The Kitschies

Gollancz is very happy to bring you a special guest post from The Kitschies.

This Friday marks the third year of The Kitschies, our annual award celebrating the most progressive, intelligent and entertaining genre literature. We’re delighted to say that it has been the award’s biggest year as well, as it somehow swelled from a one-blog operation to a sprawling, tentacular mass comprising separate art & literature judging panels, an awards ceremony at the SFX Weekender, cash prizes and sponsorship by our tasty friends at The Kraken Rum.

As its founders, we couldn’t be happier. There are plenty of genre awards already, and literature has one or two dozen as well. But never the twain shall meet (and if they did, he’d say something like “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow” which is surprisingly unhelpful in this situation). There are simply too few prizes that accept that science fiction and fantasy are literature.

Even within the genre community, awards can be blinkered – it is amazing how many terrific books sneak out of the woodwork when you open your doors to horror, young adult, steampunk, slipstream, paranormal romance, magical realism…This year’s Kitschies finalists come from all categories and definitions: epic fantasy, young adult, horror, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, science fiction and a few that probably need new terms in order to describe them properly. (“Noirpunk”?) (“Slipscream”?) (“Space Libretto”!?)

But diversity alone isn’t the trick. Awards are recommendations and, to be a strong recommendation, they need to earn your trust. Part of our scheme to win hearts and minds has been to be transparent about the Kitschies process. Being part of a cabal with hoods and sigils would be awesome, but we’d rather people understood where we’re coming from, and why. It may be boring to know why we’re juried (to monitor the criteria), why we have criteria (because we hate the word “best”) or why we’re obsessed with squid (… no idea, really), but we want readers to trust us. This has been easier than it seems. We’re bloggers after all, and over-sharing is in our nature. (“Today’s breakfast: grapenuts #dailycereal”)

Since the beginning, we’ve believed that we’ll get closer to achieving our wiffly goal of “elevating geek culture” through discussion. Members of the judging panel post reviews of the finalists, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to their discussion, which takes place in person and online – via Twitter, Skype, Facebook, and pretty much everything else you might suspect. And that chat is merely the tiniest chip of some gargantuan Antarctic ice-mass when compared to the debate that could be taking place amongst readers. It’s by talking about good books (or bad books) that we get better ones. And if there’s one thing that unites everyone – science fiction fans and literary communities – it is the ambition to have the books we love be as good as possible. And in the immortal words of legendary noirpunk Rodney Dangerfield, a little respect wouldn’t hurt either.

If you’re interested in helping out The Kitschies – or cranking a few cogs on the Culture Elevator – all you need to do is talk about books. If you’re stuck, we’ve got a handy list for you already. Or click any link on this site. What works do you find progressive, intelligent or entertaining? And, just as important, why?