Consensual Shortlisting: The Sharke Six

I’m going to postpone my reblog of my final Shadow Clarke shortlist review of A Field Guide to Reality by Joanna Kavenna because I have other news (and because I have a feeling I’ll be even more defensive about this book by Thursday and will need more space).

So, news! In case you missed it, the Shadow Clarke jury revealed the Sharke Six on Tuesday. This wasn’t part of the original plan, but early into the project, we all agreed that we’d like to engage in a more complete jury process and propose our own joint shortlist. In keeping with our practice of transparency, here it is, in ‘speed of consensus’ order, rather than alpha order:

The 2017 Shadow Clarke shortlist, aka The Sharke Six.

I went into the deliberations with my own agenda, as one does, and left the deliberations feeling satisfied and (awkward USian use of Brit slang coming up) thoroughly chuffed. I must say, this jury is made up of some of the nicest, funniest, smartest people I have ever had the pleasure to work with, and the debate process achieved that magical blend of rigor and pleasure. It was an enjoyable and quick three hours.

There are four novels I consider essential for this list: Underground Railroad, Central Station, A Field Guide to Reality, and The Gradual, and I was prepared to champion to the death the first three, while talking the others out of the last one*. Fortunately, no blood was spilled, and consensus was achieved with surprising ease. The consensual additions of The Arrival of Missives and Infinite Ground soon followed; both being choices I wouldn’t have expected from my fellow jurors, but I’m thrilled they rose to the top. As Nina already outlined on the Sharke blog (linked above), the sixth spot was our most difficult to place, which I expected would go to The Fifth Season and, although I’m lukewarm to the book, I would not have argued against it. Frankly, though, if that last spot couldn’t go to The Gradual, I would have preferred it go to no one at all. My fellow jurors disagreed, and the last spot went to The Power.

*The Gradual is a detrimental loss. I am a growing Priest-head (Inverted World is still my favorite) but it can’t be included on our list, and the link above explains the conflict of interest that connects the novel to our jury. To include it on the list would be unethical, and would undermine our project. Even though I have personal reservations about seeing repeat nominees on award shortlists, I hope the Clarke jury can adjust for this loss, for The Gradual is the most engrossing novel I’ve read in a long time. You must read it.


In a few short hours from posting this, the official Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist will be made public. My own IRL schedule has me busy for most of the day, so I’ll get to enjoy all your celebrations, grumblings, and WTFings in my usual time-lapsed, wrong time zone sort of way. Frowny face.


5 thoughts on “Consensual Shortlisting: The Sharke Six

  1. graycope14 says:

    Hey Megan, Thank you for your hard work. Aside from the four main choices: Underground Railroad, Central Station, A Field Guide to Reality, and The Gradual, which other books do *you* recommend from the shortlist? Knowing your perspicacity for discovering great reads, I’d love to know your personal faves.

    I’m currently slowly and carefully making my way through Aliya Whiteley’s ‘Arrival of Missives’. (Personally preferred her amazing ‘The Beauty’, but am also totally into ‘Missives’ right now. She is a gifted storyteller!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Gray!

      Those four are my personal faves. Honestly, and to my surprise, I got exactly what I wanted on the jury, which I didn’t expect at all. There are some very on-the-edge-of-SF novels that Vajra read for his list that I’m still curious about: Empire V, The Man Who Spoke Snakish, and Songshifting. He picked all the books I wanted to read but dismissed due to some (now it seems) minor qualification issue, so I heartily recommend watching his reviews.

      Glad you loved The Beauty and you’re reading Missives! I think Whiteley is one of the most underrated young writers working in SF right now.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. PhilRM says:

    That was a tough call on ‘The Gradual’, but clearly the right one for the Sharke jury to make. Kudos. I was disappointed that the Clarke jury didn’t select it (I would swap the Chambers for it in a heartbeat) but overall I’m reasonably happy with the official Clarke list, even though I’m more more impressed by the Sharke Six. I’m really looking forward to reading the Whiteley and the Kavenna.

    And boy, Niall really really really really really really really likes The Fifth Season.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Phil,

      Yes. Yes. And really really really really really really really really yes.

      I also can’t believe I live in a world where the Chambers took a spot on a shortlist where The Gradual was snubbed. I’m still gathering my thoughts about the official Clarke list, but I do want to give each book another chance before I set fire to things.

      The Fifth Season is a personal fave of a lot of people, and I am surprised it didn’t land on both the Shadow and Clarke lists, but it is becoming my litmus test for determining which critics I want to keep following in the coming years.


  3. […] C. Clarke shortlist was revealed last week. You can view it here. You can view the Sharke Six here. Go on, bask in the inherent weaknesses of both […]


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