After two years my duties as a Science Fiction Foundation judge for the Arthur C. Clarke award have come to an end. Last Wednesday we gave China Miéville the award for The City and The City: an unprecedent third win for the author who has already receieved the award twice before for Perdido Street Station in 2001 and Iron Council in 2005.
The City and The City is the kind of book I would like to write myself. It has depth and intricacy but is also accessible and action-packed, well paced and thoughtfully plotted. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to put it on your reading list. The same goes for the rest of this year’s Clarke shortlist: Spirit by Gwyneth Jones, Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts, Galileo’s Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson, Far North by Marcel Theroux and Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding.
This award doesn’t have an official ‘meet and greet’ so I haven’t actually met China – there was a scrum of reporters 3 foot deep and I am too short to tangle with excited journalists – instead I shall wing him these virtual congratulations via the internet. I did however meet Gwyneth Jones who I attempted to praise without terrifying her with the extent of my fannishness. I’m not sure I entirely succeeded. But she freaked me out by saying she knew who I was and reads my blog. Gwyneth is a wonderful writer and well on her way to supplanting Ursula Le Guin from the very top of my top ten.
Judges go for ice cream
Thank you to everyone else who has made the Clarke award so much fun. I’ve made friends among both judging teams and met all sorts of cool people at the award ceremonies. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
You can see how much fun we’ve had in this picture of the judging team going out for ice cream after a tough meeting to decide the winner. From left to right we are: Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Chris Hill, Francis Spufford, Rhiannon Lassiter and Paul Skevington
Snow in my garden
Happy new year to everyone! This post is 19 days late because I began the new year with a stinking cold and I didn’t even go out and play in the snow which has been 8 inches deep or more across Oxford. Here’s a view of my garden from my window. I only went out to put out the compost: those are the tracks you can see on the right.
Since then I’ve been trying to get caught up with work. I am having cover discussions for Ghost of a Chance with OUP and also working on the revisions. Ghost of a Chance will be out in 2011.
I’ve also been working on a redesign of my website. For the first time I’m outsourcing the majority of the work – although I have briefed the designer about the layout I want and collated much of the code. The design will be based on a template created by Matthew James Taylor whose css layouts are well-worth checking out. The site is being constructed by Mo Holkar of Freeform Games in his alter-ego as web designer. It’s a real relief to be able to pass on some of the work of putting the site together to a friend I trust. Mo also runs the sites I designed for Celia Rees and Frances Hardinge so he’s familiar with the way I create sites and write html and css.
I’m also a judge for the 2009 Clarke award so I’m reading my way through the submission list. (I’ve been looking for a link to this but I think it’s not online yet.) I’ll check with the committee to find out where and when the full longlist can be seen.
Shadow gazing up at me
I’ve various other projects on the go which I’ll write about in separate entries. The current great joy of my life is that my little black cat, Shadow, has been driven by the cold to sit on my lap. This is something she has rarely deigned to do in the past so I feel very honoured. Here’s a picture of her eyes beaming up at me.
So here I am in 2010! It’s the future: 2010 is a really science-fiction sounding year. I hope it’s been good to everyone so far and here’s wishing you all the best for the year ahead.
Yesterday, the 29th of April, was the final judging meeting and the ceremony for the Arthur C. Clarke award. The judging meeting took all afternoon and although all details are confidential I cna confirm the chair of the judges comment that “it was a particularly intense and long shortlist meeting”. In the end the winner, chosen from the shortlist of six, was Song of Time by Ian R. MacLeod.
There are two write-ups of the ceremony on the Guardian site here and here. (I’m not the judge mentioned in story two, by the way.) There’s also a write-up on Torque Control.
For me the evening was a great experience, it’s a huge honour to have been chosen as a judge and I am so grateful to the SF Foundation for having asked me to represent them. I’ve really enjoyed reading the books and re-reading the shortlist and it’s been great to discuss the titles with my fellow judges. I look forward to continuing in the role next year.
Highlights of the ceremony were getting to meet people whose names I know but who I’d not previously had the opportunity to meet including: Niall Harrison (Vector editor), Roz Kaveney (critic and author) and Cory Doctorow (SF author and technology guru). Exciting stuff!
Clarke award judges
If there’s anyone left in the world who doesn’t know that I have the great honour to be a judge for the Arthur C. Clarke award in 2009, here’s a timely reminder. The judges (shown here and listed from left to right) are:
- Pauline Morgan (for SF Crowsnest.com)
- Ruth O’Reilly (for the British Science Fiction Association)
- Robert Hanks (for the Science Fiction Foundation)
- Chris Hill (for the British Science Fiction Association)
- Rhiannon Lassiter (for the Science Fiction Foundation)
The long list (which is technically a submission list) was announced in advance for the first time on the Torque Control blog.
Clarke award books
From forty-six books, the judges agreed a shortlist of six. This was also announced (on the 17th of March) on the Torque Control blog. The shortlist is:
- Anathem: Neal Stephenson – Atlantic
- House of Suns: Alastair Reynolds – Gollancz
- Martin Martin’s on the Other Side: Mark Wernham – Jonathan Cape
- Song of Time: Ian R. MacLeod – PS Publishing
- The Margarets: Sheri S. Tepper – Gollancz
- The Quiet War: Paul McAuley – Gollancz
Paul Billinger, Chair of the judges, said: “It was a long and intense meeting to decide this year’s shortlist, with passionate debate from all of the judges. Although at times it seemed almost impossible, they eventually concluded that these six books were the ones that demonstrated to them what was best about the science fiction novels published in 2008.”
That’s an accurate summary of the shortlisting meeting. I’m not allowed to talk about any details but I will say that I have found judging the Clarke award an incredibly rewarding and exciting experience. Discussing, debating and deciding with the other judges has been intellectually rigorous and genuinely enjoyable. I feel very honoured to have been asked to be a judge and to contribute to choosing the next Clarke winner. Wikipedia lists the previous winnersfrom 1987 when the award began.
The award ceremony will be on April 29th at the Apollo cinema in London.