I’ll admit to not being able to keep up with science fiction and fantasy awards, but I think the newly announced David Gemmell Legend Award has the potential to be something of a milestone. Why should that be, in the midst of swirl of awards for fantasy novels ranging from those the genre shares with science fiction, to the World Fantasy Awards and various regional awards, as well as the more specialist awards such as the Mythopoeic and Sideways Awards? Well, because this award actually takes its cue from heroic fantasy.
For those of you who may not know much about the late David Gemmell, he was a prolific and best-selling British author of some of the purest examples of heroic fantasy seen in the last thirty years. His first novel, Legend, was an instant hit in the UK and has never gone out of print since 1984. Gemmell went on to write some thirty more novels, nearly all of which are heroic fantasy. His style is fast-paced and concise, and he packs a huge amount into his books. Some of his novels contain more action than an entire trilogy of high fantasy, and this at a time when this later sub-genre dominates the market. Gemmell’s books, one of the big exceptions to the heroic fantasy glut, continue to sell like hotcakes.
The first David Gemmell Award will be given in the Spring of 2009 to the fantasy novel of 2008 that best exemplifies the spirit of David Gemmell’s fiction. This is where things get interesting, in my opinion; this is the point upon which the whole thing balances. Looking over the nominees for the award, and the rules for the selection process, leaves me speculating about a how these awards might take shape.