Tuesday, November 06, 2007

World Fantasy 2007; Breathing is overrated

In case you've been living under a rock, as I have been, thanks for asking, Gene Wolfe has just won his first major award since the very early eighties in the form of the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel for Soldier of Sidon.

Bravo, randomly selected panel of judges, bravo.

Wolfe is as talented an author as has ever graced genre fiction; his least work fit to stand on any ballot. And this latest installment of the paramount example of an undependable narrator is a satisfying return to the world of Latro.

I was fortunate enough to attend World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga this past weekend, and it must be noted that this was a first class convention; as well-run and organized a con as I have attended in my handful of years in fandom. It was a truly first class operation from a members point of view.

So, though I was but a few feet away on the hotel patio, I was not present at the awards ceremony. I am normally angered by the rank foolishness of the chosen winners, and so have learned it is better to not attend award presentations at all. As such I was not present for what was apparently a wonderful and stirring speech by Toastmaster Guy Gavriel Kay about the recently deceased Robert Jordan.

Search as I might, I can not seem to locate a transcript of this speech. However, it was articulated to me that Kay thought it was a shame that Jordan was never nominated for a World Fantasy, Hugo, or Nebula Award during his lifetime, despite the implicit fact that genre fiction was so deeply influenced by his work, both artistically and fiscally. I don't know much else of what Kay said, and would dearly love to, if anyone has a transcript.

But this I can say:

"Right the fuck on, Guy."

James Rigney (as Robert Jordan) shaped Epic Fantasy in his own way just as much as J.R.R. Tolkien. That's right, I said it. Get over it. His impact is seen on the bookshelves of every bookstore that stocks fantasy in the world. With apologies to Marvel, let's do a little 'What If?' shall we?

If there had been no Wheel of Time, epic fantasy would still be stuck in the rut of Tolkien's
(albeit unintended by him) Rule of Three. Trilogies sell, the soul-sucking publishing houses would scream, longer series fail.

Would we have Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire?' Perhaps, as it was originally intended to be a trilogy. However, the popularity of his series, aside from the sheer quality, can also be traced to Jordan's cover blurb on A Game of Thrones. I can not number the many fans who have told me they picked it up do to that tiny blurb.

Well then, would we have the multi-volume epic stories of Steven Erikson? Robin Hobb? L.E. Modesitt? Terry Goodkind? (OK, so perhaps that one's in the negative column.)

Would someone have taken a chance on a seven book fantasy series from an unpublished, unknown author? Probably not. And so I state that while it may not be the only reason, Jordan's success weighed in the decision to publish Harry Potter.

Hell, The Wheel of Time has weighed in some form or another in the decision to publish any and every fantasy novel since the early nineties. The genre would not have it's popularity today if not for Jordan. There are a slew of authors who literally owe their having been published to him. How many genre authors were discovered by how many millions of readers while waiting for the next Wheel of Time novel?

So what am I getting at, exactly?

Next year when I actually attend the World Fantasy award presentation, I fully expect to witness the Life Achievement Award presented to Harriet Rigney. Anything less is wrong. (And I do not care about award rules. They can be changed by a simple vote.)

As for the SFWA Grandmaster, the rules for that will never be changed to allow for the deceased. The reason for that, of course, is that no living author would vote to compete on a ballot with the likes of H.G. Wells, H.P. Lovecraft, or Roger Zelazny. (And since I wasn't blogging at the time... James Gunn over Gene Wolfe? Michael Moorcock? You're a joke, SFWA.)

Please excuse the rambling. I haven't ranted like this in a while.

As for the other award winners, I was exceedingly pleased with Mary Rickert taking two categories.

Her inscription in my copy of Map of Dreams (go buy it!) reads: "Thanks for Sharing My Dream, Sincerely, M. Rickert"

No Mary, thank you for sharing your Dreams with us.

P.S. Yes, I'm back.

Comments on "World Fantasy 2007; Breathing is overrated"


Blogger Neth said ... (5:32 PM) : 

Welcome back and rant on!


Blogger Alison said ... (5:39 PM) : 

< sqeeeeeeeeeeee >

And just today I commented on your last blog post about my impatience waiting for you to "come back home".

As for RJ, couldn't agree more.

As for M. Rickert, I got Map of Dreams based on your recommendation (like most of my purchases thus far) and I couldn't put the book down.

Good to see you again this weekend.

Glad to read your passionate "rambling" once again.

-Bale 11/6/07


Blogger Wyrm Publishing said ... (6:28 PM) : 

So glad to see you starting this up again!


Blogger Xray said ... (6:34 PM) : 

So freakin' great to see you back, William. I, too, was gratified to hear that Kay so gracefully and confidently feted Robert Jordan's influence on the genre during his toastmasters's speech. So, so awesome.


Blogger Patrick said ... (10:56 PM) : 

Rant away, my friend! The Blogosphere was a lesser place with you gone!:-)


Blogger Tala said ... (8:39 AM) : 

"How many genre authors were discovered by how many millions of readers while waiting for the next Wheel of Time novel?"

Well said, very well said.

-Arwyl of asoiaf.westeros.org


Blogger Lacy said ... (9:28 AM) : 

So glad you are back. My bookstore is also glad you are back. I will keep them busy with your recommendations! I wish I could have been at World Fantasy.


Blogger Adam Whitehead said ... (6:58 PM) : 

Good to have you back, William! And a good post to come back with.


Blogger Tim said ... (11:30 AM) : 

Hey The transcript is on Guy Gavriel Kay's website....



Blogger Cindy said ... (12:32 PM) : 

You're right. Robert Jordan...while I have problems with his later books that I won't get into...was a major, major influence on the genre, and as such definately should have the recognition he deserves.



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