Nobel Prize

Tagged: Award

The Nobel Prize for Literature, chosen annually by the Swedish Academy – with occasional no-award years during World War One and World War Two – is not of course a genre Award. We list the Nobel laureates in this category who have written sf or near-sf to the extent that they receive entries in the present encyclopedia. In addition to the honour, laureates receive a cash prize currently (2008) set at ten million Swedish kronor, roughly £850,000 or $1.7 million. The award was first presented in 1901; only living authors are eligible. There has been some inevitable controversy about the Academy's failure to honour various writers of great international repute – including but not restricted to Jorge Luis Borges, Vladimir Nabokov and Thomas Pynchon – despite many years of eligibility. With the arguable exceptions of Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014), Rudyard Kipling and perhaps José Saramago, no author whose work is primarily sf or fantasy has been awarded the prize. In another category, however, Baroness Bertha von Suttner received the 1905 Peace Prize (the first female winner).

Although the Nobel Prize can hardly be called an sf theme, its Chemistry, Medicine and Physics awards offer a convenient shorthand to establish a fictional Scientist's credentials. Examples of such use include John Buchan's The Gap in the Curtain (1932); Theodore Sturgeon's "The Comedian's Children" (May 1958 Venture), whose Nobel-winner is female; Isaac Asimov's "The Billiard Ball" (March 1967 If), whose physicist is a double winner; Doomwatch (1970-1972), which eponymous organization is run by Nobel laureate Dr Quist; Andrew Greeley's Angel Fire (1988); and Ian McEwan's Solar (2010). [DRL]

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