Guest Barney Award 2014 – The Earl Gray Cup

Today we welcome Brittain, one of the best around.

Brittain is the co-owner of and main writer for the blog Two Dudes in an Attic, where we read Gary Gygax novels so you don’t have to. Scribblings on Two Dudes emanate from the Pacific Northwest and sit at the nexus of science fiction, fantasy, political science, Japan, music, and soccer. (This makes for a killer Venn diagram).

The Earl Grey Cup, Given to SFF That Best Displays Elite Tea Consumption

The Nominees:

City of StairsCity of Stairs – Robert Jackson Bennett

Shara, the historian­ spy and hero of Bennett’s sprawling exploration of colonialism, dead gods, Calvinism, and unkillable Northern barbarians, is an inveterate tea addict. Her friends contemplate an intervention as she guzzles liter after liter, using the mild rush of caffeine paired with the soothing effects of hot drink to cope with the stresses of being nearly killed, bumping into an old boyfriend, and seeing dead gods possibly storm back to life in a bid to topple the hegemony of her motherland. I assume that she consumes liters rather than gallons because City of Stairs seems like the educated type of book that rejects the Imperial system of measurement.


Various Xuya stories – Aliette de BodardOn a Red Station, Drifting

Not all the Xuya series was published in 2014 of course, but a few were. I read one in Carbide Tipped Pens and I think others appeared in various magazines and/or were nominated for prestigious awards. De Bodard replaces the usual Anglos in Space with their Asian counterparts, naturally banishing coffee in favor of the much more civilized tea. (Not to mention the steamed buns, lemongrass, and other delights.)




Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch, #2)

Ancillary Sword – Ann Leckie

In addition to copious tea consumption in Leckie’s Radch empire, Ancillary Sword is based primarily in a space station orbiting an planet dedicated to tea production. Two major characters in the book are from a prominent tea growing family that makes one of the top brands in the empire. Tea sets are also discussed at length.





And the winner is….

Ancillary Sword!!

Breq & Co. don’t drink nearly as much tea as Shara, but tea plays a much bigger part of the book. The entire planet’s economy is based on tea, which wouldn’t be weird except that this is the setting for one of the most anticipated releases of the year and people spend more time arguing about which tea company is better than they do blowing up spaceships. What has science fiction come to? Oh, and if that weren’t enough, there is now a real life line of Radch teas that enthusiasts can imbibe. Congratulations, Ms. Leckie, because holy crap I don’t think you have enough awards yet.




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