Thursday, December 05, 2013

Black Gay Author Named Grand Master of Science Fiction

Samuel R. Delany is a complicated man, someone who is accustomed to singular achievements. He is an openly gay, African-American man who while still a teenager married a white woman in 1961 (6 years before the Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage nationwide in Loving v. Virginia) and won two Nebula Awards for novels of speculative fiction in two consecutive years.

And now word comes that he has been named a Grand Master of Science Fiction by the SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the group that gives out the Nebula awards.

From the official announcement:
SFWA has named Samuel R. Delany, Jr. (1942– ) as the 2013 DAMON KNIGHT MEMORIAL GRAND MASTER for his contributions to the literature of Science Fiction and Fantasy. 
Samuel R. Delany is the author of numerous books of science fiction, including NovaDhalgrenStars in My Pockets Like Grains of Sand, and most recently Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders. Two of his classic works of science fiction criticism, The Jewel-Hinged Jaw and Starboard Wine, have just been brought back into print by Wesleyan University Press, who will reissue a third, The American Shore, in the summer of 2014. 
After winning four Nebula awards and two Hugo awards over the course of his career, Delany was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2002. Since 2001 he has been a professor of English and Creative Writing at Temple University in Philadelphia, where for three years he was Director of the Graduate Creative Writing Program. In 2010 he won the third J. Lloyd Eaton Lifetime Achievement Award in Science Fiction from the academic Eaton Science Fiction Conference at UCR Libraries. He is also a recipient of the William Whitehead Memorial Award for a lifetime’s contribution to lesbian and gay literature.
 Delany responded to the announcement of this prestigious honor with a statement:
This award astonishes me, humbles me, and I am honored by it. It recalls to me–with the awareness of mortality age ushers up–the extraordinary writers who did not live to receive it: Roger Zelazny, Joanna Russ, Thomas M. Disch, Octavia E. Butler–as well, from the generation before me, Katherine MacLean, very much alive. I accept the award for them, too: they are the stellar practitioners without whom my own work, dim enough, would have been still dimmer.
As a fan of speculative fiction I remember discovering that Samuel Delany was Black and being very pleased that someone who shares an identity characteristic had made significant contributions to a field I am very interested in. I was blown away when I discovered that he is gay (and pretty freaky). Even though his style of science fiction is simply not my cup of tea, it is widely recognized as being stylistically superior. It's quite interesting that the two primary African Americans to be recognized for their work in speculative fiction, Delany and the late, great Octavia Butler (who I knew personally!) were both Black and Gay, like myself. These facts warm my heart.

I'm very psyched to see that Delany is being recognized with this honor.

Hat/tip to Whatever.

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