The Success of the Clarke

Posted by Niall Harrison

Nina Allan pays tribute to this year's Clarke Award winner (here's a video of the presentation by Jeff Noon), and the Award itself:

I think [The Testament of Jessie Lamb is] a beautiful book. Not just an imaginative use of science fictional ideas, but in its expert craftsmanship, its use of language and its creative expression a true work of literature.

It’s great to know that Jessie Lamb will soon be getting the wider distribution and exposure it deserves through a mass-market edition from Canongate. What is even better though is that Jane Rogers has already stated her intention to write more science fiction. When I spoke to her just after the award was announced, my first and eager question was: had the Clarke win inspired her to continue working in the area of speculative fiction? Her reply was an unqualified yes. ‘I see this as a great opportunity,’ she said. ‘I’m thrilled to have won the award and delighted by the reception the novel has been enjoying within the genre. The thing with science fiction is that it enables writers to explore the really big ideas. I’ve always been excited by that, and I want to do more.’

If the Clarke Award has achieved anything this year it is this. SF absolutely needs and absolutely should welcome writers like Jane Rogers. To see her work recognised by an award of this calibre, and to see Jane Rogers recognising the worth and significance of that award for her writing life – that’s what the Clarke should be about. While it is still true and shall remain true that the 2012 Clarke would have been all the more exciting and significant had the winner properly emerged from a shortlist that properly complemented her talent, this was still a great call and I salute the judges for it.

The Guardian has a news piece, and Sam Jordison's blog report from the ceremony ("Once the smoke has cleared, I have a feeling this will be remembered as a classic year. Thanks to the controversy, and the reams of newsprint it generated, the award feels more important than ever"), and an interview with Jane Rogers.


           

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