What Are the Locus Awards?

In the field of science fiction and fantasy literature, there are a number of awards to honor and recognize the year’s best. There are the Hugos, the Nebulas, and, the awards with the largest fan participation, the Locus Awards. The Locus Awards are an annual event held and sponsored by Locus Magazine, one of the largest magazines that cover the field of sci-fi and fantasy. The winners of the Locus Awards are chosen by a poll of the magazine’s readers. Fans of science fiction and fantasy can be die-hard in their obsession with their favorite genre. Even though the editors of Locus Magazine select the final nominees for consideration, it is up to the fans to choose the years best.

Locus Magazine and the Origins of the Locus Awards

Locus Magazine is a monthly magazine, published in the United States, that has been covering the science fiction and fantasy writing industry since 1968. The magazine contains reviews, articles, interviews with authors, and listings of new books.  They have won the Hugo award for Best Fanzine eight times and the award for Best Semiprozine 21 times.

locus-awards

The Locus Awards were created back in 1971, three years after the founding of Locus Magazine. The awards were originally created as a means of providing recommendations to the voters of the Hugo Awards. The first annual Locus Awards were given out for works published the previous year in 1970. Because the awards are voted on by fans and readers of Locus Magazine, it is easily larger than either the Hugo Awards or the Nebula Awards.

The actual trophy for the each category of the Locus Awards is a plaque whose design changes from year to year. Writers who win in each category receive a plaque while winning publishers receive just a certificate. The Locus Awards have always been presented at an annual banquet that has been held in different locations throughout the years. However, starting in 2006, the awards ceremony was moved to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and Museum in Seattle.

Locus Award Categories and Rules

There are a number of rules and requirements for the Locus Award nominations. The works to be considered must have been published in the previous year and are based on actual publication, not the official publication date.  The fans and readers of Locus Magazine go through a process to choose the year’s nominations for each category. The nominations are then presented to twenty publishers. Votes are counted according to what is known as the “Carr system”. This gives each nominee a set number of points according to how they are ranked. For instance, a first-place vote gets 8 points, second-place vote gets 7 points, etc. At the end of voting, the nominee with the most points wins. In 2005, the rules were changed so that the top five finishers in each category were revealed as ‘finalists’.

There are currently fifteen categories for the Locus Awards. They are: Best SF Novel, Best Fantasy Novel,Young Adult Book, First Novel, Novella, Novellette, Short Story, Collection, Anthology, Non-Fiction, Art Book, Editor, Magazine, Publisher, Artist

Locus Award Controversy

Despite the success of the Locus Awards, they have drawn their share of criticism. One main criticism is that Locus Magazine has too much influence on who gets nominated. The same month that the voting ballot is issued, the magazine publishes a recommended reading list. The claims are that this list is too suggestive and influential on readers. The ballot is not limited to the books on the reading list and fans can always write in their own nomination but the chances of these write-ins winning are slim.

Another big criticism is that Locus Magazine allowed anyone who visited their website to cast a vote. Traditionally, all voting had been done by subscribers to the magazine. When online voting was opened up, the results pushed away from the magazine’s recommended list of books. So in order to gain some control over the direction of the awards, Locus decided after the voting was complete to double the value of the votes of the Locus subscribers. This brought about harsh criticisms of unfair voting and favoritism by the Locus editors.

Locus Award Winners

The categories for the Locus Awards have changed over the years. Some categories have since been retired. To make things easy, here is a list of the winners for the top two categories, science fiction and fantasy novels, since 1971.

2008

Best SF Novel: The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon

Best Fantasy Novel: Making Money by Terry Pratchett

2007

Best Sci-Fi Novel: Rainbow’s End by Vernor Vinge

Best Fantasy Novel: The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner

2006

Best Sci-Fi Novel: Accelerando by Charles Stross

Best Fantasy Novel: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

2005

Best Sci-Fi Novel: The Baroque Cycle: The Confusion; The System of the World by Neil Stephenson

Best Fantasy Novel: Iron Council by China Mieville

2004

Best Sci-Fi Novel: Ilium by Dan Simmons

Best Fantasy Novel: Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold

2003

Best Sci-Fi Novel: The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson

Best Fantasy Novel: The Scar by China Mieville

2002

Best Sci-Fi Novel: Passage by Connie WIllis

Best Fantasy Novel: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

2001

Best Sci-Fi Novel: The Telling by Ursula K. Le Guin

Best Fantasy Novel: A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin

2000

Best Sci-Fi Novel: Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

Best Fantasy Novel: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

1999

Best Sci-Fi Novel: To Say Nothing of the Dog byConnie Willis

Best Fantasy Novel: A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

1998

Best Sci-Fi Novel: The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons

Best Fantasy Novel: Earthquake Weather by Tim Powers

1997

Best Sci-Fi Novel: Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

Best Fantasy Novel: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

1996

Best Sci-Fi Novel: The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

Best Fantasy Novel: Alvin Journeyman by Orson Scott Card

1995

Best Sci-Fi Novel: Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold

Best Fantasy Novel: Brittle Innings by Michael Bishop

1994

Best Sci-Fi Novel: Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

Best Fantasy Novel: The Innkeeper’s Song by Peter S. Beagle

1993

Best Sci-Fi Novel: Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

Best Fantasy Novel: Last Call by Tim Powers

1992

Best Sci-Fi Novel: Barraya by Lois McMaster Bujold

Best Fantasy Novel: Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper

1991

Best Sci-Fi Novel: The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Best Fantasy Novel: Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

1990

Best Sci-Fi Novel: Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Best Fantasy Novel: Prentice Alvin by Orson Scott Card

1989

Best Sci-Fi Novel: Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh

Best Fantasy Novel: Red Prophet by Orson Scott Card

1988

Best Sci-Fi Novel: The Uplift War by David Brin

Best Fantasy Novel: Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card

1987

Best Sci-Fi Novel: Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

Best Fantasy Novel: Soldier of the Mist by Gene Wolf

1986

Best Sci-Fi Novel: The Postman by David Brin

Best Fantasy Novel: Trumps of Doom by Roger Zelazny

1985

Best Sci-Fi Novel: The Integral Trees by Larry Niven

Best Fantasy Novel: Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein

1984

Best Sci-Fi Novel: Startide Rising by David Brin

Best Fantasy Novel: The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

1983

Best Sci-Fi Novel: Foundation’s Edge by Isaac Asimov

Best Fantasy Novel: The Sword of the Lictor by Gene Wolf

1982

Best Sci-Fi Novel: The Many-Colored Land by Juliam May

Best Fantasy Novel: The Claw of the Conciliator by Gene Wolf

1981

Best Sci-Fi Novel: The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge

Best Fantasy Novel: Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg

1980

Best Sci-Fi Novel: Titan by John Varley

Best Fantasy Novel: Harpist in the Wind by Patricia A. McKillip

1979

Best Novel: Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre

1978

Best Sci-Fi Novel: Gateway by Frederick Pohl

Best Fantasy Novel: The Silmarillion by J.R. R. Tolkien

1977

Best Novel: Where the Late Sweet Birds Sings by Kate Wilhelm

1976

Best Novel: The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

1975

Best Novel: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

1974

Best Novel: Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

1973

Best Novel: The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov

1972

Best Novel: The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin

1971

Best Novel: Ringworld by Larry Niven