The Arthur C. Clarke Award 2017: Our complete submissions list of eligible books received
Every year, before the judges of the Arthur C. Clarke Award announce their official shortlist, I make a point of revealing the full list of eligible titles submitted to our jury panel for consideration.
I need to be clear, this is not a long list. Rather this is a list of every eligible title officially submitted to us by its publisher or creator for consideration for this year’s award.
The reasons I do this are simple enough, but kind of twofold.
Ten or so years ago, when I first started doing this, it had become apparent that some of the ‘why the heck has that been shortlisted?’ reaction we tended to enjoy on releasing a new shortlist stemmed from the fact that many of the books put forward to our judges might not have been part of the general SF books conversation.
As such, their sudden arrival on a science fiction award list might have taken even some of the keenest award watchers somewhat by surprise, and we all know how much critics love having someone else discover something first…
Solution: put the full submissions list out there in advance of any official shortlist announcement so its there for everyone to see and discuss and even attempt some amateur prognostication on what the actual, official, top six list would look like.
For the record, despite many years of appeals for people to have a guess, and even competition incentives where you could win the whole shortlist if you guessed correctly, no one has yet managed to publicly predict all six books correctly in any given year, and that includes me the award director (not part of the judging panel by the way) who one would assume had something of a head start on this kind of thing.
The other reason I do this, and for me the more important and scientifically inspired one, is to take the raw data we have available and to put it out into the commons.
The Clarke Award submissions list is a snapshot of a year in UK SF publishing. It will never be 100% complete (there’s always at least one book that got away) but it is perhaps the closest we might reasonably expect to get to a single state-of-the-nation view of UK science fiction publishing in any given year.
And with that in mind, I gift this year’s list to you , dear reader, and wish you well with any and all interpretations and extrapolations you might wish to explore.
I’ve included a few key stats and insights of my own after the list below, but for now please scroll on through the list, see how many you have read, or how many are in your to-be-read book pile, and if you haven’t heard of a particular book as yet but think it might be worth a read, please note all titles are hyperlinked for your wish-listing convenience.
One of these books will be the next winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction literature.
To be continued…
Savant — Nik Abnett (Solaris)
The Power — Naomi Alderman (Penguin Viking)
Necrotech — K.C. Alexander (Angry Robot)
All the Birds in the Sky — Charlie Jane Anders (Titan)
War Factory — Neal Asher (Tor)
Creation Machine — Andrew Bannister (Bantam)
Starbound — Dave Bara (Del Rey)
The Medusa Chronicles — Stephen Baxter & Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz)
Daughter of Eden — Chris Beckett (Daughter of Eden)
Songshifting — Chris Bell (wordsSHIFTminds)
City of Blades — Robert Jackson Bennett (Jo Fletcher Books)
Sockpuppet — Mathew Blakstad (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Hatching — Ezekiel Boone (Gollancz)
Good Morning, Midnight — Lily Brooks-Dalton (Wiedenfeld & Nicolson)
Morning Star — Pierce Brown (Hodder & Stoughton)
Lament for the Fallen — Gavin Chait (Doubleday)
A Closed and Common Orbit — Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Rise of Io — Wesley Chu (Angry Robot)
Forsaken Skies — D. Nolan Clark (Orbit)
Ancestral Machines — Michael Cobley (Orbit)
Dark Matter — Blake Crouch (Macmillan)
The Destructives — Matthew De Abaitua (Angry Robot)
Zero K — Don DeLillo (Picador)
The Tourist — Robert Dickinson (Orbit)
The Blood of the Hoopoe — Naomi Foyle (Jo Fletcher Books)
The Many Selves of Katherine North — Emma Geen (Bloomsbury)
Survival Game — Gary Gibson (Tor)
New Pompeii — Daniel Godfrey (Titan)
Front Lines — Michael Grant (Electric Monkey)
Ninefox Gambit — Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
The Bastard Wonderland — Lee Harrison (Wrecking Ball Press)
Graft — Matt Hill (Angry Robot)
The Last Gasp — Trevor Hoyle (Jo Fletcher Books)
Europe in Winter — Dave Hutchinson (Solaris)
The Fifth Season — N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
A Field Guide to Reality — Joanna Kavenna (riverrun)
The Man Who Spoke Snakish — Andrus Kivirähk (Grove Press UK)
False Hearts — Laura Lam (Macmillan)
Nemesis — Alex Lamb (Gollancz)
The Sign of One — Eugene Lambert (Electric Monkey)
The Wolf Road — Beth Lewis (Borough)
Death’s End — Cixin Liu (Head of Zeus)
The Disciple — Stephen Lloyd Jones (Headline)
Infinite Ground — Martin MacInnes (Atlantic Books)
The Corporation Wars: Dissidence — Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
Into Everywhere — Paul McAuley (Gollancz)
Burning Midnight — Will McIntosh (Delacorte Press)
This Census-Taker — China Miéville (Picador)
When the Floods Came — Clare Morrall (riverun)
Sleeping Giants — Sylvain Neuvel (Michael Joseph)
After Atlas — Emma Newman (Roc)
The Sudden Appearance of Hope — Claire North (Orbit)
The Last One — Alexandra Oliva (Michael Joseph)
South — Frank Owen (Corvus)
The Girl with Two Souls — Stephen Palmer (Infinity Plus)
The Girl with One Friend — Stephen Palmer (Infinity Plus)
The Girl with No Soul — Stephen Palmer (Infinity Plus)
Empire V — Victor Pelevin (Gollancz)
Outriders — Jay Posey (Angry Robot)
Medusa’s Web — Tim Powers (Corvus)
The Long Cosmos — Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter (Doubleday)
The Gradual — Christopher Priest (Gollancz)
Revenger — Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz)
Invasion — Luke Rhinehart (Titan)
Waking Hell — Al Robertson (Gollancz)
The Lazarus War — Jamie Sawyer (Orbit)
The Trees — Ali Shaw (Bloomsbury)
The Core of the Sun — Johanna Sinisalo (Grove Press UK)
Dark Made Dawn — J.P. Smythe (Hodder & Stoughton)
The High Ground — Melinda Snodgrass (Titan)
The Nightmare Stacks — Charles Stross (Orbit)
Hunters & Collectors — M. Suddain (Jonathan Cape)
Occupy Me — Tricia Sullivan (Gollancz)
Fair Rebel — Steph Swainston (Gollancz)
Central Station — Lavie Tidhar (PS Publishing)
United States of Japan — Peter Tieryas (Angry Robot)
The Devil’s Evidence — Simon Kurt Unsworth (Del Rey)
Radiance — Catherynne M. Valente (Corsair)
Behind the Throne — K.B. Wagers (Orbit)
Escapology — Ren Warom (Titan)
Every Mountain Made Low — Alex White (Solaris)
The Underground Railroad — Colson Whitehead (Fleet)
The Arrival of the Missives — Aliya Whiteley (Unsung Stories)
Underground Airlines — Ben Winters (Century)
Azanian Bridges — Nick Wood (NewCon Press)
The Lost Time Accidents — John Wray (Canongate)
This year we received 86 books from 38 publishing imprints and independent creators.
This is down somewhat from last year’s total of books, where we received 113 titles, and is the first drop below the 100 mark for several years.
Before we worry unduly though about a sudden dwindling of science fiction, I should point out that when we first hit the 80+ books a few short years ago it was at the time a record-breaking year and something we shouted about.
For me, this is more of a longer fluctuating trend with an overall rise from where we were in terms of submissions a decade ago (approx 45 to 50 books a year) and it’s also worth noting a very similar number of submitting imprints to the last few years, which is perhaps a better place to look for signs of health or otherwise in UK SF publishing.
Last year, as part of our 30th anniversary year review, we considered the idea of increasing our shortlist to eight books in order to better showcase the increasing number and variety of books we were receiving. One of our criteria for considering that was if the trend of submitted titles continued to increase year on year, and as such we have not implemented that change. Six book shortlist this year as usual, in other words.
We also opened the award to indie authors for the first time this year, and while some commentators at the time feared a deluge of self-pub prose, we have not seen that (not this year at least) and indeed only received one title from an indie author, Chris Bell, which comes with a blurb from two times Clarke shortlisted author Dave Hutchinson, so we’re pretty confident it deserves consideration.
I suspect that this small start may change as word ripples out further, but the fact the award has a submissions fee and also requires indie authors to have UK credentials in the same way as submitting publishing companies (something that admittedly gets more maze-like and complicated every year) will likely provide some natural limits in years to come.
Another key piece of data we know people look for is the breakdown of submissions by gender, which this year is 24 titles by women SF authors and 63 from male SF authors, or 28% and 72% respectively. There’s a tiny bit of variance in those percentages if you count authors with more than one title in contention differently (I’ve opted to count by book, so authors with more than one are counted more than once) but not enough to really alter the overall percentages which remain roughly on par with the last couple of years.
Finally, people often ask why X book has been submitted when it’s ‘obviously’ fantasy, horror or similar and what were the publishers thinking? And likewise people also often look to this submissions list for gaps first and speculate as to why it’s missing, so here’s a little about how we actually gather submissions.
As our panel of judges changes every year so do does the definition of science fiction they are working to. As such, we will often encourage publishers to send us titles that might be considered borderline SF by many precisely because the judges can’t make a decision unless a title is officially submitted. Sometime we ask for a book because we want to check precisely that assumption, and sometimes the judges can make those calls very quickly indeed.
Likewise, while we put out an official call to publishers to submit, we also spend a lot of time looking for titles, discussing books we’d like to see and actively making calls to ask for them. Usually this involves actual one-to-one conversations about particular books and many (most) times publishers are delighted to put books forward.
There are always a couple we might miss or where a publisher or author might actively decline to put a book forward. I can say it happens, but I don’t typically comment on any particular book that’s not submitted, that conversation is between me and the publisher. What I can say though is I’ve never encountered a direct snub of the award because of its SF genre nature, which some people have taken offence on our behalf in the past when a particular title has not been put forward. In my experience it doesn’t really work that way.
The good news is every book on this submissions list is eligible, actively wants to be considered, and has a chance to be shortlisted and even win.
Now we just have to finish reading them all!
The shortlist for the 2017 Arthur C. Clarke Award will be announced on Wednesday 3rd May in partnership with the SCI-FI-LONDON film festival.
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