The Animals in that Country by Laura Jean McKay has been announced as the 35th winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the UK’s most prestigious prize for science fiction literature.
“In many ways Laura’s book could be considered as a first contact novel, only the multiple alien species that humanity encounters have been sharing the Earth with us all along,” said the award’s director, Tom Hunter. “In this way the novel speaks for the silent victims of our real-world climate crises, but while the environmental and social themes are deeply serious, our judges also praised the book’s dark humor, sense of character and place, and its active opposition to easy genre tropes.”
The Animals in that Country by Laura Jean McKay
Jean is not your usual grandma. She’s never been good at getting on with other humans, apart from her beloved granddaughter, Kimberly. Instead, she surrounds herself with animals, working as a guide in an outback wildlife park. And although Jean talks to all her charges, she has a particular soft spot for a young dingo called Sue. As disturbing news arrives of a pandemic sweeping the country, Jean realizes this is no ordinary flu: its chief symptom is that its victims begin to understand the language of animals–first mammals, then birds and insects, too. As the flu progresses, the unstoppable voices become overwhelming, and many people begin to lose their minds, including Jean’s infected son, Lee. When he takes off with Kimberly, heading south, Jean feels the pull to follow her kin. Setting off on their trail, with Sue the dingo riding shotgun, they find themselves in a stark, strange world in which the animal apocalypse has only further isolated people from other species