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April 16, 2008

An Analysis of the BSFA Award Novel Shortlists Versus The Clarke Award Shortlists

The following is an analysis of the overlap between the BSFA Award shortlists (for novels) and the Arthur C Clarke Award shortlists. The data was obtained from the online Locus awards database, although the data does not exist for the 1989 and 1988 BSFA shortlists. Any errors are probably my own, feel free to point them out in the comments.

BSFA Award Winners That didn't make the Clarke Award shortlist.

It seemed slightly strange to me that Brasyl has won the BSFA Award this year and yet it didn't even make the Arthur C Clarke Award shortlist. So I thought that I'd look back over the Clarke award's life and see which other novels suffered the same fate. Surprisingly there were quite a few.

Here's the list, with the year being the year of the BSFA Award (the naming conventions of the awards are a year out, so BSFA + 1 = Clarke)

Interesting. I reckon that The Sky Road and Felaheen were nowhere near as good as the previous books in those series, so that's probably a fan base build up voting for the older books as well?


Novels which made one shortlist but not the other

According to my numbers there have been:

  • 61 novels that have made the BSFA shortlist but not the Clarke (60%)
  • 91 novels that have made the Clarke shortlist but not the BSFA (69%)

There's obviously an error here of about +-10 novels for the missing years data, which is around +-8%. I'm also unsure as to whether some of this years Clarke shortlist will turn up on next years BSFA shortlist, so there's a potential error there of a couple of novels.

Only 41 novels have made both shortlists, that's only 21% of all the books. Quite surprising.


For completeness here's the full list:

BSFA but not Clarke:

9Tail Fox, Jon Courtenay Grimwood (Gollancz)
A Son of the Rock, Jack Deighton
Absolution Gap, Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz)
Alice in Sunderland, Bryan Talbot (Jonathan Cape)
American Gods, Neil Gaiman (Headline Feature)
Aztec Century, Christopher Evans (Gollancz)
Black Man, Richard Morgan (Gollancz)
Blood, Michael Moorcock
Brasyl, Ian McDonald (Gollancz)
Castles Made of Sand, Gwyneth Jones (Gollancz)
Century Rain, Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz)
Chaga, Ian McDonald (Gollancz)
Chasm City, Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz)
Children of God, Mary Doria Russell (Black Swan 1998)
Darkland, Liz Williams (Tor UK)
Earthquake Weather, Tim Powers (Legend)
Effendi: The Second Arabesk, Jon Courtenay Grimwood (Earthlight)
Engineman, Eric Brown (Pan)
Excession, Iain M. Banks (Orbit)
Feersum Endjinn, Iain M. Banks (Orbit)
Felaheen: The Third Arabesk, Jon Courtenay Grimwood (Earthlight)
Forty Signs of Rain, Kim Stanley Robinson (HarperCollins)
Green Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson (HarperCollins UK)
Harm's Way, Colin Greenland (HarperCollins UK)
Headlong, Simon Ings (HarperCollins Voyager)
Holy Fire, Bruce Sterling (Orion)
Hot Head, Simon Ings (Grafton)
Icarus, Roger Levy (Gollancz)
Interface, Stephen Bury (Michael Joseph)
Inversions, Iain M. Banks (Orbit)
Jack Faust, Michael Swanwick (Orion/Millennium)
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)
Living Next Door to the God of Love, Justina Robson
Lust, Geoff Ryman (Flamingo)
Natural History, Justina Robson (Macmillan)
Necroville, Ian McDonald (Gollancz)
Newton's Wake, Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
Paradox, John Meaney (Bantam)
Permutation City, Greg Egan
Queen City Jazz, Kathleen Ann Goonan (HarperCollins Voyager 1994)
redRobe, Jon Courtenay Grimwood (Simon & Schuster/Earthlight)
Signs of Life, M. John Harrison (Gollancz)
Stamping Butterflies, Jon Courtenay Grimwood
The Architecture of Desire, Mary Gentle (Bantam UK)
The Difference Engine, William Gibson & Bruce Sterling (Gollancz)
The Execution Channel, Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
The Fall of Hyperion, Dan Simmons (Headline 1990)
The Last Witchfinder, James Morrow (Weidenfield & Nicholson)
The Memory Palace, Gill Alderman (HarperCollins Voyager)
The Nano Flower, Peter F. Hamilton
The Prefect, Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz)
The Sky Road, Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
The Stone Canal, Ken MacLeod
The Yiddish Policeman's Union, Michael Chabon
ThigMOO, Eugene Byrne
To Hold Infinity, John Meaney
A Child Across the Sky, Jonathan Carroll
Cyteen, C. J. Cherryh
Lavondyss, Robert Holdstock
Pyramids, Terry Pratchett
The Gold Coast, Kim Stanley Robinson


Clarke but not BSFA

A Deepness in the Sky, Vernor Vinge (Millennium)
A Mask for the General, Lisa Goldstein (Arrow 1987)
A Million Open Doors, John Barnes (Millennium 1992)
Ægypt, John Crowley (Gollancz)
Alien Influences, Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Millennium)
Ancient of Days, Michael Bishop (Grafton 1985)
Banner of Souls, Liz Williams (Tor UK 2004)
Body of Glass, Marge Piercy (Michael Joseph)
Cavalcade, Alison Sinclair (Millennium)
Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (Sceptre)
Coalescent, Stephen Baxter (Gollancz)
Correspondence, Sue Thomas (The Women's Press)
Cosmonaut Keep, Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson (Heinemann)
Darwin's Children, Greg Bear (HarperCollins UK)
Days, James Lovegrove (Phoenix)
Desolation Road, Ian McDonald (Bantam UK 1988)
Destroying Angel, Richard Paul Russo (Headline)
Distraction, Bruce Sterling (Millennium 1998)
Dreaming in Smoke, Tricia Sullivan (Orbit)
Earth Made of Glass, John Barnes (Orion)
Eon, Greg Bear (Gollancz 1985)
Escape Plans, Gwyneth Jones (Allen & Unwin)
Fallen Dragon, Peter F. Hamilton (Macmillan)
Farewell Horizontal, K. W. Jeter (Grafton 1989)
Fiasco, Stanislaw Lem (Deutsch)
Fools, Pat Cadigan (HarperCollins UK)
Gibbon's Decline and Fall, Sheri S. Tepper (HarperCollins Voyager)
Glimmering, Elizabeth Hand (HarperCollins Voyager)
Gradisil, Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
Green Eyes, Lucius Shepard (Chatto & Windus 1984)
Happy Policeman, Patricia Anthony (NEL)
Hav, Jan Morris (Faber & Faber)
Iron Council, China Miéville (Macmillan)
Ivory, Mike Resnick (Century 1988)
Kairos, Gwyneth Jones (Unwin Hyman)
Kil'n People, David Brin (Orbit)
Life During Wartime, Lucius Shepard (Grafton 1987)
Looking for the Mahdi, N. Lee Wood (HarperCollins Voyager)
Mappa Mundi, Justina Robson (Macmillan)
Market Forces, Richard Morgan (Gollancz)
Memoirs of an Invisible Man, H. F. Saint (Viking UK)
Mother of Storms, John Barnes (Millennium)
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber)
Neverness, David Zindell (Grafton 1988)
Nymphomation, Jeff Noon (Doubleday)
Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, Lydia Millet (Heinemann)
Parable of the Talents, Octavia E. Butler (The Women's Press 1998)
Pasquale's Angel, Paul J. McAuley (Gollancz)
Passage, Connie Willis (HarperCollins Voyager)
Philip K. Dick Is Dead, Alas, Michael Bishop (Grafton 1987)
Pushing Ice, Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz)
Queen of the States, Josephine Saxton (The Women's Press)
Quicksilver, Neal Stephenson (Heinemann)
Raft, Stephen Baxter (Grafton)
Red Spider, White Web, Misha (Morrigan)
Replay, Ken Grimwood (Grafton)
Rumours of Spring, Richard Grant (Bantam UK 1987)
Salt, Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
Soldiers of Paradise, Paul Park (Grafton 1987)
Speed of Dark, Elizabeth Moon (Orbit)
Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, Samuel R. Delany (Grafton 1984)
Stations of the Tide, Michael Swanwick (Legend 1991)
Streaking, Brian Stableford (PS Publishing)
Subterranean Gallery, Richard Paul Russo (Grafton 1989)
Synners, Pat Cadigan (HarperCollins)
The Bones of Time, Kathleen Ann Goonan (HarperCollins Voyager 1996)
The Broken God, David Zindell (HarperCollins UK)
The Calcutta Chromosome, Amitav Ghosh (Picador 1995)
The City, Not Long After, Pat Murphy (Pan 1989)
The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson (Viking UK)
The Empire of Fear, Brian Stableford (Simon & Schuster UK)
The Engines of God, Jack McDevitt (HarperCollins Voyager 1994)
The Family Tree, Sheri S. Tepper (HarperCollins Voyager)
The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (Cape 1985)
The Iron Dragon's Daughter, Michael Swanwick (Millennium)
The Memory of Whiteness, Kim Stanley Robinson (Futura/Macdonald 1985)
The Ragged Astronauts, Bob Shaw (Gollancz)
The Sea and Summer, George Turner (Faber & Faber)
The Star Fraction, Ken MacLeod (Legend)
The System of the World, Neal Stephenson (Heinemann)
The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger (Cape 2003)
Time on My Hands: A Novel with Photographs, Peter Delacorte (Gollancz 1997)
Time: Manifold 1, Stephen Baxter (HarperCollins Voyager)
Titan, Stephen Baxter (HarperCollins Voyager)
Towing Jehovah, James Morrow (Arrow)
Unquenchable Fire, Rachel Pollack (Century)
Voyage, Stephen Baxter (HarperCollins Voyager)
Vurt, Jeff Noon (Ringpull)
White Queen, Gwyneth Jones (Gollancz)
Whores of Babylon, Ian Watson (Grafton)


Are you not counting this year's Clarke nominees then? Because you have Black Man and Execution Channel on the BSFA-not-Clarke list.

Come on then... Out with it! What conclusions do you draw from these omissions?

Would you please post the titles of the 41 novels that made both short lists? Thanks.

The Clarkes are always a bit more selective though, aren't they. Whereas the BSFA list is normally a hit list of the mainstream sci-fi. Just looking at the BSFA but not Clarke list above shows nearly every Alastair Reynolds and Iain M Banks book going. And to my mind a number of them weren't award candidates for the most part. Notably Century Rain and Absolution Gap by Reynolds.

So... I think using the Clarke Awards as my reading list is still the way to go!

There is a difference in the parameters of the two awards. The BSFA Award accepts Fantasy nominations (Lavondyss, Pyramids, Jonathan Strange, American Gods etc) whereas these are specifically excluded by the Clarke Award. This obviously skews the figures slightly.

Pedantic note: Dan Simmons' Hyperion and FAll Of Hyperion were specifically considered as one volume The Hyperion Cantos and shortlisted for the Clarke Award when Fall appeared in 1991, thus Fall did appear on both lists.

I'd also be interested in the list that of books which made both.