2022 PKD Award Thoughts 📚

As I have for the past several years, I’ve read all of this year’s Philip K. Dick Award nominated works.

This year had a nice strong slate, I’ve actually had a hard time picking which I’d choose for the top spot. Top three is pretty easy, but top spot…that’s more difficult.

My picks for top three: Nino Cipri’s Defekt, Tade Thompson’s Far From the Light of Heaven, and Lavie Tidhar’s The Escapement. All of them were the kind of stories that took up residence in my brain and poked me for a few days afterwards, which is always a good sign.

If I had to pick a top choice (and I don’t have to, but then, what would be the point of this post), I think I’d go with Far From the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson. Amusingly, it was one of two “murder mystery in space involving an investigator dealing with misbehaving AIs” stories (the other being Kali Wallace’s Dead Space); both were good, but I found Thompson’s to be my preference — admittedly, possibly somewhat influenced by my prior enjoyment of Thompson’s earlier Wormwood trilogy.

Of the books I haven’t mentioned yet, Jason Sanford’s Plague Birds was an enjoyable adventure and well worthy of being nominated; and Giacomo Satori’s Bug was the only one of this year’s picks that just didn’t work for me.

As noted, though, another strong slate, and I’m looking forward to seeing who wins this year (and my tongue-in-cheek advance apologies to Tade Thompson; as his book is my favorite, if historical trends hold true, another book will take the top spot…but hey, maybe this year is the year to change that)!

📚 Bug by Giacomo Sartori, translated by Frederika Randall

7/2022 – ⭐️⭐️ Philip K. Dick Award Nominee

Unfortunately, this one just did not work for me. The main character is a 10-year-old deaf (and, I believe, possibly autistic) child, and it’s narrated in a first-person, nearly stream-of-consciousness style, which (in-universe) is the child dictating in sign language to a caretaker who translates what he says. In actuality, the book was originally written in Italian, and has been translated to English. So there are multiple levels of abstraction and translation, and I’m at a loss as to how much of the final writing style and choices were the character’s, an artifact of the in-universe translation from sign language, the author’s, an artifact of the real-world translation from Italian, or some combination of all of those. The end result was that I just didn’t enjoy it.