2010 Arthur C Clarke Award Submissions

Now we come to it! The shortlist for this year’s Arthur C Clarke Award will be announced on Wednesday 31 March, and the award ceremony will be held on Wednesday 28 April, at the Sci-Fi London Film Festival. However, as last year, the Award is releasing the list of books that were submitted and considered and you heard it, quite literally, here first. Or rather, saw it:

clarke2010montage-small

Full-sized image to follow at lunchtime, but in the meantime, far be it from me to stop people trying to work out which book covers those are. (Amazing how distinctive some of them are even at this size, I think.) Note that this is not a formal longlist; it’s the books that were submitted by publishers and considered by the judges.

UPDATE: And now, the full list.

clarke2010montage-med

Heart of Veridon by Tim Akers (Solaris)
Shadow of the Scorpion by Neal Asher (Tor)
Orbus by Neal Asher (Tor)
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (Bloomsbury)
Twisted Metal by Tony Ballantyne (Tor)
Transition by Iain Banks (Little, Brown)
Ark by Stephen Baxter (Gollancz)
Moxyland by Lauren Beukes (Angry Robot)
The Accord by Keith Brooke (Solaris)
Xenopath by Eric Brown (Solaris)
Seeds of Earth by Mike Cobley (Orbit)
And Another Thing… by Eoin Colfer (Penguin)
Makers by Cory Doctorow (Voyager)
The Babylonian Trilogy by Sebastien Doubinsky (PS Publishing)
The Wild Things by Dave Eggers (Hamish Hamilton)
Consorts of Heavenby Jaine Fenn (Gollancz)
The Stranger by Max Frei (Gollancz)
Concrete Operational by Richard Galbraith (Rawstone Media)
Nova War by Gary Gibson (Tor)
Winter Song by Colin Harvey (Angry Robot)
The Rapture by Liz Jensen (Bloomsbury)
Spirit by Gwyneth Jones (Gollancz)
Journey into Space by Toby Litt (Penguin)
The Age of Ra by James Lovegrove (Solaris)
Halfhead by Stuart B MacBride (HarperVoyager)
Gardens of the Sun by Paul McAuley (Gollancz)
The City & The City by China Mieville (Macmillan)
Red Claw by Philip Palmer (Orbit)
Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
Galileo’s Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson (HarperVoyager)
Chasing the Dragon by Justina Robson (Gollancz)
The City of Lists by Brigid Rose (Crocus)
Flashforward by Robert J Sawyer (Gollancz)
Wake by Robert J Sawyer (Gollancz)
Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi (Tor)
The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor (Faber & Faber)
Far North by Marcel Theroux (Faber & Faber)
Before the Gods by KS Turner (Ruby Blaze)
The Painting and the City by Robert Freeman Wexler (PS Publishing)
This is Not a Game by Walter Jon Williams (Orbit)
Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding (Gollancz)

So there you are: the 41 books in contention for this year’s Arthur C Clarke Award. (The Rise of the Iron Moon by Stephen Hunt was also submitted, but ineligible due to SF Crowsnest‘s association with the award.) Does it look like a good year? What would you put on the shortlist?

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94 Responses to “2010 Arthur C Clarke Award Submissions”

  1. David H Says:

    I think I’ve read eight of those…

  2. Niall Says:

    Go on, then — which ones?

  3. David H Says:

    Atwood, Banks, Brooke, Jensen, Lovegrove, Miéville, Roberts, and Robinson.

  4. Niall Says:

    Hmm, maybe I should make the image smaller! (I’ve read nine, and three of the same as you.)

  5. Paul Graham Raven Says:

    I think I can see Colin Harvey’s Winter Song in there, though I’ve not read it. I also think I can see Robert Wexler’s The Painting & The City (one from the home team there, eh?), and Mieville’s City…, and WJW’s This Is Not A Game, and Moxyland, and what looks to be a Scalzi novel whose title momentarily escapes me.

    And now I have eyestrain, and it’s not even time for elevenses. Damn you, Harrison, damn you and your Speedos! *shakes fist*

  6. Niall Says:

    Yep, they’re all there. (But are they all sf…?)

    I have to admit, I played it safe and just brought my bowling ball to work. (For the benefit of everyone else: today is Sport Relief, and we’re meant to come to work wearing sporty clothing … which would be fine, if I owned any.)

  7. Nick H. Says:

    I may have duplicated some spots, if people have commented while I’ve been typing this, but here goes:

    1.5 “Heart of Veridon”, Tim Akers
    1.6 “Shadow of the Scorpion”, Neal Asher”
    1.7 “Orbus”, Neal Asher
    2.1 “The Year of the Flood”, Margaret Atwood
    2.3 “Transition”, Iain Banks
    2.4 “Ark”, Stephen Baxter
    2.7 “Xenopath”, Eric Brown
    3.2 “And Another Thing”, Eoin Colfer
    3.3 “Makers”, Cory Doctorow
    3.5 “Where the Wild Things Are”, David Eggars
    3.6 “Consorts of Heaven”, Jaine Fenn
    4.3 “Winter Song”, Colin Harvey
    4.4 “The Rapture”, Liz Jensen
    4.6 “Journey into Space”, Toby Litt
    5.2 “Gardens of the Sun”, Paul McAuley
    5.3 “The City and the City”, China Mieville
    5.4 “Red Claw”, Philip Palmer
    5.5 “Yellow Blue Tibia”, Alan Roverts
    5.7 “Chasing the Dragon”, Justina Robson
    6.2 “Flashforward”, Robert Sawyer
    6.4 “Zoe’s Tale”, John Scalzi
    6.5 “The Island at the End of the World”, Sam Taylor
    6.6 “Far North”, Marcel Theroux
    7.2 “This is Not a Game”, Walter Jon Williams
    7.3 Looks like a Stephan Martiniere cover but the book escapes me at the moment.

  8. David H Says:

    I must confess, Niall, that I cheated and enlarged the image — otherwise I’d have tried to list every book I could recognise (though I would have expected all those eight books to have been submitted anyway). But there are still some covers I can’t identify in the enlarged version, so I look forward to finding out what they are…

  9. Martin Says:

    I don’t see any way of describing Where The Wild Things Are as science fiction. More importantly, Niall has a bowling ball?

  10. Niall Says:

    Nick: All correct, I think, except that the Eggers is technically just called The Wild Things.

    David: curse you. I think I have now made it enlargement-proof…

  11. Niall Says:

    Martin:

    I don’t see any way of describing Where The Wild Things Are as science fiction.

    No, you do wonder what Hamish Hamilton were thinking there. Mind you, it’s not the only submitted book whose sfnality is a bit challenging.

  12. Nick H. Says:

    “All correct, I think, except that the Eggers is technically just called The Wild Things.”

    Drat, I can’t believe I never noticed that before, even when I used the book in a display the other week.

    Still, that’s not the only thing that made me feel foolish. There was also the moment I thought “How odd, it looks like a number of the books here are in a series, but it’s not one I’ve ever seen before…” for a few moments before I realised you’d just added a few bits to spell out ‘ACCA 2010′.

    One more, though I’m not 100% certain of this one…

    5.6 “Galileo’s Dream”, Kim Stanley Robinson

  13. David H Says:

    Sorry, Niall…

    But, to add some others to those already mentioned:

    2.2 Tony Ballantyne, Twisted Metal
    2.5 Lauren Beukes, Moxyland
    2.6 Keith Brooke, The Accord
    3.1 Michael Cobley, Seeds of Earth
    4.5 Gwyneth Jones, Spirit
    4.7 James Lovegrove, The Age of Ra

  14. Al R Says:

    No The Caryatids as far as I can see. It may not have had a proper UK publication but I had no trouble buying a copy in Waterstones.

  15. Niall Says:

    Nick, David: all correct, again.

    Al: It has to have been formally published in the UK to be submitted, though, unfortunately. That said, I can think of at least four books that were eligible that I’m surprised and disappointed not to see among the submissions — a slap on the wrist for the relevant publishers, there. I’ll say what they are when I post the full list.

  16. Paul Kincaid Says:

    I’m at a distinct disadvantage here. Assuming lists various people have given are correct, I’ve read at least 11 of the titles featured. Unfortunately, most of them were proof copies and I have absolutely no idea what the finished copy looks like. Or I could just say that Niall is conspiring to damage my failing eyesight by making the whole damned thing so small.

  17. Nick H. Says:

    No doubt next year, to make it harder (due to people apparently still finding it ‘too easy’), Niall will be putting all of the covers in a single microdot. That’ll fix us.

  18. Niall Says:

    Well, Tom (to whom credit and thanks go for putting together the montage this year) did try organising the covers by colour, rather than alphabetically by author, which I think would have made it a little trickier. Sadly it didn’t work so well.

  19. Liz Says:

    It’s not enlargement-proof – if you copy and paste the image it’s the right size even though you squished the dimensions in the HTML. Not that it helps that much.

    3.4 is Ark by Stephen Baxter, and the Martiniere cover for 7.3 is Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding.

  20. Nick H. Says:

    “Well, Tom (to whom credit and thanks go for putting together the montage this year) did try organising the covers by colour, rather than alphabetically by author”

    Shame that didn’t work, but good on Tom for trying it out. I regret to say, though, that the only one I consciously used the ‘alphabetically by author so might be…’ trick on was the KSR one, so it wouldn’t have affected my first post a great deal, sorry. :)

    Oh dear. This probably makes me sound like a massive nerd. I work in a library, I see book covers every day, and I do tend to pay special attention to the SF ones (natch). That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

  21. Liz Says:

    Oops, no, 2.4 is Ark.

    3.4 The Babylonian Trilogy. Sébastien Doubinsky
    4.2 Nova War, Gary Gibson
    7.1 The Painting and the City, Robert Freeman Wrexler

  22. Niall Says:

    So by my count the ones not guessed yet are:

    3.1
    3.7
    4.1
    5.1
    6.1
    6.3
    6.7

    Any last attempts…?

  23. Martin Says:

    Is 6.3 Cyberabad Days (even though it presumably isn’t eligible)?

  24. Liz Says:

    6.3 is Wake, Robert J Sawyer.
    3.1 is Michael Cobley, which someone guessed above.

    And on the rest I admit defeat.

  25. Jessica Says:

    “That said, I can think of at least four books that were eligible that I’m surprised and disappointed not to see among the submissions…”

    In Great Waters, by any chance?!

  26. Niall Says:

    The thing about IGW is, while I would have liked to see it submitted so the jury could debate whether they consider it sf, and wouldn’t complain if they did … I don’t think it’s really justifiable as sf. So it wasn’t one of the four I was thinking of.

    Liz: yep on those two. I’ll update the post now.

  27. Abigail Says:

    The list you’ve just added is missing Colfer’s And Another Thing.

    By my count there are six books by women here, which is, what, less than 15%?

  28. Niall Says:

    Abigail: thanks. On stats: I get eight women — Atwood, Beukes, Fenn, Jensen, Jones, Robson, Rose, and Turner. That would be 19.5%, actually up from last year as a proportion. I also get the same number “published as mainstream” (although that includes the Banks), which again is up from last year, though less so.

    Omissions. The book I’m most disappointed not to see there is UFO in Her Eyes by Xiaolu Guo (Chatto & Windus), which I thought a real shortlist prospect. I would have liked to see Patrick Ness’s The Ask & The Answer (Walker) submitted, since for all that later volumes in series historically haven’t done all that well in the Clarke, it is a fine book. I’m perhaps most surprised to see that Stephen King’s Under the Dome (Hodder & Stoughton) wasn’t submitted; and the other book I’d have liked to see in the mix is Conrad Williams’ One (Virgin), which I haven’t read but which sounds very interesting. Other omissions, less egregious at least to me: Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and Catching Fire (Scholastic); another Eric Brown, Cosmopath (Solaris); Klas Ostergren’s The Hurricane Party (Canongate, one of the Myths series); Sean Williams’ The Grand Conjunction (Orbit); Bernard Beckett, Genesis (Quercus); and Sarah Moss’ Cold Earth (Granta). Slapped wrists for various publishers, then.

    Still, not a bad crop of books for the judges to work with. The prediction I made to a friend a few weeks ago was:

    The Accord, Keith Brooke
    The Rapture, Liz Jensen
    Spirit, Gwyneth Jones
    Yellow Blue Tibia, Adam Roberts
    Galileo’s Dream, Kim Stanley Robinson
    Far North, Marcel Theroux

    Which would be a good list, I reckon.

  29. Liz Says:

    8 women, I think: Atwood, Beukes, Fenn, Jensen, Jones, Robson, Rose, Turner. So 20%.

    The big omission I see is The Ask and the Answer.

  30. Martin Says:

    I think that does look like a pretty good year. I had no problem coming up with six novels, my shortlist drawn up on a whim would be:

    Moxyland by Lauren Beukes (Angry Robot)
    The Rapture by Liz Jensen (Bloomsbury)
    Spirit by Gwyneth Jones (Gollancz)
    The City & The City by China Mieville (Macmillan)
    Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
    Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding (Gollancz)

    One of the obvious missing novels is The Ask And The Answer by Patrick Ness. What else?

  31. Martin Says:

    Triple mindpiss.

  32. Jessica Says:

    I’m reading Under the Dome now actually. And have employed someone to carry it around for me.

    Forgive me for being dense but I fail to see how e.g. The City and the City qualifies as sci-fi and IGW doesn’t.

    And of course! The Ask and the Answer.

  33. Niall Says:

    And have employed someone to carry it around for me.

    Ha. My copy is just sitting glowering at me.

    Forgive me for being dense but I fail to see how e.g. The City and the City qualifies as sci-fi and IGW doesn’t.

    Yeah, I’d struggle to justify TC&TC as sf, too. :-) I guess the argument would go something like: there’s nothing overtly fantastical in TC&TC, but mermaids, even unsentimental ones, are clearly a fantasy trope. The counterargument for IGW would be that it’s a kind of alternate history, which can be considered (because it’s extrapolative) as close kin to sf. As I say, I’d have liked IGW to be submitted, so that the judges could debate it … and for what it’s worth, Whitfield’s first novel, Bareback, was submitted (that’s how I first encountered her writing).

  34. David H Says:

    Forty-one seems quite a small number of submissions to me (based on nothing but instinct), but I can imagine some very interesting shortlists being constructed out of that pool – and some rather uninteresting ones…

    Would agree with Niall that Conrad Williams’ One would be a welcome addition to this list – though primarily horror, I think it also works well as science fiction.

    Based on a combination of the books I’ve read, what I’ve heard about others, and instinct about what might or might not be shortlisted, I’d suggest:

    Moxyland
    The Accord
    Spirit
    The City & the City
    Galileo’s Dream
    The Island at the End of the World

    I will be very surprised if Miéville and Robinson aren’t shortlisted, and most disappointed if Brooke isn’t. I’d also be very happy to see Jensen and Roberts on the shortlist.

  35. Martin Says:

    Yeah, I’d struggle to justify TC&TC as sf, too. :-)

    Does that explain your otherwise inexplicable belief the judges won’t shortlist The City & The City? Surely it is a lock?

  36. Niall Says:

    David: it’s a bit low, but most of that’s explained by books not submitted, this year, I think. I’d usually expect 50-60 books to be in contention. Also, I’d note that The Island at the End of the World presents as sf, but I’m not sure that it is.

    Martin: yes. I suppose I should have said it was a prediction tempered by hope. Knowing my luck, Mieville will not only be on the shortlist, but will win for a third time.

  37. Jonathan M Says:

    Silly of the publishers not to submit The Ask and the Answer. Even though I didn’t get on with it, I expect it might well have made the shortlist purely on the basis of the critical inertia from the first book.

    I would like to see Moxyland make the shortlist as I think it’s quite an important novel historically speaking.

    IGW may have mermaids in it but its syntax and conceptualisation are SFnal. Was it just not submitted then or was it submitted and declined?

  38. Niall Says:

    If it’s not on the list — with the exception of Stephen Hunt’s book, as noted — then it wasn’t submitted.

    And yes, I wouldn’t mind seeing Moxyland shortlisted either. I didn’t rate it quite as highly as you, but it’s interesting, promising, and distinctive.

  39. Martin Says:

    It would be a shame if Mieville – having twice won the award with fantasy novels – was now penalised for not being SF enough when he finally writes the closest he is going to get to a science fiction novel.

    The Accord hasn’t really been on my radar. I take it it is good?

  40. Paul Graham Raven Says:

    Oh, come on, TC&TC is easily justified as sf; it hinges on one central sf-nal what-if, even if it’s Borgesian rather than Ballardian, and even if doesn’t play with it in quite the way that a more strictly sf-nal writer might do.

    With the obvious caveat that, as an employee of PS Publishing, I’d love to see the Wexler make the cut, my backing would be behind the Beukes for the win, if not my money; I think it will lose out through lacking what for want of a better term one might call ‘literary’ merits. I’m with Jonathan; it’s a very important book in sf’s evolution. I’m also somewhat piqued that he pointed out why so much more clearly and concisely than I managed to… *sigh*

    … but as ever when it comes to awards season, I’ve not read enough of the list to do more than say which ones I read and enjoyed, and while it’s more of them than last year, I still can’t fairly judge the field as a whole. The saddest part of TACCA for me is that we don’t get to hear the debates in detail… :(

  41. Nick H. Says:

    “Forgive me for being dense but I fail to see how e.g. The City and the City qualifies as sci-fi and IGW doesn’t.”

    I didn’t get on terribly well with The City and the City, finding it a bit of a mist-mash. But, having read it, I feel qualified enough to say that for all the cloaks and mirrors that Mieville drapes over it to disguise the SFnal aspect of it for as long as he can, the ultimate Breach reveal is clearly and unambiguously SF.

  42. Niall Says:

    Martin:

    It would be a shame if Mieville – having twice won the award with fantasy novels – was now penalised for not being SF enough when he finally writes the closest he is going to get to a science fiction novel.

    I think it would be a greater shame if juries felt bound by their predecessors’ decisions as to what constitutes sf or not.

    To be fair, I would leave it off my shortlist for being a disappointment sooner than I’d leave it off for not ticking the right genre boxes. But the problem with TC&TC as science fiction is that it’s utterly implausible. I can only hold it together if I read it, per David’s suggestion, as a psychological fantasy. In which case it’s not science fiction.

    The saddest part of TACCA for me is that we don’t get to hear the debates in detail… :(

    But we do get the Not the Clarke Award panel at Eastercon. I’ve missed the last three (twice a judge, and then not at the convention), so very much looking forward to it this year.

    Oh, and I’ve not read The Accord — not many people seem to have read it — but pretty much all of those who have read it speak highly of it, so I thought it might be a good dark horse pick.

  43. David H Says:

    Niall: I’ve got to admit that I plucked the Taylor pretty much out of the air as a possible wildcard choice.

    I wouldn’t have a problem with The City & the City being shortlisted (though I do regard it as fantasy rather than sf), but, even if it were, I can’t see it winning.

    Martin: The Accord was my favourite sf novel (and second-favourite novel overall) that I read in 2009, so I for one would certainly recommend it.

  44. Jessica Says:

    I got it at the airport last week so it’s a large format paperback but it’s still the size of two bricks. So far my verdict is: folksy.

  45. Paul Kincaid Says:

    Going purely on what I’ve read, my preferred shortlist would be:

    The Rapture by Liz Jensen (Bloomsbury)
    Spirit by Gwyneth Jones (Gollancz)
    Journey into Space by Toby Litt (Penguin)
    Gardens of the Sun by Paul McAuley (Gollancz)
    The City & The City by China Mieville (Macmillan)
    Galileo’s Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson (HarperVoyager)

    But the only one’s I’d be prepared to say should definitely be there are the Jensen and the Mieville. But then again, even in the years I was a judge, the decision of the Clarke jury has never coincided precisely with my own preferences, and I have no doubt it will be the same again this year.

  46. Niall Says:

    Let’s throw some more links in here. Paul on Moxyland; Jonathan on Moxyland; David on The Accord; Paul on The Rapture, and Martin on The City & The City.

  47. Paul Kincaid Says:

    Niall: To be fair, I would leave it off my shortlist for being a disappointment sooner than I’d leave it off for not ticking the right genre boxes. But the problem with TC&TC as science fiction is that it’s utterly implausible.

    I would agree that the crime story aspect of the novel is weak, but the intellectual element of it is far from implausible and far from a disappointment. I found the questioning of what constitutes a border, how our understanding of borders shapes our lives, even how it shapes what we choose to see or not see, one of the most electrifying things I’ve read in a long time.

  48. David H Says:

    And, if I may, I’ll add my take on The City & the City.

  49. Niall Says:

    What’s exciting about the book is its ambition — the attempt to situate this obviously-absurd scenario in the real world. And on that level, intellectually, it’s fascinating. But it’s not psychologically convincing.

  50. Martin Says:

    I think it would be a greater shame if juries felt bound by their predecessors’ decisions as to what constitutes sf or not.

    I don’t think they should either. Nor do I think they will. I still think it would be a shame in terms of cosmic justice :p

  51. Nick H. Says:

    I haven’t read enough of the books to say what six should make the shortlist, but at the least I would like to see the following two on it:

    The Rapture by Liz Jensen (Bloomsbury)
    Journey into Space by Toby Litt (Penguin)

    I would be disappointed it the Atwood or the Baxter were shortlisted, as I would say neither is Good Enough. I’d also disagree with the shortlisting of The City and the City, due to it being a flawed book, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it makes it as I understand others see merits that I don’t (or are more willing to overlook its faults).

    The main thing I’ve taken away from the comments so far: I should read Moxyland.

  52. Paul Graham Raven Says:

    … the problem with TC&TC as science fiction is that it’s utterly implausible.

    Oh saints and little fishes, not the plausibility clause! I think we have our Eastercon rolling-debate topic sorted, dear boy…

    That said, I was much more tempted by the metaphorical reading of TC&TC, even after Mieville explicitly said it wasn’t one. Accidental Zeitgeist channelling, or deliberate? Only the charmingly erudite man with the shiny head knows for sure…

  53. Martin Says:

    I should perhaps point out that my shortlist is in no way based on what I think the judges will pick or, indeed, what I’ve actually read. I’ve only read five of these novels (pretty good for me). Of these, I would be happy to see the following on the shortlist:

    The Rapture by Liz Jensen
    Journey into Space by Toby Litt (My review sionce there isn’t one in the thread yet.)
    The City & The City by China Mieville

    I don’t think either The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood or Winter Song by Colin Harvey make the grade.

    But it’s not psychologically convincing.

    You’re not psychologically convincing.

  54. Niall Says:

    Paul: let me rephrase: it is desperately implausible, but stakes its effectiveness as a book on its plausibility.

    You’re not psychologically convincing.

    Ha. But do you not think Mieville hangs the novel on being able to make you believe in the two cities — to empathise with, to understand, to believe in Borlu sufficiently, even if only for a few pages somewhere in the novel, that through him the cities themselves become real? Because that’s what he’s doing, and that’s why I think psychological plausibility is central to whether the book works or not.

  55. Liviu Says:

    I read (or have and tried/decide not for me) 33 of the 41 and I want to read the Wexler book which I have but did not get too. Actually I read end to end 26, while I glanced through the other 7 enough to forget about them.

    The two novels I would put on the short list unquestionably are Spirit (who I think is the best) and Transition; then it depends in the sense that The Babylonian Trilogy is the second best of the 41 books here (imho) and it would be a shoo-in but for its very limited release; Heart of Veridon is also excellent but more on the fantasy side and those would be 3-4

    Then at 5 and 6 Gardens of the Sun and Yellow Blue Tibia with Nova War next if the caveats about 3-4 are taken into account

    Rapture was great for 2/3 but the last 1/3 which was as by the numbers as it gets almost ruined it for me, The Accord was more impressive on first read than in hindsight and while I loved The Year of the Flood I see the flaws pointed by various people as a sf novel – I would have no qualms for it as a Booker long list for example, its sfnal part is too cliched for the Clarke

  56. Paul Kincaid Says:

    I honestly don’t understand what you mean by saying TC&TC is “not psychologically convincing”. Walk down any city street, walk along a neighbourhood in a big American city where the status of people living on the street can change dramatically from one block to the next, then think about what you look at and what you don’t, what you see and what you don’t. That is precisely what makes TC&TC so psychologically convincing.

  57. Nick H. Says:

    “The Babylonian Trilogy is the second best of the 41 books here (imho) and it would be a shoo-in but for its very limited release”

    Limited release? Irrelevant. See: “Song of Time”.

  58. Niall Says:

    Liviu:

    The Babylonian Trilogy … would be a shoo-in but for its very limited release

    Well, it’s a juried award, so the limited release shouldn’t make any difference.

    Paul:

    Walk down any city street, walk along a neighbourhood in a big American city where the status of people living on the street can change dramatically from one block to the next, then think about what you look at and what you don’t, what you see and what you don’t.

    Ah, no, you see, I think that’s precisely where it falls down. The novel tries to tell me that instinctively averting my eyes from a homeless person in embarrassment is the same kind of thing as consciously working to believe in the separation of two entire cities. That is a false equivalence. It’s not even just a difference of degree, they are completely different cognitive processes. And I don’t find the latter process plausible; I don’t believe the cities are sustainable for as much as ten seconds. (Martin McGrath makes a more convincing case that it’s a good model for more extreme real-world partitions; but I can’t say that I found the book itself to make that case.)

  59. Paul Kincaid Says:

    No, forget the homeless, just think about the way you look at the buildings, the street furniture, the way you read difference. We are creating borders around us all the time, all Mieville is doing is what sf has always done, concretising the metaphor. This isn’t a book about overlooking the homeless; it’s a book about shaping our world by what we choose to look at or not look at, by the decisions we make in seeing anything.

    I have lost track of the number of times I have been in a familiar place and have seen things I’ve never noticed before. That alone is enough to change the character of the world at that point in that place. And we are doing that all the time, noticing or more often not noticing things. I have no problem whatsoever in extending that to an entire city, because the city we experience is no more than those familiar streets we suddenly see in a new light.

  60. Niall Says:

    We are creating borders around us all the time

    Yes.

    it’s a book about shaping our world by what we choose to look at or not look at, by the decisions we make in seeing anything.

    Definitely yes.

    I have lost track of the number of times I have been in a familiar place and have seen things I’ve never noticed before.

    Indeed.

    That alone is enough to change the character of the world at that point in that place.

    Absolutely.

    the city we experience is no more than those familiar streets we suddenly see in a new light.

    No. Explicitly, extensively no in the book as written. The separation of the cities isn’t driven by recognition, it’s driven by repression, to a degree and of a kind that just isn’t comparable with my experience of the real world. I’ve said elsewhere, I think, that had Mieville set the story in a secondary world, or written it as a secret-history-insert into our world, then I could have bought it as a concretizing-the-metaphor book. But it goes out of its way to tie the cities to our world — a Chuck Palahniuk novel set there! — and in so doing undermines itself.

    Martin: I didn’t get tricked by that video even the first time I watched it. Maybe that’s my problem.

  61. Paul Graham Raven Says:

    I’m with Paul K on this one.

  62. Paul Graham Raven Says:

    And I now want to start a band called Obligatory Basketball Video.

  63. Alexander Says:

    Surprised to see so much enthusiasm for the Accord, which I found a thorough bore. Some fascinating concepts on worldbuilding and questions of reality put in, but it seemed these elements were bulldozed by the melodramatic love intrigue. This last fell down for me particularly through not making me interested in any of the characters, partly through making the female little more than an object for two men to fight over.

    And, uh, why was Flashforward by Robert J Sawyer submitted? All questions of quality aside, it was published in 1999.

    I’d have to say, while I’ve only read 14 of these 41, and am reasonably familiar with another 8 or so, this pool for possible candidates isn’t all I’d hoped for. Some bottom tier items, of course, but even leaving aside the Asher, Doctrow, the two Sawyer’s, the Scalzi, the Colfer, there are a number of worthy works I’m surprised aren’t here.

  64. Niall Says:

    Paul: Oh, pretty much everyone is with Paul K on this one. Were I a betting man, I would be putting money on Mieville to walk off with a Hugo this summer, and quite possibly to win every award he’s in the running for. :-)

    Alexander:

    And, uh, why was Flashforward by Robert J Sawyer submitted? All questions of quality aside, it was published in 1999.

    It hadn’t received a UK edition until this year, and the Clarke is for books published in the UK. What were the other works you’d like to see? I’d guess that some of them (e.g. The Windup Girl?) haven’t been published in the UK.

  65. Martin Says:

    Maybe that’s my problem.

    So my cuss was right!

    And, uh, why was Flashforward by Robert J Sawyer submitted?

    1999 in the US but not published until the TV programme in the UK.

  66. David H Says:

    I think the question of whether or not The City & the City is psychologically convincing depends on how you interpret the set-up. Take a purely psychological view (i.e. there is one city, whose inhabitants are deluding themselves that there are two), and I’d agree it doesn’t stack up. But I read it literally: that the realities of two cities were overlapping (which is purely a fantasy concept, not a science-fictional one), and the book worked better for me – though I didn’t find the ‘unseeing’ metaphor entirely satisfactory.

    Incidentally, one of the reasons I wouldn’t object to The City & the City being shortlisted is that it generates so much discussion!

  67. Alexander Says:

    Regarding Flashforward: Ah, thanks on that. I guess I’d assumed Sawyer had circulated to that side of the Atlantic, or that if it hadn’t there wouldn’t be much push for it at this point. Most of Sawyer’s stuff is pretty one-note, but I think that one would be even more dated now, wasn’t the novel actually set in 2009? Although I suppose the presence of the recent TV series may have helped boost publicity.

    Regarding the City and the City: I’m a fairly strong fan of this, but I’m not sure if the stimulus to discussion is enough in itself. In particular, this would in some ways be a more interesting work if it wasn’t building on Mieville’s previous fame and success. It’s certainly a departure in a lot of ways and Mieville is to be commended for not falling into a rut, but would it be as talked or as significant if it hadn’t followed Mieville’s other and Clarke-winning material?

    [i]What were the other works you’d like to see? I’d guess that some of them (e.g. The Windup Girl?) haven’t been published in the UK.[/i]
    Quite possibly. Checking on it, the authors of Chronic City, The Red Tree and Palimpsest are in fact American, although all were published awhile ago and if they haven’t been gotten U.K publishing yet while less worthy items have, that’s an issue in itself.

  68. kev mcveigh Says:

    Just picked up Whitfield’s Bareback for 99p hardcover in The Works.

    Back in 91 some of us speculated on the eligibility of Dhalgren which as far as we could tell had not been previously published in a UK edition. I personally would have felt uncomfortable giving the award to a book so old even though its a great book. I feel the same about the Sawyer book even though it qualifies I’d be tempted to leave it aside.

  69. Niall Says:

    Alexander: I have to say, I think the Mieville would have garnered similar levels of attention even if he’d been a complete unknown. The central conceit is attention-getting, and he goes about as far towards his goals as anyone could, I think.

    Chronic City has just been published over here by Faber & Faber, so I’d expect it to be submitted for next year’s Clarke. Palimpsest and The Red Tree have indeed not had UK editions (in fact, I don’t think anything by either Valente or Kiernan has ever had a UK edition), but they’re also not science fiction, so wouldn’t be eligible here anyway.

    Kev: Bareback is interesting, but In Great Waters is a big step up.

  70. Matt Denault Says:

    Niall,

    But it goes out of its way to tie the cities to our world — a Chuck Palahniuk novel set there! — and in so doing undermines itself.

    I didn’t think so. Setting the book in our real world almost requires even a reader like you, Niall, who does not find the setting of the novel to be believable as real, to consider exactly how close to being believably real it is.

    E.g., the relevance of the gorilla in this discussion is not whether or not you saw it. I saw it, too. But did you experience, as I did after I first saw it, the mental feeling of trying not to be distracted by it, trying not to see it, because it was interfering in what you were trying to see? And did the gorilla become a bit hazier after that? That’s the moment “to empathise with, to understand, to believe in Borlu sufficiently.” Borlu certainly sees the gorilla: he talks about what he is unseeing all the time.

    One of the things that I think makes TC&TC so special is precisely that it invites the reader to consider how very little Mieville needed to turn the “unreal” dial to produce this situation that nobody, not even his own characters, quite believe in. I struggle to think of another work accomplished with so light a touch on that “unreal” dial. Whereas if the book were set in a secondary world, it would lose all the tension between real and unreal.

    Now I really want to go off and write a proper review of it — there’s little like “somebody, somewhere is wrong on the Internet” to get that reviewing adrenaline flowing! ;)

    Martin,

    It would be a shame if Mieville – having twice won the award with fantasy novels – was now penalised for not being SF enough when he finally writes the closest he is going to get to a science fiction novel.

    FWIW, he has said that he’s been working on a novel with planets and spaceships and such. Considering how he’s worked with other genres — romance, western, and now mystery — I’m very curious indeed to see what he does with something consciously meant as SF.

  71. mckie Says:

    I’ve read between a third and half of these and my (far too predictable) shortlist is:

    Gardens of the Sun
    The City & the City
    Journey into Space
    Yellow Blue Tibia
    Galileo’s Dream
    The Rapture

    Personally speaking, I can’t see why The City & the City isn’t pure sf. At least not if The Glamour or The Affirmation are sf, which I think they are.

  72. Niall Says:

    Matt:

    I struggle to think of another work accomplished with so light a touch on that “unreal” dial.

    Ah, see, to me it’s not so much a light touch as a heavy clomp.

    (One thing I do like about the book is that as a result of its nature any discussion of it seems to very quickly — much more quickly than most works — become explicit about the fact that differing interpretations are about what different people bring to the book.)

    Andrew: You’re short a book, I think …

  73. Science Fiction Awards Watch » Blog Archive » Clarke Award Long List Says:

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  74. kev mcveigh Says:

    A third of the way into Mieville and I’m siding with Niall on this one. Its clumsy and seems to try to hard to be fantastic. I think there are four or five instances in the first couple of chapters where Borlu uses variants on ‘in my language’ or explains the linguistics of his world. People don’t think like this, its the ‘grommet factory’ approach and it disrupts any sense of immersion in the novel for me. Without that immersion the vaunted Kafka and Orwell comparisons fall flat.

  75. danhartland Says:

    Martin: I didn’t get tricked by that video even the first time I watched it. Maybe that’s my problem.

    I wasn’t tricked by it, either, so I think we’ve hit on a test for whether a given person will be convinced by TC&TC.

    TC&TC, mash-up of a novel as it is, should rightfully be most interesting, and find its broader purposes, in its joins. In fact, it is in the joins – between the metaphor and its concretisation, or between Crime and SFF – where it is ropiest.

  76. James Says:

    I missed the guessing game then!

    Seems a bit predictable this year? Or rather, isn’t there usually more odd edge-case books?

    Only read Transition, Makers and This Is Not A Game (all of which I liked).

  77. Tom Hunter Says:

    Niall, thanks for hosting this thread again this year, and thanks everyone for the commentary.

    Always fascinating to see the variety of opinion and around the books and even the definition of science fiction itself. It’s one of the reasons we wanted to start making this full submissions list available in advance of the main shortlist announcement, and I think it gives a real insight into the complexity of the task faced by the judges each year.

    While I’m here I thought I might as well quickly clarify a few points about how we go about gathering this submissions list and why certain books might appear that have puzzled people.

    The first step every year is to put out a call for entries. The terms of entry are pretty clear – you need to be published in the year being considered (i.e. 2009), your publisher needs to actively submitted copies of the work, so it’s not enough to just be published, you need to be put forward, and submissions need to be entered before the end of the year in question.

    The definition of what constitutes a science fictional work is left deliberately open, and different publishers often choose to approach this in different ways. Some might only select certain of their list, others might submit everything, some might choose to not submit certain works even if they have what we might consider science fiction content (it’s their choice) and others might actively query the value of submitting certain borderline books.

    The last point in the above can often explain why you can see books in the submissions list that some people might not consider science fictional works. Once a work is submitted it falls to the judges to determine its suitability for the prize. It’s the reason why our judges are selected because of their knowledge and experience of the genre, but still opinions can and do vary.

    So, in the thread above where people have commented that certain works don’t seem appropriate or correctly SFnal etc it’s entirely possible the judges agree completely – they’re just not making their decisions public.

    It doesn’t necessarily follow that being on the submissions list for the Clarke Award automatically makes a book a work of science fiction, but it does mean that work will be considered to see if it is. After that it’ll also be considered on all the rest of the judging criteria to see if might also be the best science fiction book of the year. And yes, it’s also up to the judging panel to interpret the word ‘best’ as well.

    I thought I’d mention this as I didn’t want there to be the impression that some publishers might just submit books on the off chance. This has never been the case in my experience, and when we do see those more borderline books appearing it’s more often a result of active thought and a willingness to have them considered alongside more clearly science fictional works.

    How this all translates in the minds and meetings of the judging panel though is quite deliberately kept as anyone’s guess, including mine.

  78. kev mcveigh Says:

    Tom: in the past some publishers did submit less discriminately. I recall getting Dragonlance and other pure fantasy.
    Is there still the option for the jury, or yourself, to request titles that haven’t been submitted?

  79. Nick H. Says:

    “in the past some publishers did submit less discriminately.”

    Indeed, IIRC, when the submissions were announced here last year, many of us were baffled at the number of pure fantasy titles in the list (eg, The Dog of the North), and others that seemed something of stretch (a Paul Auster title, say). This year doesn’t seem to be at all bad in that respects, the only book that seems to be generating any doubt is TC&TC, and plenty of people are coming down on the “Of course it’s SF” side. Looking at the list again, there’s certainly nothing that jumps out at me as being not at all SFnal.

  80. Paul Kincaid Says:

    In the past there have been occasions when publishers submitted non-fiction, short story collections, mainstream fiction as well as fantasy. Looking at this list, if it hasn’t been quietly edited to remove the plainly ineligible, then I can only assume that publishers have become far more discriminating than they ever used to be.

  81. Niall Says:

    a Paul Auster title, say

    The Auster title in question is Man in the Dark, in which the protagonist imagines an alternate America in which the twin towers didn’t fall, and there is some sort of civil war. Confusion with reality ensues. Sounds worth submitting to me…

    Looking at the list again, there’s certainly nothing that jumps out at me as being not at all SFnal.

    Well, see the link to Dan’s discussion of The Island at the End of the World earlier. Or The Wild Things? Or The Stranger? This is not to say that Tom’s wrong to say the publishers are being discriminating, but there are a number of books there that I’d say are not sf, at least.

  82. Adam Roberts Says:

    To dart at a tangent, the Auster was only sort-of SF (and I didn’t think it was very well done). But if we’re interested in good novels, surely it makes sense to give the judges the widest possible latitude in how they decide to interpret what ‘SF’ is.

  83. Book-o-sphere Round–up: 21 March Edition – NextRead Says:

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  84. Matt Denault Says:

    Looking at the list again, there’s certainly nothing that jumps out at me as being not at all SFnal.

    I liked the book a lot, but let’s just say that I’d be interested to hear the argument for Wexler’s The Painting and the City as science fiction…

  85. Nick Hubble Says:

    wasn’t it the case that Banks didn’t use to allow his books to be submitted? When did that change?

  86. Tom Hunter Says:

    Just looking back at my last post and wanted to clarify that I wasn’t suggesting that everything is now super-clear in terms of submissions (it should be obvious that we haven’t suddenly and secretly stumbled on a single workable definition of SF literature) but that lines of communication are much more clear than the days.

    To be honest, I think a lot of this is likely down to email and the fact we’re just in regular touch with the publishers rather than treating them like some kind of unassailable professional other. What I wanted to convey was there was often more of a two-way conversation – a ‘submit it and we’ll see’ approach – rather than an everything and the kitchen sink approach to submissions.

    Then again, maybe some books are submitted by accident or by an overzealous intern.

    The point is that all the submitted books are considered by the judges under exactly the same criteria being applied above. It doesn’t necessarily follow that being submitted automatically makes a work science fiction, in fact you can follow this argument on to the debate around the shortlists and even some winners, but the judges are being asked to consider them within that context.

    This doesn’t mean that in some cases the collective decision by the judging panel won’t be both unanimous, merciless and very, very quick.

    After that there will still obviously be books that push at the definitions in more of a slippery way, and many people might agree they’re more fantasy or crime etc and thus perhaps not really appropriate for the prize, and again this is why we’ve also avoided being too prescriptive with a single definition of what constitutes science fiction. It’s an annual debate for the judges. Some year’s it’s more in line with the collective wisdom of the sf community than others and, to me, this is one of the things that makes it so consistently interesting.

    One year it’s ‘that book’s not proper SF’ next year it’s ‘where’s the outliers?’ Personally, I kind of like both kinds of years about the same.

    Kev, to answer your question, yes the judges are still able to suggest books they’d like to see submitted and we do our best to get them put forward. There’s some on this list (and, no, before you ask, I’m not saying which ones, sorry) and sometimes it’s easier than others, often counter-intuitively so. There’s also books on this list where the publishing house queried send the work in in advance first and we said yes. This doesn’t mean it’ll necessarily even be considered as SF, let alone make the shortlist, but simply that the judging panel considered it worth having a look at.

    Paul, this is the complete list (as it was last year) with no editing of titles, although I would not include books put forward if they were automatically ineligible i.e collections. Happy to say we didn’t get any though.

    As has already been noted by Niall above, the only book that was not eligible in some way was Stephen Hunt’s, because of SF Crowsnest nominating a judge this year. I thought I’d just mention this again to say that obviously Stephen was entirely aware of this right back when we first discussed the link-up, and I’m mentioning it here because it was only afterwards that we decided to start making the submissions list public, so we wanted to be clear on why that one at least would be missing from the lineup.

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  91. Women and the Clarke « Torque Control Says:

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