Over the past several years, the Arthur C. Clarke Award has honored some of science fiction's most provocative, mind-expanding novels, among its winners as well as its finalists. Now the award's funding is running out.
The award was established by Clarke himself in the 1980s, to honor the best science fiction book published in the U.K. Its profile has continued to rise — as evidenced, among other things, by the recent spirited debates over the lack of women among its winners and shortlisted authors in recent years. But now after a quarter century, the award is facing a crucial turning point. According to the Guardian:
The award has always been run on a voluntary basis, with the funding going to support a cash award matched to the year (so this year the prize money was £2,010). But since Clarke's death in 2008, and the winding-up of his UK company Rocket Publishing, which funded the prize, the money has come to an end.
[Administrator Tom] Hunter said the 2011 Award, which will mark the prize's 25th anniversary, will definitely go ahead "one way or another", but that new arrangements will need to be made for subsequent years.
Hunter posted an open letter on Monday, asking for input as to what the prize's future should be. He wrote:
The Arthur C. Clarke Award is built around three core values:
* To recognise the best science fiction novels of the year published in the UK.
* To promote science fiction and science fiction literature both within the UK and internationally.
* To honour the memory and legacy of Sir Arthur.
I don't believe that our current resources should define the pursuit of this vision, and rather I see our previous funding model slipping away as a necessary transition and the first step on the road to transforming the Award into a more deeply engaged social enterprise.
Top image: Cover of Clarke Award-winning novel Nova Swing by M. John Harrison.