Dogged by controversy after last year's all-male shortlist, the organisers of the Arthur C Clarke awards have responded in 2014 by raising the profile of female authors, publishing a separate list of the submissions from women writers.
IBNA: Traditionally, all the books that have been nominated for the award are published just before the shorlist in April, but this year the list will be published in two parts, starting with a list of the 33 entries written by women.
According to The Guardian, the visibility of women in science fiction has been something of a hot topic in the last couple of years, with Damien Walter suggesting that "a genre that women have done so much to shape seems to have been co-opted by men."
As a response to last year's kerfuffle and the ongoing discussions about the profile of women writers, the Clarke awards director Tom Hunter says of the submissions reveal: "This year we've chosen to do this in two parts, first releasing this list of the 33 female authors submitted for the prize, which we hope will be a positive contribution towards further raising the profile of women writers of science fiction in the UK and beyond."
There's no guarantee that any of these 33 books will make it through to the shortlist in April – let alone come out as a winner – but on the strength of these nominations it's already a very strong field. There's Ann Leckie's 'Ancillary Justice', Lauren Beukes's 'The Shining Girls', Kameron Hurley's 'God's War', Cherie Priest's 'Fiddlehead', Margaret Atwood's 'MaddAddam', Madeline Ashby's 'iD' … it's tempting to just call it a day and pick an all-female shortlist right now.
This announcement is no patronising sop to the embarrassment over last year's all-male list, a row which seems to have removed one of the major problems at a stroke. After all, according to Liz Williams, a member of the 2013 judging panel, last year's unbalanced shortlist was the result of unbalanced submissions. There were 82 submissions for last year's award, so with 33 already in the bag it looks like around half of this year's submissions will be from female authors. All the panel has to do now is pick some of them.