Well, I’ve slept on it… and I’ve re-read my reviews. There are two novels that, for me, stand out from the six on the 2013 shortlist:
Chris Beckett’s Dark Eden and
Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars.
Each of the remaining four novels obviously have great merits in terms of subject matter, plot, writing quality or experimental daring in genre cross-over. But I’ve taken into account particular issues that rankle with me. For example, I’m a tad averse to meandering tales and loose writing styles.
I’d be delighted if either Chris Beckett or Peter Heller took the Arthur C Clarke Prize 2013. So which one?
I’ve decided to turn away from the novel with the guns and ballistica. So, if I had the casting vote I’d select the novel that focuses on a peace-loving, in-bred community stranded on a distant planet – Chris Beckett’s Dark Eden. It’s a fascinating mix of utopia/dystopia and a philosophical reflection on the nature of leadership.
Beckett’s writing is of a consistent high quality, the plot is well-crafted, the themes are both provocative and relevant to human interactions at any time and place. And, once started, I didn’t want to put it down.
I’ve no doubt there’ll be continuing debate over the all-male shortlist. I don’t think I could recommend all the selected books so I feel it’s difficult to justify the lack of female authors on the shortlist this year.
The winner will be announced this evening at the Royal Society in London so watch out on the twitter-sphere.
Happy reading! And many congratulations to all the shortlisted authors.