The Short Review

shining the spotlight on short story collections

"Most Imaginative" Sci Fi Author Wins the Edge Hill Prize!

Shocker in the short story world – Chris Beckett, author of the Turing Test, published by Elastic Press, has beaten heavyweight writers of “literary fiction” Anne Enright, Ali Smith, Gerard Donovan and Shena Mackay to run off with the Edge Hill Prize for the short story!

“I suspect Chris Beckett winning the Edge Hill Prize will be seen as a surprise in the world of books,”

said James Walton, one of the judges.

“In fact, though, it was also a bit of 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.”


Wonderful that finally “genre” transcends its boundaries to claim the prize. Says Walton:

“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 story-telling and the obvious pleasure he had taken in creating his fiction.”

Congratulations to Chris! Read Prize organiser Ailsa Cox’s sneak peak behind the scenes before the winner was announced.

AND: I’ve just been informed that World Fantasy Award winner Graham Joyce just won the O Henry award, the US’ most prestigious award for a single short story, judged this year by AS Byatt and Tim O’Brien. Genre triumphs again!

The story An Ordinary Soldier Of The Queen, describes the hallucinatory experiences of a British Soldier in the first Gulf conflict. Byatt says she was haunted by the rhythms of the story and the seamless mixing of genres in combining the daily and the strange. O’Brien, celebrated for his own war writing, calls An Ordinary Soldier of the Queen a “superb ghost story, a wonderful story about war”. O’Brien suggests that many war stories merge with the world of magic and ghosts, for the systematic butchery of war does not always feel “real” and that sometimes a realistic story can seem to demean the essential unrealistic reality of war.

Graham Joyce, a previous winner of the World Fantasy award, is known for his blending of realism and the hallucinatory. He is the author of a dozen novels and several short stories and says he wrote the story after seeing a statistic suggesting that three-quarters of homeless people on the streets of the UK are ex-service personnel.

If this inspires in you the immediate urge to read science fiction and fantasy, click on those links to see what we’ve reviewed that falls under those headings (I hate the “g” word.)

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This entry was posted on July 6, 2009 by in awards, competitions, genre, science fiction, short stories, short story collections.
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