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GUEST BLOG The Clarke Award is tonight!

Arthur C Clarke Award administrator Tom Hunter rounds up speculation about tonight's announcement

Today's the day we announce the winner of this year’s Arthur C Clarke Award for the best UK science fiction novel published in 2009, so there’s just enough time to have a last look over this year’s contenders and try to gather together some of the rampant shortlist speculation.

I’m not going to lay down any odds, but that hasn’t stopped other people having a go .

What I have done though is spent a great deal of time hunting up and down the internet for every last scrap of comment , which I shall now try to distil into a pithy 300 words or so.

Spirit - Gwyneth Jones (Gollancz)

Published right on the cusp of 2009, this has been an early favourite with many fans and has generated a lot of buzz across the year, and with Gwyneth already having taken the award once with Bold As Love in 2002 this could well be a deserved second win.

The City & The City - China Miéville (Macmillan)

A book that’s actively dividing pundits over whether it’s actually science fiction or fantasy or some kind of hybrid genre all of its own. I say books that defy easy definitions are all a part of what awards like the Clarke ought to be about and, since our judges have made the decision to shortlist it, from my biased point of view at least, I’d say it definitely is.

Yellow Blue Tibia - Adam Roberts (Gollancz)

A welcome return to the Clarke Award nominations for Adam Roberts this year but some people don’t think that goes far enough. In fact Kim Stanley Robinson has gone on record as saying this book ought to have been nominated for the Booker Prize too, and speaking of Kim…

Galileo's Dream - Kim Stanley Robinson (HarperCollins)

Kim is a writer with a large and well-deserved following and it’s hardly a surprise that a lot of people have called this one as a favourite to win. It’s a book of big ideas, famous historical figures and the sense of wonder that for many characterises the best of the genre.

Far North - Marcel Theroux (Faber & Faber)

A near future epic set in the Siberian taiga, this is a classic cautionary sci-fi story that explores a world in decline after the final days of peak oil are well and truly over. This is a popular choice for winner from those fans who enjoy some literary genre splicing with their science fiction.

Retribution Falls - Chris Wooding (Gollancz)

Popular word of mouth has positioned this first time nomination for Chris Wooding as definitely the most awesomely fun (and very well written too) book on the list. As such this could well be this year’s Take Back Plenty, one of the Award’s most popular wins ever.

So, who do you think is going to take the prize?

Everyone I’ve spoken to has told me A. this is one of the hardest shortlists to call in a good long while and B. the name of a different author they think is a dead cert for the prize.

Tom Hunter is administrator of the Arthur C Clarke Award, and you can read more of his thoughts on later in the week. The official website of the Award can be found here .