Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction book of the year announced

The Animals In That Country by debut novelist Laura Jean McKay has been announced as the 35th winner of the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke awards.

The Animals In That Country Cover arthur c. clarke

Now in its 35th year, the Arthur C. Clarke Award is the UK’s most prestigious prize for science fiction literature and the winner for this year’s award has been announced!

In lieu of a physical event this year, the winner was announced on Radio 4’s Front Row on Monday 27 September to be… The Animals In That Country by debut novelist Laura Jean McKay and published by Scribe UK.

“Twenty years before Margaret Atwood won the first Arthur C Clarke award, she published a small but important collection of poetry called The Animals in That Country, a title I borrowed for my book,” said Laura Jean McKay. “That this book could become one of the Clarke award winners alongside Atwood – as well as other writers I adore like Miéville and Whitehead – is a momentous honour.

“I wrote The Animals in That Country to look closely at the relationship between humans and other animals. In these strange times, I find that (more than ever) reading and writing connects us humans as well.”

The judging panel for the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2021 were:

  • Stewart Hotston, British Science Fiction Association
  • Alasdair Stuart, British Science Fiction Association
  • Phoenix Alexander, Science Fiction Foundation
  • Nicole Devarenne, Science Fiction Foundation
  • Nick Hubble, SCI-FI-LONDON film festival
  • Dr Andrew M. Butler, non-voting Chair of the Judges, Serendip Foundation

Chair of Judges, Dr Andrew M. Butler, commented on the fact that all six shortlisted books were by debut authors this year: “Our six shortlisted debut novelists have found ways to rework tools that sf has used for over two centuries,” he said. “This should give us all hope for the future of our genre.”

“For 35 years the Clarke Award has promoted not only the best of science fiction but also new ways of defining and exploring it,” added Award Director Tom Hunter. “Laura’s win repositions the boundaries of science fiction once again, and we’re delighted to welcome her to the genre.”

Laura Jean McKay receives a trophy in the form of a commemorative engraved bookend and prize money to the value of £2021; a tradition that sees the annual prize money rise incrementally by year from the year 2001 in memory of Sir Arthur C. Clarke.

Find out more about the Arthur C. Clarke awards here.