The Sidewise Awards for Alternate History

About the Awards

The Sidewise Awards for Alternate History were conceived in late 1995 to honor the best allohistorical genre publications of the year. The first awards were announced in summer 1996 and honored works from 1995. The award takes its name from Murray Leinster's 1934 short story "Sidewise in Time", in which a strange storm causes portions of Earth to swap places with their analogs from other timelines.

To be considered, a work must have either first English-language publication or first American publication* in the calendar year prior to the year in which the award is to be presented. Thus, the awards announced in 2009 honored works published in 2008 and were called the "2008 Sidewise Awards". Two awards are usually given each year, and their presentation is normally made at the World Science Fiction Convention in August.

The Short-Form Award is presented for the best work of less than 60,000 words. This includes short stories, novelettes and novellas, and poems. One winner was a three-issue comic book series.

The Long-Form Award is presented for the best work longer than 60,000 words. This category includes individual novels and longer works. If a book is part of a series, it must be able to stand on its own to be considered. If it is part of a serial novel — a series in which the storyline is continuous and no volume can stand on its own — the complete serial novel will be considered when the final volume is published.

In addition, at the discretion of the judges, a Special Achievement Award may be presented to honor a specific work or for a significant body of work which was published prior to the inception of the award; i.e., before 1995. Only three Special Achievement Awards have been announced, and none since 1999.

Tearsheets and/or review copies of works submitted for consideration for the Sidewise Awards are welcome. Electronic copies are also accepted. Please contact the awards secretary, Steven Silver, for address information or if you have any questions about the awards.

The Sidewise Awards judges reading for the 2015 awards (to be announced in summer 2016) are:

Stephen Baxter
Northumberland, Great Britain
Karen Hellekson
Maine, USA
Matt Mitrovich
Illinois, USA
Kurt Sidaway
Worcestershire, Great Britain
Jim Rittenhouse
Illinois, USA
Steven Silver
Illinois, USA

* In practice, the qualifying year for works first published outside the United States varies between the year of first publication and the year of first publication in the U.S., and depends on whether the Sidewise judges are able to obtain copies of the earlier edition. Thus, some alternate history works first published in the U.K., Canada, and Australia are not considered until they later receive publication in the United States. This was especially true in the early years of the Sidewise Awards and explains why, for example, Stephen Fry's Making History was considered for the 1998 awards on the basis of its first U.S. edition, rather than for 1996 when it was first published in the U.K.

Exemptions to the first-year-of-publication rule may also be granted when a work's first publication was extremely limited and/or obscure. For example, Howard Waldrop's "You Could Go Home Again" was considered for the 1995 awards when it appeared on a popular science fiction website because its original publication in 1993 in chapbook form had a very limited distribution.