Arthur C Clarke award goes to Adrian Tchaikovsky's novel of 'universal scale'

Children of Time, about humans who leave a dying Earth for a terraformed planet where they meet a strange new species, praised for Clarkean sense of wonder

British author Adrian Tchaikovsky has won the Arthur C Clarke award for science fiction for a novel that judges have compared to the eponymous author’s own work.

Tchaikovsky won the UK’s most prestigious science fiction prize on Wednesday evening for Children of Time, in which the remnants of humanity leave a dying Earth for a terraformed new planet, only to discover that the world is now occupied by a new species. Tom Hunter, director of the award which was set up with a grant from science fiction giant Sir Arthur C Clarke in 1987, said the winning novel “has a universal scale and sense of wonder reminiscent of Clarke himself, combined with one of the best science fictional extrapolations of a not-so-alien species and their evolving society [that] I’ve ever read”. Previous winners of the Clarke award include Margaret Atwood, China Miéville and Lauren Beukes.

Andrew M Butler, who chaired the judging panel that picked Tchaikovsky’s novel ahead of works by authors including Nnedi Okorafor, Iain Pears and Becky Chambers, said that it had been tough to choose just one winner, with judges “passionate about all six shortlisted titles”.

“Children of Time tells two parallel stories of the last survivors of Earth and the inhabitants of a terraformed planet,” said Butler. “It takes the reader’s sympathies and phobias, and plays with them masterfully on an epic and yet human scale.”

Tchaikovsky is also the author of the fantasy series Shadows of the Apt, and has worked as a lawyer. In a review in the Financial Times, James Lovegrove called Children of Time “superior stuff, tackling big themes – gods, messiahs, artificial intelligence, alienness – with brio”.

The announcement of the juried Clarke awards follows the weekend’s Hugo awards in the US. Voted for by those attending the World Science Fiction Convention, this year NK Jemisin’s The Fifth Season won best novel at the Kansas City prize ceremony, while Okorafor’s Binti took the best novella gong.


Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

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