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You may have seen that a Shadow Jury has been announced for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, (follow that link to keep up with announcements and other stuff about the Shadow Jury).

I am pleased, if somewhat daunted, to say that I am on the jury, along with David Hebblethwaite, Vajra Chandrasekera, Nick Hubble, Megan AM, Victoria Hoyle, Maureen Kincaid Speller, Jonathan McCalmont, and of course Nina Allan whose idea this was.

I have never been involved with a shadow jury before, so I’m probably going to be making it up as we go along. But my take on it is that the Clarke Award has become central to the way we see science fiction in Britain, so the shadow jury will use it as a jumping off point from which to expand the discussion of science fiction.

We’ll be starting with the submissions list, which is due to be published shortly and which is probably the best and most convenient way to discover what science fiction has been published in Britain during any particular year. From this we will each, individually, draw up our own preferred shortlists, based on what we’ve read and what we want to read. (No plan survives an encounter with the enemy, so I assume that as we read through our chosen books our views about what should or should not be on the shortlist will change. In many ways, I suspect that will be the most interesting part of the exercise.) We will also, of course, be reading the actual shortlist when that is announced, so the whole exercise will be a scaled-up version of Maureen Kincaid Speller’s wonderful Shortlist Project from a few years back.

All of these readings and discussions will of course be online, thanks to Helen Marshall and the Anglia Ruskin Centre, and I suspect I’ll be reprinting some at least of my contributions here.

And at the end of the day: I suspect and hope that we will have a spectacular multivalent view of the state of science fiction in 2016, and we will be seeing the Clarke Award winner and the shortlist in the wider context of what they emerged from. More important, I hope we will have had an informative and enjoyable conversation that changes the way all of us look at contemporary science fiction.