(left: 2001 Arthur C. Clarke Award Winner China Miéville at the ceremony)
The Arthur C. Clarke award is given annually for the best science fiction novel published in the UK a given year. The 2001 awards were held at London's Science Museum on Saturday 19th May. Whereas in previous years the evening has consisted of a few speeches and the presentation, the event this year was turned into something really special by Pat Cadigan (twice the recipient of the award) who organized a wonderful half day of readings and panels.
With the theme of Clarke's 2001 very much in mind, the day opened with introductory comments from host Dave Green and then proceeded with a panel discussion entitled "2001 Technology: Where is My Air-Car, My Jet-Pack, My Condo on the moon? Why Aren't we on our way to Jupiter and When are we Going?" Panelists Colin Greenland, Steve Baxter, Paul McAuley and Ken Macleod fielding questions from the host and rather more serious ones from the audience!
After a short break, Green then introduced readings from three of the short-listed authors. China Miéville opened with a gutsy reading from Perdido Street Station and was followed by Ken Macleod who rather than reading from his nominated novel Cosmonaut Keep, chose to give us a taster from the yet to be published sequel. Finally, we were privileged to have nominee Octavia L. Butler - on a rare visit to the UK - give some poetry from her book Parable of the Talents, a novel that has already received the coveted Nebula Award. It was wonderful that Butler was present and her delivery had everyone captivated. A Q & A session followed.
Following another short break there followed the second panel of the programme. Entitled "The Cultural Impact of 2001, the final major calendar landmark (so far): Why Did we expect so much , even before 2001 the Movie?" this one had an equally impressive array of speakers made up of China Miéville, M. John Harrison, Tricia Sullivan, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Roz Kaveney, Octavia L. Butler and another author rarely seen over here, Jonathan Carroll. This one developed into a lively Utopia vs Dystopia debate with both panelists and audience voicing some interesting opinions.
Another short break and two more of the nominees gave readings. Both Alastair Reynolds and Adam Roberts received nominations for their debut novels, Revelation Space and Salt, and both gave the audience wonderful excerpts. As with the first readings session, the two writers answers questions from the floor. The sixth nominee, Mary Gentle, whose book Ash: A secret History has already scooped the BSFA award was unable to attend the afternoon.
The presentation of the award took place in the evening. Awards organizer Paul Kincaid addressed the audience of invited guests and spoke of the very high quality of the six nominated works. He was followed by Arthur C. Clarke's niece, Angela Edwards, here representing her uncle who introduced a pre-recorded video message from Clarke which played on a large screen. Clarke spoke of the appropriateness of this award being presented in the science museum, a place where he had spent much time and now actually had his own exhibit. He also spoke of the significance of the year. Finally it fell to Pat Cadigan to open the envelope and announce the winner as being Perdido Street Station by China Miéville.
A deserving and popular winner, Miéville gave a brief and eloquent thank you speech and was genuinely humbled by the accolade. He received a check for £2001 (in his address, Clarke had announced that next year the prize would go up to £2002!) and also a specially decorated bookend.
This well organized event was enjoyed by all (the free-flowing wine certainly helped!) and staff at the science museum have expressed an interest in hosting future genre events throughout the year. There couldn't be a more appropriate and wonderful setting.
Arthur C. Clarke Awards
May 19, 2001 - London's Science Museum
Award winner China Miéville reads from his novel Perdido Street Station., receives a congratulatory hug from Pat Cadigan, and basks in a well deserved spotlight.
Program host Dave Green and program organizer Pat Cadigan.
Arthur C. Clarke's niece, Angela Edwards, presented a video message from Sir Arthur.
Award nominee Octavia L. Butler reads from her novel Parable of the Talents. Ken Macleod listens in the background.
Award nominee Ken Macleod reads from his novel Cosmonaut Keep.
Award nominee Alastair Reynolds takes the mike to read from his novel Revelation Space.
Reynolds and Roberts wrestle with questions from the floor with host Dave green refereeing.
Award nominee Adam Roberts reads from his novel Salt.
Horror anthologist and editor Steve Jones wonders what all the fuss is about.
Agent Mic Cheetham and previous Clarke winner Tricia Sullivan.
Paul Macauley (right) tells a favorite anecdote about the man with the large baseball cap!