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The Clarke Award shortlist six

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 procedure. …

Author and Clarke Award 2020 judge Stewart Hotston on representation and the state of contemporary SF publishing in the UK.

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Image: Samer Daboul /

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 for the Clarke where, as recently as 2007, only 13% of submissions were from those identifying as women. …

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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 opted to publish this year in conjunction with the reveal of our six shortlisted books. …

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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 transposes the pattern to a worn-torn Baghdad and is a mosaic of different viewpoints and voices. One of our judges said “It’s an adventure, it’s a meditation on the nature of humanity.” It also explores the notion of the urban myth, in which ideas take on a life of their own, much as Shelley’s novel did. It shows the way science fiction can be used to satirise and critique the contemporary world and global politics. …

We review 13 years of submissions data from the Arthur C. Clarke Award with Ada Lovelace Day’s Suw Charman-Anderson

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Credit: Celso Oliveira / Unsplash

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.

For this article we’ve compiled the submissions data going to back to 2006 (when I first joined the award’s governing body) and split it out by gender as…

Announcing the 33rd Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction literature

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View of Saturn: Cassini/NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

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 BaghdadAhmed Saadawi (Oneworld)

The Electric State — Simon Stålenhag (Simon and Schuster)

Rosewater — Tade Thompson (Orbit)

The Loosening Skin — Aliya Whiteley (Unsung…

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The Golden City, Wakanda. Credit: Marvel Studios

Director of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Tom Hunter, reveals only 7% of books received in 2018 were written by writers of colour

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 we can reflect back uncomfortable truths as well as hand out prizes. …

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Image: SpaceX /

It began as an experiment, but for a decade now we’ve been releasing the full submissions data for the Arthur C. Clarke Award as a first overview of the previous year in science fiction publishing.

Back when I first became involved with the award in 2006, the total number of books received was a far more modest 32, but that has grown steadily in the past years, first reaching the 100+ books mark in 2013 and now topping that previous high with a grand total of 124 books received from 46 UK publishing imprints and independent authors.

That complete submissions list is published below, but before you scroll down I wanted to quickly remind everyone as always that this is not a longlist, it is merely the list of eligible books received by our judges from the publishing year 2018. …

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Image: Elin Matilda Andersson

‘The starting point for building a better future is to imagine that future.” Catherine Mayer, author & co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party

At the beginning of 2018 I was approached by Rachel Coldicutt, CEO of Doteveryone, a think tank championing responsible technology, about a possible book project they were planning.

“New technology can be deeply influenced by science fiction,” she said, “and women are often under-represented in the stories that inspire new innovations and inventions. Could different stories about the future make it easier for more women and girls to succeed as inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs?”

As any regularly reader of this blog and our Ada Lovelace Conversations series of interviews with women science fiction writers will guess, this was a conversation I was very happy to be invited to participate in. …

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This is the full text of Chair of Judges Andrew M. Butler’s speech given at the award ceremony of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction literature, Wednesday 18th July 2018.

We come to honour the modern Prometheans.

We come to honour those who steal fire.

We come to honour those chained to rocks.

We come to honour those whose livers are plucked out by eagles.

Well, maybe not the last, but do keep drinking.

Two hundred years ago, the teenaged daughter of two radicals, who had run away to Europe, published a novel in which a scientist brings dead matter to life and then abandons his offspring. We can read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in many ways, but in part it’s about technology and reproduction, about parenting and responsibility and about what it is to be human. …


The Arthur C. Clarke Award

Stories, interviews and news from the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction literature.

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