Arthur C Clarke Award for The Underground Railroad


by Pete Richmond

Following on from our post just yesterday, announcing The Underground Railroad was in the running for the Booker Prize, Colson Whitehead’s novel has been confirmed as the winner of the 2017 Arthur C Clarke award.

Whitehead’s novel has been collecting accolades and awards across the entire scope of literary world, uniting the experts of the literary and science fiction worlds behind the work.

The latest award is one of the most prestigious in SFF, dating back to 1987. The very first winner of the award was The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood that is also enjoying a spell back in the limelight due to the excellent Channel 4 adaptation of the work.

Colson Whitehead


Colson himself was not able to accept the award at the ceremony but his publishing team read out the following statement on his behalf:

“This is wonderful news! Way back when I was ten years old, it was science fiction and fantasy that made me want to be a writer. If you were a writer, you could work from home, you didn’t have to talk to anybody, and you could just make up stuff all day. Stuff about robots and maybe zombies and maybe even miraculous railway lines. Fantasy, like realism, is a tool for describing the world, and I’m grateful that a book like The Underground Railroad, which could not exist without the toolkit of fantastic literature, is being recognised with the Arthur C. Clarke award.”

Andrew M Butler, Chair of Judges, said:

“I’m delighted the judges chose Colson Whitehead’s intensely moving The Underground Railroad. It’s a gripping account both of humanity’s inhumanity and the potential for resistance, underpinned by science fiction’s ability to make metaphor literal.”

Congratulations, yet again, go to Colson Whitehead and we can only stand back and marvel as this phenomenon of a book rolls on, collecting every award in sight. Is there anyone that would bet against it scooping the Booker Prize in October?


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