Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Litfic and Sci-Fi ... A Collision of the Planets

The shortlist for the Arthur C. Clarke award for science fiction has just been announced and the finalists are:

The Red Men - Matthew de Abaitua
The H-Bomb Girl - Stephen Baxter
The Carhullan Army - Sarah Hall
The Raw Shark Texts - Steven Hall
The Execution Channel - Ken MacLeod
Black Man- Richard Morgan

Tom Hunter, administrator for the award points to the great diversity of the selection :
Featuring visions as diverse as a dystopian Cumbria and a future Hackney, time-travel adventures in 1960’s Liverpool and an alternate world British Isles in the throes of terrorist attack, through to tech-noir thrillers and a trawl through subconscious worlds where memories fall prey to metaphysical sharks, the Clarke Award has never been so close to home and relevant to the British literary scene.
The line between literary fiction and sci-fi is well and truly blurred by the inclusion of Sarah Hall's dystopian novel. You'll probably remember that it won last year's John Llewellyn Rhys prize.

In the Guardian, Hall says :
Any collapsing of imposed literary boundaries heartens me and the possibility that writers might be freer to exercise imaginative versatility is tremendously exciting.
I've heard so much about The Raw Shark Texts, described by Lindesay Irvine as :
... an exuberant fantasy about a man whose memory is being eaten by a psychic shark ...
and it's on my must read list along with Sarah Hall's. (It also appeared time and again on lists of books of the year in 2007, I recall.)

Stephen Hall says of his novel :
The book has been described as a thriller, a romance, metaphysical adventure, part of the new horror revival, slipstream, fantasy, postmodern psychological mash-up, and science fiction too ... I'm happy with all those descriptions because I've always felt that it isn't a writer's job to tell a reader how to read. If a reader decides my book is science fiction, then it is. That works for me I'm glad it worked for the judges and, who knows, it might even get me one step closer to writing that episode of Doctor Who*...
Of the other titles, Irvine says that they are more mainstream sci-fi :
Matthew de Abuitua's The Red Men follows an uneasy employee of a giant corporation manufacturing androids as part of increasingly authoritarian operations. Ken MacLeod's The Execution Channel places an IT man working undercover for the French in a Britain dominated by American power while Richard Morgan has described his novel Black Man as a "detective(ish) novel" looking at the social fallout from genetic engineering.
(* Oh I do love Doctor Who too, and am very proud that I have been a fan since the very first episode back in ... gulp ... 1963! And I can't beleive how glitzy and exciting and funny the more recent episodes are ...)


Glenda Larke said...

Yay! Ken McLeod and I are guests at the sf National Convention next week in Australia, so I get to meet him...

bibliobibuli said...

wow glenda, that's exciting. please pass on our congrats. and i really look forward to hearing about the convention.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know about Stephen Baxter - The H-Bomb Girl. Thanks for the update ... :)

GUO SHAO-HUA said...

i had a browse through The Raw Shark Text, and its superbly weird. there are a few pages where if you flip them fast, you get an animation of a swimming shark.

damn best!

bibliobibuli said...

anon - welcome, and it's nice to know that even when i haven't heard of an author yet, other readers are fans

guo - now i want it even more!!