Last night saw The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (pictured left) win the 2017 Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science fiction novel of the year – and Urban Fantasist's Charles Christian was present at the award ceremony at Foyles Bookshop in London. (Of course he was there, he was one of judges for the Award! https://www.clarkeaward.com/award-winners/the-award-juries/)
Colson is currently in China and, as Star Trek-style transporters are still in the realm of science fiction, he was unable to attend in person but he did send this acceptance speech – which is wonderful because it perfectly encapsulates why writers write science fiction and fantasy...
"Way back when I was ten years old, it was science fiction and fantasy that made me want to be a writer. If you were a writer, you could work from home, you didn't have to talk to anybody, and you could just make stuff up all day. Stuff about robots and maybe zombies and maybe even miraculous railway lines. Fantasy, like realism, is a tool for describing the world, and I'm grateful that a book like The Underground Railroad, which could not exist without the toolkit of fantastic literature, is being recognized by the Arthur C. Clarke Award." ...Colson Whitehead
Other things to note about last night's award...
* This year (2017) is the 100th anniversary of Sir Arthur's birth in (December 1917) – he died in 2008.
* This year was the 31st year the Award has been made – the first winner in 1987 was The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
* Although this year's shortlist might appear to be very diverse in terms of subject matter, as the chair of the judges Andrew M. Butler pointed out, all the novels focus on humanity and the triumph of the human spirit against adversity (even if in some instances the humanity in question is that of an artificial intelligence).
* Colson Whitehead has also won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Prize, and been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for this novel. In addition, former President Barack Obama said The Underground Railroad was the last book he read while he was still in The White House – a fact that prompted Award director Tom Hunter to comment last night it was also "the last book to be read by an American president"!
The Folio Society, who produce gorgeous special editions of books, have just released details and a video of a new edition of H.P. Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu.
The edition also includes a preface by Alan Moore who describes the “unease and abhorrence” he felt about Lovecraft’s politics and prejudices, along with his dislike of Lovecraft's prose “burdening each clause with adjectives and archaisms, far too fond of indescribability.” All very valid criticisms but Moore goes on to describe Lovecraft as “One of the twentieth century’s most radical experimental writers” ... “magnificently visionary” adding “I envy your exquisite nightmares.”
The perfect accessory for every dream home in R'lyeh!
For all fans of 1960s Cult TV shows Danger Man and The Prisoner, read this piece on Patrick McGoohan...
Once again Urban Fantasist is pleased to be supporting the SCI-FI-LONDON 48hr Flash Fiction Challenge which starts at 11am on Saturday 8th April – which is just three weeks away now! And, once again UF's Charles Christian will be chairing the challenge jury. (Which sounds impressive but basically means counting up the votes!)
The embedded link below tells you everything you could ever possibly want to know but here's a quick summary of the key points, including one very important change from last year: we now have a £500 prize for the winner AND the winning entry will be published on the New Scientist website! Watch for @scifilondon #SFL48hrFlash on Twitter
So, here's a quick recap of the rules...
* You can register to take part any time between now and the 8th BUT you can't start writing until after 11am because you have to login and receive three elements (title, piece of dialogue etc) you must incorporate in your story.
* You have just 48 hours in which to complete and submit your story (actually till 1pm on Monday 10th)
* Our definition of flash fiction is a MAXIMUM of 2000 words
* You can submit from anywhere in the world however your entry must be in English (and sorry but the prize-giving is in London and we have no travel budget for winners)
* There is NO entry fee
* And, please note this challenge is part of a science fiction film festival, so we are looking at sci-fi and fantasy genre fiction
UPDATE in response to comments...
* The start time is 11am UK time - and the UK will be on summertime by the 8th
* Authors' rights -
Q: Can I sell, publish or develop my story after submitting to the challenge?
A: Yes. It's yours and you own own it, so exploit away! However, please remember by taking part you grant us an in-perpetuity, world-wide, royalty free, non-exclusive licence to promote, publish, sample and sub-licence the work. We will never charge any money for the story or film, but we will offer it free to anyone who wants to show it. The intellectual property in the work is yours and we do not make any claim on this, so we won't take the world or characters you develop without permission.
The Challenge Jury comprises...
Pat Cadigan is an American science fiction author, whose work is most often identified with the cyberpunk movement.
Mike Carey is a British author known for comics like X-men, and 2000AD. He recently had his novel Girl With All The Gifts releasesd as a feature film.
Marcus Gipps is a commissioning editor at Gollancz, part of the Orion Publishing Group. He specialises in science fiction, fantasy and a bit of horror.
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Curated by former barrister and Reuters correspondent turned writer, award-winning tech journalist, best-selling non-fiction author, sometime werewolf hunter, and digital gypsy Charles Christian on a mission to inform and entertain with news and comment on tech, media, writing, science fiction, cybercrime, folklore, history, pop culture, geek stuff, WTF, and the just plain weird.
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