Monday 26 June 2017

Locus award for Revenger

Over the weekend I was delighted to hear that Revenger had won the Locus award for best YA novel. I'm extremely grateful to all who voted for it. This is my second Locus award (after last year's one for Slow Bullets) and it means an awful lot.

Because I had shortlisted entrants in a number of categories, it was suggested that I provide some words to be read out on the night. I've edited them slightly to reflect the eventual outcome, but this should be close to what transpired:

Thank you for this award - it means a huge amount to me. Twenty-odd years ago, when I'd barely
had anything published outside of Interzone, Locus was one of the first places to show any interest
in my work beyond the UK, and that validation had an enormous effect on my confidence as a writer,
encouraging me to keep going, and keep trying. I'm still going, and I'm still trying! Thank you all who
voted for Revenger and may I wish you all many more hours of good reading in the
years ahead, and enjoy the rest of the evening. I wish I could be there with you! 

Best wishes from Deepest Wales - Al.

Earlier in the year I had a long and enjoyable conversation with Liza from Locus about the exact category of Revenger, be it YA or otherwise. Liza felt it was YA, whereas (and I'm well aware this will sound like tedious hair-splitting) I'm more inclined to consider it an otherwise standard novel by me that just happened to be a little more YA-approachable, in that I hoped it might be a book that I could have read in my early/mid teens, exactly at the point when I was getting into Niven, Delany, James White, A Bertram Chandler and so on. But at the same time, at least when I was writing it, the book felt as challenging from a compositional point of view as any of my other novels. Where I did want it to mark a modest departure was in terms of concision and pace, in that I wanted to get into the thick of the action quickly and maintain a hectic momentum from that point onward. I also hoped to write a book that was somewhat shorter than its predecessors, drawing on the energy I felt I'd managed to tap into during the writing of the Doctor Who novel. Even so, it still managed to end up being 140,000 words long, which would have been considered a thick novel forty years ago. That wasn't just a one-off experiment for the purposes of Revenger, though, in that I also carried the same process through to the new Prefect novel, which - by the standards of the other book in the Revelation Space universe - is a relatively modest 160,000 words.

Anyway, I mention all this not to quibble with Locus for their award, which is deeply appreciated, but to indicate that I'm not inclined to be too dogmatic about novel categories. If you enjoyed Revenger, I hope that you enjoyed it on its own terms, and if you haven't been persuaded to pick it up because the YA association is off-putting, you might want to give it a go nonetheless.


  1. I've always found YA a strange category. I don't ignore books because of it.

  2. Oops, congrats on the award btw. Well deserved.

  3. I'm hardly a Young Adult, but I loved Revenger and happy to see it win an award. Congratulations!

  4. I have to be honest. I didn't even know it was associated with the Young-Adult category until I read this blog post. To me, this just seemed like a thoroughly good read I could recommend to absolutely anybody. It stands beautifully on its own, but I don't mind admitting I would love to see this universe explored again in the not too distant future. Regardless of category, an award as prestigious as the Locus is richly deserved. Well done, Alastair.

  5. Norayr Gurnagul26 June 2017 at 15:32

    Congratulations Alastair; loved the novel and agree with comments from the other readers regarding YA category, I thoroughly enjoyed it on its own and I am looking forward to your next novel.

  6. Congratulations, well deserved! YA's popularity is exploding, if our library collection is any indication - lots of new readers to discover your books. It's a wonderful story, in any case!

  7. Well deserved Alastair! I agree with you regarding book length adjustment and I also agree Simon Jessey above in that I too would like to see you revisit this universe later. Looking forward to new Prefect novel!- Ernie Saylor

  8. Congratulations! I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and ended up doing a deal with my brother so i could keep it hehe. Awesome concepts, I hope you develop them further someday. As for the YA categorisation I really only saw it in the last few chapters in the protagonist's more upbeat attitude in certain chapters from her relatively inexperienced point of view towards the end, not your usual fare.

  9. Congratulations! To be honest, I read it despite the YA designation, and because it was from you. Oh, yes, I am always for shorter novels and regret that the times when 160 pg SF books could make an impact, are over.

  10. Congratulations AR! I can't think of any SF writer who deserves recognition more than you. We're lucky as fans to have an author who not only puts out new material so frequently, but imbues every new book and short story with sparkling new ideas, concepts and twists. You continue to challenge yourself and your readers at the same time, and I think that creates enormous good will. We know every new story is going to be an adventure, because you never mail it in.

    I didn't know Revenger was considered "YA" when I read it and was surprised when I saw online chatter calling it YA. It's an awesome little universe, and like the best books it leaves you wanting to know more about these crews, the baubles they explore, the origin of the "bones," and of course the mysterious "ghosty stuff."