Welcome back to the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition. For the last few months the judges have been hard at work sifting through the slushpile in search of great books. First, we read the opening 20% of each book and voted either YES or NO on continuing to read. Those books that received a majority of YES votes progressed to the quarterfinals, where each one was read to completion. For the At Boundary’s Edge team, we fully read seven novels that each received three of four YES votes from our team of four judges. Having read each book in full, each judge then assigned the book a rating on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being abysmal, and 10 being one of the best books ever written. We also discuss the books as a team, and point out great moments and potential problems that others might have missed in their initial reading. And let me tell you, you’ve never seen such lively debate over what a score of 6/10 means! Once we’ve each settled on our solo scores, these are put into the scoresheets and we take the average of each book as the final SPSFC rating from the team.

As it will come up later on, I’d just like to make a note on how SPSFC averages work. All the scores are added together and divided by the number of judges. In the event of a tie, the book with the highest individual rating will be placed higher. So a book that scores 2,5,2 will place above a book that scores 2,4,3, even though the average is 3 for each. This means that if one judge absolutely adores a book, it could well place higher than a book that all judges were equally ambivalent on.

The good news is that all this work has finally come to an end. The bad news is that it means we must bid farewell to four of our quarterfinalists. They’ve done well to get this far, and even if they didn’t win over enough judges to progress, readers are always encouraged to make their own investigations. But for now, let’s take a look at what team At Boundary’s Edge thought of our quarterfinalists.

Black Table, by Anttimatti Penannen
Final Score: 3.75/10 (Highest Solo Score 4/10)
Status: Eliminated
My Review/Athena’s Review
Final Thoughts: This one had a lot of fun elements, but poor writing meant it never really came together.

Trials on the Hard Way Home, by Lilith Frost
Final Score: 4.29/10 (Highest Solo Score 5/10)
Status: Eliminated
My Review/Athena’s Review
Final Thoughts: The only quarterfinalist to get a DNF rating, this one had an interesting setup, but our judges were not won over by the heavy emphasis on sex and romance.

The Empyrean,by Katherine Franklin
Final Score: 5.63/10 (Highest Solo Score 6/10)
Status: Eliminated
My Review/Athena’s Review
Final Thoughts: Though well-written, we found that the interesting build-up was not matched by the climactic scenes, with resolutions that left us unsatisfied.

Inquisitor, by Mitchell Hogan
Final Score: 6.25/10 (Highest Solo Score 7/10)
Status: Eliminated
My Review/Athena’s Review
Final Thoughts: Coming within a whisker of the semifinals, this one was an early hit with all our judges, but the characterisation of female characters and a weak finale prevent it from progressing further.

The Diamond Device, by M. H. Thaung
Final Score: 6.25/10 (Highest Solo Score 7.5/10)
Status: Semifinalist
My Review/Athena’s Review
Final Thoughts: Though it might not fit everyone’s definition of science fiction, this one proved to be a fun ride, with good use of tropes and an old-school sense of adventure.
*My Pick*

Empire Reborn, by A.K. DuBoff
Final Score: 6.25/10 (Highest Solo Score 8/10)
Status: Semifinalist
My Review/Athena’s Review
Final Thoughts: If there was an award for best presented book, this one would win, and the classic space opera setting was a hit with our judges.
*Athena’s Pick*

Earthship, by John Triptych with Michel Lamontagne
Final Score: 7/10 (Highest Solo Score 8/10)
Status: Semifinalist
My Review/Athena’s Review
Final Thoughts: A blockbuster spectacle in book form, this apocalyptic thriller won us all over right from the slushpile phase, and did not disappoint as we read more.
*Paul’s Pick* *Ale’s Pick*

So there you have it. Earthship, Empire Reborn, and The Diamond Device are our semifinalist picks for the second SPSFC/ Congratulations to DuBoff, Thaung, and Triptych with Lamontagne, and commiserations to those we had to leave behind. The team and I will be taking a short break now, but we’ll be back as soon as the next phase of the competition begins. We look forward to seeing what books our fellow teams are sending our way.


One response to “SPSFC2 AT BOUNDARY’S EDGE: Meet the Semifinalists”

  1. MONTHLY ROUNDUP: January 2023 – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] Announcement: Meet the Semifinalists […]

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