The Arthur C. Clarke Award

The Arthur C. Clarke Award 2019 

Since its launch in 1987, for over three decades the Arthur C. Clarke Award has sought to champion and discover imaginative brilliance equal to its namesake. Margaret Atwood, Amitav Ghosh, China Miéville, Christopher Priest, Ann Leckie, Colson Whitehead and many more have measured up to the award’s impeccable standard, and now a fresh bounty of reading awaits for this year’s prize. The final winner will be revealed on Wednesday July 17 2019.

The Shortlist

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Sometime Tor.com columnist Sue Burke alights upon an assured fusion of first contact and generational colony story, as a small group of humans – armed with additional genetic material to prevent inbreeding – set out to transform the planet Pax into a cosmic utopia. Pax, however, is an ancient world, and its secrets will transform the colony’s future beyond recognition. A cracker of a tale of instant appeal to readers of Adrian Tchaikovsky and Kim Stanley Robinson.

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Full-blooded space opera from previous Arthur C. Clarke shortlister Yoon Ha Lee. The conclusion to Lee’s dizzyingly epic Machineries of Empire, Revenant Gun winds the action a decade on from Raven Stratagem, the second title in the series. At its centre are rivals Shuos Jedao and Kel Cheris, divided by faction but united by destiny: brimming with the arcane complexities of a reality-shifting calendar and dazzling invention only fiction can provide.

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Placing the action in the surreal, twilight embers of post-US invasion Iraq, Ahmed Saadawi took the conceit of Mary Shelley’s classic and, fittingly, into it breathed promethean, satiric fire. Funny, angry, savage, Frankenstein in Baghdad takes a long, absurdist look at sectarian violence, a novel where a scrap dealer constructs a living, wounded soul – Whatsitsname – from the parts of others. Already a winner of International Prize for Arabic Fiction, what is Saadawi’s third novel is an apt, heartbroken response to a world of violence and madness.

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Simply put, Simon Stålenhag has talent to burn. Initially capturing attention online with his eerie, off-kilter realist SF painted landscapes, Stålenhag’s incredibly successful shift toward combining his art with his own fiction has led to The Electric State. His third project of this kind, The Electric State describes a journey across a futuristic, dystopian western United States, creating a deeply immersive mix of extraordinary imagery and text.  

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There’s wild invention and then there is Rosewater, the initial instalment in Tade Thompson’s magnificently-realised trilogy Wormwood. It is 2066, the time of a truly alien invasion, the world in the thrall of a strange entity that has made its unknowable home in rural Nigeria. Its impact prompts spectrum of effect, most acutely felt by the ‘sensitives’ of which the novel’s hero Kaaro is one. Dipping between genres, from biopunk thriller to enthralling futurism, Thompson unspools even the most fantastical of narrative elements with precision and wit.

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Shortlisted for (amongst others) the John W Campbell Memorial Award and the Shirley Jackson Award, Aliya Whiteley has carefully mined a certain, heightened seam of the imaginative landscape, driven by its own logic and rules. In The Loosening Skin, in a strange parallel world, humans define their lives by the skin they quite literally shed, every seven years redefining their experience and casting aside all they hold dear. An extraordinary meditation on the things that make and bind us, here Whiteley explores very human longing by crafting the most alien of conceits.

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Previous Prize Winners

Dreams Before the Start of Time
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The Underground Railroad
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Children of Time
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Ancillary Justice
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Station Eleven
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The Handmaid's Tale
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The Sea and Summer
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Unquenchable Fire
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The Child Garden
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Take Back Plenty
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Synners
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Vurt
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Pat Cadigan SF Gateway Omnibus
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Fairyland
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The Calcutta Chromosome
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The Sparrow
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Perdido Street Station
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Quicksilver
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