jjarrold (jjarrold) wrote,

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Clarke Award shortlist

I have a record of taking issue with Arthur C Clarke Award shortlists, and sometimes the winner. See that word, 'winner'. You'd assume it implied the judges thought it was the best SF novel of the year, wouldn't you?. But according to the Award administrator, Tom Hunter: "In many ways the Award isn't so much about picking the 'best' book of the year (although we are still very good at that too) and is more about pushing at the edges of our genre. "

To call that 'moving the goalposts' would be like calling the Hiroshima explosion a bit of a bang.

Here is the shortlist:

The Red Men
Matthew de Abaitua - Snow Books

The H-Bomb Girl
Stephen Baxter - Faber & Faber

The Carhullan Army
Sarah Hall - Faber & Faber

The Raw Shark Texts
Steven Hall - Canongate

The Execution Channel
Ken MacLeod - Orbit

Black Man
Richard Morgan - Gollancz

And here are more of Tom's thoughts:

"Featuring visions as diverse as a dystopian Cumbria and a future Hackney, time-travel adventures in 1960's Liverpool and an alternate world British Isles in the throes of terrorist attack, through to tech-noir thrillers and a trawl through subconscious worlds where memories fall prey to metaphysical sharks, the Clarke Award has never been so close to home and relevant to the British literary scene.

"The Clarke Award has always been about pushing at the speculative edges of its genre. It's one possible map amongst many, never the whole territory, and this year's shortlist stands as both the perfect introduction to the state of modern science fiction writing as well as a first tantalising glimpse of possible futures to come."

Well, I'd disagree with just about all of that. And this is, without doubt, the most insular Clarke shortlist ever.

I'll fly my colours from the mast: as far as I'm concerned, Ian McDonald's BRASYL is the best SF novel of 2007. I'm not involved in it, in any way, I say this personally. And I don't always expect my favourite to win. However, for that and some other titles that are wonderful SF novels not to even be shortlisted is ludicrous. But they are not set in the UK, so apparently they don't have relevance 'to the British literary scene'. Oh deary, deary me.

So farewell then, Arthur C Clarke Award.

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