Bumped up from the comments, Christopher Priest is not happy about this year’s Clarke Award shortlist, and has the reading to back it up. After details of the books he thinks should be there (Osama, By Light Alone, Wake Up and Dream, Dead Water), and why the books that are there shouldn’t be — all of which is well worth reading — he concludes with a “modest suggestion”:
The easy way out of this problem is to do nothing. We wait for 2nd May, we troop along to the awards ceremony and we wait for the decision to be announced. In a sense, it does not matter which one of the six books is announced, because all of them are deficient in the ways I have described. (If this happens, I hope the winner is Jane Rogers, because the deficiencies in her novel are much less serious than those in the others.) The true winner of the award, the writer of the best book of last year, will never be known, because he or she is not on the shortlist.
But there is a better way forward, and here it is.
1.The present panel of judges should be fired, or forced to resign, immediately. Their names are Juliet E. McKenna, Martin Lewis, Phil Nanson, Nikkianne Moody and Rob Grant. Chairman Andrew M. Butler should also resign. These people have proved themselves incompetent as judges, and should not be allowed to have any more say about or influence on the Arthur C. Clarke Award.
2. The 2012 Arthur C. Clarke Award should be suspended forthwith, and the planned awards ceremony on 2nd May should be cancelled.
3. The award fund (£2,012.00, as I understand it) should be held over until next year. Next year’s fund should be added to it, so that the prize for 2013 becomes £4,013.00.
4. The 2013 Clarke Award should be made to the best novel published in the two years ended 31st December 2012. All novels currently eligible for the 2012 award, whether or not they have been shortlisted by this year’s panel, are eligible again.
5. All the other usual rules of the Award should be applied.