The shortlist for the 2014 Arthur C. Clarke Award has been announced.
The six shortlisted books for this, the 28th year of the award for best science fiction novel of the year are:
God's War by Kameron Hurley (Del Rey) - Nyx is a bel dame, a bounty hunter paid to collect the heads of deserters - by almost any means necessary.
'Almost' proved to be the problem.
Cast out and imprisoned for breaking one rule too many, Nyx and her crew of mercenaries are all about the money. But when a dubious government deal with an alien emissary goes awry, her name is at the top of the list for a covert recovery.
While the centuries-long war rages on only one thing is certain: the world's best chance for peace rests in the hands of its most ruthless killers. . .
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit) - They made me kill thousands, but I only have one target now.
The Radch are conquerors to be feared - resist and they'll turn you into a 'corpse soldier' - one of an army of dead prisoners animated by a warship's AI mind. Whole planets are conquered by their own people.
The colossal warship called The Justice of Toren has been destroyed - but one ship-possessed soldier has escaped the devastation. Used to controlling thousands of hands, thousands of mouths, The Justice now has only two hands, and one mouth with which to tell her tale.
But one fragile, human body might just be enough to take revenge against those who destroyed her.
The Disestablishment of Paradise by Phillip Mann (Gollancz) - Something has gone wrong on the planet of Paradise.
The human settlers - farmers and scientists - are finding that their crops won't grow and their lives are becoming more and more dangerous. The indigenous plant life - never entirely safe - is changing in unpredictable ways, and the imported plantings wither and die. And so the order is given - Paradise will be abandoned. All personnel will be removed and reassigned. And all human presence on the planet will be disestablished.
Not all agree with the decision. There are some who believe that Paradise has more to offer the human race. That the planet is not finished with the intruders, and that the risks of staying are outweighed by the possible rewards.
And so the leader of the research team and one of the demolition workers set off on a journey across the planet. Along the way they will encounter the last of the near-mythical Dendron, the vicious Reapers and the deadly Tattersall Weeds as they embark on an adventure which will bring them closer to nature, to each other and, eventually, to Paradise.
Nexus by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot) - Mankind gets an upgrade.
In the near future, the experimental nano-drug Nexus can link human together, mind to mind. There are some who want to improve it. There are some who want to eradicate it. And there are others who just want to exploit it.
When a young scientist is caught improving Nexus, he’s thrust over his head into a world of danger and international espionage – for there is far more at stake than anyone realizes.
The Adjacent by Christopher Priest (Gollancz) - Tibor Tarent, a freelance photographer, is recalled to Britain from Anatolia where his wife Melanie has been killed by insurgent militia. IRGB is a nation living in the aftermath of a bizarre and terrifying terrorist atrocity - hundreds of thousands were wiped out when a vast triangle of west London was instantly annihilated. The authorities think the terrorist attack and the death of Tarent's wife are somehow connected.
A century earlier, a stage magician is sent to the Western Front on a secret mission to render British reconnaissance aircraft invisible to the enemy. On his journey to the trenches he meets the visionary who believes that this will be the war to end all wars.
In 1943, a woman pilot from Poland tells a young RAF technician of her escape from the Nazis, and her desperate need to return home.
In the present day, a theoretical physicist stands in his English garden and creates the first adjacency.
THE ADJACENT is a novel where nothing is quite as it seems. Where fiction and history intersect, where every version of reality is suspect, where truth and falsehood lie closely adjacent to one another.
The Machine by James Smythe (Blue Door) - Beth lives alone on a desolate housing estate near the sea. She came here to rebuild her life following her husband’s return from the war. His memories haunted him but a machine promised salvation. It could record memories, preserving a life that existed before the nightmares.
Now the machines are gone. The government declared them too controversial, the side-effects too harmful. But within Beth’s flat is an ever-whirring black box. She knows that memories can be put back, that she can rebuild her husband piece by piece.
A Frankenstein tale for the 21st century, The Machine is a story of the indelibility of memory, the human cost of science and the horrors of love. These 6 titles were chosen from a quite staggering, and incidentally record-breaking 121 individual eligible submissions, put forward by 42 different publishing houses and imprints.
Commenting at the announcement, Award Director Tom Hunter said:
"Choosing a shortlist of 6 books from a submissions list that went well over 100 titles for the first time in the award’s history was always going to be a challenge. There were tough calls to make, but from those decisions our judges have created an innovative and thoughtful shortlist that reflects both the strengths and health of contemporary science fiction."
Referring to last year’s all-male shortlist and other recent online controversies that have occurred in the world of science fiction awards, he added:
"For the Clarke Award it’s the shortlist announcement that fans the flames (or flames the fans) of our community. With others it’s the choice of ceremony host. However no award seeks to generate controversy for its own sake. Debate is vital, but perhaps more important is a sense of celebration, and I hope this year to see a lot of well-deserved congratulations shared with our shortlisted authors as well as welcoming the critical response to the judge’s choice of books."
"I expect a lot of that attention will again focus on the number of books submitted by female science fiction writers, which was why we chose to emphasise this statistic in an announcement earlier this year. Where approximately 1 in 4 submitted titles were by women this year, 1 in 3 made it through to the discussion list of 30 titles from which the judges made their final selection today: A ratio which carried through into the final 6 shortlisted titles, two of which are by new female authors.”
The judging panel for the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2014 are:
- Duncan Lawie, British Science Fiction Association
- Ian Whates, British Science Fiction Association
- Sarah Brown, Science Fiction Foundation
- Lesley Hall, Science Fiction Foundation
- Georgie Knight, SCI-FI-LONDON film festival
Andrew M. Butler represents the Arthur C. Clarke Award in a non-voting role as the Chair of the Judges.
The winner will be announced on Thursday 1st May at an exclusive award ceremony held at the Royal Society, London, and taking place as part of the SCI-FI-LONDON Film Festival.
The winner will be presented with a cheque for £2014.00 and the award itself, a commemorative engraved bookend.