The James White Award is pleased that the winner of this year’s short story competition for new writers is “Invocation of the Lurker” by Colum Paget.
Colum’s story won in a year in which the James White Award attracted a record number of entries and against a very strong shortlist. Colum wins a £200 cash prize and his story will be published in a future issue of Interzone.
This year’s panel of judges, the authors Jon Courtenay Grimwood and Juliet E McKenna and Interzone editors Andy Cox and Andrew Hedgecock, also took the decision to award a special commendation to a second story “Train in Vain” by Tori Truslow.
This has happened only once before in the history of the James White Award, in 2001 – the year of the award’s inception – and reflects the high standard of the stories on the shortlist. The judges commented...
Jon Courtenay Grimwood: “Having judged short story awards before I was impressed by the quality of the shortlist - and it was harder than we thought to pick the winner. This says a lot about the strength of the whole list. The winning story, for me, stood out for the vividness of its world and its ability to make the hero's danger feel real. I liked the mix of dialogue and atmosphere, and particularly liked the way it gave us enough information to build a world but not so much the story stuttered or we were buried beneath data.”
Juliet E McKenna: "‘Invocation of the Lurker’ updates classic SF reflection on humanity’s relationship to technology and its unforeseen consequences with an eerie cyber-voodoo that’s wholly of the moment. Dialogue and dialect establish character and setting with immediate effect, so essential in shorter fiction, while the conclusion is both satisfying and thought-provoking.
Overall the shortlist was of impressive quality with each story showing individual merit as a piece of short fiction and more than that, indicating real promise in these writers. I look forward to seeing all the finalists’ names cropping up in future publication."
Andy Cox... "The Interzone team were impressed with the quality and variety of this year's shortlist - there was enormous diversity in terms of theme, form, style, motif and setting. There was lively but civilised debate about the merits of the shortlist and we feel this reflects the fact that there are a number of promising new writers on the shortlist.
Tori Truslow’s ‘Train in Vain’ is a compelling tale of exotic intrigue and intricate automata, told in breathlessly vivid and evocative prose. There is no let up in narrative pace in this highly believable blend of fantasy and adventure. There’s wit too, and a hint of darkness amid the exotic imagery. We were desperate to know how the story would be resolved and we’re convinced others will be as well."