Cranky Christopher Priest’s The Islanders Wins BFSA Award for Best Novel

The Islanders by Christopher Priest: BFSA Award winner for Best NovelNo Word Yet if Garnering a BFSA Award Untwists His Knickers

So author Christopher Priest’s latest novel, The Islanders, has won the 2011 British Science Fiction Association (BFSA) award for best novel; maybe that will assuage his feelings that fomented the brouhaha over the Clarke Award. The BFSA awards are similar to the Hugo Awards here in the United States – fans of the genre can vote on the awards, which are held at the annual British science fiction convention, Eastercon; the latest Eastercon just wrapped up last week.

I always thought Eastercon sounded like a religious youth group gathering. In fact the first time I heard of it, I assumed that’s what it was, and questioned some friends intently as to why they were participating in such an event, given their proclivities at cons, which are, um, anything but biblical in nature. More devilish, if you get my meaning.

But I digress, and have no time for that; life and work that pays the bills have co-opted time usually spent on my blogging hobby this week, so this is going to be relatively short in sweet. As in, here are the awards, with no further commentary. Except that is, to praise Locus, which had the BFSA award winners list posted even before the BFSA folk posted them on their site; guess they are still recovering from Eastercon. If they are anything like the aforementioned con-going friends, it may take a few days’ downtime.

Best Novel

The Islanders, Christopher Priest (Gollancz)

Cyber Circus, Kim Lakin-Smith (Newcon Press)
Embassytown, China Miéville (Macmillan)
By Light Alone, Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
Osama, Lavie Tidhar (PS Publishing)

Best Short Fiction

“The Copenhagen Interpretation”, Paul Cornell (Asimov’s July 2011)

“The Silver Wind”, Nina Allan (Interzone #233)
“Afterbirth”, Kameron Hurley (
“Covehithe”, China Miéville (The Guardian)
“Of Dawn”, Al Robertson (Interzone #235)

Best Non-Fiction

The SF Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition, John Clute, Peter Nicholls, David Langford, & Graham Sleight, eds. (SF Gateway)

Out of This World: Science Fiction But Not as We Know It, Mike Ashley (British Library)
Review of Arslan, M.J. Engh & Abigail Nussbaum (Asking the Wrong Questions blog)
SF Mistressworks, Ian Sales, ed. (SF Mistressworks)
Pornokitsch, Jared Shurin & Anne Perry, eds. (Pornokitsch)
The Unsilent Library: Essays on the Russell T. Davies Era of the New Doctor Who, Graham Sleight, Tony Keen, & Simon Bradshaw (Science Fiction Foundation)

ArtisDominic Harman BFSA award cover art for author Ian Whates' novel The Noise Revealed (book cover)Best Art

Cover of Ian Whates’s The Noise Revealed, Dominic Harman (Solaris)

Cover and illustrations of Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls, Jim Kay (Walker)
Cover of Lavie Tidhar’s Osama, Pedro Marques (PS Publishing)
Cover of Liz Williams’s A Glass of Shadow, Anne Sudworth (Newcon Press)

One Colum Paget Wins James White Short Story Award

James White was a science fiction author from the land of bards and scribes, Ireland. My mother’s family originally hails from Northern Ireland; I still have cousins over there. This may explain a few things about me.

Anyway, the James White Award is an annual short story competition open to non-professional writers with the winner chosen by a panel of judges made up of professional authors and editors. Story submissions must be original and previously unpublished, and entry is free; winners are announced at Eastercon each year.

Colum Paget’s story, “Invocation of the Lurker” garnered the award this year; look for publication of the story in Interzone in the near future. Paget also gets £200 for his efforts. You can read more about Paget and the shorlist for this year’s James White award by following that link. Doncha’ know.

Christopher Priest Whips Out Epeen, Engenders Clarke Award Controversy

Literature awards inevitably engender some controversy – really any award that involves subjective judgment is going to get somebody’s knickers in a twist. But it’s strange when something as esoteric as the Arthur C. Clarke Award causes enough ruckus to garner coverage in the mainstream media.

The Clarke Award – most assuredly not The Clarkie – is of course named after the grand master of science fiction himself; as he was British the award seeks to recognize British science fiction authors and their works. The shortlist for the 2012 award came out a week or so ago (I first saw the announcement on Locus’ news feed), and seemingly within nanoseconds a ruckus ensued at warp speed, a ruckus that got British news outlet The Guardian’s attention, as well as that of Irish Times blogger Christopher *ahem* Clarke. The latter seems particularly upset about Priest’s slagging of  China Miéville.

Wut? Such is life in the Internet age.

Sheesh, You’ve Already Won A Clarke Award …

Giant space bees from Futurama. They are in author Christopher Priest's bonnet.British author Christopher Priest apparently has a bee in his bonnet over this year’s shortlist, and we’re not talking an ordinary bee, or even an Africanized honey bee, apparently. We’re talking about an insect of gargantuan proportions, on the order of the dread space bee, a la Futurama.

Priest, incidentally, won a Clarke Award last year, and … wait for it … has a novel eligible – make that had – a novel eligible for this year’s award. So it seems kind of disingenuous, not to mention greedy, for him to get all bent out of shape when he thinks the shortlist is lacking. Well of course you are; you missed out on the list and the potential extra book sales that would have garnered, so you decided to generate that publicity and ensuing extra book sales another way.

On the other hand, one can’t really argue that he’s not qualified to offer an opinion; he is a published author with eleven novels under his belt, as well as having garnered a previous Clarke Award among others.

But the thing is, Priest has gone off the deep end, whipping out his epeen and going on a full-on nerd rage on his blog. It’s one thing to say you disagree with the shortlist and offer a defensible argument. It’s another to dish out the cyberspace vitriol. Furthermore, he hasn’t reserved his vitriol for the judges panel, which, again, might seem disingenuous and self serving but still understandable, perhaps. He’s also decided to attack the shortlist authors themselves.

Again, he may be qualified to do so, but it still seems like a base and classless thing to do, particularly when he has a vested professional and financial interest in all this; one would expect better of a writer of Priest’s caliber – whatever happened to the British stiff upper lip? Even sadder still, he makes elegant arguments for the novels he felt should be on the shortlist, and manages not to mention his own potential candidate, The Islanders.

With the director of the Clarke Award pooh-poohing the idea of firing the panel and suspending the awards this year, one wonders what Priest will do next. Threaten to take his toys and go home, never to write again?

It’s all rather silly, but then it’s hardly the first time; the Internet is littered with the carcasses of righteously indignant blog posts; I’ve made a few myself over the years. But if you’re interested and haven’t been following the ruckus already, check here for a good Clarke Award hullabaloo rundown at Strange Horizon’s blog, including links to a lot of other author responses – authors who seem to have exercised some decorum and restraint as befitting people of letters.

My, that last bit sounded a bit pompous. I better quit before I whip my own epeen out.

The Arthur C. Clarke Award for the best of British Science Fiction P.S. Almost forgot: here’s the 2012 shortlist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award:

  • Greg Bear, Hull Zero Three (Gollancz)
  • Drew Magary, The End Specialist (Harper Voyager)
  • China Miéville, Embassytown (Macmillan)
  • Jane Rogers, The Testament of Jessie Lamb (Sandstone Press)
  • Charles Stross, Rule 34 (Orbit)
  • Sheri S.Tepper, The Waters Rising (Gollancz)