GUEST BLOG The Arthur C Clarke Award shortlist

Award administrator and guest blogger Tom Hunter sees the Arthur C Clarke Award as a springboard for discussion


Science fiction as a genre is littered with classic examples of failure to extrapolate the future.

Where’s my jetpack?

Who stole my flying car?

Why is it so hard to predict the shortlist for the Arthur C Clarke Award ?

Okay, so fans know science fiction is more a literature of a luminous present than one of limited prognostication, and they also know that the boundaries of written SF are fluid, not fixed. However, if defining the boundaries of a genre is problematic, imagine how much harder it is to select the best in show.

To prove this point we’ve recently taken to revealing the whole award submissions list so people can judge for themselves. I like to think of this list as being a bit like the colonial fleet in Battlestar Galactica. Some ships are war machines, others pleasure cruisers or retrofitted hulks and, by the end when they start dragging around a Cylon Basestar, some are even outsiders to the fleet.

But how to know why particular books are chosen when the deliberations are kept secret and the shortlist left to float alone like an alien monolith awaiting the attention of SF fandom?

Well, the short answer is that the silent monolith is a deliberate big what if ?

It’s a precursor to debate and an invitation to speculation. In other words, it’s the beginning of a shared conversation about our genre.

The conversation starts right here at SFX by the way, and thanks to the team for being our media partners and helping to spread the word.

If you’re lucky enough to be at Eastercon this weekend, then I also recommend checking out the infamous Not The Clarke Award panel where a team of pundits attempt to unravel the judges’ decisions and have a punt on the potential winner.

But why wait for them? The shortlist’s right here and all predictions and comments are welcome.

Tom Hunter is administrator of the Arthur C Clarke Award, and you can read more of his thoughts on SFX.co.uk in the coming weeks.