World Fantasy Award
|World Fantasy Award|
|Awarded for||Best English-language fantasy works of the previous year|
|Presented by||World Fantasy Convention|
The World Fantasy Awards are a set of awards given each year for the best fantasy fiction published in English during the previous calendar year. Organized and overseen by the World Fantasy Convention, the awards are given each year at the eponymous annual convention as the central focus of the event. They were first given in 1975, at the first World Fantasy Convention, and have been awarded annually since. Over the years that the award has been given, the categories presented have changed; currently World Fantasy Awards are given in five written categories, one category for artists, and four special categories for individuals to honor their general work in the field of fantasy.
The awards have been described by book critics such as The Guardian as a "prestigious fantasy prize", and one of the three most prestigious speculative fiction awards, along with the Hugo and Nebula Awards (which cover both fantasy and science fiction). World Fantasy Award nominees and winners are decided by attendees and judges. The panel of judges is typically made up of fantasy authors. Winners receive a small statuette; through the 2015 awards the statuette was a bust of H. P. Lovecraft designed by cartoonist Gahan Wilson. The statuette was retired following that year amid complaints about Lovecraft's history of racism; no replacement has yet been announced. The 2015 awards were presented at the 41st World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs, New York, on November 8, 2015. The 2016 awards will be presented at the 42nd World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, Ohio, on October 30, 2016.
The World Fantasy Awards were instated at the first annual World Fantasy Convention in 1975. Winners were presented with a statue in the form of a bust of H. P. Lovecraft designed by cartoonist Gahan Wilson, nicknamed the "Howard", which matched the theme of the first convention, "The Lovecraft Circle". As stated by Wilson in First World Fantasy Awards: An Anthology of the Fantastic, "The point of the awards was, is, and hopefully shall be to give a visible, potentially usable, sign of appreciation to writers working in the area of fantastic literature, an area too often distinguished by low financial remuneration and indifference".
At the start of the awards, the categories presented were those of Best Novel, Best Short Fiction, Best Collection, Best Artist, Special Award—Professional, Special Award—Non-professional, and Life Achievement. Only a few changes have been made to the categories since then. 1978 saw the addition of the Convention Award, a special award given for general contributions to the genre, and the only award not to be given every year since beginning. In 1982, the Short Fiction award was split into Short Story and Novella awards, and in 1988 the multi-author anthologies, previously eligible for the Collection award, were split into their own Best Anthology category. No changes have been made since.
World Fantasy Award nominees and winners are decided by judges and attendees of the World Fantasy Convention. A ballot is posted in June for attendees of the current and previous two conferences to determine two of the finalists, and a panel of five judges adds three or more nominees before voting on the overall winner. The panel of judges is typically made up of fantasy authors, as well as other fantasy professionals and is chosen each year by the World Fantasy Awards Administration, which has the power to break ties. The judges for the 2014 awards, for example, were authors Andy Duncan, Kij Johnson, Oliver Johnson, and Liz Williams, and editor John Klima.
The final results are presented at the World Fantasy Convention at the end of October. The Life Achievement and Convention Awards do not list nominees, and instead have the winner announced along with the other categories' nominees. Winners were presented with the H. P. Lovecraft bust through the 2015 awards; at that ceremony it was announced that future ceremonies will no longer use the statuette. Although controversy had been raised over Lovecraft's history of racism, no explicit reason was given for the change and no replacement has been announced.
|Current categories||Year started||Current description|
|Best Novel||1975||Stories of 40,000 words or more|
|Best Novella||1982||Stories of between 10,000 and 40,000 words|
|Best Short Story||1975||Stories of less than 10,000 words|
|Best Collection||1975||Collections of stories by a single author|
|Best Anthology||1988||Anthologies of stories by multiple authors|
|Special Award—Professional||1975||Professionals in the field of fantasy|
|Special Award—Non-professional||1975||Non-professionals in the field of fantasy|
|Convention Award||1978||Peerless contributions to the fantasy genre|
|Life Achievement||1975||Outstanding service to the fantasy field|
The awards have been described by book critics such as The Guardian as a "prestigious fantasy prize", and one of the three most prestigious speculative fiction awards, along with the Hugo and Nebula Awards (which cover both fantasy and science fiction). 1981 Short Story winner Howard Waldrop in 2010 termed the feat of winning all three awards as the "triple crown". Tachyon Publications has described it as "the prestigious World Fantasy Award", as have winners such as Waldrop, Charles Vess (Best Artist 1991, 1999), Gardner Dozois (Best Anthology, 2014), Ellen Datlow, (Best Anthology, multiple) and Terri Windling (Best Anthology, multiple). Stephen Jones of the Best New Horror series has said that winning the anthology award for their first volume in 1991 helped "establish the series among readers and some publishers" in multiple countries. Winners such as Nnedi Okorafor—Best Novel in 2011—have described the award as "one of my greatest honors as a writer".
Two anthologies have been drawn from the World Fantasy Award winners: First World Fantasy Awards: An Anthology of the Fantastic in 1977, edited by Gahan Wilson and covering stories from the initial award year, and The World Fantasy Awards: Volume Two in 1980, edited by Stuart David Schiff and Fritz Leiber.
At the 1991 awards, graphic novel The Sandman issue #19 "A Midsummer's Night Dream", scripted by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Charles Vess, won the award for Best Short Story. A common rumor afterwards was that the rules were subsequently changed to prevent another graphic novel from winning. The awards administration later clarified that comics and graphic novels were not intended to be eligible for that category, which did not require a rule change: "Comics are eligible in the Special Award Professional category. We never made a change in the rules."
H. P. Lovecraft statuette
A minor controversy about the statuette occurred in 1984, when Donald Wandrei refused his Life Achievement award as he felt the award bust was a demeaning caricature of Lovecraft, whom he had known personally. Wandrei's rejected statuette was later recycled and given to another award winner.
A larger controversy surrounding the bust began in the 2010s, when several authors began to object to using the author H. P. Lovecraft as the symbol of the awards, given his outspoken racism. Winners Okorafor and China Miéville noted in 2011 that they disliked being honored by a bust of a man who would have found many of the winners and nominees, such as Okorafor, distasteful because of their race. In August 2014, author Daniel José Older started a petition to change the World Fantasy Award statuette from a bust of Lovecraft to one of African-American author Octavia Butler. Kevin J. Maroney, editor of The New York Review of Science Fiction, also supported the petition, suggesting the bust be replaced with a symbol representing the fantasy genre. Maroney argued this should be done "not out of disrespect for Lovecraft as a writer or as a central figure in fantasy, but as a courtesy to generations of writers whom the WFA hopes to honor." 2014 winner Sofia Samatar noted the controversy and her issues with the statue as a woman of color in her acceptance speech.
In September 2014, the administrators of the World Fantasy Award announced they were "in discussion" about the future of the award statuette. In November 2015, at the 2015 awards, they announced that the Lovecraft trophy would no longer be used beginning the following year. Older told The Guardian "if fantasy as a genre truly wants to embrace all of its fans ... we can't keep lionising a man who used literature as a weapon against entire races." Lenika Cruz, associate editor of the The Atlantic, defended the decision, stating that "Lovecraft's removal is about more than just the writer himself; it's not an indictment of his entire oeuvre". Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi, however, expressed anger at the decision, calling it "a craven yielding to the worst sort of political correctness". Joshi added that he had returned his two World Fantasy Awards, and urged a boycott of the convention.
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