Introducing the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2021 shortlist by Andrew M. Butler, Chair of Judges
A few years ago, I was asked to write about the future.
Or, rather, future studies and futurology.
In a lot of futurology there is the sense of a coming apocalypse that would destroy everything. And, after that, life would get really interesting.
Of course, this year’s Clarke Award was judged during an apocalypse and it’s probably unwise to say whether we’re yet at the everything-has-been-destroyed stage or whether we are rebuilding from scratch.
Representation matters. Last year, using the 2020 Arthur C. Clarke Award submission list, I wrote about the problems facing the genre publishing industry here in the UK.
Since then we’ve collated the data from 2013 through 2020 to look for progress. We could have gone back further, but there’s nothing in earlier data to suggest additional insight could be added by including them.
2021 saw 105 submissions across 41 imprints. Slightly lower than the previous year but fluctuations do occur from year to year and the pandemic saw a lot of books delayed. …
For over a decade now, the Clarke Award has committed itself to publicly sharing the complete list of eligible submissions, as received by our panel of judges, alongside our shortlisted titles and annual winner.
This started as a fun way of allowing the science fiction community of fans (and indeed pros, and all the many other combinations therein) to try their hand at guessing our shortlist before it was revealed.
It is harder than it looks and to date no one has successfully guessed all six titles in advance (including me, it’s director).
In more recent years, as the data…
When a judging meeting that you happen to know is for the Clarke Award starts off by sounding like it is for a Wyndham Award, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.
I’m not entirely sure if this has been a cosy catastrophe — I don’t remember Wyndham predicting the Toilet Paper Dearth or the flour shortage — but then his novels are much darker than we thought they were fifty years ago.
The judging this year mostly took place from our individual bunkers via the media of Zoom rather than face to face.
We’ve seen Alien, we know the quarantine…
Author and Clarke Award 2020 judge Stewart Hotston on representation and the state of contemporary SF publishing in the UK.
This article has some relatively good news and then some particularly bad news.
First the good news.
Of 121 submissions to the Clarke Award in 2020 from 45 imprints, it appears that roughly 40% were from people who identify as women. There were also a small scattering of people identifying as non-binary. As far as this goes it’s a strong year for gender representation when compared to the number of women or non-binary FTSE executives or even in previous years…
It has become something of an Arthur C. Clarke Award tradition now to publish our Submissions List, the complete list of eligible titles submitted for consideration to our judging panel, alongside announcing our jury-selected shortlist and our final winning title.
[Scroll down now to see the list in full]
In past years we’ve opted to publish the submissions list in advance of the announcement of our official shortlist, but 2020 is far from a normal year, and with apologies to those in the science fiction community who enjoy the conversation and debate that our submissions list can generate, we have…
Two hundred years before this year’s shortlisted books were released, Frankenstein was published. Among many other candidates, it marked the emergence of a new genre — science fiction — which we are here to mark tonight.
Mary Shelley taught us many things about science fiction.
It doesn’t have to be written by white men.
It doesn’t have to be told in a linear order.
It can be — perhaps always is — political.
It confronts the notion of the Other and what it is to be human.
It seems logical to begin with Frankenstein in Baghdad, by Ahmed Saadawi, which…
The Arthur C. Clarke Award is one of the only literature prizes to publish its complete submissions list of books received every year.
What began as an experiment has now become over the last decade a regular feature of the award, and is as anticipated by many as much as the reveal of our shortlist or even the announcement of our winning novel.
We publish this data freely every year so everyone can review the ‘year in science fiction,’ and this year we’re also taking the challenge ourselves as part of a broader future review of the award.
Announcing the 33rd Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction literature
It’s a record-breaking year for the Arthur C. Clarke Award with 124 books received by our judges, submitted by 46 UK publishing imprints and independent authors.
Today their deliberations are over, and we’re delighted to announce that the six books shortlisted for the 33rd Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction literature are:
Semiosis — Sue Burke (HarperVoyager)
Revenant Gun — Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
Frankenstein in Baghdad — Ahmed Saadawi (Oneworld)
The Electric State — Simon Stålenhag (Simon and Schuster)
Literature awards are great for celebrating the best of the book trade, but in my view they are no good at all when it comes to highlighting existing inequalities lurking within our industry.
For that to happen you either need an active and passion readership ready to challenge you (and in the science fiction community we definitely have one of those) or you can dig deep into your own data and call yourself out first.
The other problem with being a book award is that you’re a mirror of the publishing industry, not its decision-makers and budget-holders, but maybe sometimes…