Saturday, May 07, 2011

Dick and Clarke Winners

Awards season continues to roll on in the lands of science fiction, with two biggies coming out about a week ago -- just in time for me to run off for a long and busy week of off-site meetings. So, if you were counting on me to give you this news, you're very behind the party. But I still intermittently try to be the skiffy news-and-awardsy blog that I wrote for That Bookclub Company once upon a time, so I still feel compelled to tell you that...

First: The 2011 Philip K. Dick Award, for a distinguished work of science fiction published in paperback in the previous year, went to Mark Hodder's The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack.

(It's in my groaning to-be-read stacks, and now I want even more to get to it -- when I do, exactly, will depend on whether I decide to read all of the Hugo nominees or not.)

Second: The 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award, for the best science fiction novel published in the UK the previous year, went to Lauren Beukes for Zoo City.

(I may have that around somewhere, as well -- I think I got an advance copy at some point.)

Now, two datapoints may be all that's required to define a line, but they define a trend only very bluntly -- but, still, it's interesting to see that these two awards, both given by juries of smart SFnal people (very different ones, in two different countries) both gave awards to newer writers, not part of the  established center of the genre, and both published by smaller, scrappier publishing houses run by smart editors who know the corporate publishing world but got away from it.

It may be a pattern; it may not. There's nothing at all that fits that profile nominated for the Nebula for Best Novel, though The Dervish House half-counts on the Hugo ballot. (It's US publisher is Pyr, the same as Spring Heeled Jack, but it's published by the old, well-established and pretty dominant house Gollancz in the UK.) It will also be interesting to see what the World Fantasy judges -- who, if the trauma of my year in the hot seat has sufficiently worn off to remember how it happened, will be spending this month frantically beavering away at the ever-growing stacks of books showing up daily at their homes in ever-stranger forms of packaging (I wonder if judges are starting to get any of this material in electronic form yet?) while trying to hit an early-summer deadline for their voting -- put on their ballot as well.

In any case -- these are two of the major awards in the field, and we all can either say "Aha! I already read that one!" or make a thoughtful face and pencil a new book or two on the ever-growing list of books we fully intend to read at some point.

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