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Summer in Orcus Nominated for WSFS YA Book Award!

By, 04/09/2018 - 08:39
Cover art from Summer in Orcus, by Lauren Henderson

We are excited to announce that author T. Kingfisher and illustrator Lauren Henderson have both been nominated for the 2018 World Science Fiction Society Award for Best Young Adult Book for our recent release, Summer in Orcus!

This is the inaugural year for the WSFS Best YA Book Award, which will be presented at the Hugo Awards Ceremony Sunday, August 19, at Worldcon 76 in San Jose. The award is so new that it does not yet have an official name, nor has the award itself been designed! It is similar to the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in that it is administered by the WSFS and awarded at the Hugo Awards ceremony, but it is not itself a Hugo Award.

Summer in Orcus was written by T. Kingfisher, the pen-name used by Ursula Vernon when writing for adults (even young ones). It is a portal fantasy story about an 11-year-old girl named Summer who is transported to the land of Orcus by the crone Baba Yaga. Summer thinks she is there to discover her heart's desire, whatever that is, but has no idea how to start looking. She stumbles upon an ailing magic tree and, lacking any other ideas how to proceed, decides to try to help it. A delightful cast of characters help (and sometimes hinder) her progress towards discovering that big problems can often be solved by small actions, and that sometimes making a difference is its own reward.

Summer in Orcus was written partly as an homage to the young adult portal fantasies Kingfisher grew up with, and partly as an attempt to address her grievances with them. She wanted a story in which the young heroine goes into the strange land willingly, but no more prepared than the average 11-year-old girl would be. Along the way, Kingfisher found fertile ground for a multitude of quirky characters and ideas that had never seemed to fit anywhere else, and thus Orcus was born. Summer makes her way through this world one step at a time, never doing more than the most logical next thing she can manage to do, and making friends along the way.

Previous awards for T. Kingfisher/Ursula Vernon include two Hugo Awards (Best Graphic Story 2012 for Digger & Best Novelette 2017 for "The Tomato Thief"), a Nebula Award (Best Short Story 2015 for "Jackalope Wives"), the WSFA Small Press Award 2015 (also for "Jackalope Wives"), and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature in 2013 for Digger. This is her first nomination in a specifically young adult category.

Illustrator Lauren Henderson (a.k.a. "Luve", a.k.a. "Louvelex") brings Kingfisher's characters and the peculiar world they inhabit to life in a series of striking images. In addition to the gorgeous cover art, Henderson illustrated eight scenes throughout the book, as well as header images at the top of each of the book's thirty-four chapters, which provide playful hints at what is to come. Inspired by the story we had asked her to illustrate, she went well above and beyond everyone's expectations! (For more of Lauren's work, check out the equally excellent fantasy novels by Michael H. Payne: Blood Jaguar and Rat's Reputation.)

The WSFS Award for Best Young Adult Book nomination is specifically for the illustrated edition of Summer in Orcus published by Sofawolf Press, recognizing both Kingfisher's delightful and thought-provoking story and Henderson's rich imagining of Orcus and its inhabitants. We are always thrilled to work with talented individuals like T. Kingfisher and Lauren Henderson, and we are happy to see both of them get recognized. Thank you to the members of the World Science Fiction Society for crating this new award to recognize young adult publications in the SF/F field, and to the members who nominated Summer in Orcus for this award!

Voting for the award is open to all supporting and attending members of Worldcon 76, and will run from April through the end of July 2018. For more information on the other nominees in this and other categories, visit the official site of the Hugo awards at