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Jane Rogers scoops Arthur C. Clarke Award

4th May 2012

Jane Rogers has beaten off competition from some of the most established names in science fiction to win the 2012 Arthur C. Clarke Award.

Her first foray into sci-fi - The Testament of Jessie Lamb - was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2011 but missed out on a place on the shortlist.

However, she has shrugged off competition from the likes of three-time Arthur C. Clarke Award winner China Mieville and genre stalwart Greg Bear to win the GBP 2,012 prize, which is the UK's foremost award for science fiction literature.

Prize director Tom Hunter said the book is not an obvious winner, given that it was published by a small Scottish press, but noted that the plot – about a virus that affects all pregnant women and threatens to wipe out humanity - is 'frighteningly plausible'.

'It really is a very good book and it has found a real audience in the science fiction readership. It offers a route into dealing with quite serious issues, about science, about maternity and about making choices,' he commented.

Rogers' victory will likely be welcomed by 2003 Arthur C. Clarke Award winner Christopher Priest, who was highly critical of the 2012 shortlist, which also included Charles Stross, Drew Magary and Sheri S. Tepper.

He claimed that The Testament of Jessie Lamb was the only one of the six books that actually deserved to be in contention, labelling the shortlist 'dreadful' and the judges 'not fit for purpose'.

However, Priest said the panel was correct to include Rogers' novel, describing it as being written with 'real style, excellent characterisation and a lot of genuine emotion', adding that 'if things go on as they are at present it ought to win'.

Despite the 2003 winner seemingly getting his way, Hunter was keen to stress that the judges' decision to award the prize to Rogers had 'absolutely nothing to do' with Priest's opinion.

'It will look great on the list of former winners – it absolutely makes sense there,' he added.

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