SFWRITER.COM > About Rob > Press Releases > Premio UPC Win (1998)
For Release Wednesday, December 2, 1998
Sawyer wins World's Largest Cash Prize for Science Fiction for Second Consecutive Year
BARCELONA, SPAIN: Robert J. Sawyer
of Thornhill, Ontario, today won the world's largest annual cash prize for
Science Fiction writing.
Sawyer, 38, won the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya's
1998 Premio UPC de Ciencia Ficción, which carries a
cash prize of one million pesetas (approximately Cdn$11,000 or
US$7,000). By comparison, the largest North American cash prize
available to published SF writers is the annual Philip K. Dick
Award, which carries a US$1,000 prize; the largest British prize
is the annual Arthur C. Clarke award, valued at 1,000 pounds.
The Premio UPC de Ciencia Ficción is open to works
in Spanish, Catalan, French, and English. This year, the
competition drew 134 submissions the largest number in the
award's history from writers in countries including the United
States, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, France, Israel, Japan, Mexico,
Romania, and Spain. Renowned British critic Brian Aldiss, author
of the definitive history of the SF field Trillion Year
Spree, calls the Premio UPC de Ciencia Ficción
"the most prestigious science fiction award in all of Europe."
The Premio UPC is given for novella-length works (between
25,000 and 40,000 words). Sawyer's 1998 winner was "Block
Universe," a self-contained excerpt from his forthcoming eleventh
novel FlashForward, which will be
published in hardcover by Tor Books, New York, in June 1999.
FlashForward deals with an experiment that goes awry at
CERN, the European Centre for Particle Physics, causing the
consciousness of everyone on Earth to jump ahead twenty-one
years for a period of two minutes.
Astonishingly, this is the second year in a row Sawyer has won
the Premio UPC (last year, he tied for first place with
Puerto Rican writer James Stevens-Arce). Sawyer's 1997 winner
was "Psychospace," a short version of his highly acclaimed novel
Factoring Humanity ("An intelligent
and absorbing double-stranded narrative that accelerates to
hyperspeed in the last few pages" Kirkus; "I loved it"
Analog). Since the UPC award was established in 1991,
no one has ever won the grand prize twice before. Previous
English-language winners include Jack McDevitt in 1992 and Mike
Resnick in 1994.
Two "special mentions" of 250,000 pesetas each (Cdn$2,600 or
US$1,700) were given to runners-up Rodolfo Martínez of
Spain (for his story "Este relámpago, esta locura") and
Gabriel Trujillo of Mexico (for his story "Gracos"). A third
250,000-peseta special mention, reserved for a member of the UPC
community, was shared by Javier Sánchez-Reys and Pedro A.
García Bilbao for their collaborative work "Fuego sobre
The Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya ("the Polytechnic
University of Catalonia," a region of northeast Spain), which
sponsors the Premio UPC de Ciencia Ficción, is
located in Barcelona. The award jury this year consisted of
Lluís Anglada, Miquel Barceló, Josep Casanovas,
Jordi José, and Manuel Moreno. Judging was done blindly
(no author names on manuscripts, and without the judges knowing
the national origins of the writers).
Sawyer is currently on a long-planned writing retreat on one of
the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. Renowned British SF author
Stephen Baxter, who presented the keynote address "All Aboard for
the Eschaton: Science Fiction and the End of the Universe," at
today's gala awards ceremony at the UPC accepted Sawyer's prize
on his behalf.
Robert J. Sawyer is the
president of the Science Fiction and
Fantasy Writers of America, and Canada's only native-born
full-time science-fiction writer. He has previously won the top
SF awards in the United States
(the Nebula Award), Canada (the
Aurora), Japan (the
Seiun), and France
(Le Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire)
a feat no one else has ever managed. His tenth novel, Factoring Humanity, was released by
Tor Books in hardcover in June 1998; just out in paperback are
reissues of his Hugo Award-nominated
Frameshift (Tor, November 1998) and
his SF courtroom drama
Illegal Alien, which The Globe
and Mail: Canada's National Newspaper called "the best
Canadian mystery of the year" (Ace, January 1999).
More Good Reading
Information about Rob's 1997 UPC win
Information about Rob's 2004 UPC win
BEM Website with photos
from the 1997 awards ceremony and more information about the award
Rob's essay on winning the Premio UPC de Ciencia
Press Backgrounder: Robert J. Sawyer
Press Backgrounder: SF Awards
Press Release index
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