The British Science Fiction Association’s Best Novel Reading Challenge

Phew! That’s quite a mouthful.

Having been inspired by a number of bloggers who have undertaken various “Book Award Reading Challenges”, I have decided to attempt my own. Here is the challenge I am setting myself. I am going to read all of the Best Novel winners of the British Science Fiction Association’s Awards. I will need to read 46 books, (so far), to complete this challenge. One of which I am currently reading, 1974’s winner ‘Inverted World’ by Christopher Priest. Five of the books I have read before so will experience for the second time. For each book I complete I will write a *spoiler-free* review and post it on this blog.

And here is Wikipedia’s brief entry on the BSFA Awards:

‘The BSFA Awards are literary awards presented annually since 1970 by the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) to honour works in the genre of science fiction. Nominees and winners are chosen based on a vote of BSFA members. More recently, members of the Eastercon convention have also been elibigle to vote.’                                                                                                     []

BSFA Best Novel Winners List:

  • 1969: Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner
  • 1970: The Jagged Orbit by John Brunner
  • 1971: The Moment of Eclipse by Brian W. Aldiss
  • 1972: No award
  • 1973: Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
  • 1974: Inverted World by Christopher Priest
  • 1975: Orbitsville by Bob Shaw
  • 1976: Brontomek! by Michael G. Coney
  • 1977: The Jonah Kit by Ian Watson
  • 1978: A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick
  • 1979: The Unlimited Dream Company by J. G. Ballard
  • 1980: Timescape by Gregory Benford
  • 1981: The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe
  • 1982: Helliconia Spring by Brian W. Aldiss
  • 1983: Tik-Tok by John Sladek
  • 1984: Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock
  • 1985: Helliconia Winter by Brian W. Aldiss
  • 1986: The Ragged Astronauts by Bob Shaw
  • 1987: Gráinne by Keith Roberts
  • 1988: Lavondyss by Robert Holdstock
  • 1989: Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
  • 1990: Take Back Plenty by Colin Greenland
  • 1991: The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons
  • 1992: Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • 1993: Aztec Century by Christopher Evans
  • 1994: Feersum Endjinn by Iain M. Banks
  • 1995: The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter
  • 1996: Excession by Iain M. Banks
  • 1997: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
  • 1998: The Extremes by Christopher Priest
  • 1999: The Sky Road by Ken MacLeod
  • 2000: Ash: A Secret History by Mary Gentle
  • 2001: Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds
  • 2002: The Separation by Christopher Priest
  • 2003: Felaheen by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
  • 2004: River of Gods by Ian McDonald
  • 2005: Air by Geoff Ryman
  • 2006: End of the World Blues by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
  • 2007: Brasyl by Ian McDonald
  • 2008: The Night Sessions by Ken MacLeod
  • 2009: The City & the City by China Miéville
  • 2010: The Dervish House by Ian McDonald
  • 2011: The Islanders by Christopher Priest
  • 2012: Jack Glass by Adam Roberts
  • 2013: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie and Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L. Powell (tie)
  • 2014: Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
  • 2015: The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard
  • 2016: Europe in Winter by Dave Hutchinson
  • 2017: The Rift by Nina Allan

2017 BSFA Best Novel Winner

It would be great if you would join me on this journey and let me know about your own reading challenge(s).


16 thoughts on “The British Science Fiction Association’s Best Novel Reading Challenge

  1. Well Gray I have read Stand on Zanzibar, A Scanner Darkly, Shadow of the Torturer, Mythago Wood (you gave me that one), The Fall of Hyperion, and The City and the City – all good reads. Intend to check out some Brian Aldiss one day baut am currently in a bit of a Steampunk / Fin de Siecle period.

    This actually just to check if I can even get a reply to you without my German autocorrect mangling my words beyond recognition.

    Byeee, Mik

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Inverted World (1974) by Christopher Priest | Big in Japan

  3. I LOVE the BSFA! My favorite award list so far, though Tiptree and Clarke also grab my attention. They sometimes pick some odd Pop SF feeling stuff (Ancillary two years in a row?, Pratchett, Time Ships), but for such a small readership, they pull together some really neat shortlists. Last year’s shortlist blew my mind, but then none of my faves broke into double-digit votes. So disappointing for such talented writers: Ings, Allan, Hutchinson, Okorafor pretty much made my holiday reading worthwhile this time last year.

    Of the winners, I’ve done Zanzibar, Rama, Inverted World, Red Mars, Time Ships, River of Gods, Dervish House, City & City, Jack Glass, and the Ancillaries. I’ve seen wonderful reviews of Ash, Air (KSR’s fave SF novel, I believe), and Tik Tok, and of course, more Priest, so I’m eager to get to those.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve often seen bloggers working through the Hugo winners list, so I wanted to try something different, especially after all the controversy this year. It’s good to hear that you rate it. Yes, I was also surprised to see ‘Pyramids’ on the list. I would’ve picked one of his Witches or Death books, if any. Will have to check out the shortlists after your recommendation.

    It’s funny that you mentioned ‘Tik Tok’ as it’s my next read. And a definite “Yes” to more Priest. What did you think of Zanzibar? It sounds like readers either love it or hate it. I’m very impressed with the amount of reading, reviewing and commenting you get through. Time portal? Or do you get by on very little sleep?:)


  5. I’ve read 9 from the list – nothing beyond 1986! That’s about right in my reckoning. I’ve had a vague “do not read anything past 1980” rule in place for the last 10 to 15 years (exceptions allowed, of course).
    I like the idea of these challenges but still unsure how to make them gel with my self-imposed rule.
    And one day I’m gonna havta write something about why I have such a rule.
    PS. Cool blog by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for your comment. I’m just getting started with this blog which began with a couple of beer reviews, got a bit lost, then became yet another book review site. It feels a bit like learning to ride a bike – wobbly, unsure, and prone to hitting the ground with a crash.

    Nothing past ’86? That’s interesting because I’ve often heard the 80s and 90s being looked on as a bit of a fallow period for mind-blowing works. One of the reasons why I’m attempting this challenge is to try to get a feel for the different decades and the works that came out of them. Which period(s) do you rate highly? And which of these winners are your favourites?


    • I grew up in the 1970s and 80s and spent most of the 1990s in my 20s. I’ve been reading sf since around 1974 (my first complete sf “novel”: Dragonfall 5 and the Empty Planet by Brian Ernshaw). I read a lot of Clarke and Heinlein when I was a kid/teen. I also read other sf and fantasy, Dune, LOTR, etc. Around my 15th birthday I was fortuitously given a collection of Ballard shorts – The Disaster Area, and that helped fuk me up real good 😉 I’m not sure when I started to consciously turn backwards. Certainly reading 40s, 50s, 60s sf growing up helped (+ i had older sf reading sibs).

      I don’t remember the fallowness of the 80s and 90s in sf. But then I only haphazardly followed the trends until my militant cyberpunk phase in the late 80s and early 90s. That ultimately sent me back to Ballard, but also John Brunner, Frederick Pohl, CM Kornbluth, Alfred Bester, etc. And in the 90s I was also reading a lot of “theory”, but mostly of the political/philosophical variety.

      Of the books on the BFSA list I would recommend as great novels: Stand on Zanzibar and A Scanner Darkly, without question. The Unlimited Dream Company is good, but I would prefer one of Ballard’s crazy novels like the Atrocity Exhibition. I haven’t read Inverted World but I am prepared to *love* it (hopefully). And Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama is a good, solid piece of 70s hard sf that I adored in my early teens, but not sure how I would take it these days (though his The City and the Stars was my all time fave back in the day). The last one on the list I read was The Ragged Astronauts, mostly on a train. It was fun but nothing earth shaking (though i tracked down the sequels…).

      What periods? Hmmmm, I love the gems to be found everywhere! But due to the increasing massification of the production of sf (er, and everything else) I find that by looking into its “ascendant” period you find sf as a revolutionary and insurgent form of literature. Before 1975-80; maybe even before 1970! One day I will work it up into a paper or somfink.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Pyramids (1989) by Terry Pratchett | Who's Dreaming Who

  8. Pingback: The Separation (2002) by Christopher Priest | Who's Dreaming Who

  9. Pingback: Brontomek! (1976) by Michael G. Coney | Who's Dreaming Who

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  12. I’m coming to this past after three years, so likely you’ve discovered additional award resources since. If not, there are two good ones. First is the awards db:

    And second is a function of the isfdb that not many people may know about. After clicking on an author’s page, just below the bio there is a button called “Awards” which lists all nominations and wins for every novel, novella, short story, essay, cover, etc. said author garnered. For example, here is Coney’s award’s page:


    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: The City and the City (2009) by China Mieville | Who's Dreaming Who

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