Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Awards Like Stars in the Sky: The Canopus

The past year has seen a Pluto flyby, a Mars landing, and an asteroid landing—all major, major successes for space exploration and events whose images are utterly fascinating for their reality and the mind boggling amount of calculation and preparation that went into getting each.  These missions remind us that, despite the immense technological deficiencies remaining, some small progress is being made toward humans beyond the moon.  These three successes apparently so poignant, a new science fiction award was created.  Just what the genre needed… 

Intending to spotlight works that have interstellar exploration and travel as their prime motif, The Canopus Award was inaugurated just this past week.  Such is the world we live in today.  Don’t like something?  Change it yourself!  With a little bit of money and a few people to help coordinate the necessities (locating pertinent texts, writing policies and procedures, creating online presence, etc.) one can, in this example, attempt to overcome the wrenches in the works (known as Barry Malzberg, cyberpunk, and space fantasy—sorry, Singularity texts) and get back to the good ol’ fashion idea of massive metal objects transporting humans through the great void at great speed by creating an award that brings awareness to such texts.

What’s interesting to see on the Canopus award slate is Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora, a cautionary tale that seems to draw focus away from space and back to Earth, and not Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, a masturbatory exercise in space gadgetry if ever there were. One would have almost expected Stephenson’s novel to be a shoo-in given the novel’s theme, but I’m not the award’s organizer.  

Looking through the Science Fiction Awards Database, a person finds many a defunct award.  The group were able to hold the ship together for a few years, sometimes even a decade or more, before the strings let loose (probably the purse strings) and the award slipped into the night of genre awareness (that vast space comprising the majority of material older than ten years).  I’m not pronouncing the Canopus’ doom, but with so many crises at hand on Earth, I think I’m in Aurora’s boat, not Seveneves.  Shouldn’t we be solving Earth’s problems before tackling the riddle of space????  They seem more imminent...  I’m sure many of you are now thinking “Thank goodness that guy’s only got two cents.”

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