Hello everyone! If you’ve been wondering where Team Escapist has been, well, we’ve been reading. A lot. We were given 28 books in our allotment for this year’s Self Published Science Fiction Competition. It’s our job to narrow those books down to 3, which we’ll put forward into the finals to duke it out for bragging rights and a sweet ray gun.
Before that, though, we have a smaller culling to determine which 8 will stand above the rest of our allotment as the our quarterfinalists. Which brings us to today’s agenda: the reaping. In the spirit of transparency, a little about our elimination process: we decided to divide our 28 books up evenly, with each of our team members getting a handful of books to read and score. We took great care to make sure that each book was read by at least two judges so that nothing was knocked out of the running due to a single person’s tastes or opinion. After reading through our pile, we are confident in moving forward 8 of those books to receive the honor of being a SPSFC Quarterfinalist. Those 8 will then be read and reviewed by the remaining judges and the top 3 scores will be put into the finals.
One last thing before we get to it; it’s truly an honor to participate in the SPSFC as a judging team this year. Our whole identity at Escapist Book Co. is based around uplifting and celebrating excellent books and, more specifically, excellent self-published books. SPSFC, like its older sister competition, SPFBO, is a wonderful way to highlight terrific books that may otherwise get looked over. Additionally, reading is subjective so don’t forget to check out the books that don’t make the cut today. You might have a new favorite among the fallen.
Team Escapist’s 8 Quarterfinalists Are…
Max Florschutz is a world building machine. In Colony you will find yourself fully immersed in the beauty and richness of the world he’s created, while still enjoying the mystery/heist story that unfolds throughout. While it can be overwritten at times, 1000+ pages tends to do that to a book, I believe the story being told is worth the journey and you won’t find yourself underwater for long as you begin to soak it all up. (the world is an ocean… don’t judge my puns) – Neil Williams
“With unique and creative worldbuilding, a style of writing that is effortlessly funny and inventive, and a cast of characters that you can’t help but love, Debunked is a gem. It reminded me so much of the heart and humor of Terry Pratchett along with the adventure and wit of A Series of Unfortunate Events.” – Justin
“A fun filled adventure story.” – Jordan
“An excellent sci-fi debut with heart pounding action and a touch of fantasy.” – Jordan
“Those Left Behind is everything a sci-fi fan wants in a great story. There are spaceships, unique alien species, war, mysteries of the universe slowly coming to light, hidden outposts, cyborgs, radiation magic, and of course humanity fighting to survive. While this might sound a little tropey for some of you book critiques out there, I argue that Scrimgeour has managed to tie all these up into a complete package that is well written and highly enjoyable.” – Neil
“This was one of my most anticipated to read when we chose initial allotments, and it didn’t disappoint. The tone and atmosphere of this first contact space opera was very clear from the first pages. Filled with ancient technology, memorable characters, and fantastic dialogue, Those Left Behind left its mark long after finishing.” – Ash
“Well written, and it’s building an interesting world. There’s conflict, deep characters, and with how the world is slowly and properly being introduced, there’s a great sense of anticipation. It makes me want to read on.” – K.
“The concept of a human soul being transferred into another body upon death was so very intriguing and made for a great plot. The characters were memorable and felt very different from one another. I loved the moral and spiritual questions presented in this uniquely riveting dystopian sci-fi.” – Ash
“Good worldbuilding off the start, along with a strong protagonist who holds agency. I get a good feeling of who she is, what she stands for, what the complications are in her life and world, and I understand the actual world in which the story is told. I’m a little confused because there is a lot of information, but I’m not worried. The author has done an excellent job so far, so I trust the author to let me know more when the time comes.” – K.
“No other book I’ve read has ignited my curiosity like Of Mycelium and Men. The central mystery of the biomass and wanting to know how the colony might be able to adapt or overcome it kept me reading far into the night on several occasions. Despite a large cast of characters to follow and a narrative style that saw a few large time jumps, Tracy managed to make me feel for the characters and want to watch them succeed, the Biomass itself included!” – Justin
“The writing drew me in immediately- from the very first sentence. I loved this first contac/ hard scifi story. The fungal horror was fascinating and I loved how we got little glimpses into its thinking. There is a large cast of characters but if you’ve made your way through epic fantasies before, I think you’ll be fine here. I enjoyed what Tracy did with the colonization of a planet covered in this massive fungal organism and the spanning of years/generations.” – Ash
“Clearly a well-edited book, with the polish and finesse of a traditionally published book. The story exhibited a defined beginning, middle and end, while entertainingly sticking to its storyline/throughline. Intelligently written, with captivating characters that stuck to who they were. Each character properly had an agenda, held agency and served to enhance the story. Being on the shorter side of a full novel, the story didn’t waste time with naval-gazing or boring segments of TMI.” – K.
Congratulations to Team Escapist’s Quarterfinalists and condolences to those that were cut!