The 2009 Arthur C Clarke Award Shortlist

Forty-six from seventeen publishers have become six from four. There are two previous winners among the nominated authors, and two first-timers (one with their first novel); one woman, and two Americans. One novel also appears on the BSFA Best Novel shortlist. There are, this year, quite a lot of spaceships.

Yes, the Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist is upon us! This year’s judges — for the British Science Fiction Association, Chris Hill and Ruth O’Reilly; for the Science Fiction Foundation, Robert Hanks and Rhiannon Lassiter; and for SF Crowsnest.com, Pauline Morgan — have deliberated, and decided.

Paul Billinger, Chair of the judges, reports:

“It was a long and intense meeting to decide this year’s shortlist, with passionate debate from all of the judges. Although at times it seemed almost impossible, they eventually concluded that these six books were the ones that demonstrated to them what was best about the science fiction novels published in 2008.”

And Award Administrator Tom Hunter says:

“Speculation and active debate have always surrounded the announcement of the award shortlist, and earlier this year we took the unprecedented step of releasing the full long list of eligible submitted works from which this final shortlist was decided. Our aim was to highlight the strength and diversity of current science fiction publishing and to show the awesome task that faces our judging panel every year. I think they’ve risen to this challenge admirably and I’m greatly looking forward to the full range of reactions and conversations to come and, of course, to finding out the eventual winner at the end of April.”

That winner will be announced on Wednesday 29th April, at a ceremony held on the opening night of the Sci-Fi London film festival. They will receive £2009, and a commemorative engraved bookend.

Let the debate begin! I’ll be updating this post with links to additional reviews as they appear, but for now, here are the nominees:

Song of Time by Ian R MacLeod (PS Publishing)

Reviewed by Adam Roberts for Strange Horizons
Reviewed by Edward James for Strange Horizons
Reviewed by Nic Clarke at Eve’s Alexandria
Reviewed by Eric Brown for The Guardian
An appreciation by Helena Bowles
Reviewed by Tanya Brown
Reviewed by David Hebblethwaite at Follow the Thread
Reviewed by Niall here

The Quiet War by Paul McAuley (Gollancz)

Reviewed by Abigail Nussbaum for Strange Horizons
Reviewed by Edward James for Strange Horizons
Reviewed by Paul Kincaid for SF Site
Reviewed by Nic Clarke at Eve’s Alexandria
Reviewed by Duncan Lawie for The Zone
Reviewed by Eric Brown for The Guardian
Reviewed by Annalee Newitz at io9
Reviewed by Lisa Tuttle for The Times
Reviewed by Adam Roberts at Punkadiddle
Reviewed by Niall here

House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz)

Reviewed by Dan Hartland for Strange Horizons
Reviewed by Edward James for Strange Horizons
Reviewed by Rich Horton for SF Site
Reviewed by Paul Kincaid for SF Site
Reviewed by Adam Roberts at Punkadiddle
Reviewed by Charlie Jane Anders at io9
Reviewed by Lisa Tuttle for The Times
Reviewed by Eric Brown for The Guardian
Reviewed by Jonathan Wright for SFX
Reviewed by David Hebblethwaite at Follow the Thread
Reviewed by Niall here

Anathem by Neal Stephenson (Atlantic)

Reviewed by Martin Lewis for Strange Horizons
Reviewed by Edward James for Strange Horizons
Reviewed by Gary K Wolfe for Locus
Reviewed by Nic Clarke at Eve’s Alexandria
Reviewed by Adam Roberts at Punkadiddle
Reviewed by Abigail Nussbaum at Asking the Wrong Questions
Reviewed by Michael Dirda for the Washington Post
Reviewed by Laura Miller for the LA Times
Reviewed by Tom Shippey for the TLS
Reviewed by Andrew McKie for The Telegraph
Reviewed by Jakob Schmidt for SF Site
Reviewed at The Complete Review
Reviewed by Niall here
Reviewed by Liz here

The Margarets by Sheri S Tepper (Gollancz)

Reviewed by Nic Clarke and Sherryl Vint for Strange Horizons
Reviewed by Edward James for Strange Horizons
Reviewed by Andrew McKie for The Telegraph
Reviewed by Adam Roberts at Punkadiddle
Reviewed by Annalee Newitz at io9
Reviewed by David Langford for SFX
Reviewed by Cynthia Ward for Sci-Fi Weekly
Reviewed by Adrienne Martini for Bookslut

Martin Martin’s on the Other Side by Mark Wernham (Jonathan Cape)

Reviewed by Jonathan McCalmont for Strange Horizons
Reviewed by Edward James for Strange Horizons
Reviewed by Nic Clarke at Eve’s Alexandria
Reviewed by Jonathan Gibbs for The Independent
Reviewed by Cathi Unsworth for The Guardian
Reviewed by Saxon Bullock for SFX
Reviewed by Adam Roberts at Punkadiddle
Reviewed by David Hebblethwaite at Follow the Thread
Reviewed by Andrew McKie for The Telegraph

Roundups and miscellany
Edward James
Adam Roberts
Nic Clarke
Niall’s roundup
A poll
The winner

Previous shortlist roundups
2008
2007

27 Responses to “The 2009 Arthur C Clarke Award Shortlist”

  1. Liz Says:

    I make that two awesome books, one okay book, and three books I haven’t read, one of which would never have predicted for the shortlist. Yep, it’s the Clarke Award alright.

  2. Jonathan M Says:

    Martin Martin’s on the Other Side but no Gone Away World or Knife of Never Letting GO?

    Bloody hell.

    I’d also like to say that it would be incredibly tedious and predictable if Anathem won.

  3. Tom Hunter Says:

    Hi Jonathan

    I really enjoyed your piece on Martin Martin’s On the Other Side and the whole coinage of Barleypunk as you know, so no need to ask about your take on the shortlist there.
    I’m curious though why you feel Anathem scooping the prize would be tedious and predictable?
    Also, anyone care to take an early stab at predicting the winner, awesome, tedious or other?

  4. Martin Says:

    Anathem is clearly the big beast but will it end up as the Michael Hesletine? (Sorry, I’m not sure where I read that analogy this week…)

    My quick thoughts:

    Anathem is good. House of Suns is clearly rubbish and should be struck off (and I thought Flood would get this spot). Martin Martin is
    probably rubbish and even if it isn’t, if you are going to pick one example of Barleypunk for the list it shouldn’t be this one. I suspect I would find the other three rubbish but I know other (not entirely foolish) people like them so yeah, they can stay. I’m surprised Ness didn’t make it, I thought it was a lock. At least Little Brother isn’t on there.

  5. Ian Sales Says:

    I expected The Gone-Away World to be on the shortlist, but now that I’m struggling to read it I’m glad it isn’t. Didn’t think the Reynolds was award-worthy, and I didn’t think Tepper had written anything for years that wasn’t boringly mid-list.

  6. Jonathan M Says:

    Hey Tom :-)

    I think the hype and the universal praise surrounding Anathem makes it, as Martin puts it, the Big Beast. I haven’t read the book and have no great desire to so I can’t speak to its ultimate worthiness but I think it makes the world that little bit more interesting when prizes don’t go to the most heavily hyped books.

    As for the Wernham, I’m surprised more than pleased or vindicated. As I said on the locus blog, I think that when you strip out the social capital considerations, it is certainly comparable to also-rans such as Matter or Saturn’s Children, so while it’s an unexpected choice, I don’t think it’s one that is all that difficult to understand. Abigail and Martin have spoken about how Anathem’s beauty has faded with time but I think Martin Martin has grown on me since I read it.

  7. Joe Says:

    Wow, three of the six from Gollancz and not one from Orbit? Not often they don’t have a contender in there – quite surprised not to see Ken’s Night Sessions in the final shortlist at least. That said, I don’t envy the task of whittling down the choices to only six and at the end of the day we can talk about literary merit as much as we want (and as a bookseller I do that a lot!) but there’s always an element of personal taste in these selections, its inevitable. And whatever our thoughts on the choices it gets us all talking about good books, which ain’t a bad thing.

  8. Niall Says:

    Joe:

    three of the six from Gollancz and not one from Orbit? Not often they don’t have a contender in there

    More often than you might think, perhaps. Orbit had no nominees in 2007, 2005 or 2002, while Gollancz have had at least one nominee every year this decade, and supplied the winner for the last three years.

  9. Niall Says:

    Here’s an interesting note: two of the books submitted for the Clarke are on the Orange Prize longlistBlonde Roots by Bernadine Evaristo, and The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt, both of which I would recommend. (Also Intuition, which I really must read.)

  10. Nick Says:

    Bit of a surprising shortlist; looking back at my predictions, I only got one correct – the Quiet War.

    It’s also a rather uncommercial shortlist. That one of the books is one no-one’s heard of (Martin Martin’s) and that another isn’t easily available (Song of Time) will make trying to promote it, in some way, that much harder.

    Anathem is obviously the elephant in the room here. One rather hopes it doesn’t end up steamrollering everything out of sight.

  11. Ian Sales Says:

    The Margarets is also unavailable at Amazon.

  12. Niall Says:

    Er, no it isn’t. Though it is down to three copies (of the new paperback edition) at the time of writing.

  13. Nick Says:

    Ian:

    Are you looking in the right place? It seems to be available right here.

    While we’re on the subject of the Margarets, I might as well mention that it’s the most widely available of the shortlisted books in my library system, with 18 copies.

    As for the rest, they stack up like this:

    The Quiet War: 13 copies.
    House of Suns: 6 copies (with a further 9 copies of the paperback edition ordered).
    Anathem: 5 copies.
    Martin Martin’s: 1 copy.
    Song of Time: –

  14. Ian Sales Says:

    Eh? Searching for “the margarets” results in this page. Which shows it as out of print.

  15. Nick Says:

    Top tip of searching on the internet: always drop words like “the”, because they are not useful search terms.

    Search term I used in this instance: “Margarets tepper”.

  16. Jonathan M Says:

    3 of the 6 from Gollancz? I think it might be time to dust down those thoughts about the “Gollancz style”.

  17. Graham Sleight Says:

    Jonathan, you mention that you put a comment on the Locus blog; could you give me an idea of when and where so I can make sure it gets pulled out of moderation purgatory?

  18. Ian Sales Says:

    Nick:

    I’m a DBA, so I expect searches for exact titles to return the exact book I’m looking for: SELECT * FROM books WHERE title = ‘The Margarets’.

    Having said that, Amazon’s search facility has always been pants.

  19. Simon Says:

    ‘Gollancz style’?
    This could be interesting! :-)

    Simon
    (Simon Spanton, Deputy Publishing Director< Gollancz)

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  27. raj Says:

    raj, from india.i was read clarke award novels.i strogly belived aliens.our next rebirth is in other planets.another galaxies.where that planet aliens lifespan 1000years,or 10,000years,or 100,000years.they lived without polution.they used solar energy(not used petrol,desil)god creates good world’s(not only our worest world)for doing good karma people.


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