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.

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3 Responses to “2012 Clarke Award Contest Update”

  1. Kenny Lucius Says:

    And what are the names of the three lucky (or wise) people who guessed four of the six shortlisted books? I have to wonder why they are not mentioned. Perhaps because two of them will not receive the prize?

    I am one of the lucky ones (not wise at all, as you will see). A quick search identified the other two: Duncan Lawie, Nicholas Whyte. All three of us provided a website when we posted, and those websites reveal just a little bit about what informed each of our guesses. Duncan Lawie has published many sf reviews and interviews, and so is obviously practiced at evaluating sf literature. Nicholas Whyte crunched some numbers from Goodreads and Librarything to produce a ranked list, and then employed some more mathemat-ish reasoning to further improve the list.

    I would say that both Duncan and Nicholas made informed guesses and were rewarded with a 66% rate of success. My own methodology was something of a mixed bag. Since it might be of interest, I’ll explain it.

    I maintain a website that ranks books according to award recognition, and so my guesses were informed by those lists, though indirectly. I allow those computer-generated lists to influence my reading choices, rather than what I thought the Clarke judges would like.

    The first book on my list was authored by Greg Bear, an award-winning author that I read often and always enjoy. “Hull Zero Three” had not been honored with an award, and so did not appear on my website. I simply thought it deserved to be on my list because I liked reading it.

    So, my first guess was almost entirely emotional and I got it right. 100%.

    The next three books on my list of guesses had this in common: I read them, I liked them, and my wonderful public library lent them to me. They had already received award honors, prompting me to look for them at my library. If I had employed some critical thinking, perhaps I would have struck Robert J. Sawyer from my list as did Nicholas Whyte.

    So, three of my guesses were largely emotional, but influenced (bounded) by my purely-rational website. A hybrid method hit 66%.

    My final two guesses were chosen entirely for their numbers—I have not read them. They had already received award recognition. The authors are ranked very high on my site’s honor roll of Clarke Award authors. China Miéville is #1 on that honor roll, and he was shortlisted yet again (a no-brainer, really). Connie Willis is #10, but was not shortlisted this time.

    A purely rational (though certainly not thorough) approach hit 50%.

  2. Shana Says:

    I was intending to name all three of you in the followup post, whenever I find out who wins the prize, so omitted the names so as to avoid repeating too much from post to post.

    Thank you for sharing so much more about your guessing methodology!

  3. Kenny Lucius Says:

    Thanks for the explanation about omitting the names. I wasn’t criticizing, just wondering. It seems sensible to leave that bit of info for the next announcement.


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