karen_w_newton (karen_w_newton) wrote,

British underdog comes out on top

The Guardian book blog had a post about the short story collection that won the Edge Hill Award. That award is one of the few sizable monetary prizes (£5,000) given for short fiction, and several well known mainstream fiction authors were up for it. Science fiction writer/academic Chris Beckett won instead, for THE TURING TEST, a collection of 14 short stories that included the usual science fiction tropes such as alien planets, robots, and genetic engineering.

Beckett responded with suitable modesty, and is quoted as saying, “It's a little blow for the genre, as well as for me — it might persuade a few people that maybe it's worth looking at”

James Walton, one of the contest judge went further, saying that Beckett's win was “a bit of a surprise to the judges, none of whom knew they were science fiction fans beforehand.” Walton described the panel admitting to each other that they liked Beckett's stories, as if it were a failing somehow, to think well of his work because it was science fiction. “It was Beckett,” Walton said, “who seemed to us to have written the most imaginative and endlessly inventive stories, fizzing with ideas and complete with strong characters and big contemporary themes. We also appreciated the sheer zest of his storytelling and the obvious pleasure he had taken in creating his fiction."

In other words, it was good, well written story telling that happened to be science fiction. It turns out the publisher of THE TURING TEST is going belly up, so Beckett is hoping to get another house interested in his work.

I loved the closing quote from him: “Recently I thought I should perhaps sit down and write non-science fiction, but actually I don't want to. I like the robots and the bits and pieces — they make it more fun. It strikes me that most kinds of fiction is about making up characters and plots, so why not make up the world as well — go the whole hog?"

Let's hear it for whole hog!

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Tags: contests, science fiction, sf

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