Arthur C. Clarke Award 2016 Reviews

 

The following are extracts from each of my Arthur C. Clarke Award 2016 shortlist reviews, as well as links to the full articles should you with to read them.

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31OP7N6X71L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Arcadia – Iain Pears

But clever structure is all that Arcadia is. And so much is lost in order for it to be so clever. Imagine an architect has designed a staggeringly impressive and convoluted building; weird geometry all folding in on itself, it’s self-supporting and will collapse if you remove any one part. But then imagine that this building is made from the dullest, most boring and grey materials imaginable. That should give you some idea of what Arcadia is like.

By the end of the book, I definitely got the feeling that major plot events were happening more in service to the novel’s structure, than in service to any of its characters and their motivations.

Read the full review

 

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the-long-way-to-a-small-angry-planet-coverThe Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

So, that’s The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. A wacky, action-filled, colourful and fast-paced Space Opera that focuses on relationships, character and inclusive diversity. Would I want all of my SF to be like this? No, far from it. Its sexual and gender politics aside, it may not be ground-breaking or experimental; it wears its influences on its sleeve, and in some places is a tad predictable. But it’s just so much fun. Perfectly-crafted, elegant fun, which manages to describe an impressively complex science fictional universe without ever relying on info-dumpy exposition.

Read the full review

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neonWay Down Dark – J.P. Smythe

The book is a sort of salvagepunk science-fictional Young Adult dystopia (seriously), and while I don’t know much about YA in general, Way Down Dark seems, to me, to tick all the more voguish boxes of that genre’s clichés. Kickass teenage protagonist? Check. Who’s an orphan? Check. Struggling to survive in a hyper-violent nightmare society? Mega Check! […]

The Twist seems to divide readers in a love-it-or-hate-it kinda way; people are either gobsmacked, or they cry “bullshit”. Personally, I found the whole thing exasperating, and saw it coming a mile away; not because it’s particularly over-telegraphed in the narrative, but because this kind of plot twist is such a cliché of the generation ship sub genre. Read the full review

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dlThe Book of Phoenix – Nnedi Okorafor

It’s frustrating that the actual experience of reading The Book of Phoenix doesn’t match up to the novel’s thematic and narrative ambition. There’s a lot to like about it, definitely, but the gaps in its worldbuilding, the serendipitous nature of so many of its major plots events, and the overall awkward quality of writing perpetually pulled me out of the moment. It’s an important novel in so many ways, I just wish it was more robust.

Read the full review.

 

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25499718Children of Time – Adrian Tchaikovsky

This is a fun piece of core Science Fiction. I enjoyed it. And while it’s not really the sort of SF that particularly interests me, I appreciate it as a high-quality example of the kind of thing that it is. […]

But let’s be honest; everything that happens to the humans is just filler; it’s the novel treading water until the spider-evolution story has advanced to a level sufficient enough to make a meeting between the two species narratively interesting. This means that, at 600 pages, the novel is about twice as long as it needs to be.

Read the full review

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26009702Europe at Midnight – Dave Hutchinson

It’s all to do with potentialities, really. What Europe is, what Europe could be, what different groups want to make Europe into, and the ways in which individual lives try to cope with and respond to this. Like it’s fractured setting, Europe at Midnight is a fluid patchwork of different ideas: part spy novel, part science fiction romp, part satire, part state-of-the-nation commentary, and I’m pleased to report that it handles most of these things very well indeed.

Read the full review