Yoda has been using the Force to help me sort out some books. Rather a lot of books. This double pile represents a small percentage of the mountain of fantasy works piled up all over my house at present. This year I am one of the five judges for the World Fantasy Awards. These awards are presented annually for the best fantasy works in English, spread over several categories – novel, novella, short story, collection, anthology – and in special categories such as Best Artist and Lifetime Achievement. As the awards are open to any new work published in English, the prospective pool of eligible works is huge. Publishers send boxes of their 2016 titles to all the judges – some works come in digital form but most are in print. From one major publisher, 54 novels. Book fort, anyone?

It would be nice if I could contract Yoda to do some speed reading for me. There’s a phenomenal amount to consider in what feels like a very short time. That has meant, sadly, little progress on my own writing. I still don’t have any news for my readers on the next project, though I am working behind the scenes to make it happen. I do know how much you’d all love a new book from me, and there will be one, just not very soon.

Reading for these awards has been educational for me. Obviously I can’t comment on individual works I’ve looked at so far, nor can I review any work published in 2016 until after the awards are presented at the World Fantasy Convention in November 2017. But there are some magnificent novels in contention; this is a highly competitive award. Along the way, I’m learning more about what does and doesn’t make a great book.

Note how Yoda has tactfully arranged his collection so you can’t easily identify the books. He’s even chosen a non-WFA eligible book to stand on – it’s a gorgeous collection of English folk tales, illustrated with wood engravings. Yoda finds it comfortable under his feet and full of good magic.  We will review it for you in a while.

Ah well, better get on it. Reading a lot of fantasy novels is fun. Having to do it super-fast, not so much fun. I am having some weird and colourful dreams.

(P.S. I declared my own 2016 novel ineligible for consideration.)

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