2012 Clarke Award Contest Update

If entrants into the 2012 Guess-the-Clarke Award shortlist contest were voters, only half of the actual shortlist would have made the cut: Embassytown, The Testament of Jessie Lamb, and Rule 34.

Here are the six books which received the most guesses among all the books on the submissions list which were not on the shortlist:
By Light Alone by Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
The Islanders by Christopher Priest (Gollancz)
Osama by Lavie Tidhar (PS)
Reamde by Neal Stephenson (Atlantic)
Savage City by Sophia McDougall (Gollancz)
Wake Up and Dream by Ian R. MacLeod (PS)

Six people guessed that The End Specialist would be on the shortlist; four guessed Hull Zero Three would be on it; and Amanda and John clearly have special insight or instincts, as they were the only two people who guessed that Sheri Tepper’s The Waters Rising would make it.

Forty-four people submitted valid entries to the contest, of which only two failed to guess any of the books which the jury chose for the shortlist. Thirteen people correctly guessed one book, sixteen guessed two books, and a very respectable ten people guessed half of the shortlist correctly.

Three people tied for guessing most the shortlist, with four correct guesses each. Which one will formally win the contest and its prizes? That will depend on Tom Hunter, the Clarke Award director. We’ll let you know shortly.

Meanwhile, the discussion about the award which began with the release of the submissions list and the contest continues with various posts and articles. (Here’s Abigail Nussbaum’s roundup of critical reviews of the books.)

If you’re going to be at Eastercon, you can participate in the conversation in person (in addition to online before and after that!) at the SFF’s Not the Clarke Award panel at 17:30 on Saturday, of which Maureen Kincaid Speller has written, “Clearly, *the* panel to go to at Eastercon will be the Not the Clarke Award panel. Hope it’s in a decent-sized room.” Come join the crowd and the conversation.

March BSFA London Meeting: The BSFA Awards Discussion

With the BSFA Awards imminent (Olympus, Eastercon 2012, registration closes at 6 pm TODAY/Tuesday) we have arranged for a panel at the monthly London meeting to discuss this year’s nominations. This takes place on Wednesday 28th March 2012.

Our esteemed panellists this year are Duncan Lawie (aka Hoopoes, reviewer for Strange Horizons and The Zone), and Dave Hutchinson, (aka Hutch, science fiction writer and editor, shortlisted for the 2009 BSFA Best Short Fiction Award for ‘The Push’) and Donna Scott – BSFA Award Administrator. We are hoping for some lively debate so please do come along and join in the discussion.

ALL WELCOME – FREE ENTRY (No entry fee or tickets. Non-members welcome.)
The discussion will commence at 7.00 pm, but the room is open from 6.00 (and fans in the ground floor bar from 5ish).
There will be a raffle (£1 for five tickets), with a selection of sf novels as prizes.

Location: Cellar Bar, The Melton Mowbray Public House. 18 Holborn, London EC1N 2LE . Map is here. Nearest Tube: Chancery Lane (Central line)

All welcome! (No entry fee or tickets. Non-members welcome.)
Interview will commence at 7pm, but the room is open from 6pm (and fans will very likely be in the ground floor bar from 5pm).
There will be a raffle (£1 for five tickets), with a selection of sf novels as prizes.

25th April – SHARYN NOVEMBER interviewed by Professor Farah Mendlesohn
23rd May* – CJ LINES interviewed by Tony Keen
27th June – TANITH LEE interviewed by Nadia van der Westerhuizen

* Note that this is a month with five Wednesdays. The meeting will be on the fourth, not the last, Wednesday of the month

P.S. BSFA members voting on the awards in advance of Eastercon – the deadline for submitting your votes is the 2nd of April.

Arthur C Clarke Award Shortlist 2012

The Waiting, Part I, is over, and this year’s Clarke Award shortlist is out. (Since it was released all of twelve hours ago, many or most of you reading this are already well-aware that it’s out.)

There are five members of the jury, which this year is comprised of Juliet E McKenna (BSFA), Martin Lewis (BSFA), Phil Nanson (SFF), Nikkianne Moody, SFF, and Rob Grant (SCI-FI-LONDON film festival), with Andrew M. Butler representing the Arthur C. Clarke Award as the Chair of Judges. The jury read the sixty books submitted to the award, ruled out the ones they considered to not be science fiction, and from the rest, chose what they collectively agreed (through however much argument and compromise) to be the best six works of science fiction published in Britain in 2011.

  • Greg Bear, Hull Zero Three (Gollancz)
  • Drew Magary, The End Specialist (Harper Voyager)
  • China Miéville, Embassytown (Macmillan)
  • Jane Rogers, The Testament of Jessie Lamb (Sandstone Press)
  • Charles Stross, Rule 34 (Orbit)
  • Sheri S.Tepper, The Waters Rising (Gollancz)

There’s plenty of commentary elsewhere about the items actually on the shortlist. I’ll be number-crunching all of the entries in the Guess the Shortlist contest in another day or so, although some of that analysis has already been done elsewhere.

There’ll be even more speculation available at the SFF’s Not-the-Clarke Award panel at Eastercon on Saturday, 7 April, at 17:30 (but only if you’re an Eastercon member this year; join now if you haven’t already and plan to attend, as they’re on course to sell out this week, before the convention.).

But meanwhile, speaking of the Clarke Award, have a look at its tasteful, newly-redesigned website!

Eastercon on track to sell out this week

For the first time ever, so far as anyone I’ve talked to can remember, Eastercon is due to sell out before the convention. This means there will be no memberships whatsoever, whether for the weekend or day passes, available at the convention itself, unless pre-bought. None at all.

If you’d like to attend this year’s BSFA Awards, on Sunday, 8 April at 6 pm at this year’s Eastercon, Olympus 2012, you’d better get your membership if you don’t already have it.

As a reminder, all Eastercon members can also vote for the BSFA Awards! But you don’t have to attend to do that, so long as you are a BSFA member and submit your votes by the 2nd of April.

If all goes to plan, you should even have the awards booklet by then. The printers started printing it this weekend.

Update: Eastercon memberships are selling fast enough that they are likely to be sold out before this time tomorrow/Tuesday!

Vector #269

This issue of Vector is dedicated, in part, to revisiting the subject of women writers of science fiction. Few female UK-based science fiction authors currently have contracts, but worldwide, there’s a great deal going on, a geographic, cultural, and linguistic diversity which Cheryl Morgan surveys in this issue. I came away from reading it with a massively expanded to-read list, and I hope it inspires you similarly. Tony Keen examines the roles of death and transformation in Justina Robson’s books Natural History (one of the books on last year’s list of the previous decades best science fiction by women) and Living Next Door to the God of Love. In contrast, Niall Harrison examines a very different author, Glasgow-based Julie Bertagna. Her post-apocalyptic trilogy, which begins with Exodus, provides an intriguing comparison with Stephen Baxter’s current series of prehistoric climate change novels which began with Stone Spring.

The second part of Victor Grech’s three-part series on gender in science fiction doesn’t focus on women science fiction authors, but does deal with quite a few of them in the process of discussing the variety of single-gendered world in science fiction. In particular, he examines the in-story reasons, the biological explanations for their existence, and the degrees to which those mechanisms are found in the ecologies of our own world.

Shana Worthen

SF in London Drink and Art

Bompas & Parr are a fabulous London-based jelly first.

That description doesn’t begin to do them justice. I first encountered them setting a foot-tall replica in jelly of St Paul’s cathedral on fire in memory of the Great Fire of London. They built a rowable green lake on top of Selfridges. They do cocktails of various imaginative varieties, such as the walk-in G&T the other year.

On March 21st, they’re doing a science fiction cocktail event in London:

For A Culinary Odyssey Bompas & Parr is working with KitchenAid to look at the food of the future through prototyping the dishes of science fiction. The event on the 21st March opens fresh areas for culinary speculation and food ethics by examining the physical, biological and astronomical possibilities of cocktails and canapés.

The Experimental Cocktail Club (ECC) is making science fiction cocktails including Burgess’s terrifying Milk Plus, Rhea Thierstein is designing sets that include the entire solar system in papier-mâché, Poietic Studio is building a food levitation device and tropism well and Andrew Stellitano is developing a menu that includes genetic modification, entomophagy, and nano-technology On the evening, Future Laboratory will launch a report on science fiction prototyping and food preparation in the future.

The evening celebrates the launch of the KitchenAid’s 6.9L Artisan stand mixer and is proving pretty popular. The first batch of tickets went in a flash when they eventually went on sale last Thursday. We are planning to release more on the 19th March at noon from our website.

If you can get hold of a ticket you’ll be able to experience ECC’s take on the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster described by Douglas Adams as ‘the alcoholic equivalent of a mugging’ the effects of which are like ‘having your brain smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick’.

It’s currently sold out, but a second tranche of tickets goes on sale at noon on March 19th. Be ready to pounce if this interests you.

Also in London, ongoing, is second-hand science fiction retail as art. It’s been open for at least a few weeks now, so some of you may have caught artist Heman Chong’s conversion of gallery Rossi & Rossi into a temporary retail shop selling sf novels.

The artist is an avid S&F fan and has read most of these books in research for his own Sci-Fi novel set to be released next year. Heman has a long, impressive CV featuring exhibitions at The Frieze Art Fair (2011) and representing Singapore at the Venice Biennale (2003), among other highlights (http://www.rossirossi.com/contemporary/artists/heman-chong/cv). This current work explores the relationship between objects and contexts, where the gallery space oscillates between a bookstore and an artwork depending on who comes in, why they came, and how they view and interact with it. Essentially, each visitor becomes a part of, and potentially transforms the peice. We’ve had hundreds of S&F fans come and we want to invite you and your members/fans to come and enjoy the exhibit. The bottom line: thousands of S&F classics for only £1 each.

The exhibit is open Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm; Sat, 11am-4pm. Rossi and Rossi is at 16 Clifford Street, Mayfair, W1S 3RG. Nearest station, Green Park.

Based on the gallery website, his paintings of the book covers are also for sale. The installation is on until March 30th.

See also London Calling’s interview with the artist for more information on him and his work.

Do Vector readers read comics?

In the next issue of Vector, #270, columnist Terry Martin (of Murky Depths) writes,

When I recently asked one of our prolific comic writers if he was enjoying these columns he answered that I should be giving the mainstream titles, such as those published by Vertigo, more publicity. In actual fact I have covered the likes of Fables and The Unwritten, both Vertigo titles – and the later is one of my favourites. Most Vector readers, he claims, aren’t comic readers, and that I should be directing you to the ‘popular’ comics. I’d be interested to know if you read comics. If you don’t, you‘re missing out.

So, Vector readers: do you read comics?

Should Vector consider providing more coverage of mainstream comics? Obscure comics? Ever since Matrix ended, Vector‘s mandate has de facto encompassed media other than novels and short stories, even if it hasn’t  been the magazine’s biggest strength. But rather than getting sidetracked on the bigger issue of representing a broader diversity of media: what about comics in particular?


Updates: Guess the Clarke shortlist, BSFA Awards, Spirit

It’s been an exciting week, with the guesses coming in as to what will be on this year’s Arthur C Clarke Award shortlist.

In posting her guesses to her blog as to what books might be on that shortlist, Nina Allan wrote,

What matters most about the Clarke is not who wins, but that it acts as a showcase for what is happening in SF now. As such, I believe it should take a pride in presenting writers who are prepared to risk themselves intellectually, stretch themselves imaginatively and hone their skills as writers to produce works of artistic originality and lasting literary power.

It is certainly not clear exactly which six books will be on the shortlist for this year’s, but every guess in the contest (ongoing until Sunday) is a contribution toward the wider discussion of “what is happening in SF now”.

What impresses me in particular about this year’s guesses so far is how wide-ranging they are. About two-thirds of the submitted books have appeared on one or more possible lists so far. It’s entirely possible that one or more of the currently unguessed books will be on that shortlist. Last year, only one person correctly guessed that Declare would be on it, after all.

For those of you who haven’t already entered the contest (and those of you thinking about the state of SF today), here are the currently unguessed-at books for your consideration:

Dead of Veridon by Tim Akers (Solaris)
Novahead by Steve Aylett (Scar Garden)
Sequence by Adrian Dawson (Last Passage)
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan (Canongate)
Gods of Manhattan by Al Ewing (Abaddon Books)
Final Days by Gary Gibson (Tor UK)
Heaven’s Shadow by David S. Goyer & Michael Cassutt (Tor UK)
The Ironclad Prophecy by Pat Kelleher (Abaddon Books)
Shift by Tim Kring and Dale Peck (Bantam)
Echo City by Tim Lebbon (Orbit)
Nemonymous Nights by D.F. Lewis (Chomu Books)
The Age of Odin by James Lovegrove (Solaris)
The Shadow of the Soul by Sarah Pinborough (Gollancz)
The Straight Razor Cure by Daniel Polansky (Hodder and Stoughton)
Here Comes The Nice by Jeremy Reed (Chomu Books)
The Demi Monde: Winter by Rod Rees (Jo Fletcher Books)
War in Heaven by Gavin Smith (Gollancz)
The Noise Revealed by Ian Whates (Solaris)
Son of Heaven by David Wingrove (Corvus)

The contest is open for entries until this coming Sunday night, 11th March, at 23:59 GMT.

The Clarke Award isn’t the only thing going on right now. Hopefully, many of you are busy reading and examining the shortlists for the BSFA Awards, which will be announced on the Sunday of Eastercon this year. Forbidden Planet is offering discounts on all the novels on the shortlist. Also, the BSFA Awards short story booklet is on track to go out with the next mailing.

Finally, we never quite finished discussing all of the books we had planned to last year, here on Torque Control. We’ll be filling in those gaps this year, starting with Gwyneth Jones’ Spirit, toward the end of March.