2018 Clarke Award Shortlist Thoughts

I made a post a few days ago about my predictions for the shortlist but it is now out! Here are the six shortlisted books:

  • Borne by Jeff Vandermeer
  • Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill
  • American War by Omar El Akkad
  • Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar
  • Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed
  • Dreams Before the Start of Time by Anne Charnock

I am glad to say I got two books right! I was almost certain that Borne would be on this list after reading it last month and I had a gut feeling that Sea of Rust would also be present after all the buzz around it last year.

I considered American War for my predictions but I thought that it might be considered more a literary fiction more than SF. However after reading the synopsis, it does definitely “sounds” more SF than any other genre. And even if it weren’t the case, it wouldn’t have mattered too much anyway since The Underground Railroad won last year and this work is seen as more of a lit-fic book than SF so… But we could have a nice chatn about what is SF and where does it end. In my opinion, this distinction between genres is blurry, if it even exists at all (the number of books considered mainstream or literary fiction using speculative fiction elements being huge).

Spaceman of Bohemia is also a title that I am not suprised to see on this list, it does sound like an interesting work: it follows a Czech astronaut on a solo mission on Venus. However, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if it wasn’t for the prize as I have read mixed reviews from fellow bloggers last year. The cover is a stunner though.

As for the two remainings titles, they are complete discoveries, I never heard about them before. I believe Gather the Daughters is a debut set in a dystopian world where women’s  are only there to serve men. It’s giving me The Handmaid’s Tale vibes. As for the last one, Dreams before the End of Time, I only know that it was shortlisted for the BSFA. According to the synopsis, it is a family saga set in a near-future London.

This list is very interesting to me, first of all because a lot of works seem to be “missing” which is an odd feeling. However, because this list is so suprising, it makes it more exciting. I want to see what makes those particular books more unique to the eyes of the judges than the books I thought would be there.

Of course, lists are based on personal choices but also on the ability to find and read a book. For the Clarke, judges are sent more than a hundred books, which means that their possibilities are way different than mine. As readers we are probably more biaised toward certain titles: titles from author we heard about before or that are marketed very well.  For example, I only read one book in the shortlist and it is from a very well know author: Jeff Vandermeer. I heard a lot of good things about it last year from other bloggers, the cover is amazing, it made a lot of “Best of” lists etc… Lots of factors enclined me to pick up this book. It’s not to say that the content isn’t great because it is, this book is fantastic, but still.

So I am very excited about this list, especially about the two works I never heard about before. So much so that I don’t even know where to begin… I already read Borne so my review will be up soon but I don’t know which book I will read next!


If you followed this rambly post entirely, you are a darling! It seems to me as an incoherent babble but if you have any things to add, please do in the comments! I would love to hear your thoughts about the books shortlisted. 🙂



14 thoughts on “2018 Clarke Award Shortlist Thoughts

  1. I feel like this list is a bit strange as well. It’s rare for us book bloggers to run across books we’ve never heard of on a list like this, and I’m completely unfamiliar with Gather the Daughters and Dreams Before the Start of Time as well. I’m looking forward to your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cool post! I have Gather the Daughters on reservation at my library and Sea of Rust and Borne on my wishlist/gift list. The other books I hadn’t heard of at all. I find awards fascinating, as you say the judges get sent lots of books, but there is also an element of personal preference in there.
    I’m looking forward to your Borne post. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s