Arthur C Clarke awards shortlist

Published On March 18, 2009 | By Joe Gordon | Awards, Books

Tom Hunter tells us that with word beginning to leak out the Arthur C Clarke awards (one of the most prestigious honours for science fiction literature) final shortlist is being revealed a little earlier than planned this year. “It was a long and intense meeting to decide this year’s shortlist, with passionate debate from all of the judges. Although at times it seemed almost impossible, they eventually concluded that these six books were the ones that demonstrated to them what was best about the science fiction novels published in 2008,” Paul Billinger, Chair of Judges. The six nominees for this year’s Clarkes are:

Song of Time: Ian R. MacLeod (PS Publishing)
The Quiet War: Paul McAuley (Gollancz)
House of Suns: Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz)
Anathem: Neal Stephenson (Atlantic)
The Margarets: Sheri S. Tepper (Gollancz)
Martin Martin’s on the Other Side: Mark Wernham (Jonathan Cape)

Wow, no less than three nominees – half of the final shortlist – come from the respected Gollancz SF list, they must be pretty pleased this morning (and none of those authors is a stranger to awards list, all come with a terrific literary pedigree). I’m not surprised to see Neal Stephenson’s latest work on there; I haven’t had a chance to read it yet myself (its on the must get that list) but I’ve devoured most of Neal’s other (often massive) books and they are usually a real tour-de-force of imagination, clever ideas and well-researched, richly detailed history (they’re practically an education as well as good novels). And good to see another award nomination for the independent PS Publishing crew, who seem to increasingly pop up on awards lists.

Quite a shock though not to see any contenders from one of our largest SF&F imprints (and a damned fine one), Orbit – I’m especially surprised not to see their publication of Ken MacLeod’s Night Sessions on the final shortlist. But that’s the nature of awards shortlists and the fact it may get some of us debating why certain authors were or weren’t on the final list is a good thing, because it gets us talking and thinking about good books (and while there are some I’d personally have liked to see in the final, that’s my taste and I have to say I don’t envy the judges – just look at the long list they had to choose only six finalists from). As award administrator Tom Hunter said:

Speculation and active debate have always surrounded the announcement of the award shortlist, and earlier this year we took the unprecedented step of releasing the full long list of eligible submitted works from which this final shortlist was decided. Our aim was to highlight the strength and diversity of current science fiction publishing and to show the awesome task that faces our judging panel every year. I think they’ve risen to this challenge admirably and I’m greatly looking forward to the full range of reactions and conversations to come and, of course, to finding out the eventual winner at the end of April.”

The Arthur C Clarke award, which this year carries a prize of £2009 (the amount goes up with each passing year), will be announced at a ceremony at Sci-Fi London on Wednesday 29th April.

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About The Author

Joe Gordon
Joe Gordon is ForbiddenPlanet.co.uk's chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

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