According to Booktrade, a total of 121 eligible books were put forward by 42 separate publishing imprints, the most ever received by the award and smashing the previous high record set only last year of 82 books received from 32 publishing imprints.
This is not a long list in the traditional sense, rather a list of every eligible title submitted for consideration by the award’s judges. The figures show that Gollancz submitted the most books (14), followed by Orbit and Titan (both publishers submitting 11 books). The information offers a snapshot of the current state of science fiction publishing, and helps readers everywhere to breakdown, analyse and enjoy the full range of submitted titles in as many creative ways as possible before the official short list of six is announced on Tuesday 18 March.
Award Director Tom Hunter says: “We’ve seen a rapid rise in the number of books being put forward to the award in the last couple of years, but we still thought last year’s record number of 82 books from 30 separate publishing imprints was going to prove a high mark. To put this year’s rise in context, when I first became involved with the award eight years ago, we were receiving approximately 40 books a year in full, so between 2013 and 2014 we’ve jumped up by the total number of books we were receiving only a few years ago, which is simply amazing.”
To what does Hunter attribute this rapid rise? “I think we can identify several key reasons,” he continues. “The first is simply that the award is becoming increasingly well known, and more publishers outside of the SF genre core are getting in touch to put work forward. Likewise those same publishers are also going through changes of their own, and we’ve seen a real positive switch towards genre prizes from mainstream publishers – it’s definitely a case of them calling us to put books forward, not us chasing around trying to get specific titles sent in for consideration. I also suspect these changes reflect a broader popular cultural shift, and I’m not surprised that the publishing industry is increasingly recognising the commercial potential of science fiction and fantasy, or the advantage of publishing towards a readership that is both highly engaged and highly communal, especially online where long term word of mouth can have an amazingly positive and powerful effect for authors. An effect we’ve started to think of unofficially as the power of the Geek Pound.”
The judging panel for the Arthur C Clarke Award 2014 are:
Duncan Lawie, British Science Fiction Association
Ian Whates, British Science Fiction Association
Sarah Brown, Science Fiction Foundation
Lesley Hall, Science Fiction Foundation
Georgie Knight, SCI-FI-LONDON film festival
Andrew M Butler represents the Arthur C Clarke Award in a non-voting role as the Chair of the Judges.
The award was originally established by a generous grant from Sir Arthur C Clarke with the aim of promoting science fiction in Britain, and is currently administered by the Serendip Foundation, a voluntary organisation created to oversee the on-going running and development of the award.
This year’s winner – to be revealed at the Royal Society on Thursday 1 May as part of the SCI-FI-LONDON festival – will be presented with a cheque for £2014.00 and the award itself, a commemorative engraved bookend.