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Shortlist for the 2004 Sunburst Award

Book cover of The Bone House

The Bone House
by Luanne Armstrong

New Star Books ISBN: 1895636531

From the book jacket: "British Columbia has changed.  Globally, the weather has become extreme and unpredictable.  Giant corporations rule.  They are the beneficiaries of environmental laws imposed too late to help the world, but which can be used to control and impoverish the remaining population.  A young woman, Lia, escapes a Vancouver that has deteriorated into a landscape of gated communities, violent gangs, squalid squats, and sinister welfare agencies.  She returns to her childhood home in the Kootenays and a commune where Magnus and his mother Ama and their eccentric neighbour, Matt, are determined not only to fight for their land but to understand the events that have shaped their lives.  The Bone House... is a riveting tale of a world in which people have become the endangered species...."

"Born and raised on the East Shore of Kootenay Lake, Luanne Armstrong is the author of numerous books, including Annie, Bordering, Arly and Spike, The Colour of Water and the children's book Jeannie and the Gentle Giants.  She lives in Vancouver. The Sunburst jury says: "Luanne Armstrong gives us a chilling tale of the near future, where apocalyptic conditions seem to prevail. Her premise, that we stand teetering on the edge of an environmental disaster that merely echoes our moral corruption as a culture, is compelling. The author's characters struggle against individual brutality and corporate self-interest. We are saddened by the casualties in this epic battle, but heartened by the spirit and determination of a few who, against huge odds, survive. Above all, the author never loses sight of the art of fine storytelling. Futuristic but personal, this is a significant yet highly enjoyable tale." Book cover of Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake
by Margaret Atwood

McClelland & Stewart ISBN: 0771008686

From the book jacket: "In Oryx and Crake, the future has changed.  The narrator of Atwood's riveting novel calls himself Snowman.  When the story opens, he is sleeping in a tree, wearing an old bedsheet, mourning the loss of his beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake, and slowly starving to death.  He searches for supplies in a wasteland where insects proliferate and pigoons and wolvogs ravage the pleeblands, where ordinary people once lived, and the Compounds that sheltered the extraordinary....

"Margaret Atwood's breathtaking and provocative new novel takes us into a future at once all too familiar and beyond our imagining.  For readers of Oryx and Crake, nothing will ever look the same again. Margaret Atwood's books have been published in over 35 countries.  She is the author of more than 30 books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays.  Her most recent novel, The Blind Assassin, won the 2000 Booker Prize.  Other novels include Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy, The Robber Bride, Cat's Eye, and The Handmaid's Tale.  Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.  Oryx and Crake is her 11th novel. The Sunburst jury says: "Atwood has veered away from the intellectual exercises of satire and dystopia in this near-future, post-apocalyptic novel. What's left? The precise, almost surgical quality of her observation, the clarity of her prose, and her ability to break the heart in the most unexpected of ways. The titular characters, Oryx and Crake, are remembered, reviewed, and reviled from the viewpoint of a half-mad lone man. The politics of the novel aren't subtle, but everything else about it is; it stays in the mind, like a shadow and a thought, continuing to unfold long after the book has been closed." Book cover of A Place So Foreign and 8 More

A Place So Foreign and 8 More
by Cory Doctorow

Four Walls Eight Windows ISBN: 1568582862

From the book jacket: "It was on the strength of these stories, collected here for the first time, that Doctorow was awarded the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Writer.  Doctorow's tales revolve around trash, popular culture,  nerd pride, and the intersection of social change and technology.  Honest and fevered, these stories push the boundaries of science fiction, chronicling our long, caffeinated journey through techo-cultural revolution.  As the world upends itself, this sort of fiction is a roadmap to the possible futures that may arise in our lifetimes." Cory Doctorow is the author of two novels, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom and Eastern Standard Tribe. The Sunburst jury says: "A Place so Foreign and 8 More opens with Cory Doctorow's signature piece, 'Craphound,' which perfectly showcases the qualities that so impressed us: an energetic narrative drive; an infectious love of storytelling; intriguingly imagined outcast characters; unusual ideas explored with verve and intelligence; a charming wit; a desire to take chances rather than to retread safe ground; and a generous amount of chutzpah. This collection of nine stories is an excellent example of science fiction pushing forward and evolving, while casting a critically pertinent eye towards the past, the present, and the future." Book cover of Initiation

by Virginia Frances Schwartz

Fitzhenry & Whiteside ISBN: 1550050532

From the book jacket: "Nana knows what her future will bring, and she dreads it.  Daughter of a proud Kwakiutl chief, she will be sold in marriage to another tribe while her twin brother Nanolatch stays behind to become a warrior chief.   Together the twins will soon enter their initiation to adulthood and fulfill the roles that have been determined for them since the day they were born.  When the chief leads a warring party to destroy another village and capture a slave, the fortunes of the Kwakiutl tribe begin to turn.  The chief casts about for a way to undo the curse that has descended on his people.  But only the young slave, mute since the day she was torn from her village, can understand what the Spirit World really expects.  Daughter of a shaman, she is inextricably linked iwth the twins.  Driven by her sympathy for Nan's plight and her hopeless love for Nanolatch, she is convinced that she alone can help the twins find their true destinies, no matter what it costs..." "Virginia Frances Schwartz is the author of three historical novels, including Messenger and Send One Angel Down, an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and winner of a Parent's Choice Gold Award.  If I Just Had Two Wings won both the Silver Birch Award and the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction.  Born in Ontario, Virginia now lives in New York City, where she teaches writing to elementary school children." The Sunburst jury says: "Beautiful language and a strong sense of place and history combine to make Initiation a vivid and memorable book. Grounded in pre-contact Kwakiutl culture, this powerful novel centres on three young people whose passage into adulthood will change the fate of their tribes. Virginia Frances Schwartz has crafted a superb fantasy novel, resonant with the strength of myth and timeless in its examination of the human heart." Book cover of Blind Lake

Blind Lake
by Robert Charles Wilson

Tor Books ISBN: 0765302624

From the book jacket: "At Blind Lake, a large federal research installation in northern Minnesota, scientists are using a technology they barely understand to watch everyday life in a city of lobsterlike aliens on a distant planet.  They can't contact the aliens in any way or understand their language.  All they can do is watch.  Then, without warning, a military cordon is imposed on the Blind Lake site.  All communication with the outside world is cut off.  Food and other vital supplies are delivered by remote control.  No one knows why..." "Robert Charles Wilson was born in California and grew up in Canada.  He is the author of many acclaimed SF novels, including A Hidden Place, The Divide, Gypsies, Bios, Darwinia, and The Chronoliths.  His work has won the John W. Campbell Award, the Aurora Award, and two Philip K. Dick Awards.  He lives near Toronto." The Sunburst jury says: "Blind Lake is contemporary science fiction at its best. Through rounded characters and a suspenseful story, and with ease and subtlety, Wilson explores ideas and illustrates scientific maxims, questioning the human heart and its drive for love, possession and knowledge." Jury's Recommended Reading The jury requested that we list the following additional books because they felt very strongly that, although these books were not shortlisted, they merit attention nonetheless:

  • Struck by Geoffrey Bromhead (Anvil);
  • The Mermaid of Paris by Cary Fagan (Key Porter);
  • The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson (Warner);
  • A Telling of Stars by Caitlin Sweet (Viking); and
  • The Assassins of Tamurin by S.D. Tower (HarperCollins).