The 2014 Herbie’s Game of the Year Awards

Not too long ago, on a magical Christmas Eve, I was forcibly detained in my plush Marina Del Rey podcast studio (think Skyline, the 2010 movie about special effects rappers who party all the time with their big special effects money and take entirely too long to get their brains sucked out by aliens) and forced to record a podcast about Timothy Hallinan’s fourth Junior Bender novel, Herbie’s Game. But like Scheherazade, I distracted my captors with stories nested in an elaborate awards show format. When the clock struck midnight and Santa Claus rose from the deep, causing everyone in the world to fall asleep and enter the Dreamlands, I was able to make my escape.

An audio recording of my daring gambit for survival has been up for a few weeks now. You can download Midnight Skull Sessions 39 and listen to it. But for those who don’t have time to listen to an episode full of Machiavellian horse-trading (We traded actual horses! I now have a Antideluvian were-horse named A Wise Man’s Fear.) and arbitrary award assignments, here are the winners preserved in blog form, where much like ALF in Pog form, they will never lose their relevance.

The 2014 Herbie’s Game of the Year Awards!!!

The Joe Hill Sticking The Landing Award

This award goes to Joe Hill for sticking the landing with Locke and Key Volume 6: Alpha And Omega. This will be the final sticking the landing award. After years of trying to make “sticking the landing” happen, I forced my co-host to admit it was never going to catch on. Isaac is working as we speak on a new catchphrase, and in the future this will be known as The Joe Hill I Am The Alpha And The Omega Award.

Best Joe Hill’s Dad

Since his conception, the identity of Joe Hill’s father has been the cause of gossip and debate. You may have heard about it in another popular unsolved murders podcast. Regular listeners will know that uncovering the truth behind Joe Hill’s parentage was our primarLitanyy mission on Midnight Skull Sessions. Although perennial favorites Dean Koontz and Harlan Ellison are always in the running, new evidence unearthed this year suggested a more likely candidate– Ruthanna Emrys.The evidence is basically that we both thought her short story The Litany of Earth was really cool. Congratulations, Ruthanna Emrys, for being the best Joe Hill’s Dad of 2014.

Technical Achievement In Urban Fantasy Or Rewinding

I still think this should have gone to The Necromancer’s House, but Isaac made an excellent argument for Tony Ballantyne’s Dream London because it had the best rewinding.

JA Konrath Seems Like A Nice Guy Award

JA Konrath seems like a nice guy, but this year’s winner is Dan Koontz, author of IPO, who just happens to be one letter away from some other author who publishes upwards of three books a year. Dan seems genuinely concerned for people who accidentally bought IPO thinking it was by another Koontz. It’s a common problem that could happen to anyone (just ask Steven Kang!) and he handled it with aplomb while also proving he’s probably real.

Saddest SparkArmor

I was all for the dog in The Necromancer’s House, but the metaphorical armor of the assassin with the less exciting version of Cotard’s Syndrome in John Twelve Hawk’s Spark is pretty sad. He doesn’t actually feel sad– he’s only capable of feeling boredom, curiosity, and disgust– but that just goes to show how resilient and sad his armor is.

Where Did I Put My Keys?

I left them in S., the pop-up book by J.J. Abrams (but really by Doug Dorst) that has decidedly not taken the literary world by storm. This book was marketed as a supernatural mystery, but there’s nothing supernatural or mysterious in it. I’ll tell you what was in it, though. My keys. If you have my copy, please message me. I have been locked out of my apartment since April.

Best Tresses, Locks, Or Glocks

This category is a trick. Winners don’t use “tresses,” “locks,” or “Glocks.” Winners use “hair,” “hair,” or “guns.” Yes, that’s right. Winners use guns. You can quote me on that.

The Stephen King Writes As Only He Can Award*

It has been said that Stephen King writes as only he can. (This was a blurb on a paperback I once read.) But who wrote like only they could in books we read in 2014? According to my extensive survey of all genres and subgenres, including Magical Grimdark and Hitman Realism, Bentley Little did. Between The Influence (evil dead angel in a smokehouse), The Academy (evil school basketball court), The Resort (evil resort and evil activities coordinator), The Policy (evil insurance salesmen and evil clown doctors and dentists), and The Vanishing (cursed Indian gold), no one has more fun with evils that come to small towns than Bentley Little. Stephen King may write like only he can, but Bentley Little also writes like only he can, with the “he”s being Stephen King and Bentley Little, respectively.

Sergeant Grizlarge Award For Livin’ Largz

In the sNecro Houseame sense that 1492 was the year Christopher Columbus discovered America, 2014 was the year we discovered Christopher Buehlman. It’s a little baffling that he didn’t take the top prize in all categories. The only rational explanation is that it was late and we were goofy. But if we were to have planned ahead and used more traditional categories, Christopher Buehlman would have won them all. Best vampires? The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman. Best werewolves? Those Across The River by Christopher Buehlman. Best demons? Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman. Best Wizards? The Necromancer’s House by Christopher Buehlman. He truly lived the most largz, and was the literary equivalent of firing 12 missiles and taking out 289 enemy fighters, then firing all 32 starboard flak cannons and destroying the remaining 119 starship carriers, plus 573 incoming missiles, then chilling in a hot tub with amorous space bears.

And… Herbie’s GAME OF THE YEAR

It says a lot about the broken state of this year’s triple-A titles that the number one game of the year was The Midnight Tour by Richard Laymon. Yes, it’s more of the same (people keep visiting a tourist trap home to a yeti-like monster with a penis the length and strength of a broomstick– I’m unclear about the thickness), and featured only minor innovations in open-world gameplay (the penis has a mouth on the end with fangs and a snakelike tongue capable of driving people wild with pleasure while it goes them). But it also had great typos and was the only game this year to take full advantage of the Wii U controls. Its graphic nature is not for everyone– it runs at 780p and the 3D isn’t implemented well, but The Midnight Tour just goes to show that when it comes to first party games, Nintendo is still the best in the business.

Honorable MentionsCA Bones

  • Best Heist – California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout
  • Second-Best Wizards – California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout
  • Best Los Angeles Department of Water and Power – California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout
  • Book We Really Will Talk About On The Podcast Someday – Herbie’s Game by Timothy Hallinan

*Commissioner’s Note:

There is mounting evidence that another author also writes as only Stephen King can. This claim has been submitted to the academy directors for review. If necessary, next year’s category will renamed Stephen King Writes As Only He And Joe HIll (No Relation) Can. Thank you for all your emails and comments about this issue.

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