The shortlists for the 2012 Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic have been announced. This is a juried award to recognize stellar writing in two categories: adult and young adult. The awards are presented annually to Canadian writers with a speculative fiction novel or book-length collection of speculative fiction published any time during the previous calendar year. Named after the first novel by Phyllis Gotlieb (1926–2009), one of the first published authors of contemporary Canadian science fiction, the awards consist of a cash award of $1,000 and a medallion which incorporates a specially designed “Sunburst” logo. The winners receive their awards in the fall of every year. The young adult shortlist is listed below.
Written by R.J. Anderson
Lerner Publishing Group
The Sunburst jury says: “A compelling and intricately woven fantasy about prejudice, mental illness, and coming to terms with the layers of history and identity, Ultraviolet is the story of Alison, an emotionally starved and socially isolated sixteen-year-old, who has awesome synesthesiac abilities.She awakens in a psychiatric centre having confessed to disintegrating the popular school beauty, Tori Beaugrand. But with no body found, and only fractured memories of what actually happened, Alison fears she’s going insane. A charming and strangely attentive scientist, Sebastian Faraday, helps Alison unravel the secrets of her past and of her extraordinary sensory gifts. A deeply empathetic study of a young woman’s struggle to make sense of her pathologized difference, Ultraviolet is a refreshingly rich and subtle exploration of emotional and imaginative terrain.”
Born in Uganda, Stratford Ontario author R.J. Anderson also wrote the Faery Rebels series for teens and young adults.
All Good Children
Written by Catherine Austen
Orca Book Publishers
The Sunburst jury says: “In a physically and morally crumbling United States, 15-year-old Max Connors finds his family, friends, and himself under threat by a semi-covert Homeland Security plan to vaccinate all school children to be “good” – or, as Max calls it: zombification. Max, who’s smart, artistic, and a troublemaker, is horrified to learn that their parents and teachers are complicit and uses desperate measures to escape with his little sister and best friend. The author includes knowing nods to 1984, Brave New World, Stepford Wives, Alien and other pop-cultural touchstones in this tension-filled, fast-paced, and surprisingly tender dystopian thriller that’s narrated by its teen protagonist with wit and vigour. ”
Catherine Austen lives in Aylmer Quebec. All Good Children, her first YA novel, won the 2012 Canadian Library Association’s Young Adult Book Award.
The Summer of Permanent Wants
Written by Jamieson Findlay
The Sunburst jury says: “Emmeline and Teo, her grand-mother, spend a golden summer sailing a bookstore/houseboat renamed the Permanent Wants along the Rideau Canal. Along the way they encounter doppelgangers, magic, aliens, pirates, pythons, and ur-language. Language is important to Emmeline, who suffers from Aphasia, due to a mysterious childhood illness. Each adventure is a complete short story, giving an Arabian Nights pacing to the novel. The readers, like Emmeline and Teo, are on board for the trip, rather than the destination, as the intelligence and wit of Findlay’s characters open up a world of wonders.”
Award-winning Canadian science journalist and teacher Jamieson Findlay’s previous fantasy novel, The Blue Roan Child, was published in 2002.
The Dead Kid Detective Angency
Written by Evan Munday
The Sunburst jury says: “The heroine of this romp of a ghost story –the almost 14-year-old October Schwartz , a misfit goth girl who’s writing a horror novel — makes friends with five ghosts in the cemetery behind her house. When her favourite teacher dies under bizarre circumstances, October enlists the dead kids to help her solve the case. There’s a nice twist on the bullying of outsider geeks in this clever, comic, and moving novel that’s narrated through multiple POVs. It also dishes up Canadian history in a deliciously lively way, including the 1970 October Crisis – with a great FLQ-related element to the plot. ”
The Dead Kid Detective Agency is illustrator and cartoonist Evan Munday’s first novel. His comic book, Quarter-Life Crisis, is set in a post-apocalyptic Toronto.
Blood Red Road
(Dustlands, Book One)
Written by by Moira Young
The Sunburst jury says: “Blood Red Road: Dustlands: 1 is a gripping vision of a dystopian future in which much of North America has been turned into a near desert by the Wreckers long ago. In this world, in a reversal of The Searchers, Saba, the narrator must go after her beloved twin brother after he’s kidnapped by dark warriors for no reason she can comprehend. With her younger sister tagging along, Saba finds both great danger and unexpected friends among a group of female rebels and Jack, a charismatic loner, who help her find her brother and the tyrant who took him. Saba tells her tale in a somewhat Riddley Walker manner, and the tension is high, the violence really powerful, and the characterization solid in this tale of good folk trapped in a bleak world.”
Moira Young lives with her husband in the UK. Blood Red Road, her first novel, has won the YA Costa Book Award in Britain and a 2012 BC Book Prize.
For more information, visit www.sunburstaward.org.