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2017 Sunburst Award Shortlists


TORONTO, ONTARIO (July 18, 2017) The Sunburst Award Committee is pleased to announce the shortlists for the 2017 Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic.

Adult Shortlist

Spells of Blood and Kin
by Claire Humphrey
Thomas Dunn Books

In her debut novel, Claire Humphrey shows us a world of magic existing in the shadow of Queen Street bars and down side streets lined with old houses in Toronto.  When Lissa Nevsky’s grandmother dies, she inherits the old world magical practices that her  Baba taught her – and which have divided her family. She also inherits an old obligation that comes trailing a dark history of violence and bitterness.  Humphrey’s novel explores the gifts that magic can bestow, the price it exacts, and the lure of a life beyond the confines of law and death.

The Witches of New York
by Ami McKay
Knopf Canada

Beautifully written, atmospheric, with a host of strong female characters and a fully immersive setting. A Dickensian tale of a 19th Century Manhattan where spiritualism and magic compete with technology and science and, as always, both love and hate are bound to power.

Sleeping Giants
by Sylvain Neuvel
Del Ray

The components of a vast metal giant, buried thousands of years ago in locations scattered around the world, must be sought out, studied, assembled—and weaponized. Set at the nexus of archaeological mystery and modern realpolitik, of pure science and cynical military expediency, Sleeping Giants makes brilliant use of the epistolary form through interview transcripts, journal entries, clippings, and sinister secret files.

by Jo Walton
Tor Books

Jo Walton concludes her Thessaly trilogy with Necessity, a novel that mixes space opera with high fantasy. Greek (and other) gods, time travel, aliens, planetary colonization by transplanted ancient Greeks, sentient robots and other superficially inimical elements combine in surprising and innovative ways in this exploration of fate and free will against a cosmic backdrop.

Last Year
by Robert Charles Wilson
Tor Books

Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson offers an engaging, innovative and thriller-esque take on the idea of time travel tourism. What would happen if a Trump-like mogul got access to time travel technology? He would turn the past into an amusement park for the present, sucking money from both the past and the future. But how might this interference with the past affect both the past and the future? Wilson conceals a meditation on exploitation and neoliberalism beneath a thriller plot.

Young Adult Shortlist

Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard
by Jonathan Auxier
Puffin Canada 

Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard (volume two in the Peter Nimble series by Jonathan Auxier) is a surprisingly complex take on age-old themes. Intrepid heroes, vivid villains, and an array of fantasy characters interact in a plot that places the importance of storytelling at its heart. It's a metafictional adventure about the power (and limits) of story that, despite its invocation of well-worn tropes and its echoes of classics of children's fantasy, still manages to be both surprising and gripping (and very funny) in its long, intricately-plotted narrative.

Worlds of Ink and Shadow
by Lena Coakley

The Brontë siblings – Charlotte, Anne, Emily and brother Branwell – are cast as the heroes of a clever historical fantasy based on their own early writings. It’s a literate, exciting and evocative story pitting the world of their imaginations against the reality of their lives.

The Inn Between
by Marina Cohen
Roaring Brook Press 

Marina Cohen’s The Inn Between offers a fantastically-inflected exploration of childhood friendship  and the incomparable, if sometimes troubled, bond between siblings. Never condescending to either its young characters or its readers, it explores often-heavy subjects with grace and insight, deftly re-inventing aspects of the Victorian Gothic novel for contemporary young readers.

Julia Vanishes
by Catherine Egan
Doubleday Canada

Julia spies, Julia steals, Julia vanishes….  In Catherine Egan’s novel, Julia uses her special ability on behalf of the criminals who have become her family after the execution of her mother by a royal authority bent on destroying witches and magic.  When her latest assignment brings her into a household of people with unusual gifts and the path of a killer leaving bodies in the streets, she’ll discover that even a girl who can vanish can’t escape her worst deeds. Egan takes many of the standard elements of YA fantasy and brings them to new, refreshing life through the voice of her complicated main character.

The Skids
by Ian Donald Keeling

Like The Princess Bride, this book has everything—love, grief, envy, revenge, monsters, heroism, battles, self-sacrifice, sports, and shopping. It does not matter that the characters exist inside a computer game and look like bowling balls on tank treads; the reader’s empathy engages immediately, and the story grips to the end. Along the way, we see an imaginative realization of a virtual multiverse from the inside, and an alien culture that is both poignant and credible. The Skids is truly a tale for the 21st century young.

Short Story Shortlist

This year’s shortlists again highlight the eclecticism to be found in today's Canadian literature of the fantastic. Although the majority of those shortlisted are making their Sunburst Award debut, there are a number of return writers: Jonathan Auxier, James Alan Garner, Jo Walton (twice before) and Robert Charles Wilson have all been shortlisted before; in fact Robert Charles Wilson's work has been shortlisted an unprecedented seven times.

The Jury:

The jurors for the 2017 award are Nancy Baker, Michel Basilières, Rebecca Bradley, Dominick Grace, and Sean Moreland.

Sunburst Award winners will be announced in Fall 2017.