Contest: Guess the Winner of the 2011 Arthur C Clarke Award

This contest is now closed! The winning book will be announced on the evening of 27 April and a winning entry chosen at random from those who guessed correctly at some point after that.

In just over four weeks, we’ll find out which book has won the Arthur C Clarke award for the best work of science fiction published in the UK in 2010. The jury will meet for a second time, to whittle the six shortlisted novels down to a single winner.

The jury doesn’t yet know who will win. I don’t know who will win; but perhaps you do? Or at least have a hunch about it?


The Clake Award has a second contest for you this year! A month ago, we asked you to guess which six books would be on the shortlist. Three of you correctly guessed four of the six books. This time around, you need to guess only one book.

There’s a real prize for this contest too. It consists of two books, both generously donated by NewCon Press.

The first is Fables from the Fountain, the forthcoming 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. The volume includes new stories by Stephen Baxter, Ian Watson, Paul Graham Raven, James Lovegrove, Neil Gaiman, Colin Bruce, Liz Williams, Charles Stross, Eric Brown, Steve Longworth, Henry Gee, Andy West, David Langford, Andrew J Wilson, Peter Crowther, Tom Hunter, Adam Roberts, and Ian Whates. If you can’t wait on the off-chance you’ll win it, you can order a pre-copy of Fables here, with a share of profits going directly to support the Clarke Award’s current fund raising efforts. (A good cause!)

The second part of the prize is Celebration, an anthology of all-original stories published in honour of the fiftieth anniversary of the BSFA (which publishes Vector, of course), also edited by Ian Whates. It includes stories, original to this volume, by Ken MacLeod, Kim Lakin-Smith, Ian Watson, Tricia Sullivan, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, M. John Harrison, Molly Brown, Brian Stableford, Dave Hutchison, Liz Williams, Brian Aldiss, Martin Sketchley, Alastair Reynolds, Ian R. MacLeod, Christopher Priest, Adam Roberts, and Stephen Baxter.

To enter, comment on this post. Your comment must contain two things: the name of a single one of the six shortlisted books; and an explanation of why you think that book will win. No entry is valid without both parts.

Your explanation can be anything you like: your personal favourite, the one you think the judges will pick, a random guess, or a simple ‘because’. We want some kind of justification for the choice, whether minimal or essay-length.

You may not enter this contest if you are a current Clarke award judge, a family member of a current judge, 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.

The winner of the prize randomly drawn from among all the correct, valid 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.

Tom writes that

“The recent guess the shortlist competition with Torque Control was so much fun we thought we’d do it again. The secret aim with the last comp was to show that guessing the right shortlist combination is much harder than it looks, and with something like 25 million combinations of books possible, guessing 6 books from a selection of 54 you can see why.”

“Now the odds are shorter, but I don’t think that makes the choices involved any easier…”

The deadline for your guess and explanation, posted as a reply to this post, is Tuesday, 26 April 2011 at 23:59 BST.

54 thoughts on “Contest: Guess the Winner of the 2011 Arthur C Clarke Award

  1. Tim Powers – Declare

    Something about the cover, and I don’t have a reason in my head, offhand, for why it *wouldn’t* win.

  2. Ian McDonald for The Dervish House. Because he deserves it, rather more than because The Dervish House deserves it… which isn’t to say it doesn’t.

    Because it’s about damn time, basically.

  3. Niall H: Will do! I’ll post at least another two reminders over the course of the next month, including one a day or three before the deadline.

  4. Tim Powers – Declare Easily one of the top 10 books I have read in the past 10 years.

  5. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. One of the most extraordinary books I’ve read in the last ten years or so. Hopefully the Clarke Award is just a stop-off point on the way to the Hugos.

  6. Monsters of Men, by Patrick Ness. I have a gut feeling this year the Clarke jury will decide to be controversial, and MoM fits the bill for that twice over – by being a YA novel, and by being the last book in a trilogy.

  7. Lightborn by Tricia Sullivan because it’s a major novel by a major writer at the height of her powers and I loved every page of it.

  8. I’m going with “Monsters of Men”. Such a great book to end such a great series. We finally get to hear the voice of the Spackle, and it is so true, so alien, so original that I almost wept.
    Ok. Not almost.

  9. Laurian – your entry for the competition isn’t valid without at least a token explanation of why you chose it. (Much as it’s interesting to have your guess!)

  10. The Dervish House, because McDonald is a godlike genius, one of the greatest in our genre, and even though I’ve not yet read it, he has not disappointed since his very earliest few books.

    Sullivan is good, but not, thus far, /that/ good, I feel. Powers T, likewise. Powers R, or Ness, no idea at all. Nor really of Beukes – /Moxyland/ is on my TBR pile; I know nothing of her work yet, though.

    But I do know that IMcD is a writer of stunning power and ability, and all I’ve read says that TDH is well up to his normal stratospheric standard. Only that other Ia(i)n, Banksie, can really outdo him in SF today.

    Irish Ian FTW.

  11. Declare, because Tim Powers finally came up with an explanation for the sudden fall of the Soviet Union… And one that actually makes some kind of sense.

  12. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes – any book recommended by William Gibson as a favourite stands a very good chance!

  13. Pleeeeease allow me to be just a little provocative:
    If the jury consisted of ‘mainstream’ critics, they would surely settle for “Generosity” within half an hour.
    The jurors being who they are, they will of course opt for “The Dervish House”.
    Mind you, I have read neither book. I am merely drawing conclusions from three facts:
    1: Richard Powers is one of the most highly regarded authors writing fiction today.
    2: Ian mcDonald may well be the most highly regarded author writing genre-sf today.
    3. ‘Mainstream’ novels have won the prize on only two occasions so far (unless my memory is wrong).

  14. ‘Mainstream’ novels have won the prize on only two occasions so far

    A few more than that — I count The Handmaid’s Tale, The Sea and Summer, Body of Glass, The Calcutta Chromosome, and The Sparrow. On the other hand, it’s true that it’s been over a decade since a mainstream novel won…

  15. Is The Sea and Summer a non-genre SF novel? Admittedly I only have the US edition (Drowning Towers) but that is certainly packaged as SF and I’ve always heard Turner refered to as an SF novelist.

    You could actually make a case for The Seperation by Christopher Priest since that wasn’t originally published as SF.

    I see no one thinks Generosity is actually going to win though.

  16. The Sea and Summer was published by Faber in the UK, which is why I counted it. (And Quicksilver was published by Heniemann, I suppose.)

  17. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes.

    I haven’t read it yet but many people speak very highly of it and it’s been on my TBR pile. So I think it’s going to win the award and this will make me read it soon after.

  18. @Niall: /The Sparrow/ was totally and clearly SF. Even its blurb was Jesuits in space. I don’t think the publisher really counts, do you?

  19. @adamjkeeper: I think you’ll find that’s a “shoo-in”, as in, you need only say “shoo” to it and it trots into the enclosure.

    “Shoe-in” would imply that you want to give it a good kicking, wouldn’t it?

  20. I don’t think the publisher really counts, do you?

    If we’re separating books into “mainstream” and “genre” winners, yes, it does. I don’t care otherwise, though.

  21. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes because it’s as good a guess as any, seeing as I haven’t read any of these.

  22. The Dervish House, by Ian McDonald – because I have read it, and thought it was an amazing piece of fiction in a vibrant setting with wonderful characters and a captivating plot.

    Apart from that, no reason for picking it.

  23. I hereby rise to Martin’s challenge. I give the judges credit for recognising the brilliance of Generosity, and fully expect it to win.
    Not only is it a remarkable idea, but Powers finds exactly the right way to write it.

  24. “Hi Rainer, just to be clear you’re voting for The Dervish House in terms of the actual competition, yes?”

    @Tom Hunter
    Yes, I do. I should, of course, have said so more clearly.
    Best wishes, Rainer

  25. Zoo City – Lauren Beukes
    For it’s originality and true grit, countermanding old-school cyberpunk without puerile braggadocio

  26. The Dervish House, because I can’t recall the last time a novel received as much, or as unanimous, praise, especially from British fandom, as this one.

  27. I’d say Dervish House. It blew my socks off. And I’m not usually one to read sci-fi/futuristic fiction but this one, wow.

  28. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes.
    I haven’t read any of the books, but that is the one I keep hearing the most positive things about. Also, she’s the most active on Twitter.

  29. The Dervish House by Ian McDonald.

    Because he was robbed in 2005 and, to echo Niall Alexander, it’s about time. Wrongheads may yet prevail though.

  30. I was holding off until I read more of them, but that’s not going to happen before the ceremony, so I’m going for The Dervish House. Because all the reviews seem to suggest that there are other books on the shortlist which are good but flawed in some way, and even if TDH doesn’t reach the heights of some of the other books, it is extremely satisfying and well-written, and McDonald should probably have at least one Clarke award already so let’s hope he gets this one.

  31. The Dervish House, because it is the best book published this year, because McDonald’s body of work in the last decade is unmatched by anyone besides perhaps China Mieville and he has yet to win major awards, and because it demonstrates so well what science fiction can do.

  32. Monsters of Men, Patrick Ness. Mostly because I have loved the Chaos Walking triology. Started reading it because I was working with teens but this is so much more than teen fiction.

  33. To me the decision lies between Richard Powers’ Generosity and Ian McDonald’s The Dervish House, both of which seem to me to be fully rounded novels in ways that I don’t think are true for the other shortlisted novels.

    But as I can only have one, I shall be led by sentiment as much as by appreciation for literary skill and choose The Dervish House. I’m a huge admirer of McDonald’s writing; I would like to see him take the Clarke for this novel.

  34. The Dervish House, because McDonald was already robbed once and this is the odd year in which there are no overhyped Mieville novels in the ballot ;-)

  35. The Dervish House for me too. In many years, you can usually tell which novel(s) are the most discussed, and which have the most momentum behind them. In some years there’s more than one. This year (with my ear to the ground) it’s this one. Let’s see if my ear is not made of tin.

    I’ve read the McDonald, Sullivan and Ness books, and I’m a third of the way through the Beukes as I write this.

    Having said that, haven’t heard any novel published so far in 2011 pulling itself away from the pack, and the year’s a third over, but that’s a problem for next year’s voters and jurors.

  36. The Dervish House by Ian Mcdonald

    Even though I would prefer if Tim Powers or Lauren Beukes won, I think overall The Dervish House has the qualities the judges are looking for, and suit the Clarke Award best.

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