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May 07

And the winner of the Clarke Award is….

the magnificent Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – most definitely one of my favourite books for the 14/15 award season period.*  (Thanks to Jonathan Strahan for pointing this out to me on Facebook this morning).

Just to remind you, this was the shortlist (the links take you to my reviews):

  • The Girl With All The Gifts – M.R. Carey (Orbit)
  • The Book Of Strange New Things – Michel Faber (Canongate)
  • Europe In Autumn – Dave Hutchinson (Solaris)
  • Memory Of Water – Emmi Itäranta (Harper Voyager)
  • The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August – Claire North (Orbit)
  • Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel (Picador)

Obviously I’m very happy to see Station Eleven take home the Clarke.  Yes, loving this book has caused a rift between myself and my co-host on the Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott.  There’s also a number of other people whose tastes I respect but who also don’t share my adoration for this novel.  I’m looking at you Niall Harrison and Cheryl Morgan.  But that’s OK, people have been completely wrong about great art since the first cave painting and these “subjective” responses to Station Eleven are no different.

While I’ll cover this in a later post, now that I’ve read five out of the six novels on the shortlist I’ve got to applaud the Clarke judges for putting together a very good bunch of finalists.  Unless Europe in Autumn turns out to be a complete dud there’s only one book on the list that I didn’t like – The Girl With All The Gifts.

Anyway, congratulations to Emily St. John Mandel for winning the award.  If you haven’t read Station Eleven as yet, go on and check it out.  And then you can join millions of others who’ve had to choose between Team Mond or Team McDermott!

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* For me the new award season starts with the announcement of the Man Booker shortlist in September and ends with the publication of the World Fantasy Award shortlist in August of the following year.  While genre awards consider the best novels of the previous year, two of the major awards, the Man Booker and the National Book Award – consider novels published in the year of the prize.**  In other words, whereas this years genre awards will look at books published in 2014, the Man Booker and the National Book Award will judge books written in 2015.***  Because of these overlapping time periods, I’ve decided to use the Man Booker – the first major literary award in a given year – and the World Fantasy – the last major genre award in a given year – as my book ends.****

** Which is why the longlist or shortlist will include books that haven’t as yet been published.

*** Another example of how literary and genre don’t get along.

**** Yes, I’ve spent nights lying awake thinking about this.

1 comment

  1. Lindsay

    I think both you and Kirsten were right about this book.

    I too loved Station Eleven, but mostly for its structure and the multiple levels it was working at. Structuring the whole book around the death of an actor and a comic book that only two people had ever read was amazing.

    But Kirsten is right too, in that as a science fiction story it falls over at just about every hurdle. Plagues don’t work like that: the more lethal they are, the less they spread and a low incubation time will mean less infections, not more. A survivor civilisation is not going to be still at the hunter/scavenger level after 20 years, and even with only 1 in 300 people surviving, there are still going to be a million survivalist books around that will pretty much bootstrap any local community back into the electrical age within a couple of years if not months.

    It’s all about how far the reader can suspend their disbelief to appreciate the story I guess. Similarly I know people who rave about Interstellar; when you do part of the job amazingly well there’s a point at which you’ll forgive the stuff they get wrong.

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