Prizes are all we’ve got left

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 11.15.13It is great to hear that Shackleton’s Man Goes South has been nominated for a British Science Fiction Association award, especially because BSFA awards are nominated anonymously by members of the Association.

Shackleton’s Man Goes South is one of about fifty novels nominated. From this long-list, the BSFA shortlist is ‘drawn up from the most popular titles’, and will be released shortly.

Interestingly, another science fiction prize, the Arthur C Clarke Award, has just begun to release information about their nominations received. Unlike the BSFA Awards, nominations for the Arthur C Clarke are made by publishers, but the first announcement is made more interesting because it lists the thirty-three novels by women that have been submitted.

Arthur C Clarke award director Tom Hunter hopes that this

will be a positive contribution towards further raising the profile of women writers of science fiction in the UK and beyond. We’ll be releasing details of the full submissions list shortly, and will be encouraging readers everywhere to review and comment on the data in as many creative ways as possible.

I think this is a great idea. When I was a teenager, the late Doris Lessing’s Canopus in Argos Archives series of novels (borrowed from my then local library) were a big part of reinforcing my interest not just in science fiction, but in literature generally.

I’m pleased about the BSFA nomination for Shackleton’s Man Goes South as — obviously — it may bring the novel to the attention of readers who might not otherwise have heard of it. As review space in the broadsheets starts to get pinched, and if (as one frequently hears) orders from traditional bookshop chains are a fraction of what they were only a few years ago, I’m reminded of something that a publisher colleague said on the panel of a recent conference we were speaking at. I’m paraphrasing, but it was something like: ‘Don’t quote me on this, but prizes are all we’ve got left!’

You can download a free ebook of Shackleton’s Man Goes South in formats compatible with most devices (Kindles, iPads etc) from the Science Museum website, or you can email the novel to yourself from the touchscreen ebook dispenser that is part of the display about the book in the Museum’s Atmosphere Gallery. Shackleton’s Man Goes South was launched in April 2013, and both the free download offer and the accompanying exhibition are due to run for a whole year, until the end of April 2014.

For those who prefer print formats, there are also a few copies of the Science Museum’s beautiful paperback edition currently available at half-price in the Science Museum shop’s January sale. So if you are visiting the Museum for any of the other current exhibitions, or find yourself in the South Kensington area, pop in and grab a bargain.

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Shackleton’s Man Goes South is available free and DRM-free (in ebook formats compatible with most devices) from the Science Museum website.

An exhibition accompanying the novel runs in the Science Museum’s Atmosphere Gallery until 24 April 2014.

Press about Shackleton’s Man Goes South.

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