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China Miéville wins his second Arthur C Clarke Award

12/05/2005. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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The 19th Arthur C. Clarke Award has been won by Iron Council by China Miéville. It is the second time that Miéville has won the Award, he was the 2001 winner for Perdido Street Station, which makes him onlt the second person after Pat Cadigan to have won the Award twice.

The Award was announced in a packed ceremony at the English Heritage Lecture Theatre, London on Wednesday 11th May.

In his speech, praising all six of the shortlisted novels, the Administrator, Paul Kincaid, said that 'China Miéville focuses sharply on political change, but note how many things feed into that change: wealth and suffering and sexuality and hope. This is the point at which the conflict between the moral and the political which has underpinned his previous books bursts into the open. There are many wrongs in Miéville's world, but very few rights, and politics in all its forms from simple co-operation to bloody revolution, is shown to be the frail and fallible attempt to find a way in the world. And in the last few dramatic pages, this is a novel about closing Pandora's Box because of the necessity of preserving hope.'

Collecting the award, an engraved bookend and a cheque for £2,005, China Miéville was clearly surprised to have won. He paid tribute to the other shortlisted novels, and said that of all his books Iron Council meant most to him, so that this Award was particularly valuable. He also said that one of the most stimulating things about the Award was the arguments it provoked, and in closing the ceremony Paul Kincaid said: 'Let the arguments begin.'

This year's ceremony attracted a large audience, including previous Clarke Award winners Paul McAuley, Pat Cadigan and Geoff Ryman, other notable authors such as Frederik Pohl, Harry Harrison, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Chris Wooding, David Langford, Robert Holdstock and Christropher Evans, and a host of former judges including Farah Mendlesohn, Claire Brialey, Mark Plummer, Caroline Mullan, David V. Barrett and more.

In response to a very difficult year as the Clarke Award continues to search for financial support, Paul Kincaid paid tribute to the Wisconsin-based fan group 3SF whose generous grant of $1,000 allowed the Award ceremony to be held. The Award has clearly a great deal of goodwill: John Bell Design contributed their services free to the ceremony, and the English Heritage Lecture Theatre arranged a sufficient dioscount to allow the ceremony to go ahead. A proposed 'Friends of the Clarke Award' scheme was announced, and immediately generated a very positive response.

The judges this year were Mark Bould and Justina Robson for the Science Fiction Foundation, Carol-Ann Kerry Green for the British Science Fiction Association, and Dave Palmer for the Science Museum (a fifth judge, Mark Greener for the BSFA, was unable to take part because of ill health).

Their final judging meeting - during which they had to decide among a shortlist that also included River of Gods by Ian McDonald, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, Market Forces by Richard Morgan, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and The System of the World by last year's winner, Neal Stephenson - was an intense two-and-three-quarter hours during the afternoon of the Award Ceremony.

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