I just posted a piece on the just-announced Arthur C. Clarke Award finalists at Omnivoracious, including quotes from some finalists. (Also don’t miss my interview with SJ Chambers about monster mashups.)
I hope to interview the other nominees or feature their books between now and the awards announcement.
Here are some snippets I couldn’t use in the piece.
China Mieville on the most pleasing response to his The City & The City:
“This book was an attempt to write something very faithful to the protocols of Crime Fiction, as well as something indelibly informed by the fantastic fiction arena that I more usually inhabit, and I was very concerned that crime readers feel it was faithful and respectful to the tradition they love. I’m more confident and established within the paradigm of SF/F/H, and have more self-confidence to be able to do a decent job in those terms, but was something new and something that I wanted to do well. So what’s made me particularly happy is when writers and readers of crime have praised it as a good *crime* novel, specifically.”
Adam Roberts, prodded to be self-indulgent about what he likes about Yellow Blue Tibia, and the most pleasing response:
“Here’s the thing: YBT is, basically, a comic novel. I’m quite proud of that, right there, actually. Funny writing is a proud tradition; some of the greatest fiction has been comic fiction (though I don’t think a comic novel has ever actually won the Clarke, so it probably doesn’t bode well for the actual awards night). Now comic novels are, technically, quite hard to do; partly in terms of the execution, and partly in the sense that they expose the author in ways other sorts of writing don’t. What I mean is: if I write something exciting, or poetical, or philosophical and you, as reader, fail be be excited, moved or intellectually stimulated … well then the success of what I’m doing can, at least, be argued — maybe, after all, the fault is in you, the reader. But if I write a comic scene and you don’t laugh then I’ve failed, end of discussion. That’s a basic definition of ‘comic’, right there. Comic is what people laugh at. It’s no good explaining the joke atfer the fact, or haranguing people ‘what do you mean you didn’t laugh? You should laugh! It’s funny!’ So the scenes I like the best in the novel are the ones where people have told me they actually did laugh. The testicular KGB interrogation scene, for instance. (Am I allowed to say ‘testicular’, on amazon?)
“The ‘most gratifying response’ is easy. Kim Stanley Robinson, undeniably one of the greatest living SF writers, said in the New Scientist that YBT should ‘probably’ have won the 2009 Man Booker prize. He said it in passing, as part of a larger argument about the unjustifiable exclusion of SF from mainstream literary prizes, but I was enormously chuffed at his words nonetheless.”
Kim Stanley Robinson prodded to say what he likes about his novel Galileo’s Dream and then prodded further to elaborate on what he likes about Adam Roberts’ novel:
“I like the scene set in Italy in which Galileo can remember everything that is going to happen to him, because of his trips to Jupiter. But truly I like almost all the scenes in that book.
“I thought [Yellow Blue Tibia] was great. I liked the humor, the Russian quality it had, the sad sack narrator, and the great taxi-ride set piece in the middle, among many other things. A truly fine novel.”