I reflected for a long time before making the yesterday’s post, but in the end went for it only to give this new post a starting point. There were a couple of discussions back in 2010, if I am not mistaken, that questioned the importance of the David Gemmell Legend Award for the fantasy genre. 3 years from then and looking over this year’s long lists it seems that nothing changed and nothing good came out of those talks.
The idea of an award dedicated entirely to the fantasy genre gives immense joy and when David Gemmell Legend Award came into existence thrilled me. And with mission statement such as “raise public awareness of the fantasy genre”, “celebrate the history and cultural importance of fantasy literature”, “appreciate and reward excellence in the field” and “commemorate the legacy of David Gemmell and his contribution to the fantasy genre” I believed that only the best of things could have come out of this. 5 years later I am not entirely sure that it would happen.
Let’s consider the 2013 long lists. There are only 9 publishers on the long lists and all are major ones. Nothing wrong with their presence here, but are these the only imprints “raising the awareness of the fantasy genre”? How about the small publishing houses and the amazing job they are doing in actually celebrating the history and cultural importance of fantasy literature? What struck me as even odder is the absence of any title published by The Black Library. After winning the Legend Award for Best Novel in 2010 through Graham McNeill’s “Empire”, the Morningstar Award for Best Newcomer through Darius Hinks’ “Warrior Priest” and the Ravenheart Award for Best Fantasy Cover Art through Raymond Swanland’s cover of “Blood of Aenarion” by William King it seems that Black Library stopped releasing suitable works for David Gemmell Legend Award.
What I loved at David Gemmell Legend Award even from its beginnings was that it considered all the fantasy works published in English. It was wonderful to see Andrezj Sapkowski winning the award in 2009 for “Blood of Elves” and
Pevel recognized as Best Newcomer the following year
for “The Cardinal’s Blades”. It is
excellent to see all the Australian fantasy present on the long or short lists
of the awards. But it saddens me to see so many great titles left outside the
lists of the David Gemmell Legend Award because it is a sign of failing another
of its mission statements, that of “appreciating
and rewarding excellence in the field”. How can it not fail when Margo Lanagan’s “The Brides of Rollrock Island”, Lisa Hannett & Angel Slatter’s “Midnight and Moonshine”, Mike
Carey, Linda Carey and Louise Carey’s
“The Steel Seraglio” (released in
the UK this year under the title “The
City of Silk and Steel”), Daniel
Rabuzzi’s “The Indigo Pheasant”,
K.J. Parker’s “Sharps”, Tim Lebbon’s “The Heretic Land”, Graham Joyce’s “Some Kind of Fairy Tale”, N.K.
Jemisin’s “The Killing Moon” and
“The Shadowed Sun”, Howard Andrew Jones’ “The Bones of the Old Ones”, Brom’s “Krampus, the Yule Lord” or Jeff
Salyards’ “Scourge of the Betrayer”,
just to name the 2012 favorites of mine that should have been at least on the
long lists in my opinion, and the popular writers and titles like Robin Hobb’s “City of Dragons”, G. Willow
Wilson’s “Alif the Unseen”, Mark Lawrence’s “King of Thorns”, Michael J.
Sullivan’s “Percepliquis”, Bradley Beaulieu’s “The Straits of Galahesh”, Paul
S. Kemp’s “The Hammer and the Blade”,
Anne Lyle’s “The Alchemy of Souls” or Rachel
Hartman’s “Seraphina” are
nowhere to be found. Pierre
Of course, I am subjective in my choice, but that is a luxury the David Gemmell Legend Award doesn’t afford. When you want to promote, bring awareness and reward the excellence of the fantasy literature a long list of titles from a handful of publishers would not bring you any closer to your objectives. It is my opinion that it will actually lead you further away from them. As long as the David Gemmell Legend Award will fail to notice an important part of the books published around the fantasy literature I am afraid I will have no interest in following the events surrounding it. I didn’t’ reach this conclusion and do not make this statement with resentment, it is only with the disappointment in seeing such a promising, full of potential award failing heavily.