Liz has posted her annual Clarke Award poll: currently 43% think The Execution Channel should win, but 40% think The H-Bomb Girl will win. The consensus shortlist is The H-Bomb Girl, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, The Carhullan Army, The Execution Channel, Brasyl and Black Man.
Charles Brown, in the April Locus editorial, also comes out in favour of MacLeod:
[After some discussion of the Hugos] The Clarke Award is another matter. We’ve reproduced the Award Administrator’s statement [in the news section], but I think he’s just whistling in the dark. There have been complaints before about the Clarke Award judges picking obscure or strange literary books, and they’ve gone pretty obscure this time. I’ve read four of the six books and attempted to read, unsuccessfully, the other two. I wouldn’t consider The Raw Shark Texts sf at all. It has some of the furniture, but is mainly a fantasy/satire and, like The Red Men, is literary without being particularly literate. The Carhullan Army (US title Daughters of the North) is both literary and literate as well as very depressing. Joanna Russ did a much better job with the same material nearly 40 years ago. It held my interest, but that’s all.
Of the three books inside the field, Black Man is probably Morgan’s best book, but it still reads like a novelization of a really good action movie. I loved The H-Bomb Girl. IT has excitement, new ideas, and struck the right note with me because of the events. I was in the active reserves during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and had already received notice of my call-up when Kruschev backed down. One of the scariest moments of my life, facing WWIII. The book captures that feeling perfectly. One incident from that week stands out (I wasn’t there, but it has passed into legend). Robert Frost was speaking at my college (CCNY in New York City) and several faculty asked him why he seemed so happy with the dire events around him. He said, “I thought I would die alone, but it looks like the whole human race may go with me!” Apocryphal? Probably. Good story? Yes! Anyway, much as I loved the book, it lacks the gravitas and depth for an award-winning novel. That leaves only The Execution Channel, which although set in a subtle alternate world, is very much like The H-Bomb Girl in feel, and even events. It’s easily the best book on the liast and deserves the award.
Elsewhere, James has been comparing the books that get shortlisted for (and win) the BFSA and Clarke Awards. His conclusion:
Only 41 novels have made both shortlists, that’s only 21% of all the books. Quite surprising.
(However, I’m not sure his numbers are quite right, possibly coming from some confusion in the naming of the awards — the 2008 Clarke award is, like the 2007 BSFA award, given for work published in 2007. So there’s no possibility of anything on this year’s Clarke award turning up on next year’s BSFA award shortlist.)
And just to round things off, James Nicoll wonders whether sf awards are an exercise in futility.