The 2017 Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist

The Arthur C. Clarke Award is awarded for British science fiction produced the previous year.  The very first prize (given in 1987) was awarded to Margaret Atwood for The Handmaid’s Tale. For more information about the award, the previous winners, etc, please visit https://www.clarkeaward.com/

The winner of the award this year will be announced on July 27th, 2017 and will receive £2017.

Title links go to Goodreads.

The 2017 Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist Nominees

Book cover for A Closed and Common Orbit

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who’s determined to help her learn and grow.

Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet introduced readers to the incredible world of Rosemary Harper, a young woman with a restless soul and secrets to keep. When she joined the crew of the Wayfarer, an intergalactic ship, she got more than she bargained for – and learned to live with, and love, her rag-tag collection of crewmates.

 

My thoughts: I haven’t read A Closed and Common Orbit, but I have read it’s predecessor, and Becky Chambers is an extremely talented ‘soft sci-fi’ writer. It has 4573 ratings on Goodreads and a 4.4 average out of those. That’s phenomenal and indicative of something, one should think.


Book cover for Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

To win an impossible war Captain Kel Cheris must awaken an ancient weapon and a despised traitor general.

Captain Kel Cheris of the hexarchate is disgraced for using unconventional methods in a battle against heretics. Kel Command gives her the opportunity to redeem herself by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles, a star fortress that has recently been captured by heretics. Cheris’s career isn’t the only thing at stake. If the fortress falls, the hexarchate itself might be next.

Cheris’s best hope is to ally with the undead tactician Shuos Jedao. The good news is that Jedao has never lost a battle, and he may be the only one who can figure out how to successfully besiege the fortress.

The bad news is that Jedao went mad in his first life and massacred two armies, one of them his own. As the siege wears on, Cheris must decide how far she can trust Jedao–because she might be his next victim.

My thoughts: I have read Ninefox Gambit (review) and it didn’t thrill me. The idea was solid, but the math system for fighting as…not. As of today, it has 2,884 ratings on Goodreads, and a 3.96 average, so it’s obviously doing something right for a lot of people.


After Atlas by Emma Newman

Govcorp detective Carlos Moreno was only a baby when Atlas left Earth to seek truth among the stars. But in that moment, the course of Carlos’s entire life changed. Atlas is what took his mother away; what made his father lose hope; what led Alejandro Casales, leader of the religious cult known as the Circle, to his door. And now, on the eve of the fortieth anniversary of Atlas’s departure, it’s got something to do why Casales was found dead in his hotel room—and why Carlos is the man in charge of the investigation.

To figure out who killed one of the most powerful men on Earth, Carlos is supposed to put aside his personal history. But the deeper he delves into the case, the more he realizes that escaping the past is not so easy. There’s more to Casales’s death than meets the eye, and something much more sinister to the legacy of Atlas than anyone realizes…

 

My thoughts: After Atlas looks intriguing. Its set on Earth, not out in space, and has a cyberpunk and dystopian air to it. Out of 421 ratings on Goodreads, it’s got a 4.21 average, so this murder mystery set in the future must be doing something right.


Book cover for Occupy Me

Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan

A woman with wings that exist in another dimension. A man trapped in his own body by a killer. A briefcase that is a door to hell. A conspiracy that reaches beyond our world. Breathtaking SF from a Clarke Award-winning author.

Tricia Sullivan has written an extraordinary, genre defining novel that begins with the mystery of a woman who barely knows herself and ends with a discovery that transcends space and time. On the way we follow our heroine as she attempts to track down a killer in the body of another man, and the man who has been taken over, his will trapped inside the mind of the being that has taken him over.

And at the centre of it all a briefcase that contains countless possible realities.

 

My thoughts: I haven’t even heard of this book, but the author has (as the very first paragraph of the synopsis points out) won the Clarke Award before. So one can only assume that she knows what she’s doing. However, Occupy Me currently has only 117 ratings on Goodreads, and out of those ratings it’s got a mere 3.46 average. Enough to make me a bit nervous to pick this up.


Book cover for Central StationCentral Station by Lavie Tidhar

A worldwide diaspora has left a quarter of a million people at the foot of a space station. Cultures collide in real life and virtual reality. The city is literally a weed, its growth left unchecked. Life is cheap, and data is cheaper.

When Boris Chong returns to Tel Aviv from Mars, much has changed. Boris’s ex-lover is raising a strangely familiar child who can tap into the datastream of a mind with the touch of a finger. His cousin is infatuated with a robotnik—a damaged cyborg soldier who might as well be begging for parts. His father is terminally-ill with a multigenerational mind-plague. And a hunted data-vampire has followed Boris to where she is forbidden to return.

Rising above them is Central Station, the interplanetary hub between all things: the constantly shifting Tel Aviv; a powerful virtual arena, and the space colonies where humanity has gone to escape the ravages of poverty and war. Everything is connected by the Others, powerful alien entities who, through the Conversation—a shifting, flowing stream of consciousness—are just the beginning of irrevocable change.

At Central Station, humans and machines continue to adapt, thrive…and even evolve.

My thoughts: This does look interesting, and the setting is definitely a bit different than what I’m used to. It has crossed my sight a few times now, so I may end up picking this up soon. As of today it has 990 ratings on Goodreads and 3.53 average.


Book cover for The Underground Railroad The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood – where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor – engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven – but the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

My thoughts: I was surprised to see this one on here. Every time I’d seen it before, I’d associated it with simply historical fiction and left it at that. With that being said, I have absolutely no desire to read this book. Historical fiction just doesn’t do it for me in 99.9 percent of cases. Right now, The Underground Railroad has 65,756 ratings on Goodreads, and an average of 4.05 stemming from that. Obviously the most popular book on the 2017 Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist. An amazing average for the number of ratings, but… it’s an Oprah bookclub book so that might have something to do with it’s popularity, too. (It just had a stronger chance of reaching many, many more readers.)


Well, there we have it, the 2017 Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist.

Which of the books on this list have you read?

Which one do you think will win?