So Jane Rogers has won this year’s Arthur C Clarke award for The Testament of Jessie Lamb. Where the hell did that come from? This win is just the latest gasp of drama that the Arthur C Clarke award has thrown up. And although it’s the biggest British prize for a Science Fiction/Fantasy author it has had some setbacks of late.
Firstly there have been a few financial difficulties with its funding running out:
“The award has always been run on a voluntary basis, with the funding going to support a cash award matched to the year (so this year the prize money was £2,010). But since Clarke’s death in 2008, and the winding-up of his UK company Rocket Publishing, which funded the prize, the money has come to an end”. (Guardian, 2012)
Tom Hunter, Director of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, has written an open letter to all science fiction fans (which can be found here) on how you can help.
Then came the vitriolic criticism by Christopher Priest about the books which he called “dreadful” and the judging “incompetent”. The full article can be found on the Guardian website here.
Now, an award that was becoming known as the C Mieville award, has been won by an author whose book wasn’t even wanted by publishers. It was eventually picked up by Scottish independent publishers Sandstone and was even longlisted for the Man Booker prize.
Assessing Rogers’s chances of winning back in March, SFX described The Testament Of Jessie Lamb, as “Possibly a choice too far from SF’s centre-ground even for the Clarke judges,” but a win for an author from outside the genre has proved popular with many.
The book is set in a near-future world living in the aftermath of biological terrorism and the release of the MDS (maternal death syndrome) virus. Narrated by 16-year old Jessie Lamb, the novel follows her decision to volunteer for an experimental programme to carry an immune embryo to term, a choice she can’t hope to survive.
This have proven to be one of the most exciting and followed Arthur C. Clarke awards for a good few years. So I say may the madness (and the award) continue!