All The Nominees For The 2021 Philip K Dick Awards - Comic Years
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Nominees For The 2021 Philip K Dick Awards Are The Best Sci-Fi Novels After A Dystopian Year

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BY January 24, 2021

It can be daunting to try and keep track of the many genre awards that are named after late authors. You’ve got your Hugo’s, your Clarke Awards, and let’s not bring up Orwell. But Philip K Dick is one of those names that everyone knows. And it brings to mind a specific type of science fiction. The kind that reaches beyond the bounds of human limits, that breaks form and function, and gets weird. These are the more philosophical sci-fi novels, that ask the big questions without always expecting an answer. So let’s take a look at the novels that have been nominated for the 2021 Phillip K Dick Awards.

Failed State by Christopher Brown

Failed State Image via Harper Collins

A harrowing thriller with plenty of politics and real-world parallels make this one a little too real for 2021.

Synopsis via Harper Voyager.

“In the aftermath of a second American revolution, peace rests on a fragile truce. The old regime has been deposed, but the ex-president has vanished, escaping justice for his crimes. Some believe he is dead. Others fear he is in hiding, gathering forces. As the factions in Washington work to restore order, Donny Kimoe is in court to settle old scores—and pay his own debts come due.

To save the future, Donny has to gamble his own. He must betray his clients’ secrets. Including one explosive secret hidden in the ruins, the discovery of which could extinguish the last hope for a better tomorrow—or, if Donny plays it right, keep it burning.”

The Book of Koli by M. R. Carey

The Book Koli Carey Image via Orbit Books

M.R. or Mike Carey might be better known around these parts as a writer for both DC and Marvel. He takes the leap from X-Men and Fantastic Four to his own dystopian sci-fi series. The Book of Koli is the first title in his Rampart trilogy. The clearest frontrunner of the nominees for the 2021 Philip K Dick Awards.

Synopsis via Orbit Books.

“Beyond the walls of the small village of Mythen Rood lies an unrecognizable landscape. A place where overgrown forests are filled with choker trees and deadly seeds that will kill you where you stand. And if they don’t get you, one of the shunned men will.

Koli has lived in Mythen Rood his entire life. He believes the first rule of survival is that you don’t venture too far beyond the walls.

He’s wrong.”

Dance on Saturday by Elwin Cotman

Elwin Cotman Dance Image via Small Beer Press

We are rooting for Pittsburgh-native Elwin Cotman’s lyrical, comedic, and poignant selection of magical realist short stories. Since the Philip K Dick awards are nominated by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society maybe we can continue building those bridges between Philly and Pittsburgh. But let’s make them magic.

Synopsis via Small Beer Press.

“In the title novella, Cotman imagines a group of near-immortals living in Pittsburgh in an uneasy truce with Lord Decay. Their truce is threatened when one of them takes pity on a young woman who knows their secret. In “Among the Zoologists,” a game writer on their way to a convention falls in with a group of rogue Darwinists whose baggage contains a great mystery. A volleyball tournament devolves into nightmare and chaos in “Mine.” In Cotman’s hands, the conventions of genres from fairytales to Victorian literature to epic fantasy and horror give shape to marvelously new stories.”

Bone Silence by Alastair Reynolds

Bone Silence Reynolds Image via Orbit Books

This is the third novel in the Revenger Trilogy – the space opera with three pirate sisters against the galaxy.
Synopsis via Orbit Books.
“The Ness sisters ran away from home to become the most fearsome pirates in the twenty thousand worlds of the Congregation. They’ve plundered treasures untold, taken command of their own ship, and made plenty of enemies. But now they’re being hunted for crimes they didn’t commit by a fleet whose crimes are worse than their own. To stay one step ahead of their pursuers and answer the questions that have plagued them, they’ll have to employ every dirty, piratical trick in the book….”

Road Out of Winter by Alison Stine

Road Out of Winter Stine Image via Mira Books

In the middle of the apocalypse, it is always good to have someone with a green thumb. But it can also be dangerous.

Synopsis via Mira Books.

“Wylodine comes from a world of paranoia and poverty—her family grows marijuana illegally, and life has always been a battle. Now she’s been left behind to tend the crop alone. Then spring doesn’t return for the second year in a row, bringing unprecedented, extreme winter. She begins a journey, determined to start over away from Appalachia.  Because she has the most valuable skill in the chaos of the current climate: she can make things grow.”

The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Doors of Eden Image via Orbit Books

Multi-verses collide in this sci-fi story that is both immensely grand in scope, and intimately personal in story. Another favorite to win at the Philip K Dick awards, since author Adrian Tchaikovsky also won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for a previous novel. (What did I tell you about all of those names?)

Synopsis via Orbit Books.

“Four years ago, two girls went looking for monsters on Bodmin Moor. Only one came back. Lee thought she’d lost Mal, but now she’s miraculously returned. But what happened that day on the moors? And where has she been all this time?
Lee isn’t the only one with questions. Julian Sabreur is investigating an attack on top physicist Kay Amal Khan. This leads Julian to clash with agents of an unknown power – and they may or may not be human. Dr Khan’s research was theoretical; then she found cracks between our world and parallel Earths. Now these cracks are widening, revealing extraordinary creatures. And as the doors crash open, anything could come through.”
To stay up to date on all of the winners, be sure to follow Comic Years on Facebook and Twitter today.
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Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.

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