The 28th Clarke Awards shortlist has just been announced. Established in 1987 with a grant given by Sir Arthur C Clarke, the award is given for the best science fiction novel first published in the United Kingdom during the previous year. The winner’s roster is essentially a must-read of contemporary science fiction, starting with the first winner, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
This year’s shortlist looks like this:
- God’s War by Kameron Hurley (Del Rey)
- Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
- The Disestablishment Of Paradise by Phillip Mann (Gollancz)
- Nexus by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot)
- The Adjacent by Christopher Priest (Gollancz)
- The Machine by James Smythe (Blue Door)
The six books were selected from an all-time record of 121 eligible submissions, which in turn came in from 42 different publishing houses. They run the gamut of contemporary SF themes too. The themes covered range from Kameron Hurley’s whip-smart and bloody-knuckled combination of military thriller and exploration of gender in God’s War, to the pharmacological transhumanism of Nexus and James Smythe’s exploration of PTSD, memory as identity and the Frankenstein myth in The Machine.
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It’s a phenomenally good list on any number of levels. First, and most importantly, they’re all very good books, but secondly there’s a lot of relatively new blood on this list. SF is, ironically, one of the genres most likely to be conservative in embracing new authors and ideas but Hurley, Leckie, Naam and Smythe are all relatively new arrivals. It’s a welcome change from the ‘vote for what you know’ approach that can, many feel, choke genre fiction awards. The future’s here, and this year’s Clarke awards are facing it head on, exactly as they should be.
The winner will be announced on Thursday 1 May 2014 at an exclusive awards ceremony held at the Royal Society, London, and taking place as part of the Sci-Fi-London Film Festival. The winner will be presented with a cheque for £2,014 and the award itself, a commemorative engraved bookend. We’ll bring you details as soon as it’s announced.
In the meantime, congratulations to all the short-listed authors. I’m off to my local book shop. I clearly have some excellent reading to catch up on…