As the countdown begins to this year's judging of the seminal SF novel award, the organisers reveal all the female submissions received
Running since 1987, the award itself is no stranger to controversy and debate as its definition of science fiction can be decidedly broad. The aim of announcing two submission lists is to appease critics and highlight the proportion of female writers in the running. Last year a total of 18 female authors made up the list of 82 contenders – this time round 33 of the potentially prize-winning books were written by women.
Old favourites and first timers are among the hopefuls. Winner of the first Arthur C Clarke Award and novel writing machine Margaret Atwood leads the way with Maddaddam , the final book in her Oryx And Crake, The Year Of The Flood trilogy.
Eyes will also be on Samantha Shannon’s debut The Bone Season . If the first part of this clairvoyant saga scoops the prize it will be the best career kick-start the 22-year-old author could dream of.
So why is it important that female SF authors are being showcased like this? Award director Tom Hunter tells us: “We've been releasing the full submissions list of authors put forward for the award for the past five years now, and this has always been with the idea of showcasing the full range of science fiction and all of the great books out there, whether they are shortlisted or not. This year we were very aware of the broader debate happening in science fiction circles around raising the profile of female SF authors and issues around gender parity on convention panels and so forth, and so we thought a split announcement of this kind, coming directly from the Arthur C Clarke Award, could be a positive way to contribute to that conversation.”
And he continues, discussing the responsibilities of the Award: “As an organisation, the award has three simple guiding principles: to stage the award itself, to positively promote science fiction in all its forms and to honour the memory of Sir Arthur C Clarke. We see this response as being very much a part of that second guiding principle, and we think it's something that reflects the generous and inclusive spirit of SF that Sir Arthur originally wished for the award.”
The submission list is already getting media attention with The Guardian blogging about it over the weekend. Now we’ve just got to wait until the list of male submissions is announced. Will we see a similarly increased number of male entrants or will there be an equal gender balance? Be sure to check out the list of submissions by female authors and let us know in the comments section below who you think could be in with a chance of scooping the prize this spring.
Report by Dominic Carter