Clarke Award shortlist 2006


This is rapidly turning into “Stu’s Monday morning What-I-Did-At-The-Weekend site”, isn’t it?

Well, it was a very busy weekend (even without babies to take care of – babies who, you may be interested to know, are now eating rice, pears and carrots, although not all at once).

But the big event was on Saturday, of course, with the Clarke Award shortlist meeting at the Science Museum; when myself and the other five judges had to choose a scant six books out of almost 50 for the shortlist. It was a genuinely fascinating afternoon of polite, well-reasoned debate, with some really interesting points made by some very clever people (not me) and discussed by some less clever people (me), and I’m really looking forward to the finals in April now, when we whittle that final six down to a single, undoubted winner. There’s no second place or special mention in the Clarke Award – much like Russian Roulette, you either win or you lose.
Confidentiality forbids me to tell you much about what went on in the meeting itself, but I can give you a list of the finalists and say, cryptically, that I had to be persuaded about the merits of only one of them, and I’m glad that I was.

The finalists are:

Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

Learning The World- Ken MacLeod

Pushing Ice – Alastair Reynolds

Air – Geoff Ryman

Accelerando – Charles Stross

Banner Of Souls – Liz Williams

More info about these books is available here.

If you know anything about recent sf and its authors I hope you’ll agree that there’s a remarkable range of both content and form displayed in this list; from the hyper-fast bleeding edge tech-head to the gentle near-pastoral; from squids in space to calamari on the plate; spaceships to child-bearing hips.

It wasn’t something we planned, or even expected, but it does go to show the great depth of field that modern science fiction embraces: I honestly think there’s a book on the list that anyone, regardless of their literary tastes, could enjoy – even the Lovely Melanie! The choosing of the final winner in April is going to be a long and possibly brutal, er, discussion, I suspect…

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