This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Arthur C Clarke Award and so as a precursor to the announcement of the 2011 shortlist, a contest was run to correctly guess the six books on the shortlist. Three of us had the most correct answers (four out of the final six books), but there can be only one winner and so a name had to be drawn from a hat – my name. Huzzah!
My haul includes copies of all six of the short-listed books, plus a copy of the forthcoming anthology, Fables from the Fountain, edited by Ian Whates and being sold in honour of the Clarke Award’s twenty-fifth anniversary.
In case you were wondering, the shortlist is below with my four correct guesses in bold:
Zoo City – Lauren Beukes (Angry Robot)
The Dervish House – Ian McDonald (Gollancz)
Monsters of Men – Patrick Ness (Walker Books)
Generosity – Richard Powers (Atlantic Books)
Declare – Tim Powers (Corvus)
Lightborn – Tricia Sullivan (Orbit)
Of the shortlist, I’m most looking forward to reading The Dervish House. I’ve been a big fan of Ian McDonald for a number of years now and I love how he places each of his (Earth-based) novels in non-Western countries. He has the ability to evoke a vivid sense of being there and I’m looking forward to seeing how his description of Istanbul compares with the weak effort from Elizabeth Kostova in The Historian. Reviews have been very positive and it would restore some balance for him to win it after being robbed in 2005.
Of the remaining books I know very little apart from Declare which I read in its prior US print incarnation and enjoyed immensely. It’s been a long time since I read it, so instead of dredging an opinion from the depths of memory, I’m going to quote from the conclusion to Nick Gevers’s SF Site review written in 2001:
“Powers’ descriptions of (surreal) magical events — voices from the ether, fantastic yet logical apparitions — are breathtaking, sublimely precise in a manner that recalls Thomas Pynchon in V and Gravity’s Rainbow; his evocations of places in history — Nazi-occupied Paris, Khrushchev’s Russia, England in the Depression, postwar Kuwait — are atmospheric in an eloquent, painterly way; and his dialogue often has a sort of feverish dark elegance. Powers has never written better than in Declare; his status as one of Fantasy’s major stylists can no longer be in doubt.”
And last but not least, I’d like to thank the Clarke Award and NewCon Press for donating the prizes. Since I’ve finally started blogging about sf books, I promise to actually read my prizes and put my thoughts about them down here in due course. Honest!