The shortlist for the Arthur C Clarke award for science fiction, announced earlier today, suggests a broad definition of the genre. Along with tales of androids and genetic engineers, the six books nominated this year include prize-winning literary fiction, a novel for young adults, and what has been described as “a postmodern psychological mash-up”.
Hall, who was shortlisted for the Booker prize in 2004 for Electric Michelangelo, was delighted to find herself in contention for the science fiction prize.
“Any collapsing of imposed literary boundaries heartens me,” she said, “and the possibility that writers might be freer to exercise imaginative versatility is tremendously exciting.”
The nomination for The Raw Shark Texts, an exuberant fantasy about a man whose memory is being eaten by a psychic shark, might surprise some readers, but pleased author Stephen Hall.
“The book has been described as a thriller, a romance, metaphysical adventure, part of the new horror revival, slipstream, fantasy, postmodern psychological mash-up, and science fiction too,” he said. I’m happy with all those descriptions because I’ve always felt that it isn’t a writer’s job to tell a reader how to read. If a reader decides my book is science fiction, then it is. That works for me I’m glad it worked for the judges and, who knows, it might even get me one step closer to writing that episode of Doctor Who…”
The 2008 Arthur C Clarke shortlist has been announced. So that gives everyone something to moan about. I’ve not read Brasyl but I can easily believe that McDonald could be justifiable aggrieved to have missed out, particularly after River Of Gods ludicrously lost to Iron Council a couple of years ago. However, it is a strong, interesting list. I am constantly bemused by the suggestion that the judges set out to pick controversial or idealogical books for the award rather than just the best science fiction available.
I’m thrilled to see so many books on this list that I haven’t read, to be honest. Half of the nominees couldn’t be called the “usual suspects” at all, while Richard Morgan richly deserves his nomination for Black Man. MacLeod’s The Execution Channel was too didactic for my tastes, but a worthy attempt to inject politics into fiction. One glaring omission from this list, however, is the lyrical, daring, satirical, and just plain brilliant The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson. (US readers are just now having a chance to experience this novel, as it will be published in North America next month.)