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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

SPFBO: FBC Finalist Announcemement (by Adam Weller, David Stewart, Łukasz Przywóski, and Mihir Wanchoo)

 

TODAY IS THE DAY!
We have chosen our champion, and we’re excited to announce the winner and runners-up.

First, we want to thank each and every one of you who took the time to participate in the contest. We sincerely appreciate it, and we had a great time reading all of your entries. After getting through the batch of thirty books, we’ve picked six semi-finalists, each for a different reason. We’ve enjoyed all of them, and the prospect of sawing off another five entries held no appeal to us. Unfortunately, SPFBO rules require us to make tough decisions. Such is the harsh reality of this bloodbath contest.

The Semi-Finalists

Our semi-finalists represent various subgenres, from epic fantasy to dystopian sci-fi. We can’t advance them all to finals, but you can read them, and trust us, it'll be time well spent. Here are our choices in the order they were announced.


~ LUKASZ'S PICK ~


The Hidden King by E.G. Radcliff

The Hidden King won us over with its focused narrative, strong characterization, evocative prose, and interesting world. E.G. Radcliff is a talent to watch.


~ MIHIR'S PICK ~



The Combat Codes by Alexander Darwin

The Combat Codes draws abundantly from martial arts movies and it embraces both awesome and cheesy staples of the genre. We had great fun reading it and found it exciting throughout. A must for fans of well-paced and mindful martial arts stories.


~ MIHIR'S PICK ~



Pradyutita by Geetha Krishnan

Pradyutita, based on the Indian epic Mahabharata, focuses on the socio-political angles and completely flips the personalities of the members involved. We raced through this book easily and appreciated the plot twists and the way the story ends.


~ ADAM'S PICK ~



A Dark Inheritance by Todd Herzman

A Dark Inheritance is the start of a traditional epic fantasy tale with strong character voices and a fast-moving plot. While it is not a story that carves out many new ideas in the genre, what it does set out to do, it does very well. 




The Wound of Words by Deborah Mekorias

The story pulls you through one mystery after another as its clever and humorous prose transports you throughout a Russian-inspired winter countryside. It reads like a combination of a Russian fable, a witch-tale, and something completely original and undeniably entertaining.


~ GROUP PICK ~


Spit and Song by Travis M. Riddle

Spit and Song tells an interesting story set in a fascinating place inhabited by inhuman creatures made sympathetic by the author. There’s a lot of weird stuff in this book. Weird in a good way, like exploring non-humanoid races. The pacing could be tighter, but we had a great time reading it anyway.

 A SURPRISE 



This year we are also adding another semifinalist as there was a case of plenty in one of our batches. Adam had mentioned how awesome Timberwolf is from his batch and yet he couldn’t nominate it as he had 2 other semifinalists already chosen. So he asked us (Mihir & Lukasz) to read and consider it. To our surprise, we both loved this book with its high octane spy plot involving Gods, Heralds, magical subterfuge, & an unreliable narrator. So we are also nominating Dominic Adler’s Timberwolf as a surprise semifinalist.

At this stage, we had to decide how to evaluate one good book against another and whether it is at all possible to come to some sort of fair and objective decision. We tried to base our choice on the following criteria (listed in alphabetical order):

Characterization
Editing
Personal Enjoyment
Plotting
World-building
Writing Style

Each of these titles had their own strengths and a few drawbacks, which were touched upon in our reviews. After long and tumultuous discussions we’ve agreed to pick the finalist amongst the three following titles:


Despite their awesome premises and strong execution, each entry had some minor issues. 

The Wound of Words is unique and full of whimsical charm. Makarios has a knack for elegant lines and creating memorable characters. That said, some readers may find the stakes too low and the overall tone too light. 

The Combat Codes is an exciting page-turner, but, strictly speaking, it's a dystopian sci-fi more than fantasy. That said, the martial system works almost like a magic system here. 

Timberwolf is an exciting, unpredictable spy thriller that breaks the norm with its plot settings and an unreliable narrator however some readers might be a little confused as to what’s happening as we are directly immersed into the story without any spoon-feeding. 

We found the final choice difficult, but we believe readers and judges will enjoy our finalist as much as we do. 

So, without further ado,
the FBC finalist for the SPFBO 2020 edition is...

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The Combat Codesby Alexander Darwin
Congratulations Alexander, and good luck in the finals!

The Combat Codes is a page-turner, and while some may argue it's not, strictly speaking, a fantasy book we feel it's a fun, well-written story with memorable characters, great action scenes, and a cool setting. We hope our fellow judges won't focus on whether it belongs or not to the fantasy genre but on the story instead :)
Senlin Safety Net




FBC has always believed that we need to highlight as many good books as we possibly can and with that in mind, we would like to offer a SSN candidate to all the other blogs. We are nominating Timberwolf by Dominic Adler as our SSN for this edition of SPFBO as we strongly believe that this unique story very much deserves to be in the finals. I hope the others might consider it and whether they make the decision to prop it forward is left up to them. We would like to wish Dominic Adler all the very best for his journey ahead.


1 comments:

Deborah Makarios said...

Good luck to Alexander Darwin! (Or should that be survival of the fittest?)
And many thanks to the judges for their kind words about The Wound of Words.

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