The glitzy glamour of the Oscars and BAFTAs may be past, but don’t despair as there are far more important awards still to come this season! Yes, I am talking about the two most prestigious literary awards in the British SF&F calendar: the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) awards and the Arthur C Clarke Awards.
Many literary awards pay scant regard to the genre, regardless of the high quality prose of many SF&F novels. The BSFA and the Arthur C Clarke awards have been redressing this imbalance for quite a few years now, highlighting some of the finest SF published in the UK over the preceding twelve months.
Both lists have the absolute cream of recent genre literature. I realise that sounds like hyperbole, but trust me, it isn’t – just look at the range of nominees here, the diversity of writers (established names, debut authors) and the wide variety of subject matter (sophisticated post-cyberpunk thriller, richly detailed historical novel, exotic Indian SF, magical alternative history, near-future corporate madness and time-travelling love story).
In recent years there has been an increasing trend for genres to cross-over and become less rigidly defined (although arguably SF has always been a diverse, multi-genre-within-a-genre area). Mainstream ‘literary’ authors such as Booker-winning Margaret Atwood have produced novels with a high SF content, such as the critically-acclaimed Oryx and Crake. One of this year’s nominees, Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, was itself a Booker nominee – so this is a chance not only to sample some of the finest SF of the year but an opportunity to then slip those books to friends who may not be so keen on the genre to show them the rich diversity and quality of SF&F novels.
As the leading purveyors of all things fantastical in the UK FPI are very pleased to support these two prestigious British SF awards and we are very happy to be bringing some extremely fine novels to your attention – these are all books which deserve to be read. I’ll no doubt be posting more on this but for now if you jam on over to our webstore you’ll find we have a section for both the BSFA and the Arthur C Clarke nominees reviewed for your perusal, a selection that includes Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, Richard Morgan’s Market Forces, Ken MacLeod’s Newton’s Wake and Alistair Reynolds with Century Rain – all with a nice 25% off all of the nominee titles (aren’t we lovely, generous people?) to entice you further.
Last year’s BSFA winner, Jon Courtenay Grimwood (for Felaheen) is on the list again this year with the superbly stylish Stamping Butterflies while the previous winner of the Clarke, Neal Stephenson is also a contender once more, this time for The System of the World, the third part of his magnificent historical epic Baroque Cycle. The first part of the Baroque Cycle, Quicksilver, won last year’s Clarke – most unusual in literary circles for the first part of a trilogy to win a major award, but it was richly deserved.
Who will win this year? I really don’t know – the field is full of strong contenders and there isn’t a weak horse in the running, so it is all to play for. The BSFA’s are announced at Eastercon on Saturday 26th March while the Clarke’s will be announced on London on May 11th; naturally we will be keeping you posted as both progress. Why not pre-empt the awards and have a good browse through the nominees on our webstore and take full advantage of the healthy 25% off the price we’re offering on all of the BSFA and Arthur C Clarke nominees throughout.