It wasn’t a dream

Ned Beauman

  • BuyThe Adjacent by Christopher Priest
    Gollancz, 432 pp, £12.99, June 2013, ISBN 978 0 575 10536 2

Two days after the announcement of the shortlist for last year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science fiction novel, Christopher Priest wrote on his blog that part of the award’s purpose is to prove to ‘the larger world’ that science fiction ‘is a progressive, modern literature, with diversity and ambition and ability, and not the pool of generic rehashing that the many outside detractors of science fiction are so quick to assume it is’. But the shortlist, he argued, did exactly the opposite. Greg Bear’s Hull Zero Three, for instance,

keeps alive the great tradition of the SF of the 1940s and 1950s where people get in spaceships to go somewhere to do something. In this case, the unlikely story begins as the interstellar spaceship arrives somewhere. The paragraphs are short, to suit the expected attention span of the reader. The important words are in italics. Have we lived and fought in vain?

Priest concluded that the judges should be sacked, the ceremony cancelled and the prize suspended for a year.

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