Lists Logo
Previous PageSearchHomeSite Map
Arthur C. Clarke Award

Arthur C. Clarke Award The Arthur C. Clarke Award is awarded every year to the best science fiction novel which received its first British publication during the previous calendar year. The Award is chosen by jury. The Award was established with a generous grant from Arthur C. Clarke with the intention of encouraging science fiction in Britain. The Award was set up in 1986 and the first winner was announced in 1987. The Award consists of an inscribed plaque in the form of a bookend, and a cheque. The Award is administered jointly by the British Science Fiction and the Science Fiction Foundation, each of whom provides two judges each year. Recently, the Science Museum has joined the Award and provides one judge each year.

Below you'll find an overview of the winners, with cover/title links to the SF Site reviews (where applicable) along with synopses of those titles yet to be reviewed (cover images are linked to larger images).

Arthur C. Clarke Award
The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

The City & The City The City & The City by China Miéville
reviewed by Rich Horton
Beszel and Ul Qoma are two cities that occupy the same geographical space. They are intricately interwoven, such that some areas are "total" -- all one city or the other -- but some are "crosshatched," so that one building might be in Beszel and its neighbor in Ul Qoma. The residents have been trained to "see" and "unsee" their surroundings. Tyador Borlú is an Inspector for Beszel's Extreme Crime Squad. His new case is the murder of a young woman who turns out to be an American graduate student in archaeology with an interest in the theory, generally regarded as crackpot, that there is a third, invisible, city occupying the same area as Beszel and Ul Qoma.

Song of Time by Ian R. MacLeod

Thirteen Thirteen by Richard Morgan
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
Dark, twisted, and violent. No one familiar with Richard K. Morgan's previous novels will be surprised to see those adjectives applied to his latest work. What they might be surprised to find is that it is also emotionally captivating in a way that allows the story to rise above the violence, and make the reader sympathize with and care for at least one character that most of the other characters in the novel, and, in fact, almost everyone who lives in the world they inhabit, fear and loathe in a way that is instinctive, ingrained into their very nature.

Thirteen Thirteen by Richard Morgan
reviewed by Jakob Schmidt
In the near future, humanity has to deal with the fallout of the gung-ho genetic engineering in the past few decades, which produced several varieties of humankind. One of these, variant Thirteen, is an atavistic offshoot bred for war purposes and prone to violence and paranoia. Carl Marsalis is a variant Thirteen who makes a living by hunting down other Thirteens who have illegally re-migrated to earth from the Martian colonies. When the Thirteen Merrin returns from Mars and starts a bloody and seemingly random killing spree, Carl is recruited by the colonial authorities to hunt him down. Soon, he finds out that what looks like the bloody trail left by a madman is in reality a complex ruse...

Nova SwingNova Swing by M. John Harrison
reviewed by David Soyka
The science fiction of the book is also heavily blended with noir, a detective story of sorts in which the question isn't "whodunit" but rather "who does it to us." Right from the opening page, the name of the bar, Black Cat White Cat, connotes both the on/off state of Schrödinger's cat as well as the cinematic tones of classic noir film. Indeed, the theme here echoes The Maltese Falcon.

Air Air by Geoff Ryman
reviewed by David Soyka
One historical dividing line in science fiction is between those who think technology offers a lot of "cool" things that better the human condition (Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov) and those who think the opposite (Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells and their New Wave descendants sprung from the loins of atomic explosions and countercultural indulgences). The cyberpunks melded both with the sort of Zen-like attitude that technology is neither inherently good or bad, it merely is what it is.

Iron Council Iron Council by China Miéville
reviewed by Alma A. Hromic
This is a fevered dream of a book. It feels more like it should have come out of some hot, humid and voodoo-saturated bayou. Creatures casually step through veils of space and time -- Remade men and women sporting bodies of horses or lizards or steam-driven machinery, an assortment of mages and thaumaturges, flying bird-men and bird-monkeys and heaven alone knows what other flying things, vodyanoi water people, cactus-people, scarab-headed khepri insect-women, all from the city the world knows as New Crobuzon. And then, before you've had a chance to properly catch your breath after inhaling the first searing bit of New Crobuzon's pungent air, you're yanked out of it -- and things get weirder, fast.

Quicksilver Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson
reviewed by Alex Lightman
Novels are supposed to be character-driven, and the characters inhabiting this story feel as real as any historical figures. The focus shifts around between the ageless alchemist Enoch the Red, genius without compare and alchemist/religious fanatic Isaac Newton, puritan (and Newtonian roommate) Daniel Waterhouse, polymath lonely Wilhelm Leibniz, "Half-cocked" Jack Shaftoe (yes, that is an anatomical reference), Eliza the virgin slave turned duchess/countess/spy, Royal Society standout Robert Hooke, and sexy beast William of Orange are the most vivid and memorable characters.

The Separation The Separation by Christopher Priest
reviewed by David Soyka
While Tony Blair lines up behind the Bush administration in positing war with Iraq as a clear-cut case of good versus evil, some of his countrymen provide persuasive commentary that such a dichotomy is never the case. War is only black and white in movies from the 40s; in reality, it runs blood red, and its tributaries are not always so easily or clearly defined. Which isn't necessarily to say that war is never unjustified or unavoidable; only that the "make-believe" needs to be sifted from the actuality in hopes of making reliance on it less likely. Ironically, it is the purveyors of "make-believe" who articulate doubt upon this simplistic precept invoked by both sides in any conflict. Although British writers Christopher Priest, Richard Morgan, and China Miéville may all be shelved together in the SF and Fantasy aisle, each works in decidedly different sub-genres to provide compelling commentary on the considerable shades of gray between the seeming dark and light.

Bold as Love Bold as Love by Gwyneth Jones
reviewed by David Soyka
In a near-future England that has dissolved all ties to other countries in what was once the United Kingdom, Pigsty Liver, an Ozzie Osborne-type rock star, initiates a bloody coup to take control of the Counterculturals, a sort of shadow government whose popularity with the people (at least those people who like rock music) reaps significant, albeit not total, political power. Pigsty's personal perversities, however, soon lead to his downfall. The fate of the revolution falls into the hands of a popularly-exalted triumvirate...

Perdido Street Station Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
reviewed by David Soyka
If you're one of those people who avoid fantasy novels for fear of even the slightest whiff of wizards or elves, here's a well worthy quest: make haste to where your bookstore stuffs the countless Tolkien spawn and rescue a copy of of this book from the mediocre horde. This is a novel that has more in common with the work of that similarly named fellow, Melville, than any mere commercial conjuring of fairyland.

Perdido Street Station Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
reviewed by Hank Luttrell
The first few pages are from the viewpoint of a bitter and alien character, and written in a dark and obscure style. This voice seems appropriate and accurate, even accessible, after you get to know the character. Next up, the protagonist Isaac and his insect-girl friend are introduced. He is big and blustery, an eccentric, obsessive, maverick scientist. She is a bohemian artist, outcast from her exotic race of hominid bugs. Their relationship is incredibly romantic and also forbidden and dangerous.

Distraction Distraction by Bruce Sterling
reviewed by Ernest Lilley
It's 2044, and America just isn't what it used to be. Cities are privately owned, Caucasians are a distrusted minority, and the country is governed by permanent "Emergency Committees." Guest reviewer Ernest Lilley, editor of the prestigious SF Revu, takes a look at what may be Sterling's best novel yet.

Dreaming in Smoke Dreaming in Smoke by Tricia Sullivan
reviewed by Rich Horton
The book aggressively amalgamates cyberpunkish tropes with some very neat speculation about an alien ecosystem. At one level it's an almost conventional story of humans attempting to colonize a new planet. The planet has a different type of life than Earth: so much so that the colonists almost fail to recognize it as life. The eventual solution is for the colonists and the alien ecosystem to sort of meet in the middle.

Dreaming In Smoke Dreaming In Smoke by Tricia Sullivan
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
A lost colony story set on a planet with an extremely hostile environment, this book produces an attention to biochemical detail that should satisfy even the most rigorous hard SF fan. Sullivan takes another step forward in both ambition and technique. Too much more of this and it will be hard to leave her name off the list of best SF writers working today.

The Sparrow The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
reviewed by Kristen Pederson
It contains some of the most engaging, interesting, and multi-dimensional characters that Kristen has encountered in years. Sandoz and his fellow travellers, some Jesuit, some not, are portrayed with unique and believable quirks, foibles, and strengths. Sandoz himself is a fascinating character who is easy to like, and whose eventual descent into his wounded state is unpredictable and heartbreaking.

The Calcutta Chromosome The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh
"In the not-too-distant future, a computer-bound desk clerk in New York City unearths an abandoned ID card which leads him to investigate the truth of what happened in a tropical laboratory in the 1890s, a truth in which the past, present and future all play a mysterious part."

Fairyland Fairyland by Paul J. McAuley
reviewed by Rodger Turner
Alex Sharkey is a pudgy, socially inept designer of soon-to-be-illegal psychoactive viruses. He's getting his butt kicked around by a bent cop, the gangster to whom he's in debt, the gangster's minions, his landlord, in fact just about everybody. He's not happy. One day he meets Milena, who looks about eight, acts about ninety and who wants him to design an enzyme. With her contacts and his work, they can convert a new toy of the age, gene-engineered slave dolls, into living beings, fairys. So, he figures, why not?

Fools Fools by Pat Cadigan
"In a world of brainsuckers and bodysnatchers, you can't take anything for granted. Not even your own identity. When Marva, a struggling Method actress, wakes up in a hologram pool in an exclusive priv club with fancy new clothes and plenty of money, she knows something is strange. When a memory of murder starts tugging at her, she knows something is very strange, and that she'd better find out whose life she's living. Fast. Pursued by assassins from a mysterious Escort Service and renegade mind-pirates of every description, Marva must venture into the seamy Downs to find out who wrote the script of the most difficult role of her career."

Vurt Vurt by Jeff Noon
reviewed by Martin Lewis
A debut by unknown author for a tiny publishing house that had never released anything before, this book went onto achieve both critical and commercial success culminating in the Arthur C Clarke Award. Its biggest selling point is probably its fundamental oddness. It's almost like cyberpunk as written by someone who has never heard of computers. Though set in the near future, vaguely dystopic setting and lowlife, it is a long way from Gibson and Co.

Body of Glass (aka He, She and It) Body of Glass (aka He, She and It) by Marge Piercy
"In the post-apocalyptic twenty-first century, Shira Shipman, a woman caught in a deadly struggle for information, becomes involved with an illegal cyborg, an involvement that has links to a seventeenth-century Kabbalist who gives life to a golem. "

Synners Synners by Pat Cadigan
"Synners are synthesizers - not machines, but people. They take images from the brains of performers, and turn them into a form which can be packaged, sold and consumed. This book is set in a world where new technology spawns new crime before it hits the streets. "

Take Back Plenty Take Back Plenty by Colin Greenland
reviewed by Martin Lewis
The Plenty of the title is a gigantic space station built by an alien race called the Frasque. The Frasque have long since been forcibly evicted by another race, the Capellans, and their bureaucrats-cum-enforcers, the Eladeldi. The Capellans, with their superior technology, have set themselves up as benevolent hands off dictators of the Solar system. Tabitha Jute is a blue-collar pilot who has had the good fortune to acquire her own ship, the Alice Liddell. She is also in dire need of cash to pay off fines and get some urgent repairs.

The Child Garden The Child Garden by Geoff Ryman
reviewed by Jakob Schmidt
In a future world where the cure for cancer had the unfortunate side-effect of increasing the speed of ageing rapidly, children must become adults within a few years after birth. Genetically engineered viruses that transfer knowledge are used to cut childhood as short as possible. But Milena Shibush turns out to be immune. Learning things the hard way, she's also not bound by the social conformity spread by the omnipresent viruses. When Milena meets the outsider master-singer Rolfa, she falls in love with the strange, genetically engineered creature.

Unquenchable Fire Unquenchable Fire by Rachel Pollack
"This compelling, surrealistic fantasy takes place in the U.S. 87 years after a second Revolution--mystical, feminist and green; in this America, the laws of nature embrace miracles as everyday but honored occurrences, which are monitored and controlled by the Spiritual Development Agency. Picture Tellers--icons who have replaced film and rock stars in the public's affection--recount tales of the Founders, such as Mohandas Quark, who overcame technophiles and secularists to bring about the Living"

The Sea and Summer The Sea and Summer (aka Drowning Towers) by George Turner
"In the year 2041, young Francis Conway learns about an impending water disaster that has been spawned by government corruption and is threatening life on the overcrowded planet, and he desperately seeks a way to escape."

The Handmaid's Tale The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
reviewed by Martin Lewis
Following a coup that leaves the government of the United States dead, a fundamentalist Christian regime establishes the state of Gilead in New England. Immediately all women's rights (to vote, to own property, to make any decision) are revoked. The constant civil war that followed the coup has left swathes of the continental USA blighted and the majority of women infertile. Inspired by the biblical tale of Rachel and Bilhah, Gilead decrees that all fertile woman are forced to act as Handmaids, surrogate mothers who will bare the children of infertile couples.

Copyright © 2004 by Rodger Turner

Previous PageSearchHomeSite Map

If you find any errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide