Books in the speculative fiction genre (science fiction and fantasy are under this umbrella term) are usually regarded as inferior to “normal” fiction in award ceremonies. At first, various authors who wrote in fantasy or science fiction attempted to submit their works to the National Book Award Winners but were rudely asked to leave — “Hugo out of here right now!” The Hugo Awards were born — a set of awards given annually to notable novels, stories and people in the speculative fiction genre. It celebrates the world of science fiction and fantasy through different categories like Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Editor, Best New Author and Best Podcast.

The nominees for the various categories were announced last week. The winners will be announced in the 71st World Science Fiction Convention. Worldcon, as it’s most commonly referred to, takes place all over the world around September of every year. This year’s convention will be held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in downtown San Antonio. Winners are voted on by the attendants of the convention in the months leading up to the event. Here are some notable nominees.

“The Emperor’s Soul”

by Brandon Sanderson

“The Emperor’s Soul” is a novella, a written work that’s longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. Sanderson’s other works have been written on hundreds and hundreds of pages, some reaching a thousand pages. Shai is held captive, forced to create a soul for the emperor, or else the kingdom will be destroyed. Sanderson’s signature world-building is in full force here. The intricate and detailed world with an interesting magic system feels real, and its citizens don’t feel contrived. “The Emperor’s Soul” is such a tightly told short tale that it manages to feel both complete and larger than it is.

“Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas”

by John Scalzi

“Redshirts” is a rare treat in science fiction: the entire novel is based on a silly premise.  A lowly crew worker in a spaceship slowly realizes that their ship engages hostile alien forces where the only casualties are redshirts like him. Scalzi’s new novel is far removed from “Old Man’s War,” a serious space opera that he’s most known for. It may not be as deep or as engaging, but it does provide levity in a world full of the strife and the end of days.

“Blackout”

by Mira Grant

“Blackout” deals with a topic that has been beaten to death, literally. Humanity managed to cure cancer and the common cold in 2014, yet, that same year, the dead started to rise. A reporter and her team manage to find themselves in more and more dangerous spots. They slowly uncover a sinister plot behind the epidemic. The team of journalists must face zombie bears, mad scientists and other such horrors if they’re going to survive. Grant’s world-building throws you into a place that seems like what America would really feel like in a world filled with zombies. Society stills exists, but it’s much more fragmented and barely held together. There’s only one thing that’s ever certain: things can always get worse.

“Locke and Key”

by Joe Hill

“Locke and Key” is about three kids, the Locke kids, who have to live in their old family home when their father dies. In the house, called Keyhouse, they discover secrets, powers and demons. The story may center around kids, but Hill doesn’t pull any punches. The story is dark — surprisingly so at times. It’s emotional, creepy, violent, suspenseful and scary. It’s a thrilling story that is sure to chill anybody, even those jaded horror fans who think they’re safe.