Judges have been announced for the World Fantasy Award 2012. I’ve written about the WFA in 2009 – Where is the World in the World Fantasy Award? – so I won’t reiterate what I wrote there, only note that, like last year, the jury has one token non-Anglophone member. Last year, it was Sacha Mamczak from Germany. This year it is Jacques Post from the Netherlands. In 2009 it was Jürgen Snoeren, also from the Netherlands. In 2008, there wasn’t even a token – it was 4 Americans and an Australian.
This is notable particularly in view of last year’s international line-up of nominees, culminating in the first black woman ever given a WFA (Nnedi Okorafor for best novel), and seeing several international figures – including French publishers Stéphane Marsan and Alain Névant, of Bragelonne in France, Karen Lord from Barbados, and Charles Tan from the Philippines – nominated in various categories (though it is worth noting none of them won).
I don’t want to rail at the award. I’ve argued for a more international jury in the past, but I am not the awards administrator and my influence is – surprise! – limited.
So this year, I want to try something different.
The judges for the WFA have to wade through an enormous amount of material. That that material is exclusively in the English language comes as no surprise, but still. I would like to see 2012 being truly representative of the best that international fantasy has to offer.
I would also like to see the Special Award (Professional and Non-Professional categories) being representative of the international scene.
We can help make this happen.
So here’s your mission – should you choose to accept it!
Tell us, in the comments, who you would like to see shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award. Best Novel? Best Short Story? Special Award?
We’ll put together your recommendations into a list and post it. And let’s all hope for a year where the World Fantasy Award reflects that first word in its title.
[Note on criteria: this should be for works published during 2011]
Lovecrat was a racist. That should come as no surprise to anyone who has read about him. He was also a knot of contradictions (not only because he married a Jewish woman after railing against Jewish people), which is no excuse, it’s just fact. I won’t even bother with the product-of-his-time thing because he was, and yeah. Lovecraft’s fears about everything (and boy, he had a number of fears) were channeled into his stories, so that it becomes pretty obvious that he didn’t like people who looked like me (“Red Hook” anyone?).
But just because Lovecraft was one way it doesn’t mean we have to be the same way. This is the mantra behind Innsmouth Free Press, where we’ve had a multi-cultural issue(Ekaterina Sedia, Charles R. Saunders and others contributed to it) and now two anthologies (Historical Lovecrat and Future Lovecraft) with writers from more than a dozen countries, some of them translated into English. The latest anthology, for example, has contributors from places like Nigeria, the Philippines and Germany. And the stories and poems are not about polite gentlemen from New England. “Tloque Nahuaque,” translated from the Spanish by me and penned by Nelly Geraldine Garcia-Rosas, puts the Higgs boson debate in a decidedly Mexican context (Tloque Nahuaque refers to a Prehispanic deity).
When Paula R. Stiles and I read slush, we still find a lot of stories that try to emulate Lovecraft by placing the tales in New England, with upper-crust white men as protagonists. During our Historical Lovecraft submissions period we got a big wave of the Victorian white gentleman, which caused me to blog about this and request more stories that veered from that narrow location and era because, hell, who wants to read an anthology called Historical Lovecraft and find out all we are representing is Boston 1880 to 1910? Instead, we managed to obtain some colonial Mexico and a bit of Egypt, among other things.
So what I don’t want to see with this debate is minority writers saying “shucks, I’ll never write a Lovecraft story because he was a racist asshole.” Because Lovecraft does raise interesting points and you can construct a refreshing dialogue by taking his settings, characters, idea or the like, and adapting them to your needs. If we don’t go there and start creating our own stories upon those Lovecraftian shores, nobody else will. – read the full post, with comments.
Nnedi Okorafor, this year’s winner of the World Fantasy Award for best novel (and a contributor to the upcoming Apex Book of World SF 2!), has a post up discussing the issue of the award statuette being shaped in the likeness of H.P. Lovecraft, a notorious racist (favourite quote – “ stunted brachycephalic South-Italians & rat-faced half-Mongoloid Russian & Polish Jews, & all that cursed scum!” – courtesy of Scott Edelman).
A statuette of this racist man’s head is in my home. A statuette of this racist man’s head is one of my greatest honors as a writer. A statuette of this racist man’s head sits beside my Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa and my Carl Brandon Society Parallax Award (an award given to the best speculative fiction by a person of color). I’m conflicted.The first thing I did was consult the hive mind on facebook. And what a conversation ensued. Several authors (including Steve Barnes and Jeff VanderMeer) weighed in on the topic. See the conversation here. This discourse led me to ask the winner of last year’s World Fantasy Award for Best Novel China Miéville (he’s also written and lectured extensively on Lovecraft) what he thought. He had much to say on the matter:
“Yes, indeed, the depth and viciousness of Lovecraft’s racism is known to me …It goes further, in my opinion, than ‘merely’ *being* a racist – I follow Michel Houellebecq (in this and in no other arena!) in thinking that Lovecraft’s oeuvre, his work itself, is inspired by and deeply structured with race hatred. As Houellebecq said, it is racism itself that raises in Lovecraft a ‘poetic trance’. He was a bilious anti-semite (though one who married a Jew, because, if you please, he granted that she was ‘assimilated’), and if you read stories like ‘The Horror at Red Hook’, the bile you will see towards people of colour, of all kinds (with particular sneering contempt for African Americans unless they were suitably Polite and therefore were patricianly granted the soubriquet ‘Negro’) and the mixed communities of New York and, above all (surprise surprise – Public Enemy were right) ‘miscegenation’ are extended and toxic.”It’s not as if I haven’t encountered this issue before. One of my favorite authors is Stephen King. Yet, in several of his novels (including one of my all time favorites- The Talisman), he features Super Duper Magical Negros. That’s a very mild example. I certainly don’t feel that King hates black people.…Do I want “The Howard” (the nickname for the World Fantasy Award statuette. Lovecraft’s full name is “Howard Phillips Lovecraft”) replaced with the head of some other great writer? Maybe. Maybe it’s about that time. Maybe not. What Iknow I want it to face the history of this leg of literature rather than put it aside or bury it. If this is how some of the great minds of speculative fiction felt, then let’s deal with that… as opposed to never mention it or explain it away. If Lovecraft’s likeness and name are to be used in connection to the World Fantasy Award, I think there should be some discourse about what it means to honor a talented racist. - read the full post.
We’re very pleased to note we’re up for the World Fantasy Award – Lavie for the World SF Blog, and Charles for his own Bibliophile Stalker blog, both in the Special Award – Non Professional category.
A very strong year for this award, with a more international flavour than is usual for it. I am very pleased to see two Apex Book of World SF 2 contributors (Lauren Beukes and Nnedi Okorafor) short-listed in the Best Novel category, French publishers Stéphane Marsan & Alain Névant nominated in the Special Award – Professional for Bragelonne, and Angélica Gorodischer being given a Lifetime Achievement award.
Congratulations to all the nominees!
The World Fantasy Awards Lifetime Achievement Winners for 2011 are Peter S. Beagle and Angélica Gorodischer. The awards are presented annually to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding service to the fantasy field.
The World Fantasy Awards nomination ballot has also been announced. Winners will be announced at this year’s World Fantasy Convention, to be held October 27-30, in San Diego CA. (Lifetime Achievement winners are announced in advance of the event).
- Zoo City, Lauren Beukes (Jacana South Africa; Angry Robot)
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
- The Silent Land, Graham Joyce (Gollancz; Doubleday)
- Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay (Viking Canada; Roc; Harper Voyager UK)
- Redemption In Indigo, Karen Lord (Small Beer)
- Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)
- Bone and Jewel Creatures, Elizabeth Bear (Subterranean)
- The Broken Man, Michael Byers (PS)
- “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon”, Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All-New Tales)
- The Thief of Broken Toys, Tim Lebbon (ChiZine Publications)
- “The Mystery Knight”, George R.R. Martin (Warriors)
- “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window”, Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer 2010)
Best Short Fiction
- “Beautiful Men” , Christopher Fowler (Visitants: Stories of Fallen Angels and Heavenly Hosts)
- “Booth’s Ghost”, Karen Joy Fowler (What I Didn’t See and Other Stories)
- “Ponies”, Kij Johnson (Tor.com 11/17/10)
- “Fossil-Figures”, Joyce Carol Oates (Stories: All-New Tales)
- “Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us”, Mercurio D. Rivera (Black Static 8-9/10)
- The Way of the Wizard, John Joseph Adams, ed. (Prime)
- My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, Kate Bernheimer, ed. (Penguin)
- Haunted Legends, Ellen Datlow & Nick Mamatas, eds. (Tor)
- Stories: All-New Tales, Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio, eds. (Morrow; Headline Review)
- Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, S.T. Joshi, ed. (PS)
- Swords & Dark Magic, Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders, eds. (Eos)
- What I Didn’t See and Other Stories, Karen Joy Fowler (Small Beer)
- The Ammonite Violin & Others, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Subterranean)
- Holiday, M. Rickert (Golden Gryphon)
- Sourdough and Other Stories, Angela Slatter (Tartarus)
- The Third Bear, Jeff VanderMeer (Tachyon)
- Vincent Chong
- Kinuko Y. Craft
- Richard A. Kirk
- John Picacio
- Shaun Tan
Special Award, Professional
- John Joseph Adams, for editing and anthologies
- Lou Anders, for editing at Pyr
- Marc Gascoigne, for Angry Robot
- Stéphane Marsan & Alain Névant, for Bragelonne
- Brett Alexander Savory & Sandra Kasturi, for ChiZine Publications
Special Award, Non-Professional
- Stephen Jones, Michael Marshall Smith, & Amanda Foubister, for Brighton Shock!: The Souvenir Book Of The World Horror Convention 2010
- Alisa Krasnostein, for Twelfth Planet Press
- Matthew Kressel, for Sybil’s Garage and Senses Five Press
- Charles Tan, for Bibliophile Stalker
- Lavie Tidhar, for The World SF Blog
Editorial: Where is the World in the World Fantasy Awards?
Writers talk – and one of those on-going conversations recently, here at WSNB HQ, has been the World Fantasy Award. It’s a very worthy award, singling out some remarkable works of fantasy in both long and short form. But one question kept bugging us, and it’s this: where is the World in World Fantasy?
It requires a mere glimpse at the list of winners, nominees or, indeed, judges to know that there is nothing very international about the WFA. Sure, there are the notable exceptions – namely S.P. Somtow and Zoran Zivkovic – but the award is predominantly – overwhelmingly – American.
Which is no bad thing, of course. American fantasy is, well, fantastic. But to call an American award the World Fantasy Award is to set out certain expectations and, one could argue, certain obligations. Are there no major works of fantasy in China? In Japan? In Russia? In France? In Latin America or Africa or the Middle East?
Not according to the WFA. I wonder how many of the previous judges could even read a second language. I do wonder what a panel of European judges would make of the award but, of course, English-speakers have dominated the judging, with very rare exceptions. My friend Alain, a French publisher, was a judge one year, and I remember him expressing similar frustration.
And it is frustrating. I’m not arguing a truly international award will ever be possible. But if it isn’t – and the WFA certainly isn’t – why not change its name? The American Fantasy Award seems a much more accurate description, and a more humble, more appropriate name. No French writer would raise eyebrows if they weren’t nominated for the American Fantasy Award. But to have a world – encompassing, one would imagine, Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, South America and – yes – North America (not to mention islands like Singapore or England) – in the title, and then constrict it to mean a small sub-section of humanity is hubristic, and unbecoming.
People might assume, incidentally, that the World SF Convention – the Worldcon – gained its name from a mandate that sees at least the possibility of it being held somewhere outside the United States (as the recent Japanese Worldcon – the first, and so far only Worldcon ever to take place in Asia). The explanation is much simpler, however, and rather charming – when it was set up by a group of young fans in New York, the World’s Fair was taking place in the city, and the organisers decided putting “world” before “convention” would make it sound grander (read Pohl or Asimov’s memoirs for the details). Nothing more, nothing less – and the convention has evolved over the years, as mentioned, to at least include the possibility of international hosting. Though it has to be noted the Hugo awards are still almost entirely dominated by American writers and publishers (to the exclusion of otherwise-obvious candidates from the UK, for instance), even when it travels outside of the US.
The World Fantasy Convention, on the other hand, was only set up in the 1970s, so I’m not sure what the reasoning was behind the name. The WFC takes place in the United States every year, and is widely seen as the important business convention in the American genre market. Again, one simply wonders why it has to be called something it clearly isn’t.
But what can be done about the WFA? Nothing, you might say. What difference does it make what it’s called? If you want, go and start your own, I don’t know, International Fantasy Award and leave us the World. Or, and that’s something organisers might, just possibly, consider, there’s the possibility of making the award more inclusive. How about a year without a single American or British judge? How about a mix of European, Asian and African judges? How about a year of French judges? Wouldn’t that be interesting? Or maybe I’m aiming too high. Even just one such judge might mix it up a little. Right now, there aren’t any.
I take international speculative fiction – that whole wide and exciting world of Malaysian horror and Japanese manga, of Israeli fantasy and French steampunk, of African magic realism and Chinese science fiction – seriously, because it’s seriously cool. There’s some amazing stuff out there – but not according to the WFA.
Perhaps it’s time to change that.
Or, more simply, change the name.