2018 Winner

32nd Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction literature awarded to Anne Charnock

Dreams Before the Start of Time by Anne Charnock (47North) has been announced as the 32nd winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the UK’s most prestigious prize for science fiction literature.

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Andrew M Butler, Chair of Judges, said:

“Humanity’s attitudes to reproduction have been core to science fiction at least as far back as Frankenstein. Anne Charnock’s Dreams Before the Start of Time explores the theme with a delightfully rich but unshowy intergenerational novel that demands rereading.”

Award Director Tom Hunter said:

“This is a much-deserved win for a writer whose time has definitely come. Charnock’s multi-generational vision of expanding human reproductive technologies is smart, science-literate fiction that embraces the challenge of humanising big ethical questions, and succeeds by exploring possible future scenarios that feel utterly real.”

The winner was announced on the evening of Wednesday 18th July at a special ceremony held at the Foyles flagship bookshop on Charing Cross Road, London, and presented in front of an audience of science fiction writers, publishers and fans.

Anne Charnock receives a trophy in the form of a commemorative engraved bookend and prize money of £2018.00.

The judging panel for the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2018 are:

  • Dave Hutchinson, British Science Fiction Association
  • Gaie Sebold, British Science Fiction Association
  • Kari Maund, Science Fiction Foundation
  • Paul March-Russell, Science Fiction Foundation
  • Charles Christian, SCI-FI-LONDON film festival

Andrew M. Butler represents the Arthur C. Clarke Award in a non-voting role as the Chair of the Judges.


  • ‘Charnock pulls hard on the parent’s universal worry—that no matter what we do and how much we want the best for our children, somehow we aren’t doing it right—in a skillfully executed multigenerational saga that explores a potential future driven by rapid development of reproductive technologies… A story that feels personal and intimate.’
    Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
  • ‘Philip K. Dick Award finalist Charnock follows the progression of reproductive science across people in five generations…The reader will experience not only the changing views of society at large, but also the progression of the characters’ views as new opportunities arise for the next wave of parents. None of the technology seems far-fetched, leaving the reader to wonder whether this is predictive fiction.’
  • ‘highly enjoyable and thought-provoking…The willingness to experiment with viewpoint through time, as well as present a human agenda (what little science fiction these days can say that), make the novel very worthwhile.…The futuristic technology depicted is extremely likely—in development as we speak—making the novel groundbreaking.’
  • ‘Not a sequel to Charnock’s previous novel, Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind so much as its organic successor, Dreams Before the Start of Time is a luminous, deftly crafted and occasionally disturbing portrait of the future we may be entering. A novel that explores the notion of family in all its myriad permutations, Dreams Before the Start of Time is science fiction at its most contemplative, asking intriguing questions about human reproduction, gender identity and interpersonal relationships and providing thought-provoking answers on a human scale. Anne Charnock’s third novel leaves the reader in no doubt of her evolving talent, and showcases all that is most imaginative and forward-thinking in British science fiction right now.’
    Nina Allan, author of The Race
  • ‘Charnock’s third novel is a beautifully nuanced exploration of future developments in fertility science. The science underpinning the narrative is subtle and unobtrusive, allowing the novel to shine on the neuroses of its large, three-generational cast of characters as they struggle to come to terms with the decisions of their parents. As with her previous novels, Charnock is marvellous at communicating a huge amount in a short space.’
    E.J. Swift, author of The Osiris Project series
  • Charnock’s interest is always in the human aspect first: her characters are real, living, breathing individuals; lost in some ways, directive in others.…With Dreams Before the Start of Time already on my Best SF of 2017 list, Anne Charnock is now solidified as one of my favourite SF authors.” )
    From Couch to Moon
  • ‘This is an excellent novel, and a worthy successor to the very wonderful Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind.”
    Adam Roberts, author of The Thing Itself