Guessing the Clarke Award shortlist

Let me point you towards a couple of excellent posts discussing this year’s potential Clarke Award nominees, by Nina Allan and Niall Harrison (the latter with a substantial comment thread, including some thoughts from me).

I’ve been struggling to come up with my own guess at the Clarke shortlist this year, because  there are many titles which seem to me equally plausible candidates (not necessarily equal in terms of quality, but in terms of whether I could instinctively imagine their being shortlisted), and I’m honestly not sure how to choose between them. For that reason (and because I don’t have as much spare time at the moment as I’d wish), I’m not going to go into detail about my thoughts.

But here is an approximation of what I think the 2013 Clarke shortlist may look like:

  • vN by Madeline Ashby
  • Dark Eden by Chris Beckett
  • Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
  • Intrusion by Ken MacLeod
  • Jack Glass by Adam Roberts
  • 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

And my preferred shortlist would look something like this:

  • Nod by Adrian Barnes
  • Empty Space by M. John Harrison
  • Intrusion by Ken MacLeod
  • Jack Glass by Adam Roberts
  • The Explorer by James Smythe
  • The Method by Juli Zeh

The shortlist will be revealed on Thursday 4 April, with the winner to be announced on Wednesday 1 May.


  1. I think I’d be surprised if ‘Empty Space’ wasn’t on the shortlist. Surprised and disappointed. I’d like to see Michael Cisco’s ‘Celebrant’ given a nod – I know that would ruffle some feathers, as lots of people are quite precious over how, exactly, you define sci-fi, but I’ve always been quite wishy-washy and liberal with what I call SF, anyway. Besides, it has robots, so that’s good enough for me. 🙂

  2. Your ‘preferred’ list is especially interesting, David. Having just finished reading The Testimony I’m even more eager than I was before to see James Smythe on the shortlist. My other half is currently reading The Explorer and he would second that.

  3. David Hebblethwaite

    25th March 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Tomcat: I’d be disappointed if Empty Space didn’t make the shortlist, but not surprised – not after my expectations were confounded last year. I’m all in favour of a broad, inclusive definition of sf myself; my suspicion is that the shortlist will lean towards core genre, but I would love that to be proved wrong.

  4. David Hebblethwaite

    25th March 2013 at 11:32 pm

    Nina: the ‘preferred’ list is more about capturing different types of book than anything – I’ve actually read only half of it, not including The Explorer. I liked The Testimony, but felt it had its flaws; so I have kind of taken a punt here that The Explorer will be ‘the one’. But I like Smythe’s attitude to his material, and I’m sure he’ll produce a major work somewhere down the line.

  5. “But I like Smythe’s attitude to his material, and I’m sure he’ll produce a major work somewhere down the line.”

    My thoughts exactly!

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