SPSFC Round 1: My Quarterfinalists (more to come!)

I’ve finished sampling all 31 books from my group’s list for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest! That means I have some choices for my quarterfinalists (those books that I’m voting to move on for my group to read fully, then rank, and from which to pick semifinalists) settled. Note: my vote is one of several, so my quarterfinalist choices are personal to me. If any of them do not make it to the next round for my group, I will still fully review them because their appearance here means they’re in my top 10. Here, I’ll post the covers and a little personal blurb about each one of my picks. In a later post, we’ll be having some Battle Royale sessions to fill the last few slots. Only 10 can be chosen!

Wherever Seeds May Fall by Peter Cawdron

I read this book first and just couldn’t stop. Its hard sci-fi/first contact story set in a contemporary world grounded it and made it a thriller from start to finish. I was a fan of the book all the way through, and to date it is one of only two books on the whole list that I’ve pushed through and read in its entirety. It was hugely enjoyable for a number of reasons, but I particularly enjoyed how it felt utterly contemporary. Cawdron wrote a sci-fi novel that genuinely feels like it could happen tomorrow.

The Eye of the Storm by R.K. King

I knew right away this would be a book for me, and even though I only read the first 15% or so, I feel very confident voting for it to move on. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland that feels familiar in a Mad Max way but changes things up by incorporating a more structured story and some clan and possible teen drama. I am stoked for this one, will be voting for it, and if it’s not picked–I still plan to read it all and review it.

Above the Sky by J.W. Lynne

Apart from sharing an excellent first name with yours truly, J.W. Lynne has written a captivating dystopic novel that I’m not even really sure is a dystopia. There’s some of the tropes of the subgenre here–a school that selects kids for lifelong jobs at a certain age, a hush-hush threat, etc.–but it’s all so well written and mixed up that it feels fresh. Most of all, I want to know about the threat looming “above the sky!” This was an easy yes from me almost from the beginning, and frankly I can see myself easily diving in to the whole series.

Of Cinder and Bone by Kyoko M.

I love that this book is a kind of Jurassic Park rewrite but with a made up past as well in which dragons lived alongside other creatures. At 20%, I was not only loving its bite-sized doses of science-y talk, but also the fun dynamics of the main characters. I’m genuinely excited about this one. I see it’s part of a series, so it looks like more reading is ahead if I like the first one!

The Trellis by Jools Cantor

I love the cyberpunk feel of this futuristic mystery novel, but what truly sold me was that combined with a heavy feeling of unfettered capitalism and corporation takeover that still seemed utterly, chillingly plausible. Sci-fi/mystery mashup is also one of my favorite subgenres, so at that point we basically have a book checking many boxes for me. The Trellis is set apart by its world along with its unique feel compared to other books on the list. It’s just different from everything else we got, and that made it stand out as well.

Round 1 Status

I pressed the red button and blew everything up at the end of my journey through sampling all of my group’s novels. Now it is go time. I’ve picked 5 books that I am firmly convinced are on my “yes” list, but that leaves 5 slots open with 15 books clamoring for places. What’s next? I’ll be reading those 15 books in their entirety (or at least far enough to decide the book is not on my list) with 5 blog posts announcing my final 5 choices and cuts. For seeding purposes, I’ll be pitting almost every “yes” against 2 of my “maybes.” I’m super excited. Have you read any of my “yes” stack here? Let me know what you think (spoiler free!) in the comments.

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Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

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