“But the other problem is that when the shortlists roll out, ‘what were they thinking?’ is a quick and easy response, because it’s really hard to come up with anything else, in the absence of prior debate. And too often this becomes a veiled attack on the competence of the judges, which is not fair on them. They were asked to judge and they did their best in the circumstances. The one thing I will say is that it has seemed to me in recent years that the organisations who nominate judges have tended not to nominate practising critics, which means that one particular approach to sf has been neglected. And that may look like special pleading, but critics have their place in the ecosystem too, alongside the readers.
Which is the other reason I’m glad to be a part of this project: the freedom it affords to have a wide-ranging discussion about the whos, whats, whys and wherefores of science fiction in 2017, and how they pertain to the Arthur C. Clarke Award. I can’t speak for anyone else involved, but I’m taking it as an opportunity to test everything I’ve ever thought or felt about science fiction, using the submissions list, and the shortlists (ours and the actual Clarke Award shortlist) as bench marks.”
As we await the unveiling of this year’s Clarke submissions list, here’s a great post from another of our #shadowclarke jurors, Maureen Kincaid Speller, on the problems of juried awards and the value of transparency. Her words here about using the shadow Clarke as an opportunity to test everything she’s ever thought or felt about science fiction feel particularly apposite to me, and indeed form one of the main reasons I wanted to set this project in motion in the first place. Maureen also provides a useful list of links to all the #sharke posts so far. Thanks, Maureen!