Contest: Guess the 2011 Arthur C Clarke Award Shortlist

This contest is now closed and no more entries will be accepted. The results will be posted on Friday, March 4th.

It’s that time of year. The list of eligible submissions for this year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award is out! And this year, in honour of the award’s twenty-fifth anniversary, we’re pleased to be able to run a contest with real prizes (not just glory) in conjunction with the list’s release.

The goal is straightforward: guess the shortlist for this year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award.

The prize is quite a good one, thanks to the generousity of the Clarke Award and NewCon Press! If you win, you will receive copies of all six of the shortlisted works, plus a copy of Fables from the Fountain, the forthcoming, limited-edition anthology edited by Ian Whates from NewCon press. Fables is a collection of all-original stories written as homage to Arthur C. Clarke’s Tales from the White Hart and published in honour of the Clarke Award’s twenty-fifth anniversary.

To enter, comment on this post. Your comment must contain a list of six (no more, no fewer) novels from the full list of eligible submissions. Pingbacks won’t be accepted.

You may not enter this contest if you are a current Clarke award judge, a family member of a current judge, someone who has access to the currently-embargoed press release containing the shortlist, or if you are on the board of Serendip or the BSFA. You may not enter the contest multiple times: only your first entry will be entered into the contest. You are welcome to enter from wherever you are: the prize can be shipped internationially.

If no one guesses all six entries correctly, then the prize will go to whoever guessed the most correct winners. If there is a tie for the most correct winners guessed, then the winner will be picked from a hat from among the tied entries. This contest will be judged by Tom Hunter, director of the Clarke Award, and his decision in all aspects of the contest is final.

As Tom observes,

The idea behind releasing the full submissions lists is pretty simple. Every year we reveal our shortlist of the six best science fiction books of the previous year, as decided by our panel of independent judges, and every year we enjoy, well, passionate conversation around those choices.

For me this is exactly how things should be, but at the same time I’m keen for people to understand just how complex the judging process is, and how many different variants there can be when you have 54 great books in play and you have to narrow those down to just six of the best as it were.

Personally, I’ve never managed to correctly guess all six in advance, and I’m the Award Director, so just to warn you this game is harder than it looks, and good luck everyone.

The deadline for your six guesses, posted as a reply to this post, is this Wednesday, 2 March at 23:59 GMT.

2011 Arthur C Clarke Award Submissions

I am the bearer of exciting news today.

Firstly, I bring you tidings of fifty-four novels, the eligible submissions for this year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award.

Secondly, as has been the case for the last two years, the submissions list comes with a contest. For the last few years, here at Torque Control, the contest has been informal, a lively round of guessing the longlist from their miniaturised covers.

This year, the competition is rather more, well, competitive: guess the shortlist, before it is released this coming Friday. The lucky winner will receive copies of *all* the shortlisted novels, plus NewCon press’s forthcoming short story collection, Fables from the Fountain, published in honor of the 25th anniverary of the Clarke Awards! For full details – and to enter the contest – see the separate contest details post.

The Clarke award doesn’t have a longlist as such; what follows is a list of the 54 eligible novels, submitted by 22 different publishers and imprints, one of the highest submissions rates the Clarke award has had. From these the jurors pick the shortlist and, once they have all read them again, they will choose the winner in time for the prize to be announced on Wednesday, 27 April at SciFi London.

Submissions include two past winners (Tricia Sullivan and China Miéville), 11 previously-shortlisted authors (Stephen Baxter, Ian McDonald, Alastair Reynolds, Adam Roberts, Chris Wooding, Iain M. Banks, Ken MacLeod, Charles Stross, Peter F. Hamilton, William Gibson and James Lovegrove), and one past judge (Francis Spufford). To add to the statistics collection, the list below is sorted by publisher.

And here is this year’s eligible submissions list:

Black Hand Gang by Pat Kelleher (Abaddon Books)
Zoo City by Lauren Beukes (Angry Robot)
Generosity by Richard Powers (Atlantic Books)
Declare by Tim Powers (Corvus)
Finch by Jeff VanderMeer (Corvus)
Holy Machine by Chris Beckett (Corvus)
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu (Corvus)
On the Third Day by Rhys Thomas (Doubleday)
Salvage by Robert Edric (Doubleday)
Bring Home the Stars by Jennifer Kirk (DS Press)
Sylvow by Douglas Thompson (Eibonvale Press)
Red Plenty by Francis Spufford (Faber & Faber)
The Birth of Love by Joanna Kavenna (Faber & Faber)
Paradise by Glenn Myers (Fizz Books)
A Matter of Blood by Sarah Pinborough (Gollancz)
Above the Snowline by Steph Swainston (Gollancz)
Absorption by John Meaney (Gollancz)
Eve: The Burning Life by Hjalti Danielsson (Gollancz)
Guardians of Paradise by Jaine Fenn (Gollancz)
New Model Army by Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
Stone Spring by Stephen Baxter (Gollancz)
Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz)
The Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding (Gollancz)
The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (Gollancz)
The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi (Gollancz)
The Silent Land by Graham Joyce (Gollancz)
Veteran by Gavin G Smith (Gollancz)
Watch by Robert J Sawyer (Gollancz)
Zendegi by Greg Egan (Gollancz)
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart (Granta)
For the Win by Cory Doctorow (Harper Voyager)
Things We Didn’t See Coming by Steve Amsterdam (Harvill Secker)
C by Tom McCarthy (Jonathan Cape)
Feed by Mira Grant (Orbit)
Lightborn by Tricia Sullivan (Orbit)
Surface Detail by Iain M Banks (Orbit)
The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross (Orbit)
The Restoration Game by Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
The Unit by Terry DeHart (Orbit)
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Orbit)
Version 43 by Philip Palmer (Orbit)
The Passage by Justin Cronin (Orion Books)
Blood and Iron by Tony Ballantyne (Pan Macmillan)
Empire of Light by Gary Gibson (Pan Macmillan)
Kraken by China Miéville (Pan Macmillan)
The Evolutionary Void by Peter F. Hamilton (Pan Macmillan)
The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell (Pan Macmillan)
The Technician by Neal Asher (Pan Macmillan)
Zero History by William Gibson (Penguin)
Pornogram by Osric Allen (Robert Temple)
The Meat Tree by Gwyneth Lewis (Seren)
The Age of Zeus by James Lovegrove (Solaris)
The Noise Within by Ian Whates (Solaris)
Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness (Walker Books)

So, what do you think of this year’s submissions?

If you’d like to guess and potentially win the award’s shortlist this year, see the contest details post. (Entries must be received by the end of this Wednesday, so submit your guess sooner than later!) Guesses posted in the comments to this post may make good conversation fodder, but won’t be eligible entries for the contest.

BSFA Award Nominations: Non-Fiction Statistics

The non-fiction shortlist for this year’s BSFA Awards is easily the most diverse of the shortlists, at least in terms of media. There’s a podcast, lots of blog posts, and a controversial nomination which may not even be non-fiction, depending on who is doing the nominating. What counts as non-fiction for the BSFA awards is up to the nominators, not the award administrator.

This year, every person who nominated in the non-fiction category had far more influence than anyone who only nominated in other categories. That’s because a total of eighteen people nominated a total of only sixteen candidates for the non-fiction shortlist. 3% of the BSFA’s membership nominated in this category.

Fewer people nominated in this category than the others – over twice as many people nominated for the best novel and for the best short story shortlists. The proportions, however, are not necessarily typical of the category. Last year, twenty-nine people nominated a total of forty-three works! Even the year before that, twenty-nine different works were nominated for the shortlist.

This is the only category for which there were fewer nominations than nominators which, superficially, may suggest a greater initial consensus on appropriate works than in other categories. There weren’t a whole lot of eligible non-fiction books published compared to some recent years, but there were plenty of other ways in which eligible non-fiction is produced, as is clear from the diversity of this year’s ballot.

To simplify a more complicated situation: Novels have publishers, bookstores, and reviewers to raise awareness of them. Short stories have magazines, online and off, to promote them. Artwork is promoted via novel covers, and thus bookstores, and magazines (which, although it’s a fraction of genre artwork being produced, at least gives it venues for publicity). Non-fiction doesn’t have so many built-in mechanisms for advertising. Collectively, I think, we consume a fair amount of it, but it requires a bit more effort to step back from reading and consider a work’s longer-term importance, and to track casually-read essays, reviews, and criticism for their nomination potential.

Bold as Love: IV

Bold as Love cover


A confession: I actually came to the Bold as Love series backwards. As part of my Clarke judge duties I had to read the final volume, Rainbow Bridge (2006), and at the time I had no experience of its predecessors. Truth to tell I don’t remember all that much about it, and that which I do remember I should not speak of, but what does seem worth mentioning here is the lingering elegiac impression the book left, crystallised in a self-description by one of the triumverate, that they are “veterans of utopia.”

And so I came to Bold as Love on the lookout for the possibility of utopia, and was a little surprised by the novel’s darkness. Not the darkness in the stories of its characters — I’d read “The Salt Box” in Interzone — but in its ambience and events. Bold as Love opens in a period of near-crisis, with the authorities struggling to maintain an orderly dissolution against a backdrop of economic and ecological collapse, and the trials don’t let up: an influx of migrants, a failing electronic infrastructure, a small war in Yorkshire. It seems astonishing that this world will ever progress far enough to look back on utopia.

But there is a utopian desire present in Bold as Love, refracted by the triumverate, and in particular by Ax and Fiorinda. The latter is profoundly pessimistic — the combination of youth and experience, perhaps — and sees no good in the way the world is turning. More than once she comments that everything is going up in smoke, that it’s the end of the world. And on the role of Ax himself, when pestered, she says:

“I think he’s the Lord’s anointed. I think he has the mandate of heaven. I think he is rightwise king born over all England. But still–”
“But still you are the cat who walks by herself, green-eyed Fiorinda–”
“But still nothing’s changed.”

What does that “nothing” denote? Manifestly things are changing through the novel, dramatically so. But we know what Fiorinda means, of course, we kow she means that there are still winners and losers and — in the novel’s terms — suits with power. Sage, similarly, is a sceptic. For him, the cross-demographic appeal of the triumverate, as evidenced by the diversity of their gig audiences, does not seem like a compliment; it seems “like a deeply, deeply mistaken confidence” (243).

It’s left to Ax to lead: the only character to deliberately articulate any vision of utopia. In the aftermath of the coup, he rallies his countercultural comrades to that vision, speaking of the potential for something new in history, “a genuine human civilisation. For everyone”, enabled by technology. His goal is “To make this turning point the beginning of civilisation, instead of a fall into the dark ages”; but it’s tempered with pragmatism:

And yeah, before anyone says it, I know it won’t work. If I succeed beyond my wildest dreams, it’ll be partial, fucked-up and temporary. Partial, fucked-up and temporary will be fine. If we can get that going, for just a few years, just here in England, we’ll have made our mark. Something will survive. (82)

The grandest of visions an the most modest of terms: that’s the tension that defines Ax, seen later as dedicated to the art of the possible over the good, and seen from inside his head as one who endures. In the warzone, he recognises “a reason for Fiorinda’s mourning, the end of a world, an unbearable loss”, but “he had to bear it. Accept” (118); or, later, more than once, he thinks, “If we can just get through this part …” (I started to think of the catchphrase of Kim Stanley Robinson’s much sunnier Phil Chase: “I’ll see what I can do!”) The fragility of it all, the provisionality, is exhausting for Ax, and we sometimes feel that exhaustion. But between the three leads we also scent the elusive spirit of change, the muscular belief that things can get better, slowly.

All of which leads to the curious ending note. Superficially Bold as Love closes on a not entirely unexpected moment of grace, a pause that sees the triumverate together and comfortable. Stubborn stuff, this world; hard not to retreat from it sometimes. At the same time, Ax’s thoughts, on the final page — “I was not perfectly happy, but now I am, and if I had the power this is where I would make time stop, this is where I’d stay forever. This is it, this moment. This, now” (307-8) — make it seem coldly plausible that this is the utopia of which they become veterans: a limited, individual utopia, an impression of the world around them shaped entirely by their personal emotional circumstances. But on reflection, it’s hard to imagine another ending for this quixotic, thorny book.

Bold as Love: III

Bold as Love cover


”They’re both very brave men and very good officers,” says Richard Kent, ex-regular CCM army commander, with whom they served in that little English pocket-war in Yorkshire last year. “And that’s what counts today: leadership and vision. I don’t know where the rock music comes in.” (271-2)

It is Bold as Love’s central strangeness: that it asks us to believe rock stars could really be revolutionaries. It’s not, I think, the exchange of celebrity for political power that’s problematic – not in a post-Governator era, at least; not until after the initial off-screen hand-wave that brings the musicians into politics in the first place, anyway – but the idea that such individuals might make the transition yet retain principles. Even Ax is forced to comment on the implausibility of that.

It’s a potent notion, this belief in the power of music, with enough juice to often obscure the fact that Jones is at her weakest when writing about it, when creating a musical world. She displays an absolute tin ear for band names and song titles, her made-up music journalism is cringeworthy, and there is little sense of the wonder and transformative power of music itself. What she can convey is the ambience of musical events: her gigs are all jagged energy and aftermath, her festivals true worlds unto themselves, right from the start, when Fiorinda stands outside Reading seeking “the mere will to cross that boundary and join that fair field full of folk” (2). To enter faerie, with its customs and denizens and magical ways.

Bold as Love is, as Francis Spufford puts it in his review, a novel in which a festival swallows up the whole country. The answer to “where the rock music comes in” is “everywhere”; it has to, to give the idea of the Counterculture some gravitas, to make it a political force, a movement with sufficient cohesion and will to drive events. Ax, with his sixties Real Year, is merely the purest expression of the Counterculture. usic brings him security, and enables him to lead: to inspire, and occasionally placate the masses. And yet despite its pervasiveness, I don’t know that Bold as Love actually presents rock itself as revolutionary. Ax is as much a revolutionary who happens to be a rock star as the other way around, and the meaningfulness of the rockstar part of his identity is constantly challenged, from the quote at the head of this post to a sharp awareness of the sinister side of cultural conformity, to the simple, heavy irony of Sage and Ax’s repeated “Hey rockstar” / “Hey, other rockstar” greeting. Fiorinda certainly sees no glory:

From a distance she could see it happening: Ax’s future, the rock and roll lifestyle written over everything, the nomadic idleness, the emotional excess, the tantrums … she saw no hope in the development. A certain model of human life becomes accepted: once we were manufacturing workers, then we were venture capitalists, now we’re rockstars. The world stays the same. (91)

It’s perhaps useful to consider the “we” in this statement. Manufacturing workers, venture capitalists and rockstars are not equivalent classes – each is smaller than the previous – nor can Fiorinda meaningfully lay claim to have ever been the first two. (She is literally born to her position.) It’s tempting to take it as a premonition of the all-famous-now YouTube future, but I think that would be mistaken; I think Fiorinda is imposing a narrative on history whereby power has travelled from the many to the few. A false narrative, mainly, but that’s not the point; what matters is that she can’t believe any of the power is meaningful. Ax, meanwhile, doesn’t know whether he believes the power of rock is meaningful, but puts his finger on the real strength of his government:

Had the country been about the split in two, collapse into civil war, until the situation was saved by rock and roll? This morning the idea seemed absurd. We will never know, he thought. Maybe we made a difference, maybe we didn’t.

It didn’t hurt for the future, however, that a heavy proportion of the forty million seemed quite convinced that the Rock and Roll Reich had saved everyone’s bacon. Again. (255)

This, I think, is the closest to a definitive understanding of the role of music that the novel offers, a viewpoint that downplays the importance of music as music. Rather, what’s significant is the potential of music to be a vehicle for belief, at a moment when belief in all other systems of the world has been shattered by catastrophic cynicism.


Bold as Love: II

Bold as Love cover


There is a current in the novel that snakes outside the 1997-2001 moment; or at least a character who seems out of step with his surroundings. Ax Preston, guitarist with The Chosen Few, destined (it seems) leader of England, the nearest thing to a hero we’re going to get, “bit old fashioned, bit left wing” (23), and most importantly:

Ax would continue to come and go as he pleased. […] Go on living his fearfully public life in this fearfully changed world as if he were a private person with no enemies, and the date some mythical year in the nineteen sixties. (206)

The aptness of his particular nostalgia in a novel which springs partially from the nostalgic Britpop moment aside, this is what makes Ax special: this ability to preserve his own private Real Year in the face of the progressive isolation of England, first politically, through dissolution and an ongoing economic and ecological collapse, then culturally and digitally as their internet is collapsed by a virus. This new England is an island England, cut adrift (it seems) from the main line of history (I gather later volumes in the Bold as Love sequence get around a bit more). And Ax is both the moral leader we might wish for England, and a literal dictator: military, temporary, populist.

Ax is also Arthur returned (and updated), although I don’t feel qualified to do very much more than just note the fact. Accompanying him are Sage, the skull-masked “brilliantly commercial techno-wizard” to Ax’s “pure musician with critical and political cred” (27) and, I gather from Tanya Brown’s extremely lucid reading of the novel in The Arthur C Clarke Award: A Critical Anthology, Lancelot with a hint of Merlin. I find him the novel’s bedrock, the wall off which other characters can bounce. (I find him a little dull.) Decoding the third of the triumverate, Fiorinda, takes longer, because she’s loaded down with more symbolism. Guinevere, says Tanya; rock royalty, precocious teen, Titania, virgin queen, says the novel; “a phenomenon,” thinks Ax, “where did she get those cold, wise eyes, where did she find that tone of contemptuous authority?” (40-1). Fiorinda sees her position more clearly than either of her companions, as when Sage tries to protect her from the darkness of war: “I’m not built to play Red Sonja, so I have to be the lickle princess. There aren’t any parts for me as a human being in this movie” (161). Perils of being in a mythic story while female.

Everything real the trio does is also symbolic, and everything symbolic they do is also real. Ax is a soldier, and carries his guitar like an assault rifle as a reminder of that power. In his conversion to Islam midway through the novel, in the fetishization of Fiorinda, in Sage’s abusive past, in their varied class and ethnic backgrounds, and most of all in their shifting relationships with each other, they represent their country in more ways than one, a polymorphousness condensed by an artist, late in the book:

He grinned, envisaging Sage as the big strong mother of the tribe, Ax the father of his people, Fiorinda their shining prince. But any permutation of the roles would be equally valid. (282)

Ax nags like a mother, Sage is headstrong like a prince, Fiorinda negotiates like a father. And so on. The self-consciousness of it all could get wearing — seems to get wearing for many readers — but for me the novel’s centre of gravity was elsewhere. The role of the triumverate is to be a prism: to ensure that Fiorinda is telling the truth when, to buck up her band, she insists: “This is England. This is how it feels” (244).


London Meeting: Matt Brooker (D’Israeli)

Febraury’s London meeting will feature Matt Brooker (D’Israeli) (Eagle Award-winning artist of Stickleback and Scarlet Traces) will be interviewed by Tony Keen (London meetings organizer).

Date: Wednesday 23rd February 2011

Venue: The Upstairs room at the Antelope Tavern. 22, Eaton Terrace, Belgravia, London, SW1W 8EZ. The nearest tube station is Sloane Square (District/Circle) A map of the location is here.

All are welcome! (No entry fee or tickets. Non-members welcome.) The Interview will commence at 7.00 pm, but the room is open from 6.00 (and fans in the downstairs bar from 5). There will be a raffle (£1 for five tickets), with a selection of sf novels as prizes.

Future London Meetings

23rd March 2011 * – BSFA Awards Meeting
20th April 2011 ** – DAVID WEBER: Interviewer TBC
25th May 2011 – TBC

Bold as Love: I

Bold as Love cover

It’s a truism that time is cruel to science fiction, that the relentless now eats into the future and leaves husks of stories in its wake and that, per William Gibson, the lag time is decreasing. When editing the 2002 Nebula Awards Showcase, Kim Stanley Robinson asked some writers to riff on the science-fictionalisation of the present, specifically on the role of science fiction in the twenty-first century. Gwyneth Jones was one of the contributors to the resulting symposium, and described “the problem of meaning”:

… which can best be understood by considering the ratio between the author’s intention and the rest of the content of a science fiction novel or story. The whole vast edifice of reality, the universe, and everything may have a single meaning that is known only to God. […] A science fiction novel or story, however, has a meaning known to the author. […] In the space of three hundred pages, where the author has elected to explain life, or consciousness, or theories of everything (typical projects among sf writers), meaning is so concentrated as to distort the most perceptive prediction to the point where it is almost unrecognisable. (241)

At first glance — which is particularly to say, when it was first published, back in 2001 — the predictive bedrock of Bold as Love may seem more unrecognisable than most. It chronicles the unlikely rise of a “Rock and Roll Reich”, an authoritarian Green state within which protagonists struggle for something better, and self-consciously constructs a future that only gets stranger the further into it we travel. It seems to fully earn its “near future fantasy” subtitle, and I speculate — this is the first time I’ve read it — that in 2001 Bold as Love seemed as much as anything to be about the possibility of an unknowable future; that its rockstar protagonists, improbably recruited into a Think Tank intended to define a new future for England, seemed written with a wind of millennial possibility in their sails.

Time may be cruel, but it’s the friend of the critic of sf who wants to strip away the layers of future, to get past the singularity of authorial intent. This, too, is a truism, encapsulated by the Clutean concept of the Real Year. Some of the things that stand out so starkly now must have been obvious at time, although the extrapolation of New Labour “Cool Britannia” co-option of pop seems to have been little commented-on in contemporary reviews. (Adam Roberts suggested it’s not even really about politics; Cheryl Morgan provided an exception; Roger Luckhurst, a couple of years later, digs into this aspect a little in an essay in Science Fiction Studies.) Some things might have been dimly discernable on the horizon, such as the extent to which the internet would gut the mega-label mega-bucks model of music distribution that dominates Bold as Love (no bittorrent, no YouTube). But what fixes this novel in time most profoundly seemed to come out of a clear blue sky: a door slammed shut, a month after the novel was published, on what in retrospect feels like a wasted moment of historical possibility. There are about a dozen mentions of terrorism in this novel. It’s there, but low down in the mix.

Bold as Love has already earned its place in sf’s modern canon. It’s probably the most sustained engagement with the nature of Englishness published within the genre in the last ten years, not to mention an early entry into the broken-Union trope that’s been so common in recent British sf, in novels by Charles Stross, Ken MacLeod, Adam Roberts. It’s a clear influence on Justina Robson’s even more dislocated near-future fantasy sequence Quantum Gravity (indeed, in one character’s crack about not wanting to “end up transformed into some crackpot post-human elf” [194] it could have offered direct inspiration). Yet it feels somehow irretrievable, locked away from me, innocent. I discovered Jones’ contribution to Robinson’s Nebula symposium because her novel had put me in mind of what one of the other participants said. Over to Ken MacLeod:

What sf enables us to do is not to forsee the future, but to entertain possibilities. The more possibilities science and technology —

[At this point, about 3.30 British Summer Time, 11 September 2001, the phone rang.]

I leave this piece as I wrote it, words from the old world. (248)

If I’m unbothered by Bold as Love‘s much-touted lack of plausibility (and I am, largely), this is most of the reason why. For once, being yesterday’s tomorrow is a kindness. It’s words from the old world; and by that token, it owns its world.


BSFA Award Nominations: Short Story Percentages

I dissembled slightly when I wrote that more people nominated for the best novel category than any other. It’s true – but it’s not true by very many.

This year, 40 BSFA members nominated a total of 97 short stories for the BSFA Award for Short Story, or a little less than 7% of the BSFA’s members. This is the category with the greatest number of nominations per nominator on average. In no other category did nominators average over two nominations per person.

In a fit of impressive serendipity, the same number of short stories were nominated this year as last, 97 both times. The attentive may notice I said the same thing about the novel category, 60 and 60 nominated novels. Lest you think I am mixing my list of statistics, I swear there is major divergence in the non-fiction category coming up. The year before last, 88 short stories were nominated.

The number of short stories being nominated certainly shows great health – if lack of an initial consensus – in the field. The number of people reading those short stories, however, or at least the number of short story readers bothering to nominate, is down from last year, more so than the few by which the novel category was down. Last year, 47 people nominated short stories for the award ballot; this year, only 40 of them did.

On the bright side, as far as the authors of the four short stories which made the shortlist are concerned, those stories did so under by far the most competitive circumstances. A mere 4.1% of the nominated short stories made it onto the ballot!

Those four short stories are all available online. In addition, they will be sent to BSFA members in the next mailing, so there are multiple ways to read them – including in their original publications – and consider voting on them. Both BSFA members and Illustrious (Eastercon 2011) members are eligible to vote for the BSFA awards.

BSFA Award Nominations: Novel Percentages

I don’t think you would be wholly surprised to learn that more BSFA members nominate novels for the BSFA award than any other category. For most multi-category awards, novels are the attention-getting category. They’re the units (other than film) in which the most socially-visible science fiction is advertised and sold.

This year, 43 BSFA members nominated a total of 60 books for the award shortlist. This is a smidgin down from last year when 47 members nominated for the category, but despite the four additional people last year, they nominated exactly the same number of books, 60, for the previous year’s shortlist! Both years were up from the awards given out in 2009, when only 26 different novels were nominated.

The BSFA currently has about 600 members, which means that about 7% of all members nominated one or more novels for the award. A gratuitously higher statistic is to say that one novel was nominated for every ten members, on average. Clearly, there’s room for growth – but equally, there are plenty of reasons to join the BSFA which have nothing to do with being able to nominate for the award. Keep in mind too that this is just the nomination phase I’m discussing here: plenty more people will be voting on the final ballot!

One advantage of Easter – and thus Eastercon – being later than usual is that, if you haven’t already, you have a little more time in which to read the five novels shortlisted from that list of sixty nominations before the ballot is due.