UK Books - May 2007
by John Berlyne
Date: 01 May 2007 /
It's awards season here in the UK - at least in so much as last month saw the British Science Fiction Award presented at our annual Eastercon and this very evening as I write, the twentieth Arthur C. Clarke award will be presented in London.
This year's BSFA winner was Jon Courtenay Grimwood's novel End of the World Blues - a novel I hadn't got round to reading, though we have covered a number of his works here on Sfrevu. Because I haven't read it, I can't really comment as to whether it was a deserving winner - indeed looking at the shortlist, I found I had only read one of the five nominated titles (The Last Witchfinder by James Morrow, which would certainly have been a worthy winner). The Clarke award is even more unknown to me, with the shortlist containing (along with the Courtenay Grimwood, nominated here too)at least two novels from the last year that I hadn't even heard of, let alone read! This shortlist made me wonder if I'm keeping my finger as firmly on the pulse of what is happening over here as I like to think - but looking closer, the two books in question are published by imprints not normally associated with genre fiction. The impression then, is that the Clarke award particularly has pretensions to be seen as far more of a mainstream literary prize, than as something which celebrates the wonders and (may God please not strike me down for using the word) popularity of Science Fiction! By all means let the literary establishment throw their awards at SF books (Cloud Atlas being the prime example of late) but, even with our genre being such an inclusive one, there are so many fabulous and worthy novels that are quantifiably SF published each year, that we shouldn't have to trawl the fringes of the mainstream to make up our shortlists.