Come one, come all, to the SPSFC. My fellow judges and I are still working our way through the slushpile of entrants. Having hit the halfway point with my reading, I figured it was time for another update. You’re welcome.
For those who need a refresher, at this early stage we don’t read the whole book. We read the opening 20% of every entry and vote either YES or NO on continuing. The books that receive the most YES votes will become quarterfinalists and be read in full. Those that receive more NO votes than YES votes will be cut from the competition.
Last year, At Boundary’s Edge only brought you the end result of these cuts. This year, we’re playing it a little looser, with each judge able to reveal their personal votes prior to the final announcements. You can find my thoughts on the first seven books of the slushpile HERE.
Now it’s time for that old disclaimer. These are my opinions. Not necessarily those of my team, or any other judge, or anyone else in particular. Once again, my opinions. Though others are more than welcome to share them. With that out of the way, here we go.
Empire of Ash and Blood, by Matthew Thompson
If you want a story about vampires, this one might be of interest to you. However, this reads much more like an urban fantasy novel than a science fiction one, and the prose is much too simplistic for my liking, and so it gets a NO vote from me.
Empire Reborn, by A K DuBoff
Despite a rocky preamble about other books in the same setting, this space opera hit the mark for me, and I look forward to reading more of it.
First of their Kind, by C. D. Tavenor
As a fan of all things Artificial Intelligence, I had high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, it proved to be a bit of a let-down. While the story has promise, the thick blocks of text and odd structure mean I’m voting to cut this one.
Inish Carraig, by Jo Zebedee
Equal parts alien invasion and post-apocalyptic, Inish Carraig is one of the more unusual offerings here. Unfortunately, a character-driven story in which every character sounds the same just left me cold, and the hints of a larger story failed to grab my interest
Inquisitor, by Mitchell Hogan
When it comes to space opera, I’m fairly easy to please. And while Inquisitor is pretty straightforward in its delivery, it is yet to put a foot wrong.
Mercuryville, by Taran Summerville
This one is another casualty of my pickiness when it comes to structure, both narrative and formatting. Coupled with a story that didn’t interest me, the structural issues mean I’m voting NO on this one.
Political Nightmare, by Rainbow Macabre
This one lives up to its name, with a narrative that feels far too much like author telling me about their political beliefs at the expense of telling a good story. Coupled with that is a whole lot of anthropomorphised animals and a story that I found a really struggle to follow.