Clarke season began today with the publication of the submissions list over on the SFX website. Here are some initial thoughts:
First of all, the length: 82 books, which is a lot for an award that normally peaks at around 60 (though there continues to be a low proportion of books by women – and it may be even lower than usual this year). This upsurge seems largely to be down to a greater number of YA titles being submitted. It’s good that the Clarke’s submissions base is broadening in this way, though of course it remains to be seen whether that will have much impact on the shortlist.
Submission of non-genre titles continues to be hit-and-miss, with some publishers (such as Granta and Random House) clearly keen to engage with the Clarke Award; but no submissions at all from, say, Simon & Schuster (publishers of Karen Thompson Walker’s The Age of Miracles) or Bloomsbury (publishers of Liz Jensen’s The Uninvited). From the genre imprints, perhaps the most notable omission is Peter F. Hamilton’s Great North Road.
Turning to what actually has been submitted, I think the book that most surprises me is Kimberly’s Capital Punishment by Richard Millward, which I hadn’t had down as being sf (which is not to say that it necessarily is, because there are always borderline cases and outright fantasy amongst the submissions). It’s a pleasure to see Adrian Barnes’ Nod (one of my favourite reads of last year) in the pool; and I’m now intrigued by the sound of The Dream Killer of Paris, a book that was previously unknown to me.
The shortlist will be announced on 4 April, which will sadly be too late for there to be a Not the Clarke panel at this year’s Eastercon. We can still try to guess the shortlist, but I’m not going to do that just yet. At first blush, though, I think I could narrow the submissions list down to about a dozen likely contenders; and I expect we’ll see a shortlist that skews towards core genre. But the Clarke is rarely predictable, so I could be entirely wrong. As ever, I look forward to finding out.