Monday, August 22, 2011

CSI: Russian Horse Unit

Last night, the "Global E-Book Award" winners were announced. Alas, my book was not among them. On the other hand, it did manage to finish in the top three "finalists." Hooray! I didn't quite get the gold, but apparently I did no worse than bronze, and maybe silver.

But... before I go tooting my horn about this, I'm reminded of the old joke about the Russian horse. If you haven't heard that one, it goes something like this: The US and USSR decided to settle, once and for all, whose system was best. And for some reason they decided to resolve the question through a horse race--the winner of the Leningrad Stakes vs. the winner of the Kentucky Derby, on a track in neutral Switzerland. After the American horse won by a handy margin, the following headline appeared in Pravda:

American Horse Finishes Next To Last

So, before bragging about taking maybe second or third, only to discover I was in a three-horse race, I decided to count the entrants. This turned out to be a little tricky, as the GEBA's categories sort of evolved on the fly. At the level of "nominee" (that is, you've sent them the proper paperwork and the check, if any, has cleared), my book fell into the general category of SF/Fantasy/Paranormal, which turned out to have 34 entries. By the time of the final judging, this category had been split into three sub-categories of "Speculative Fiction": SF, Fantasy and Paranormal. But the contest's web site didn't say which books had been assigned to which sub-category. Given the popularity of fantasy and paranormal stuff of late, there still might be only three competitors in SF.

So I had a look at the synopses of the entries. All 34 of them. And I came up with this count:
  • SF: 14 entries
  • Fantasy: 16 entries
  • Paranormal: 4 entries
I admit I'm not all that certain about the breakdown between "Fantasy" and "Paranormal"; I think it has something to do with settings--if you have supernatural beings like vampires and angels, and a more-or-less real-world setting, it's "Paranormal"; if you have these things in a kingdom "once upon a time far, far away," it's "Fantasy." Or something like that. Anyway, I didn't need to be precise on that, as my main concern was how many books were in the SF category. And now I know.

Yeah, it was an hour that could have been more productively spent working on the new book, cleaning the gutters (winter's coming!) or catching up on those pipe tunes I still haven't learned. Then again, it's nice to know for sure that my book is not the Russian Horse!