Wednesday, June 11, 2008

One Fine Selection of Stories


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There's simultaneously too little and far too much going on for a long posting today. Did everybody catch the stellar lineup of the 2008 Theodore Sturgeon Award finalists list?

Of course, nobody's going to be surprised by most of the names on the list. ("I am shocked -- shocked! -- to learn that Gene Wolfe and Karen Joy Fowler wrote some of the best stories of the year. Round up the usual suspects!") But how pleasant to see Johanna Sinisalo there. Sinisalo is one of Finland's foremost genre writers, but we see only those of her works which have been translated into English. So we owe the presence of "Baby Doll" to James and Kathy Morrow, whose SFWA European Hall of Fame brought many non-Anglophone works to our attention.

Wonderful book, the SFWA European Hall of Fame, in every regard save its title. Which was forced on the Morrows by their publisher. Who thought it would be commercial. And was wrong. This is so very typical of this business.

A Footnote to Literary History

I won the Sturgeon, long ago, for "The Edge of the World," which is still one of my favorite stories, and was bemused to discover that, at that time, at the awards ceremony, the original trophy (shown above) was brought out and shown to the winner -- and then taken away again! The winner's name was added to a plaque on the trophy and the thing itself . . . I dunno. I guess it was kept in a trophy case outside the coach's office.

It was Frederik Pohl who quietly suggested that a certificate should be printed up, so that the winners would have something to put on the wall. A real Mensch, Fred. I spent some time with him that weekend, and he was constantly suggesting small improvements in the way that things are run, ways to make people happier, new angles for promoting the Good.

Starting in 2004, winners of the Sturgeon Award began receiving personalized trophies, designed by Kij Johnson. Beautiful things. The administrators were gracious enough to make them up for previous winners as well, so I was grandfathered in.

And on the Poetry Front . . .

The latest Poem du Jour has Uncle Walt not lying in the gutter, but definitely looking at the stars.

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2 comments:

Fernando said...

It's not such a weird custom for some sport fans, at least soccer's. There are many championships that give the trophy to the winner... until the next edition, when they have to return it to be handed to the next winner. (Of course, every club makes a replica to exhibit permanently). I don't know how it works now, but the Soccer's World Cup was given permanently to Brasil in the 70s, but only after they had won in three different occasions.
I imagine it would be impractical to do such a thing with literary awards, particularly the part where the trophy must be recovered from the previous winner...

Michael Swanwick said...

I didn't know that bit about making a replica. I was aware that the Stanley Cup was only kept for a year, and the America's Cup too.

I didn't get to keep the Sturgeon for a year, though. I don't think I even got to hold it. It was just shown to me.

Most likely the difference is tied up in the kind of money writers get. You don't see many yachtsmen or professional hockey players standing around the free buffet table, wrapping hunks of cheese in paper napkins and stuffing them in their pockets to save for later.