The short list for this year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award is as follows:
- Zoo City, Lauren Beukes (Angry Robot)
- The Dervish House, Ian McDonald (Gollancz)
- Monsters of Men, Patrick Ness (Walker Books)
- Generosity, Richard Powers (Atlantic Books)
- Declare, Tim Powers (Corvus)
- Lightborn, Tricia Sullivan (Orbit)
I think it is a great list, but inevitably people will talk (and Tom Hunter keeps prodding us to do so). The first thing that everyone has noticed is that Tim Power’s Declare is an old book. It was first published in May 2000, when it co-won the World Fantasy Award and won the International Horror Guild Award. However, the Clarke is for books first published in the UK in the year of eligibility, and the first UK edition came out that year (thank you, Corvus!).
Also there’s a YA book on the list, which I’m sure someone will claim is evidence of “dumbing down”. It is not the first such book to make the Clarke short list — Stephen Baxter’s excellent The H-Bomb Girl was a nominee a few years back.
And of course there are two women authors listed, which is clear evidence of (all together now) Political Correctness Gone Mad! If you wish to further amuse yourselves, go take a look at the entries for the “Guess the Clarke Short List” contest over at Torque Control and see how many men guessed an all-male list.
Finally you may remember a few weeks ago some British fans getting hugely hot under the collar about the Locus Recommended Reading List being Anti-British. Why, Martin Lewis commented here that Adam Roberts’ New Model Army was “almost certainly” excluded from the list because it was only published in the UK. That, of course, was all the fault of Evil Americans like me. Fortunately the Clarke is good British award and can be relied upon not to succumb to cultural imperialism, can’t it?
Well there’s Lauren Beukes, of course — she’s South African. And Tim Powers is American. But that’s only two. What about the other four? Richard Powers is this year’s “who’s he?” entry, and it turns out that he’s American too, and lived for a while in Bangkok. Patrick Ness lives in London, but he was born and raised in the USA. Tricia Sullivan is a past Clarke winner, and also lives in the UK, but she too was born and raised in the USA. That leaves us with… Wait! Isn’t Ian McDonald Irish?
Actually, no. He was born in Manchester. He has lived most of his life in Belfast, but that too is officially part of the UK, even if a lot of its residents have objected violently to that fact. So despite having a Scottish name (or is McDonald an American name these days?) and living in Ireland, Ian represents our one True Brit entry on the short list. Churchill be praised!
Nevertheless, four Americans and a South African on a short list of six. That has to be suspicious, right? The jury must be made up of Evil Americans like me. Well, just in case the members of the BSFA want to grab torches and pitchforks and march upon the Clarke Mansion, there to drag the jurors out and hang them from the nearest oak tree, here are the people they need to look for: Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Liz Williams, Phil Nanson, Paul Skevington, Paul Billinger and Martin Lewis.
I’m not sure if I will be able to stop laughing.