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Clarke Award shortlist - my guess

The list of 60 novels submitted for this year's Arthur C. Clarke Award has been published, and we are invited to guess what the final shortlist of six will be.

As I've been doing with other awards recently, I've crunched out the numbers on members of both Goodreads and Librarything who have each book, and come up with the following table ranked roughly in order of popularity taken across the two sites, including also ratings (NB that the Goodreads figure is not for those who own the book but for those who have bothered to rank it; the Librarything ratings may reflect only a few of those who claim to own the book). That gives me the following table for the 60 submissions:

11.22.63, Stephen King183324.2916054.32
Blackout, Connie Willis36023.8311633.88
Reamde, NealStephenson48933.918653.93
Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor112014.176464.35
Embassytown, China Miéville25393.867873.96
The Last Werewolf, Glen Duncan31153.454273.88
All Clear, Connie Willis25014.097274.07
Zone One, Colson Whitehead22203.323133.55
Rule 34, Charles Stross10873.573353.76
Leviathan Wakes, James S.A. Corey13894.031964.01
Hull Zero Three, Greg Bear7913.222923.32
The End Specialist (The Post-Mortal), Drew Magary9273.831583.63
Wonder, RobertJ. Sawyer5743.861523.6
The Fallen Blade, Jon Courtenay Grimwood2813.111103.36
Mr Fox, HelenOyeyemi4363.49873.22
Dust, JoanFrances Turner3633.13963.13
The Last Four Things, Paul Hoffman4763.34723.53
Equations of Life, Simon Morden2303.79784
The Testament ofJessie Lamb, Jane Rogers1282.95813.17
The Waters Rising, Sherri S. Tepper1633.47703.25
Embedded, DanAbnett1953.64613.81
The Straight Razor Cure (Low Town), Daniel Polansky2703.82533.54
The Demi Monde: Winter, Rod Rees1223.61664
The Clockwork Rocket, Greg Egan1213.4663.65
The Age of Odin, James Lovegrove1393.58553.5
Heaven's Shadow, David S. Goyer & Michael Cassutt1593.53413.56
Down to the Bone, Justina Robson783.79593.73
Son of Heaven, David Wingrove1103.58453.39
Germline, T.C.McCarthy1003.71523.38
Echo City, Tim Lebbon873.34433.25
The Iron Jackal, Chris Wooding974.43304.41
Shift, Tim Kring and Dale Peck773.19443.2
The Islanders, Christopher Priest374.14303.75
by Light Alone, Adam Roberts373.62273.69
The Departure, Neal Asher583.41233
The Kings of Eternity, Eric Brown483.94243.25
The Noise Revealed, Ian Whates203.55262.5
Final Days, Gary Gibson343.71203.17
Gods of Manhattan, Al Ewing233.91214
Dead of Veridon, Tim Akers163.81254
Hell Ship, Philip Palmer313.74132.25
The Recollection, Gareth L. Powell273.3153
War in Heaven, Gavin Smith233.710-
Osama, LavieTidhar114.18173.6
The Great Lover, Michael Cisco104.1165
The Godless Boys, Naomi Wood193.6364
Regicide, Nicholas Royle103.593
Bronze Summer, Stephen Baxter54.2102
Cyber Circus, Kim Lakin-Smith94.3393.25
The Shadow of the Soul, Sarah Pinborough114.453-
Wake Up and Dream, Ian R. MacLeod53.67-
Novahead, Steve Aylett93.7853.5
Sequence, Adrian Dawson153.871-
Dead Water, Simon Ings112.272-
Savage City, Sophia McDougall54.25-
Bringer of Light, Jaine Fenn44.563.75
Nemonymous Night, D.F. Lewis1355
Here Comes The Nice, Jeremy Reed155-
The Ironclad Prophecy, Pat Kelleher243-
Random Walk, Alexandra Claire0-1-

It may reasonably argued that this doesn't tell us very much; that a juried award cannot be expected to mirror the tastes of the wider public, and that the members of Goodreads and Librarything are quite possibly not looking for the same things in a book as the Clarke Award judges. Indeed, four of the five BSFA nominees for Best Novel are in the lower half of the table. However, I think we can be fairly sure about eliminating at least the bottom few books; if they have failed to catch the attention of the world at large, they will probably also have failed to catch the imagination of the judges. (Though I am tempted to seek out Alexandra Claire's Random Walk, just for curiosity.)

However, the fact is that I have almost nothing else to go on; since the only books I have read on the list are the BSFA nominees (and the two by Connie Willis), I may as well guess at the Clarke shortlist using the information above. The top six books are 11.22.63, Blackout, Reamde, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Embassytown and The Last Werewolf. However, the rules specify that the award is for science fiction, which (as far as I can tell) rules out 11.22.63, Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Last Werewolf. (Interestingly, these are also the three books on the list with the highest ratio of Goodreads users to Librarything users.) I think that Blackout is also ruled out as it is only half a novel. That's four of my top six eliminated; the next four are All Clear, Zone One, Rule 34, and Leviathan Wakes. All Clear is eliminated for the same reason as Blackout, and next up is Hull Zero Three. So that gives me six.

But... the average Goodreads rankings for Zone One and Hull Zero Three are not in fact very impressive - both are in the bottom ten of the entire list. Again, the Clarke judges will have different tastes to Goodreads readers; but that much different? Strike the two of them as well. That takes me to The End Specialist (aka The Post-Mortal) and Wonder, both of which appear to be science fiction.

Hang on, I'm not finished. Leviathan Wakes has a suspiciously high ratio of Goodreads users to Librarything users, which makes me suspect that it may have more populist than hardcore appeal (as with 11.22.63Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Last Werewolf). Also, despite Wonder's comparatively good ratings on both sites, I can't actually comprehend how anyone likes Sawyer's writing. So I'm dropping those two as well. But the next four books on the list, The Fallen BladeMr Fox, Dust and The Last Four Things appear not to be science fiction either. So my last two are Equations of Life and The Testament of Jessie Lamb.

I don't know much about any of these books, but this is only a parlour game anyway, and knowing that it is unlikely to be correct, I therefore predict that the books on the Clarke shortlist will be ReamdeEmbassytownRule 34The End SpecialistEquations of Life and The Testament of Jessie Lamb. If I am lucky I'll get one or two of them right.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 1st, 2012 10:27 pm (UTC)
Having just finished REAMDE I would say it's not Science Fiction either. All the technology is contemporary with the exception of an imaginary MMORPG! (I think I may have gotten the acronym slightly wrong, but I'm sure you won't shoot me for that.)

Good game. As you imply, the application of objective assessment to a book award process is not necessarily appropriate.
Mar. 1st, 2012 10:48 pm (UTC)
Leviathan Wakes is somewhat pulpy space opera, with the minor redeeming characteristic of better-than-normal characterization for that sub-genre.

Reamde is a Stephen Bury technothriller released under the Neal Stephenson brand name: fun, if you like that kind of thing, but lightweight.

(It should be fairly obvious that I'd like your projected shortlist to be correct :)

Edited at 2012-03-01 11:20 pm (UTC)
Mar. 3rd, 2012 09:09 am (UTC)
Would Blackout & All Clear truly be ruled out by being two halves of one larger book? Because that didn't stop the pair of 'em from getting that one award last year. OTOH, I suspect that the historical errors in the books might be more of a factor (considering that the errors were in British history).
Mar. 4th, 2012 01:12 am (UTC)
I couldn't possibly comment ... although I note a dream recently where I'd forgotten the shortlist. Which I suspect is actually true.

Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion was nominated as single volume, so that might not rule out Connie Willis. Or both could be short listed...

Oh, I have sort of commented.
Mar. 4th, 2012 02:20 pm (UTC)
The Willis books don't seem to have been nominated as a single volume. More to the point, as I should have made clear in this post (though I made it clear enough when I read them last year), they are simply not very good.
Mar. 4th, 2012 02:35 pm (UTC)
Perhaps I should have said that the Hyperion books were shortlisted as a single volume - nominated isn't quite the right word. The judges might have decided to see the Willis as one book (how did it work for the Hugos?). Or the judges might have decided to shortlist either or both... But it would be inappropriate for me to comment on their/its qualities.
Mar. 12th, 2012 03:47 pm (UTC)
Just to throw more confusion into the mix, pretty sure 11.22.63 is science fiction. And Blackout is counted as a standalone.

(Your final list of six is very good though. I'd roll with it.)
Mar. 12th, 2012 03:48 pm (UTC)
Oops. Missed your response on Blackout, above. It is indeed both standalone and mediocre.
Jun. 22nd, 2012 12:46 pm (UTC)
I wish you would seek out Random Walk...it's a slow job capturing the imagination of the public when a book has no marketing machine behind it - I'd like to know what you all think! Alexandra Claire.
randomwalk2035@gmail.com or facebook
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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