Back from holiday down in Devon, and I failed to win the David Gemmell Legend Award the other night, which went to Graham McNeill for Empire. Curses. But on the upside, Best Served Cold did win for cover art, so congratulations to the artists Didier Graffet and Dave Senior and the designer Laura Brett. Talented people, and much deserved. The one criticism you could make of their covers for that book is that they are too far apart. A ha ha. If you’re interested, you can read a little more about the development of that now prize-winning cover here.
The event was a little less well-attended than last year due to an unfortunate scheduling convergance with the England-Algeria game, though judging on what I hear about that goalless shambles I’m glad I didn’t see it. Very good to see various people from the business, and to meet the aforementioned McNeill, Pierre Pevel who won best newcomer for his book The Cardinal’s Blades (or Les Lames du Cardinal, for it is French), and particularly from my point of view Didier Graffet, the artist responsible for the sword on the UK cover of Best Served Cold, and for the equally beautiful yet dangerous axe which will grace the UK cover of The Heroes come January.
Good to see a French book on the shortlist for the main award and winning for newcomer, given there was a Polish winner last year in Sapkowski – nice to feel that there is some serious international involvement. McNeill was something of a surprise, given the presence of the commercial juggernaut that is Wheel of Time. For those unfamiliar, McNeill writes what might be called shared world or tie-in fiction, in his case in the Warhammer world, one which I used to gamesmaster campaigns in back in the day and have always been a big admirer of. No doubt those who are not great fans of the whole idea of the Gemmells will see this as further evidence of the prize’s critical worthlessness/damage to the genre/undiluted evil etc. but to that I can only shrug my shoulders. To me it just seems evidence of the importance of shared world fiction as a slice of the market (which is pretty self-evident from visiting the sf/f section of any bookshop), that Black Library are very good at making it and have developed a big and very committed audience, and for that matter that a lot of people must have bought and liked McNeill’s book(s) in particular. No doubt the arguments about whether publicly voted awards are any use will continue, but I would note that for an award that was supposed to be pathetically predictable it has so far produced two winners out of two that no one really predicted. I’m interested to see how it develops, and continue to support the project wholeheartedly, right up until the moment when I am no longer nominated, at which point I will decry it as a farce, sham, and danger to our beloved island.
In other, related news, I note in passing that Best Served Cold has been shortlisted in the Best Novel category at this year’s British Fantasy Awards. I’m quite pleased about this, as the BFAs tend to have a big slant towards horror on the whole (in fact I’d say mine is the only straight ahead fantasy book on the shortlist). Can’t honestly imagine I’ll win this one either, though…