2008 Arthur C Clarke Award Shortlist

It may look as if everything is normal, but actually, I’m in Switzerland, where I’ve just had an absurdly early breakfast in anticipation of a long day’s work. But I’ve found time (and some internet) to bring you the shortlist for the 2008 Arthur C Clarke Award anyway. (OK, I wrote most of this post at the weekend. But the principle stands.) Am I good to you, or what?

Tom Hunter, Award Administrator, says:

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.

And those books? Read on.

Shortlist overviews
Abigail Nussbaum at Strange Horizons
Adam Roberts at Futurismic
Lisa Tuttle in The Times
Steven Shaviro
Tony Keen

A poll

The H-Bomb Girl by Stephen Baxter

The Red Men by Matthew de Abaitua

The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall

The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall

The Execution Channel by Ken MacLeod

Black Man by Richard Morgan

So. Run the numbers. Six novels, five publishers. Four stories set in the future. Three first-time nominees — two debut novels, in fact. One young adult book. What else?

(When everyone in the UK’s woken up, there may well be some discussion here, here and here.)

John Jarrold
Abigail Nussbaum
Paul Raven
The Guardian
Martin Lewis
Jeff VanderMeer

11 thoughts on “2008 Arthur C Clarke Award Shortlist

  1. Interesting list. I’ve only read one of them (The Execution Channel) and only heard of one other (Black Man). Three of the authors listed here in fact are completely unknown to me (Abaitua, Hall and erm, Hall). I see this as a good sign, as it may just be that the jury has looked beyond the usual suspects.

    On the other hand, this shortlist does neglect two big, important books, Halting State and Brasyl, that I would’ve expected to be shoe-ins. I would’ve traded either of them for the Baxter in a heartbeat. Baxter being one of those writers inexplainably beloved by award juries despite being not all that good, somewhat like Jack McDevitt is over the Atlantic.

  2. Martin: Halting State is a 2008 book in the UK, and hence not eligible for this shortlist. I agree with you about Brasyl, though; it seems to me pretty clearly the most ambitious and successful sf novel published in the UK last year.

  3. I am a Baxter fangirl, butThe H-Bomb Girl is really not at all your typical Baxter novel. I liked it a lot. Black Man is brilliant and I’m glad to see it on there, The Execution Channel didn’t wow me quite as much but I don’t think its place on the shortlist is unwarranted. The omission of Brasyl does surprise me, as it would have been my number one choice for a place on the shortlist, and while I’ve heard of two of the other three I’ve heard nothing about The Raw Shark Texts. Time to get cracking with my reading.

  4. Halting State is a 2008 book in the UK, and hence not eligible for this shortlist.

    Indeed, the Charles Stross novel we received was Glasshouse. (Which means this year’s jury will get Halting State and Saturn’s Children.)

  5. dystopian Cumbria? Nah its really like that up here!

    Seriously wonderful to see Sarah hall on the list.

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