The 2011 Arthur C. Clarke award was won by South African author Lauren Beukes. The prize-winning book, Zoo City, is a story of outcast reporter Zinzi December. December is tasked with finding a missing pop starlet, a journey that takes her through the paranormal slums of an alternate Johannesburg.
Author Jon Courtenay Grimwood, one of the 2011 judges, praised Zoo City as a work of “stunning imagination”, and a book in which “the plotting is tight, the characterisation strong and the writing superb.”
Paul Billinger, the Award’s Chair of Judges, was similarly appreciative, describing the novel as a book that “realises the enormous potential of SF literature, and as a piece of social commentary it is unsurpassed in the field”.
Ms. Beukes is the ninth woman to win the Arthur C. Clarke Award, including the inaugural winner, Margaret Atwood, for The Handmaid’s Tale.
After the ceremony, Ms. Beukes explained:
“[South Africa] is really where science fiction is. It’s in the developing world, it’s first world, it’s third world – the way we use technology is different to the way it’s used elsewhere. This book is about magic and technology and it’s very special to be here.”
The Award Ceremony
The 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award was presented on Wednesday, 27 April at a ceremony held at SCI-FI LONDON. The event took place in the Apollo Theatre, in Piccadilly, and was attended by over 150 of science fiction’s brightest luminaries.
Three-time recipient China Miéville presented the award to Lauren Beukes for Zoo City, her tale of an alternate South Africa. Upon accepting the award, Ms. Beukes initially joked that she “had a speech prepared, which was, ‘Curse you, McDonald!’. She later shared that it was a “very special day – the 17th anniversary of democratic South Africa”.
Ms. Beukes memorably attended the ceremony in a fake-fur sloth shawl, created for the event by artist Rhoda Rutherford. The shawl was inspired by Sloth, Zinzi December’s companion in Zoo City.
Lauren Beukes, Ian McDonald, Patrick Ness, Richard Powers, Tim Powers and Tricia Sullivan are the six authors shortlisted for this year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award, the UK’s premier prize for science fiction literature.
The six shortlisted books for the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award are:
- Zoo City – Lauren Beukes (Angry Robot)
- The Dervish House – Ian McDonald (Gollancz)
- Monsters of Men – Patrick Ness (Walker Books)
- Generosity – Richard Powers (Atlantic Books)
- Declare – Tim Powers (Corvus)
- Lightborn – Tricia Sullivan (Orbit)
This year’s six shortlisted titles were selected from a long list of fifty-four eligible submissions put forward by twenty-two different publishing houses and imprints.
Award Director Tom Hunter said:
“The twenty-fifth anniversary of the Arthur C. Clarke Award was always going to be a landmark year, and we couldn’t have asked for a more fascinating and exciting shortlist to get the celebrations started.
Fifty-four eligible books is one of the highest submission years we’ve ever had, and when you look at all of the reviews, debate and online commentary that’s surrounded many of these titles you can see just how hard the judges’ deliberations were this year.
For me this list is a great indication of just how deep, rich and complex the literature of science fiction can be. I think this list is a definite keeper, as they say, and my hope is that twenty-five years from now people will still be coming back to it as a representation of everything that’s best about the diversity and strength of our genre.”
Tricia Sullivan is the previous winner of the 1999 Arthur C. Clarke award for Dreaming in Smoke and was also nominated in 2004 for Maul. Although this is Richard Powers’ first nomination for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Generosity has already collected the National Book Award. Similarly, Patrick Ness’ Monsters of Men has also been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. This is Ian McDonald’s fourth nomination for the Arthur C. Clarke Award and he is a three-time winner of the British Science Fiction Association Award for best novel. One of those wins came earlier this year, for The Dervish House.
In 2011, the judging panel received 54 eligible novels, submitted by 22 different publishers and imprints, one of the highest submissions rates the Clarke award has had. The submitted novels are:
- Black Hand Gang by Pat Kelleher (Abaddon Books)
- Zoo City by Lauren Beukes (Angry Robot)
- Generosity by Richard Powers (Atlantic Books)
- Declare by Tim Powers (Corvus)
- Finch by Jeff VanderMeer (Corvus)
- Holy Machine by Chris Beckett (Corvus)
- How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu (Corvus)
- On the Third Day by Rhys Thomas (Doubleday)
- Salvage by Robert Edric (Doubleday)
- Bring Home the Stars by Jennifer Kirk (DS Press)
- Sylvow by Douglas Thompson (Eibonvale Press)
- Red Plenty by Francis Spufford (Faber & Faber)
- The Birth of Love by Joanna Kavenna (Faber & Faber)
- Paradise by Glenn Myers (Fizz Books)
- A Matter of Blood by Sarah Pinborough (Gollancz)
- Above the Snowline by Steph Swainston (Gollancz)
- Absorption by John Meaney (Gollancz)
- Eve: The Burning Life by Hjalti Danielsson (Gollancz)
- Guardians of Paradise by Jaine Fenn (Gollancz)
- New Model Army by Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
- Stone Spring by Stephen Baxter (Gollancz)
- Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz)
- The Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding (Gollancz)
- The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (Gollancz)
- The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi (Gollancz)
- The Silent Land by Graham Joyce (Gollancz)
- Veteran by Gavin G Smith (Gollancz)
- Watch by Robert J Sawyer (Gollancz)
- Zendegi by Greg Egan (Gollancz)
- Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart (Granta)
- For the Win by Cory Doctorow (Harper Voyager)
- Things We Didn’t See Coming by Steve Amsterdam (Harvill Secker)
- C by Tom McCarthy (Jonathan Cape)
- Feed by Mira Grant (Orbit)
- Lightborn by Tricia Sullivan (Orbit)
- Surface Detail by Iain M Banks (Orbit)
- The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross (Orbit)
- The Restoration Game by Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
- The Unit by Terry DeHart (Orbit)
- The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Orbit)
- Version 43 by Philip Palmer (Orbit)
- The Passage by Justin Cronin (Orion Books)
- Blood and Iron by Tony Ballantyne (Pan Macmillan)
- Empire of Light by Gary Gibson (Pan Macmillan)
- Kraken by China Miéville (Pan Macmillan)
- The Evolutionary Void by Peter F. Hamilton (Pan Macmillan)
- The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell (Pan Macmillan)
- The Technician by Neal Asher (Pan Macmillan)
- Zero History by William Gibson (Penguin)
- Pornogram by Osric Allen (Robert Temple)
- The Meat Tree by Gwyneth Lewis (Seren)
- The Age of Zeus by James Lovegrove (Solaris)
- The Noise Within by Ian Whates (Solaris)
- Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness (Walker Books)