2020 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards

Dartmouth’s Neukom Institute announced the winners of the 2020 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards for speculative fiction on October 8.

2020 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Speculative Fiction (Debut)

2020 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Speculative Fiction (Open)

The book awards were judged by Nebula Award-winner Sam J. Miller,

Each award winner will receive a $5,000 honorarium that will be presented during a Dartmouth-hosted panel to discuss the genre and their work.

The Neukom Awards has also awarded special recognition to We Set the Dark on Fire, by Tehlor Kay Mejia (Katherine Tegen Books, 2019) in the debut category, and The Archive of Alternate Endings, by Lindsey Drager (Dzanc Books, 2019) in the open category.

Neukom 2020 winners Cadwell Turnbull (l) and Ted Chiang (r) are honored for works in speculative fiction. [Turnbull photo credit: Anju Manandhar and Ted Chiang photo credit: Alan Berner.]

The debut winner, The Lesson, by Cadwell Turnbull, tells the story of the tense relationship between residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands and aliens parked over the island group on a multiyear research mission. The book provides a spec-fic twist to the complexities of colonialism, and of interactions between people.

“Few science fiction storylines are more overused than tales of alien first contact and invasion, which makes Cadwell Turnbull’s achievement in The Lesson all the more astonishing,” said Miller. “He’s managed to make it fresh and alive and painfully relevant for a moment where our histories of colonization and exploitation are poised to teach us all some terrible lessons, and we should all be paying attention. It’s the kind of debut that makes me so excited for the future of speculative fiction.”

The open category winner, Exhalation, by Ted Chiang, is a collection of nine stories that address subjects including time travel, alien life and artificial intelligence. In the book, Chiang’s second collection of stories, the author creates devices such as a digital memory and a digital pet to explore the many imaginative alleyways of the spec-fic genre.

“Ted Chiang is simply the greatest living science fiction writer, and each new story of his is cause for celebration. It’s been 17 years since his last collection, and Exhalation is exactly the kind of brain-exploding, superhuman, profoundly human work we need right now. Far and away the best speculative book of the year, and probably the decade. Ted’s stories rewrite the rules of the world and widen the scope of our dreams, and we are all in his debt,” said Miller.

Turnbull and Chiang will participate in an online award event later this month to discuss their works and the speculative fiction genre.

[Based on a press release.]

2 thoughts on “2020 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards

  1. Heavens, ya think Miller likes Chiang a little bit? 😉

    Chiang is one of those authors whom I can recognize as having a lot of genius without especially enjoying reading their stories myself. He’s an idea guy through and through, and he has great ideas — but I’ve become more and more of a character reader as the years have gone by, whatever that may say about me.

    I did really like the story in this collection that dealt with the nature of truth, though. That one hit me. I forget what its name was!

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