My overall response is meh. Nothing against Ms. Yolen, but I think she’s the first Grand Master whose books I’ve never read. Wait, check that, we have some of her “How Do Dinosaurs….” series of children’s books around the house.
Time to climb back on that horse (or that limb) and make a prediction for 2018. Not Simmons again; instead, I’ll predict someone whose sf output from the ’70s and ’80s had moments of great strength, and who has dominated the blockbuster fantasy mindspace for about 20 years now. (Remember, the F in SFWA stands for “Fiction and Fantasy”):
George R. R. Martin.
Congratulations to C.J. Cherryh, multiple award-winning author of Downbelow Station, Cyteen, the Faded Sun series, and a bunch of other sf and fantasy works. Here’s a link to the official announcement
I’ve now predicted the last four SFWA Grand Masters. Click on last year’s prediction post and follow the links back from there.
Ok, who will be named SFWA Grand Master in 2017?
Dan Simmons. The award-winning Hyperion series and the Ilium/Olympos diptych are big, bold space opera with extra helpings of literary allusion. He’s also written a lot of horror and historical/supernatural. Even though not core sf, those genres do have a crossover in readers and writers and should merit consideration. He’s had a prominent career for about 35 years.
Any other candidates come to your mind? Make their case in the comments.
Here’s the official announcement.
Nothing more needs to be said. One of the writers who led me to become a lifelong sf reader is getting a well-deserved accolade. So well-deserved I predicted it three years ago. (I’m also glad to see the recently-erupting political fault lines in the sf community didn’t ding him as I feared they might).
I’ll update my most recent prediction and predict C.J. Cherryh will receive the Grand Master award in 2016.
You may have heard that Samuel R. Delany was recently named 2013 Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA). He will receive the award at the Nebula Awards weekend in May 2014.
Long time readers of this blog knew he would win the honor last September. Following up on my prediction that Gene Wolfe would receive the award in 2013.
To whom will SFWA give the Grand Master award in 2015?
To be eligible, a candidate must be a living writer of sf/f. It helps to have a long career, a productive career, and mutilple award wins or other acclaim.
Recent events involving SFWA and sf fandom suggest future winners will tend to be one or more of non-white, non-straight, or non-male. (Take this statement as is, not should be).
Long career? About 40 years.
Productive career? Over 60 books.
Non-male? Check, plus the oppressed woman marker of being forced into her byline to disguise her sex and sound more rigorous than “Carolyn Cherry.” And “She now lives… with science fiction/fantasy author and artist Jane Fancher.”
Caveats: I’m not a SFWA member, and wouldn’t bother spending time in the organization’s private chat rooms if I were. I don’t know what sort of gossip, back-scratching, and other primate coalition building goes on in there that can impact the grand master selection. Also, I’ve read a few of Cherryh’s novels and some of her non-fiction on her website. I don’t know Cherryh at all. Given her subject matter and themes, she doesn’t seem the type to wilt and complain about sexism. She seems she could fire a rifle, field dress a deer, solve a calculus problem, and translate text into Latin. In sum, to my mind, Cherryh has some parallels to Elizabeth Moon. And we all know what happened to her.
They say prediction is difficult, especially about the future. Check back in a year to see how it turns out.
Here’s my update:
As a huge fan of Niven growing up, it pains me to write that. As a fan of Delany’s core sf of the ’60s into the early ’70s, the reasons why I write that pain me.
What are those reasons? Delany wrote some great core sf, didn’t he? Oh yes. Even a book I think of as a failure, Triton, fails in a thought-provoking manner. (Though my sense of that book as a failure is evolving). The first 15 years of his career are both necessary and sufficient to name Delany a SFWA Grand Master.
As reported elsewhere, Gene Wolfe, author of the Fifth Head of Cerebus, the four-volume Book of the New Sun, and numerous other works of complex, erudite science fiction and fantasy, was named this year’s recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award by SFWA. This is seriously cool news for a number of reasons:
1. A knowledgeable and sophisticated observer of science fiction predicted this about a year ago.
2. I live within a mile of his childhood home. Honest, he grew up in Houston. It’s possible he walked or biked by my house en route to the drugstore where he read pulp sf mags on the racks.
3. To other sf writers, he represents an aspirational archetype. The nearest metaphor is what an old *nix beard, full of command-line- and regex-fu, represents to a computer geek. Wolfe’s vocabulary is immense, and even better, not flashy. He doesn’t call Severian’s cloak “fuligin” because it has three syllables to the one of “black,” but because it’s darker than black and has connotations of sootiness, which metaphorically fits Severian’s starting position as an apprentice torturer. Wolfe is very adept at not explaining his sf props, and instead, providing enough context for the reader to figure them out. (E.g., the arquebusers and destriers.) And Wolfe is the master of using unreliable narration: the first and third novellas in Fifth Head of Cerebus, Severian throughout the New Sun books, head-injured Latro in the Soldier of the Mist series. Again, he doesn’t wield these as tricks, but to enrich the story–consider Severian’s eidetic memory, his response to the note regarding “Master Gurloes and the other masters” early in Claw of the Conciliator, and what that says about Severian that he never puts into his own words.
In sum, a well deserved recognition of the man Neil Gaiman called “our greatest living writer.”