Wednesday, April 27, 2016

2016 Clarke Award Nominees

Location: Sci-Fi London at Foyles Bookshop in London, United Kingdom.

Comments: For the second year in a row the Hugo Awards were dominated by an organized slate campaign determined to wedge sub-par work onto its shortlist of finalists. For the second year in a row, the Clarke Awards presented a contrasting shortlist of highly regarded and high quality works. Almost as if to cast the contrast in the sharpest possible light, the Clarke Award shortlist was announced the day after the Hugo Award finalists were revealed. To be fair to the Hugos, the Best Novel category, which is the one most comparable to the Clarke Award shortlist, is one of those least tainted by malicious Puppies. On the other hand, the Hugo ballot overall is littered with terrible works and incredibly weak selections, making the disparity between the overall quality of the Hugo Award selections and the overall quality of the Clarke Award selections quite apparent.

With a little bit of luck, changes will be voted in during this year's Worldcon that will make it more difficult for malicious slates to dominate the Hugo ballot, but what if they are not. Or, what if the changes are voted in but they are insufficient to prevent slate-voting from continuing to degrade the Hugo ballot? What then? Last year I pointed out that should the slate-based campaigns continue to dominate the Hugo Awards, the locus of science fiction will move to the United Kingdom, putting the BSFA Awards and the Clarke Award in the position to become the premiere awards in genre fiction. That may be overstating things a bit - the Nebula Awards aren't going away any time soon, and neither are the World Fantasy Awards, but what is certain to happen is that other awards will wind up filling the gap left by the diminution of the Hugo Awards. Contrary to what those in some quarters believe, the prestige of an award is not determined by how many people vote upon it, or whether it is ideologically diverse, or anything other than whether people view it as prestigious. If an award is seen as prestigious, it is. It really is as simple as that. If the Hugo Awards stop being seen as prestigious, there are numerous other awards that people will move their attention to, including the Clarke Award.

Some things will certainly be lost in such a transition: The Clarke Award, for instance, only recognizes novels. There are no other awards that honor fan work in exactly the same manner as the Hugos. There are few awards that recognize non-fiction work in the same way, although the BSFA Awards come close. And so on. But so long as awards like the Clarke Award continue to recognize quality works of genre fiction, no amount of manipulation of the Hugos will avail the Pups in their fruitless quest to make everyone like them.


Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Arcadia by Iain Pears
The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okrafor
Europe at Midnight by Dave Hutchinson
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Way Down Dark by J.P. Smyth

What Are the Arthur C. Clarke Awards?

Go to previous year's nominees: 2015
Go to subsequent year's nominees: 2017

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