As usual, the shortlist has created controversy, with impositions of narratives upon the jury process on flimsy evidence, and noted omissions. I remain surprised at the absence of Ian McDonald's terrific Brasyl. I haven't read the other notable absentee, Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union, so can't really comment; but my partner has read it, and didn't like it much. But as I said on the panel, one of the things to note is that 2007 was a great year for science fiction, and picking just six novels must have been a hard task for the jury.
Richard Morgan, Black Man. My heart sank when I picked this up and realized it was 600-plus pages long. There is a certain point at which sheer length can become oppressive in itself, and, as Mark Plummer wrote in a recent Banana Wings of Neil Gaiman's American Gods, any judgment of the quality of the novel is lost under a sheer desire for it to be over. In truth, Black Man is okay. But it's a technothriller in the Tom Clancy mould (and I bet I get in trouble again for saying that as well); a good example of the genre, beyond doubt, but I don't get much real sense of pushing back the boundaries, except in one section where a Hollywood action version of this plot would have copped out, and Morgan, to his credit, doesn't. But does this outweigh what Graham Sleight identified as being Morgan having his cake and eating it; the hero and his ilk are genetically-modified throwbacks to traits that were eliminated to allow us to live in civilized communities, and everyone in the novel says we should be glad those traits have gone - yet he is the hero, gets all the girls, and is generally presented as admirable.