The Week in Geek: Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards

This week was pretty quiet in terms of in-house geekery, but there was a very important (excitable) vote going on…

The Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards 2021

After a lot of reading, voting, discussing and voting some more (and agonising, don’t forget that), this year’s Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards winners have been chosen. There were some clear winners and some very tough choices – and in a first for the awards, a tie for one of the categories! Let’s get to the goods, with some praise/blurbing from the jurors who held the winning stories most dear…

Best Short Story – You Perfect, Broken Thing by C.L. Clark

This is a story about an athlete competing in a Race which forces her to push her sick body to its limits to win a cure. There’s a perfect blend of cameraderie between the main character and their training partners, and the desperate, unfair competition they are pushed into to survive; these are characters still fighting in the face of constant, overwhelming struggle and that’s a powerful, challenging, necessary thing.

Best Novella – The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo



The Empress of Salt and Fortune is an epic tale in miniature: a mosaic of moments and manipulations that resolve into a bigger picture of rebellion.



Best Novel (Debut) – Legendborn by Tracy Deonn



Legendborn is not only one of the most creative reworkings of Arthurian myth – making the corpus truly the author’s own – but it is a tender exploration of grief and Black girl magic in a richly crafted world touching on slavery, privilege and secret societies.


Best Novel (Science Fiction) – The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson


A beautiful, intelligent story exploring the parallel worlds concept, but also combining it with issues of racism and classism, with a core of hope running throughout.



Best Novel (Fantasy)

For the first time in the judging of these awards, we had a tie! With the votes evenly divided, it was agreed that we should embrace the chaos that the awards are named for and award both finalists.

Joint Winner: The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow


Alix E. Harrow has crafted something truly special with this story. Her prose is by turns powerful and deft of touch, and blends together fantasy, fairytale and history into a thoroughly modern classic.




Joint Winner: The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk


The Midnight Bargain is not only a wonderful story about witches in a richly imagined Regency-style setting, but it’s a clever exploration of reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. It is a thoroughly modern and political book while masquerading as a gorgeous escapist fantasy, and that makes it a fantastic read.



Best Novel (Blurred Boundaries): Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia


This stylish thriller blends Gothic tropes with 50s noir and body horror. Expect modern themes of prejudice and complicity in an unapologetically creepy tale of controlling families and psychedelic fungus.



Best Series: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang


Based on the second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45), R.F. Kuang’s trilogy starts off as an academic fantasy, transforms into a military historical fantasy, and ends as a grimdark narrative. This Asian-inspired series delves into the layers and the consequences of power and warfare.




That’s it for this year’s awards, but again – huge congratulations to all our winners, and I can’t believe I didn’t actually expire from the fangirl stress of that Fantasy category!

When can we do next year’s nominating…?


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