Last week, the Locus Science Fiction Foundation announced the winners of the 2021 Locus Award. Unlike most other literary awards, there is no special membership required to vote for the Locus Awards. Anyone can visit the Foundation’s website to nominate and vote on books in each category. It’s a egalitarian system that has led to a very diverse selection of winners.
Science Fiction Novel
Network Effect by Martha Wells
When Murderbot’s human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action.
Drastic action it is, then.
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
In Manhattan, a young grad student gets off the train and realizes he doesn’t remember who he is, where he’s from, or even his own name. But he can sense the beating heart of the city, see its history, and feel its power. In the Bronx, a Lenape gallery director discovers strange graffiti scattered throughout the city, so beautiful and powerful it’s as if the paint is literally calling to her. In Brooklyn, a politician and mother finds she can hear the songs of her city, pulsing to the beat of her Louboutin heels.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.
Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.
Young Adult Novel
A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher
Fourteen-year-old Mona isn’t like the wizards charged with defending the city. She can’t control lightning or speak to water. Her familiar is a sourdough starter and her magic only works on bread. She has a comfortable life in her aunt’s bakery making gingerbread men dance.
But Mona’s life is turned upside down when she finds a dead body on the bakery floor. An assassin is stalking the streets of Mona’s city, preying on magic folk, and it appears that Mona is his next target. And in an embattled city suddenly bereft of wizards, the assassin may be the least of Mona’s worries.
Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger
Elatsoe—Ellie for short—lives in an alternate contemporary America shaped by the ancestral magics and knowledge of its Indigenous and immigrant groups. She can raise the spirits of dead animals—most importantly, her ghost dog Kirby. When her beloved cousin dies, all signs point to a car crash, but his ghost tells her otherwise: He was murdered.
Who killed him and how did he die? With the help of her family, her best friend Jay, and the memory great, great, great, great, great, great grandmother, Elatsoe, must track down the killer and unravel the mystery of this creepy town and its dark past. But will the nefarious townsfolk and a mysterious Doctor stop her before she gets started?
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark
In 1915, The Birth of a Nation cast a spell across America, swelling the Klan’s ranks and drinking deep from the darkest thoughts of white folk. All across the nation they ride, spreading fear and violence among the vulnerable. They plan to bring Hell to Earth. But even Ku Kluxes can die.
Standing in their way is Maryse Boudreaux and her fellow resistance fighters, a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter. Armed with blade, bullet, and bomb, they hunt their hunters and send the Klan’s demons straight to Hell. But something awful’s brewing in Macon, and the war on Hell is about to heat up. Can Maryse stop the Klan before it ends the world?
“The Pill“ by Meg Elison from Big Girl
The collection’s previously unpublished centerpiece, celebrates a “miracle cure” for obesity that sends society to a grimly delightful new utopia.
“Little Free Library“ by Naomi Kritzer from Tor.com
The Book of Dragons edited by Jonathan Strahan
From China to Europe, Africa to North America, dragons have long captured our imagination in myth and legend. Whether they are rampaging beasts awaiting a brave hero to slay or benevolent sages who have much to teach humanity, dragons are intrinsically connected to stories of creation, adventure, and struggle beloved for generations. Bringing together nearly thirty stories and poems from some of the greatest science fiction and fantasy writers working today.
The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu
From stories about time-traveling assassins, to Black Mirror-esque tales of cryptocurrency and internet trolling, to heartbreaking narratives of parent-child relationships, The Hidden Girl and Other Stories is a far-reaching work that explores topical themes from the present and a visionary look at humanity’s future.
The Magic of Terry Pratchett by Marc Burrows
Sir Terry was Britain’s best-selling living author*, and before his death in 2015 had sold more than 85 million copies of his books worldwide. Best known for the Discworld series, his work has been translated into 37 languages, and performed as plays on every continent in the world, including Antarctica. Journalist, comedian and Pratchett fan Marc Burrows delves into the back story of one of UK’s most enduring and beloved authors, from his childhood in the Chiltern Hills, to his time as a journalist, and the journey that would take him, via more than sixty best-selling books, to an OBE, a knighthood and national treasure status.
Illustrated and Art Book
The Art of NASA: The Illustrations that Sold the Missions by Piers Bizony
From space suits to capsules, from landing modules to the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station, and more recent concepts for space planes, The Art of NASA presents 60 years of American space exploration in an unprecedented fashion. All the landmark early missions are represented in detail-Gemini, Mercury, Apollo-as are post-Space Race accomplishments, like the mission to Mars and other deep-space explorations.
The insightful text relates the wonderful stories associated with the art. For instance, the incredibly rare early Apollo illustrations show how Apollo might have looked if the landing module had never been developed. Black-and-white Gemini drawings illustrate how the massive NASA art department did its stuff with ink pen and rubdown Letraset textures. Cross-sections of the Apollo—Soyuz Test Project docking adapter reveal Russian sensitivity about US “male” probes “penetrating” their spacecraft, thus the androgynous “adapter” now used universally in space. International Space Station cutaways show how huge the original plan was, but also what was retained.