Friday, 12 April 2013

The Scotsman Abroad | Marking the Clarkes

Three months in, I can only hope most of you are familiar with the British Genre Fiction Focus: the weekly column about news and new releases in the UK that I contribute to

The response to the series so far has been more positive than I could have imagined, but with every additional edition, I've wondered whether some of the more meaningful news stories I ruminate on each week wouldn't be better serviced in articles of their own.

Well, yesterday was something of an acid test in that respect. Yesterday, the first special feature from the British Genre Fiction Focus fold was posted, and luckily, I had a hell of subject to tackle: namely the recently released shortlist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, especially the overwhelming presence of penises amongst the authors nominated.

Anyway, in Marking the Clarkes, I attempt to round up some of the most representative reactions to the alarming absence of women writers on the shortlist, before pitching in with my own several cents:
So was the reaction to this year’s shortlist basically a case of much ado about nothing? 
No, it wasn’t. Absolutely positively not. There’s a very real problem in play that the subsequent back-and-forth has brought to the fore, finally. But I’d echo the thought that this alarming lack of diversity [...] can be traced back to the publishing industry rather simply set at the doorstep of a panel of individuals with autonomous opinions who announced an inherently subjective shortlist. 
One last wrinkle before I let you folks work out where you stand and why: the publishing industry lives and dies by the same rules of supply and demand as any other commercial sector. Accusing the bigwigs and the buyers, then, is too easy an out. After all, they buy the books that they have reason to believe we’ll read. 
Who then to blame for this dangerous state of affairs but ourselves?
If I may be so bold, Marking the Clarkes makes for an interesting read in its own right, but the real conversation has occurred in the comments section, already almost thirty thoughts long and strong, and featuring a few words from Tom Hunter himself, director of the Arthur C. Clarke Awards.

All of which is to say, you should think about reading this thing. Chiming in, even.

Fingers crossed I see a few of you over there. Otherwise, we'll talk again shortly.

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