Not so very long ago, the Christy Awards were the only credible awards for Christian fiction, and they dropped their speculative fiction category. Upon further investigation, the powers that be informed the public that there simply were not enough entries.
In response, a number of speculative fiction writers began discussion of a Christian speculative fiction award. Several years later the Clive Staples Award was born.
At about the same time, the Carol Award, issued by the American Christian Fiction Writers association, added a Speculative Category. Membership in the organization and an entry fee are part of the requirements for submission.
That same year the Christy Award again added the “Visionary” Category which encompasses all the speculative fiction subgenres. An entry fee is required for this “traditional publishers only” award.
A few years later a group of bloggers established the Inspy Awards, the “bloggers award for excellence in faith-driven literature.” From the start they included a speculative category. Their nominations do not include self-published or ebooks.
More recently the Grace Awards came into being, and they have a speculative category. The Word Award, presented by the Canadian Word Guild, includes a Christian book category with a speculative division.
In addition, a number of writers’ conferences such as the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference and the Oregon Christian Writers Conference now hold contests which include speculative fiction categories. These conference awards require attendance.
New this year is the Realm Award for speculative fiction only, hosted by the Realm Makers Conference. There are also six genre categories, open to self-published authors as well as print published. Submission includes an entry fee.
This explosion of contests open to or designed for Christian speculative fiction is an encouraging sign, I believe. For one thing, writers and readers have some way of determining which of the many books that came out in 2015 are among the best. Plus, I think a little healthy competition is good for writers. It pushes us to do better.
All this information is by way of introduction. The nominations for the Clive Staples Award will soon be open. This award is reader initiated rather than author or publisher initiated. It also is a mixture of reader choice and judging selection.
Both self-published and traditionally published, by small press or ECPA member publishers, are eligible. There is no entry fee.
Voters must have read at least two of the books on the list of nominations, so one of the important elements for the Clive Staples Award is readers! But here’s the cool thing. As soon as nominations start coming in, anyone wishing to vote who hasn’t yet read two books published in 2015 can find a couple that look interesting and begin reading.
The bottom line is this: more and more organizations, writing groups, and readers are recognizing Christian speculative fiction. It’s a great development for the genre, and it’s a great help to readers looking for good books.
Be sure to watch for more news about the awards.