Chris BECKETT wins the 2009 Edge Hill Prize
BRITISH science-fiction writer Chris Beckett has been announced as the winner of the 2009 Edge Hill Prize for a short-story collection by a single author, beating several big-name mainstream writers: Anne Enright (Yesterday’s Weather), Gerard Donovan (Country of the Grand), Shena McKay (The Atmospheric Railway) and Ali Smith (The First Person and Other Stories). His first collection, The Turing Test, is published by Elastic Press, a small defunct independent publisher based in Norwich in the U.K. These 14 stories feature, among other things, robots, alien planets, genetic manipulation and virtual reality, but their core focuses on individuals rather than technology, and they deal with love and loneliness, authenticity and illusion, and what it really means to be human.
“I suspect Chris Beckett winning the Edge Hill Prize will be seen as a surprise in the world of books,” one of the judges, James Walton, said. “In fact, though, it was also a bit of a surprise to the judges, none of whom knew they were science-fiction fans beforehand. Yet, once the judging process started, it soon became clear that The Turing Test was the book that we’d all been impressed by, and enjoyed, the most—and one by one we admitted it.” Walton continued: “It was Beckett 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.”
Previous winners of the Edge Hill Prize include Claire Keegan for Walk the Blue Fields in 2008 and Colm Tóibín for Mothers and Sons in 2007.