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.
Abigail Nussbaum sounds a little ambivalent, but hasn’t given up on the award:
In fact, what’s most striking about this shortlist is the absence of big names (MacLeod and Baxter are big names in the UK, but the latter, at least, is somewhat undercut by H-Bomb’s being a YA book). Just off the top of my head, 2007 saw the publication of novels by Michael Chabon, William Gibson, Paul J. McAuley, and Adam Roberts, and I had expected at least some of them to get Clarke nods.
That the Clarke award is esoteric and unpredictable is one of its charms. As its administrator, Tom Hunter, wrote in the press release announcing the shortlist, it “has always been about pushing at the speculative edges of its genre.” It shouldn’t come as a surprise that its nominees are not just the usual suspects, and yet I found myself oddly disappointed by those names’ absence. When I asked myself why this was, I realized that I’ve reached the point where the Clarke is not just the only SFnal award I actually care about, but the only award which I believe still holds any relevance to the field.
All other comments aside, I am utterly delighted to see Stephen Baxter’s The H-Bomb Girl there. As far as I am aware, its the first time that the Clarke Award has acknowledged a YA book. Well done Stephen.
The shortlist is noted at SF Awards Watch, but there’s no discussion yet.
Meanwhile, Paul Raven is
thinking of starting a shadow award that works off of the Clarke, wherein there is a prize for the book that everyone thought was a shortlist shoo-in, and another prize for the book whose presence on the shortlist no one can understand. Now accepting nominations!