Tag Archives: awards

MYRCA Award Ceremony 2017

On September 29th 2017, the 27th annual MANITOBA YOUNG READER’S CHOICE AWARD was presented to Allan Stratton  for his novel The Dogs.  He was selected by Manitoban children who had read at least three books from the nominated list. Honour book winners were Kevin Sylvester  for his novel Minrs and Kevin Sands for his novel The Blackthorn Key.

Allan Stratton is a prolific Canadian author who has won numerous (and I mean NUMEROUS) awards both in Canada and internationally. As he told the children who came to see him, he worked as an actor for many years, but writing was always his dream. Allan says that his greatest influence in life was his mother, who showed incredible fortitude in leaving his father and his violent abuse while he was a child in the days when such things were frowned upon. The Dogs was directly influenced from these events as is the character of Granny in The Way Back Home. Like Granny, Allan’s mother passed away from Alzheimer’s and he spent much time with her in her twilight, often reading her the dedication page from The Grave Robber’s Apprentice. It reads “For Mom, who took me to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival when I was a kid”. It was a joy and surprise to her every day.

The Dogs is a mystery, a thriller, and a ghost story all rolled into one! Cameron (Cam) and his mother live life on the run from Cam’s abusive father, although the reader is never sure if Cam’s mother is justified in her fear of his return. They move into a creepy old farmhouse and Cam starts seeing the ghost of a little boy who died on the property. Cam begins to wonder if he is losing his mind. However, the barking of dogs that he knows are not there is real to him, and he dives into the mystery of the former homeowners. The true beauty of this novel is how it appeals to all age groups.  Both young and old alike enjoy the suspenseful atmosphere and the surprise ending!

Fun Fact: Allan Stratton names his characters by determining what year they were born, then looking into census records to see what the top names were at the time of his character’s “birth”.

The MYRCA award ceremony was held at the Manitoba Theater for Young People and was attended by over 300 students from Winnipeg and rural Manitoba. The ceremony is an invitation only event and the room was filled to capacity with students who read the nominees and voted for the award. The MYRCA committee was very proud to be able to partner with Thin Air, the International Writer’s Festival, who provided us with theater space and hosted Allan on their “School Stage” events during the week. Allan was able to take in several readings and was very excited to be invited during this incredible event. He told us that Thin Air is one of his favorite festivals in all of Canada!

Lisa Ferguson’s class from Victor Mager School were honoured to host the event. The grade 6, 7, and 8 students did a wonderful job presenting Allan with his award. They also produced a book trailer about The Dogs that Allan loved so much that he asked them if he could use it for his website. The students were very excited to meet him and the buzz backstage before the ceremony was electric. Allan offered the students some sage words of advice regarding nervousness before a show, and his past years of working as an actor clearly showed. Lisa’s class added some fun elements this year, as the students wrote out some trivia questions and the audience was invited to answer them. Participants were gifted with an autographed bookmark!

Allan then read from his new novel The Way Back Home .  Anyone who has a relative with Alzheimer’s will be able to relate to Zoe’s struggle as she watches her Granny deteriorate and eventual placement in a nursing home against her will. With bullies at school and parents who cannot seem to support her in a positive way,  Zoe begins to make some drastic decisions. Will they be able to find the mysterious Uncle Teddy whom everyone claims is dead but Granny insists is still alive? Recently short listed for both the Governor General’s award and OLA’s Red Maple award, The Way Back Home is a must read for any #canlit fan.

After the ceremony, attendees were invited to compete in a scavenger hunt in the afternoon. The talented and amazing (local author) Colleen Nelson organized a scavenger hunt. Students were given a map and clues where they could find hidden pictures of dogs. Once located, the students had to answer a multiple choice question about the nominees from the 2017 list. Students enjoyed running around the Forks on a beautiful fall day and were rewarded with a selection of Canadian books provided by the numerous publishers who support MYRCA every year. Thank you publishers!

Being part of the MYRCA committee is incredibly rewarding and the yearly award ceremony is the highlight of the year. The MYRCA committee is entirely run by volunteers and the ceremony is no exception, so a special thanks must go out to our volunteers – Susan C. who ran the reception table and kept all the classes organized before entry, and Susan from MTYP, the professional and gracious front of house manager who helped Lori and I seat all those excited children. Sabrina was on hand to live tweet from the event (you can follow us on twitter @Myrcaward) plus Tabitha and her students from Red River Collegiate were there to help with the Q and A as well as the book prize give-away and scavenger hunt. Lisa and Colleen made the entire day possible by organizing and putting on the event, which was a memorable day thanks to all their efforts.  We are so grateful that you all volunteered your precious time to help celebrate Allan’s achievement with our young voters. Job well done!

If you and your child/students are interested in participating in MYRCA, there is no cost and it is easy to do. Simply have you child read, or read to them a minimum of three books from the nominated listVoting begins in late March and the winner is announced in early May. Only voters are invited to the ceremony, so get reading so you can join us for all the fun next year!

Colette

Her Smoke Rose Up Forever

“If you can’t change the world with chocolate chip cookies, how can you change the world?” –  Pat Murphy

tiptree1The James Tiptree, Jr. Award is presented annually to a work of fiction that “expands or explores our understanding of gender.” It may be the only literary award partially funded by bake sales, or to include chocolate as part of the prize! Past winners and nominees have been collected in several volumes of The James Tiptree Award Anthologytiptree3

The award is named for science fiction author James Tiptree, Jr., a pseudonym of Alice B. Sheldon. Sheldon began publishing short stories under the Tiptree name in the late 1960s. Corresponding with fans and other authors only in writing, she gave ‘Tiptree’s’ biography true details from her own life, changing only her name and gender. For almost a decade, ‘James Tiptree’ was widely believed to be a man.

alicesheldonIn James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice Sheldon, Julie Phillips explores her fascinating life. As a child Alice accompanied her parents on their travels to Africa. She was an artist, but joined the army during World War II to work in photo-intelligence. After the war she was invited to join the CIA, but eventually left to get her PhD in experimental psychology.    hersmoke

When she began writing science fiction, Sheldon chose to use a male pseudonym both to separate her fiction from her academic career, and because she felt that using a man’s name gave her the freedom to produce the sort of stories she wanted to write. Many of Tiptree’s best work is collected in the anthology Her Smoke Rose Up Forever.

Though the Tiptree award is typically given to only one work, so much great writing was published last year that the judges decided on a tie!

girlintheroadThe first winner is Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne. Set in the near future, it follows two women on parallel journeys. As the story progresses, their lives become linked in interesting ways.  A young woman in India is attacked and flees her pursuers. She sets off to cross the Trail, a bridge stretching across the Arabian Sea used to harvest hydro power. In Africa, an orphan girl joins a trade caravan traveling to Ethiopia, where she hopes to start a new life. Byrne’s vivid characters and her descriptions of Africa and India kept me hooked until the very end!

The second recipient was My Real Children by Jo Walton.realchildren An elderly woman has trouble remembering the details of her present. Her past is another problem – she remembers different versions of her own life. Her childhood and life during the war are clear enough, but afterwards her life splits in two paths. She is confused about whether or not she was married, how many children she had, and what she did for her career. In each of these alternate pasts, her own history and the history of the world are changed by the choices she makes.

Along with the winners, several other fantastic works were nominated for the award.

memorywaterMemory of Water by Finnish author Emmi Itäranta takes place in a totalitarian future where water is a scarce resource. A seventeen-year-old girl and her father are ‘tea masters’, with special knowledge of local water sources. When her father dies, this girl must decide which secrets are worth keeping.

Jacqueline Koyanagi’s space opera Ascension is a fast paced adventure with a few twists. ascension A mechanic stows away on a spaceship that came looking for her sister. But this is not your typical ship, and the crew has some quirks, to say the least! While continuing to search for her sister, they may just end up saving the galaxy along the way.

elysiumIn Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett, a computer program tells a love story as it occurred during an alien invasion. But the program has been damaged, and the narrative is fragmented. As we piece together events, a complex story of love and identity emerges.

 

lagoonNnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon is another story of alien contact.  Three strangers witness a meteor strike on a beach in Lagos, Nigeria. Together they encounter a woman who is not what she appears. By helping her, they may find a way to save not only themselves, but also the rest of humanity.

 

If you’re looking for something a little different in your science fiction this summer, give one of these titles a try!

Melanie

2014 Hugo Awards, or How I Found My Next Read

 

The 2014 Hugo Awards were presented in London on Sunday, August 17th. This year’s winner for Best Novel went to Ann Leckie for Ancillary Justice, which tells the story of One Esk – an electronic artificial intelligence – who once commanded an entire starship, the formidable Justice of Tore. Now confined to a mortal body cobbled together from interchangeable human parts as the entity called “Breq,” the AI must survive as a multi-segmented, ancillary humanoid being in a galactic empire ruled by an oppressive government — without disobeying the law that forbids AIs from harming their creators. I will definitely put this down on my reading list!

In fact, I’ve always strived to read as many Hugo-winning books as possible. When you’re as avid a reader as I am, it’s always exciting to discover a new author, along with her or his body of work. I thought I would share some of my favourite Hugo winners, in the hopes that you might also find someone new!

RedshirtsRedshirts, by John Scalzi, won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel and Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. While familiar with the author, I’d never read any of his works previously. Redshirts was a great introduction – definitely recommended for any classic Star Trek fan! Follow Ensign Andrew Dahl, newly assigned to the Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union, as he works in the xenobiology lab. He and the other new ensigns notice something weird about life aboard the Intrepid — on any away mission, at least one crew member dies. And each away mission seems to follow a bizarre set of rules. The crew of the Intrepid has become very superstitious and fearful about getting involved in the bridge crew’s missions. After meeting with a lost crewmember, the ensigns learn that they are characters in a TV show. As the new ensigns understand their lot, the story is similar to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, where the story tells what happens when its characters find out they are not in the “real” storyline. In what I see as inspired genius, Wil Wheaton narrates the audiobook version.

SagaSaga, Volume 1, written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story. Not only that, but the series also won the three Eisner Awards it was nominated for in 2013 (Best Continuing Series, Best New Series and Best Writer), and won six 2013 Harvey Awards (Best Writer, Best Artist, Best Color, Best New Series, Best Continuing or Limited Series, and Best Single Issue or Story). Brian K. Vaughan is one of my favourite comic writers – Pride of Baghdad holding a special place in my heart – so I was quite excited when this new series was announced. Not familiar with Fiona Staples’ work, I found myself blown away! In this first volume (collecting issues of Saga #1-6) bits of sf space opera and classic fantasy mesh in setting a sprawling stage for an intensely personal story of two lovers, cleverly narrated by their newborn daughter. Though recently soldiers from opposite sides of a massive intergalactic war, moth-winged Alana and ram-horned Marko simply want peace and anonymity to raise their daughter (an abomination to the powers that be) away from conflict and hatred. Action, adventure, love, sex, grief, and joy combine in one amazing book!

Among OthersAmong Others, by Jo Walton, won the 2012 Nebula Award for Best Novel, the Hugo Award for Best Novel and the British Fantasy Award, and was a nominee for the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. Set in 1979 and 1980, this book tells the story of 15-year-old Morwenna. After engaging in a classic good-magic-versus-bad-magic battle with her mother that fatally wounds her twin sister, Morwenna leaves Wales and attempts to reconnect with her estranged father. Sent to a boarding school in England, her riveting backstory unfolds gradually as she records her thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a series of journal entries. An ominous sense of disquiet permeates the nonlinear plot as Morwenna attempts to avoid a final clash with her mother. In addition to casting an irresistible narrative spell, Walton also pays tribute to a host of science-fiction masters as she peppers Morwenna’s journal with the titles of the novels she devours in her book-fueled quest for self-discovery.

The Windup GirlThe Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi, won the 2010 Nebula Award and the 2010 Hugo Award (tied with The City & the City by China Miéville), both for best novel. This book also won the 2010 Compton Crook Award and the 2010 Locus Award for best first novel. This novel is set in a future Thailand where calories are the greatest commodity. Anderson is a calorie-man whose true objective is to discover new food sources that his company can exploit. His secretary, Hock Seng, is a refugee from China seeking to ensure his future. Jaidee is an officer of the Environmental Ministry known for upholding regulations rather than accepting bribes. His partner, Kanya, is torn between respect for Jaidee and hatred for the agency that destroyed her childhood home. Emiko is a windup, an engineered and despised creation, discarded by her master and now subject to brutality by her patron. The actions of these characters set in motion events that could destroy the country. Bacigalupi has created a compelling, if bleak, society in which corruption, betrayal, and despair are commonplace, and more positive behavior and emotions such as hope and love are regarded with great suspicion.

DiggerDigger, Volumes 1-6 by Ursula Vernon, was nominated for the Eisner Award and won the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story in 2012. Originally a webcomic, it has been released in 6 volumes, and features an anthropomorphic, no-nonsense wombat named Digger who finds herself stuck on the wrong end of a one-way tunnel in a strange land where nonsense seems to be the specialty. Now, with the help of a talking statue of a god, an outcast hyena, a shadow-being of indeterminate origin, and an oracular slug she seeks to find out where she is and how to go about getting back to her Warren. Vernon’s black and white illustrations are fantastic, and the story will stay with you for days after reading.

To Say Nothing of the DogTo Say Nothing of the Dog: or, How We Found the Bishop’s Bird Stump at Last, by Connie Willis, won both the Hugo and Locus Awards in 1999, and was nominated for the Nebula Award in 1998. This funny romp through time from 2057 back to Victorian England, with a few side excursions into World War II and medieval Britain, will have you glued to the pages. Rich dowager Lady Schrapnell has invaded Oxford University’s time travel research project in 2057, promising to endow it if they help her rebuild Coventry Cathedral, destroyed by a Nazi air raid in 1940. In effect, she dragoons almost everyone in the program to make trips back in time to locate items–in particular, the bishop’s bird stump, an especially ghastly example of Victorian decorative excess. Time traveler Ned Henry is suffering from advanced time lag and has been sent, he thinks, for rest and relaxation to 1888, where he connects with fellow time traveler Verity Kindle and discovers that he is actually there to correct an incongruity created when Verity inadvertently brought something forward from the past. Take an excursion through time, add chaos theory, romance, plenty of humor, a dollop of mystery, and a spoof of the Victorian novel, and you end up with what seems like a comedy of errors but is actually a grand scheme “involving the entire course of history and all of time and space that, for some unfathomable reason, chose to work out its designs with cats and croquet mallets and pen wipers, to say nothing of the dog. And a hideous piece of Victorian artwork.”

If you’re looking for more Hugo magic, please visit our catalogue for a listing of past winners.

— Barbara