Monday, March 7, 2011

Plan: Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist

The shortlist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award was announced last Friday, and the winner of the award will be announced on April 27th.  I've decided that it would be fun to attempt to read all six of these novels before the winner is chosen. I'll write a review featuring each nominee, and see if I can accurately predict which book will come away with the prize!  Here are the books that make up the shortlist, along with a short synopsis and my initial reaction to each one:

1) Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

 "Zinzi has a Sloth on her back, a dirty online 419 scam habit – and a talent for finding lost things. But when her latest client, a little old lady, turns up dead and the cops confiscate her last pay check, she’s forced to take on her least favourite kind of job: missing persons
An astonishing second novel from the author of the highly-acclaimed Moxyland."
~Taken from

I can't give an honest first impression of this one, since I've actually just about finished reading it.  It's pretty spectacular so far.

2) The Dervish House by Ian McDonald

"It begins with an explosion. Another day, another bus bomb. Everyone it seems is after a piece of Turkey. But the shockwaves from this random act of 21st century pandemic terrorism will ripple further and resonate louder than just Enginsoy Square...
...The Dervish House is seven days, six characters, three interconnected story strands, one central common core—the eponymous dervish house, a character in itself—that pins all these players together in a weave of intrigue, conflict, drama and a ticking clock of a thriller.
~Taken from

I have to admit that I have only the most basic knowledge of the country of Turkey.  It definitely sounds exciting, and I'm looking forward to the possibility of learning more about Turkish society.

3) Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

"Three armies march on New Prentisstown, each one intent on destroying the others. Todd and Viola are caught in the middle, with no chance of escape. As the battles commence, how can they hope to stop the fighting? How can there be peace when they’re so hopelessly outnumbered? And if war makes monsters of men, what terrible choices await? But then a third voice breaks into the battle, one bent on revenge…
The electrifying finale to the award-winning Chaos Walking trilogy. Publishing May 2010 in the UK, Ireland and Australia, and September 2010 in the United States and Canada."
~Taken from

Part 3? I don't think I'd fully appreciate the finale to a series I haven't read.  I'm going to try to read books 1 and 2, as well.  It's labeled as 'young adult' anyway, so maybe I can burn through them pretty quickly.  Feel free to mock my optimism.

4) Generosity by Richard Powers

"A playful and provocative novel about the discovery of the happiness gene."
~Taken from

This one is going to be a hard sell to me, I think.  I'm afraid that it's going to be pseudo-scientific and preachy.  I'm willing to be proven wrong!

5) Declare by Tim Powers

"A coded message draws Professor Andrew Hale back into Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1963. Elements from his past are gathering in Beirut, including ex-British counter-espionage chief and Soviet mole Kim Philby and a beautiful former Spanish Civil War soldier-turned-intelligence operative, Elena Ceniza-Bendiga.  Rushing toward a deadly confrontation on Mt Ararat—where a covert Soviet expedition is closing in on the biblical Ark—Hale suddenly finds himself a major player in an extraordinary game of global destiny. It is a contest that will sweep form London to the Arabian desert, from post-war Berlin to Cold-War Moscow. Pitting brother against brother—and bring about the fall of the Iron Curtain."
~Taken from

This sounds like a thriller.  I has already won the WFA award, though, and was nominated for the Locus Fantasy award and the Nebula.  I'm curious to see how this will play out.

6) Lightborn by Tricia Sullivan

"Lightborn, better known as 'shine', is a mind-altering technology that has revolutionised the modern world. It is the ultimate in education, self-improvement and entertainment - beamed directly into the brain of anyone who can meet the asking price. But in the city of Los Sombres, renegade shine has attacked the adult population, resulting in social chaos and widespread insanity in everyone past the age of puberty. The only solution has been to turn off the Field and isolate the city.
Trapped within the quarantine perimeter, fourteen-year-old Xavier just wants to find the drug that can keep his own physical maturity at bay until the army shuts down the shine. That's how he meets Roksana, mysteriously impervious to shine and devoted to helping the stricken. As the military invades street by street, Xavier and Roksana discover that there could be hope for Los Sombres - but only if Xavier will allow a lightborn cure to enter his mind. What he doesn't know is that the shine in question has a mind of its own ..."
~Taken from

This one sounds interesting, though the premise sounds very young-adult focused.  It is also proving pretty difficult to acquire.  I read most of my books in ebook format, and I'm having trouble finding this one.  Does anyone know of an online store that sells Lightborn as an epub?  Otherwise, I think I'm going to have to buy an imported physical copy.

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