2014 Clarke Award Shortlist

The six finalists for the 2014 Arthur C. Clarke Award are:

  • God’s War, Kameron Hurley (Del Rey UK)
  • Ancillary Justice, Anne Leckie (Orbit)
  • The Disestablishment of Paradise, Phillip Mann (Gollancz)
  • Nexus, Ramez Naam (Angry Robot)
  • The Adjacent, Christopher Priest (Gollancz)
  • The Machine, James Smythe (Blue Door)

The panel of judges is chaired by Andrew M. Butler and consists of Duncan Lawie and Ian Whates for the British Science Fiction Association, Sarah Brown and Lesley Hall for the Science Fiction Foundation, and Georgie Knight for SCI-FI-LONDON. Awards director is Tom Hunter.

The winner will receive £2014 of prize money and a commemorative bookend. The winner will be announced May 1 in London.

The Clarke Award has been beset by controversy for the past two years. In 2012, Christopher Priest called the shortlist “dreadful”. In 2013, the absence of women among the finalists attracted a great deal of criticism. This year with Priest and two women among the nominees, the shortlist may enjoy smoother sailing.

Last year’s kerfuffle has led the Clarke Award administrators to publicly list of works submitted for consideration and the inevitable statistical analysis was included in The Guardian’s coverage:

The books were selected from 121 submissions, which were made public by the award following controversy around last year’s all-male shortlist. This year, said director Tom Hunter, 34 books were submitted by female writers, a ratio of “approximately one in four, [of which] one in three made it through to the discussion list of 30 titles from which the judges made their final selection today”. This ratio “carried through into the final six shortlisted titles, two of which are by new female authors,” said Hunter.

Beckett Wins Clarke Award

Chris Beckett’s novel Dark Eden has won the 2013 Arthur C. Clarke Award.

The winner was announced May 1 at a Royal Society event innew-logo-2013 London, and introduced by a panel on near-future science chaired by editor-in-chief of SFX Magazine, Dave Bradley, Professor Ian Stewart FRS, Professor Shelia Rowan, Rachel Armstrong, and Adrian Hon. A full video of the evening can be watched on the Royal Society’s website here.

The Arthur C. Clarke Award is given for the best science fiction novel first published in the United Kingdom during the previous year. The award was established with a grant given by Sir Arthur C. Clarke and the first prize was awarded in 1987 to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

The book is chosen by a panel of judges invited from the British Science Fiction Association, the Science Fiction Foundation and the SCI-FI-LONDON film festival. This year’s judging panel was composed of Juliet E McKenna, British Science Fiction Association, Ruth O’Reilly, British Science Fiction Association, Nickianne Moody, Science Fiction Foundation, Liz Williams, Science Fiction Foundation, and Robert Grant, SCI-FI-LONDON film festival.

The winner receives a prize consisting of a number of pounds sterling equal to the current year (£2013 for year 2013).

Presenting the award, Ian Stewart FRS, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, commented:

It’s no surprise that science fiction has been influenced by science, but there is a good case to be made that sometimes science is influenced by science fiction. Fiction can sometimes stimulate the imagination in a way that dry facts cannot. Ideas that first appeared as fiction can become fact, and scientists who read SF when they were young can be motivated, perhaps subconsciously, to work in areas or on problems related to the SF stories.

2013 Clarke Award Shortlist

The six finalists for the 2013 Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science fiction novel of the year 2013 are:

Nod by Adrian Barnes (Bluemoose)
Dark Eden by Chris Beckett (Corvus)
Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (William Heinemann)
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller (Headline)
Intrusion by Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)

They were selected from among 82 individual eligible submissions, first published in the UK in 2012, by the judging panel for this year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award:

  • Juliet E McKenna, British Science Fiction Association
  • Ruth O’Reilly, British Science Fiction Association
  • Nickianne Moody, Science Fiction Foundation
  • Liz Williams, Science Fiction Foundation
  • Robert Grant, SCI-FI-LONDON film festival

The winner will be announced May 1 during the SCI-FI-LONDON Film Festival. The winning author will receive a cheque for £2013.00 and a commemorative engraved bookend.

The mostly-female judging panel coincidentally selected six books by male authors, a decision The Guardian’s Alison Flood critcized and judge Liz Williams defended in an essay — also for The Guardian titled “Why this feminist chose an all-male Clarke prize shortlist.”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Priest’s KTF Review of Clarke Shortlist

Christopher Priest does not like the Arthur C. Clarke Award nominees. Despite teeing off in a style reminiscent of Spinrad, his arguments are as easily understood as Seuss: Priest thinks these picks are mostly wrong. He thinks the books are not too strong. He says throw this shortlist in the trash. He would not give these books the cash.

The Arthur C. Clarke Award goes to the best sf novel first published in the UK during the previous year, as chosen by a panel of judges from the British Science Fiction Association, the Science Fiction Foundation and (this time around) the SCI-FI LONDON film festival.

Priest complains:

We have a dreadful shortlist put together by a set of judges who were not fit for purpose. They were incompetent. Their incompetence was made more problematical because the overall quality of the fiction in the year in question was poor. They did not know how to resolve this. They played what they saw as safe.

They failed themselves, they failed the Clarke Award, and they failed anyone who takes a serious interest in speculative fiction.

Priest says he’s dismayed that several quality books didn’t make the list, and sketches the defects of the actual choices. It makes entertaining reading so long as you’re not the author of one of the books involved. (And even then, judging from Charles Stross’ reaction, which was to issue a commemorative t-shirt.)

Priest’s 5-point plan for averting a travesty is:

1. The present panel of judges should be fired, or forced to resign, immediately. Their names are Juliet E. McKenna, Martin Lewis, Phil Nanson, Nikkianne Moody and Rob Grant. Chairman Andrew M. Butler should also resign. These people have proved themselves incompetent as judges, and should not be allowed to have any more say about or influence on the Arthur C. Clarke Award.
2. The 2012 Arthur C. Clarke Award should be suspended forthwith, and the planned awards ceremony on 2nd May should be cancelled.
3. The award fund (£2,012.00, as I understand it) should be held over until next year. Next year’s fund should be added to it, so that the prize for 2013 becomes £4,013.00.
4. The 2013 Clarke Award should be made to the best novel published in the two years ended 31st December 2012. All novels currently eligible for the 2012 award, whether or not they have been shortlisted by this year’s panel, are eligible again.
5. All the other usual rules of the Award should be applied.

Bloggers are weighing in, beginning with the dean, John Scalzi, who says he was able to read many of these novels without holding his nose:

[I] believe that if Embassytown is China Mieville underachieving, we should all slack as well as he. But of course that’s my point, and in any event it’s a rare nomination slate for any literary award that does not have someone railing against it as a parade of mediocrities, or worse.

In contrast to Scalzi’s light touch, Damien G. Walter of the Guardian decided Priest’s personal tone needed to be reciprocated in spades. Unfortunately, Walter merely indulged in pseudo-psychological slurs like the following, code for Priest is old:

First the New Wave, then wave after wave of SF writers have swept past Christopher Priest. Many of them far less intelligent. Most of them far less educated in the field of SF. And now, just when Priest might have expected to be acclaimed as an elder statesman of the genre, another wave of writers have taken the limelight instead.

Maybe it’s being a fanzine fan has made me touchy about that kind of thing, but darned if Walter didn’t leave me almost feeling sorry for Priest, and having read a lot of Priest’s rants over the years (here let me borrow Ben Bradlee’s line) I didn’t think that was possible.

[Thanks to James Bacon for Priest’s post and Ansible Links for the responses.]

Update 03/30/2012: Corrected the affiliation of one Clarke judge per Mark Plummer’s comment.

Clarke Award Shortlist

Here are the finalists for the 25th Arthur C. Clarke Award, the UK’s top prize for science fiction:

Zoo City – Lauren Beukes (Angry Robot)
The Dervish House – Ian McDonald (Gollancz)
Monsters of Men – Patrick Ness (Walker Books)
Generosity – Richard Powers (Atlantic Books)
Declare – Tim Powers (Corvus)
Lightborn – Tricia Sullivan (Orbit)

The judging panel for this year is: Jon Courtenay Grimwood, British Science Fiction Association, Martin Lewis, British Science Fiction Association, Phil Nanson, Science Fiction Foundation, Liz Williams, Science Fiction Foundation, Paul Skevington, SF Crowsnest.com, and Paul Billinger represented the Arthur C. Clarke Award as the Chair of Judges.

The winner will be announced April 27 in London.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]