin book.

    Are you going for the short fiction also?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed The Doors of Eden, so I can recommend it as one of the “good ones” from Tchaikovsky – although I must warn you that it’s a rollercoaster ride of a book; and since I liked the Embers of War trilogy, I hope that Light of Impossible Stars will get a good place in the list. Happy reading, you have a very busy month ahead of you, indeed… πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you liked The Doors of Eden, I usually enjoy Tchaikovsky’s works but Cage of Souls was such a disappointement that I’m now a bit more hesitant to read his newer books. Hopefully, I will enjoy it as much as you did!
      I also like the Embers of War trilogy but for me it’s more of a popcorn read than a memorable series. I don’t consider it to be one of the best SF trilogy ever written or “award-worthy”. But not everything has to be groundbreaking to be enjoyable and entertaining. πŸ™‚
      Thanks, you too! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s a good list, long time since it had so many excellent titles on it. The Robinson, Clarke and Harrison all deserve to win imo. I hope Harrison wins: he’s British, and his book needs more exposure than the other 2 I mentioned.

    Liked by 1 person

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