Ellison Campaigns for Spinrad

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Posted in the forum on his web site, Harlan Ellison is making the case for Norman Spinrad to be granted Grand Master status by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. The SFWA, home of Ann Crispin’s “Writer Beware” forum, hosts the annual Nebula Awards and the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award.

First given in 1975 to Robert A. Heinlein, the award was renamed in 2002 to honor Knight, who founded the SFWA in 1965. Past recipients include Ray Bradbury, Alfred Bester, Anne McCaffrey, James Gunn, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Fritz Leiber, among many others. The award is presented during the annual Nebula Awards banquet, and is given in recognition of lifetime achievement by authors in the science fiction and fantasy genres.

HARLAN ELLISON
– Tuesday, November 11 2014 11:37:26

TODAY WE LAUNCH THE ALL-OUT “NORMAN” INVASION !!!!!!!!!!

Pay heed! This one’s egregiously overdue, needs to be corrected
& is IMPORTANT!

NORMAN SPINRAD

must
must
must
MUST
MUST

be given the SFWA
GRANDMASTER
AWARD

THIS YEAR!!!!!!!!!!

I urge you, I implore you, join with me in launching a ferocious, all-fronts assault on the laggardly SFWA apparat that has allowed this brilliant sf visionary to wait in excess of 50 years to get his contemporaries’ due. NORMAN SPINRAD wrote

BUG JACK BARRON
THE IRON DREAM
THE LAST HURRAH OF THE GOLDEN HORDE
PASSING THROUGH THE FLAME
LITTLE HEROES
SONGS FROM THE STARS
THE MEN IN THE JUNGLE
PICTURES AT ll
NO DIRECTION HOME
JOURNALS OF THE PLAGUE YEARS
VAMPIRE JUNKIES
THE SOLARIANS
FRAGMENTS OF AMERICA
AGENT OF CHAOS
RIDING THE TORCH
THE STAR-SPANGLED FUTURE
A WORLD BETWEEN
THE MIND GAME
THE VOOID CAPTAIN’S TALE
OTHER AMERICAS
DEUS X

and…as the brilliant novelist, biographer, and savant, PAUL Di FILIPPO advised us yesterday in a widely-posted LOCUS review of Norman’s latest collection, OSAMA THE GUN, it is shameful that even though duds such as I have been accorded Grandmaster Laureate status — while I went on tv and had to lobby like a braying mule for Grandmaster Awards to be accorded Philip Jose Farmer, AE van Vogt (I was successful), Robert Sheckley and Kate Wilhelm (I was not), my voice has been shamefully absent TILL NOW, in support of

NORMAN SPINRAD AS IMMEDIATE SFWA GRANDMASTER!

I ask that you put aside for just one day, your usual tweets, blasts, replies, fill-in replies, facebook trivia, yelps, hoots, whatever…and go to every Infobahn contact you possess — SFWA threads, previous Grandmasters, Worldcon members, writer of all sorts, friends and e.contacts, past presidents or officials of SFWA (or the secret Sanhedrin assembling the list of “potential
nominees” and initiate a Petition to be signed by Grandmaster Laureates — you may, with my permission put me on that list — and start it viral today.

Let Paul Di Filippo know. Let Norman (who has e.mail and Facebook pages or somesuch), who is in Paris now, with Dona, let HIM know this is fulminating. Tell Buzz Dixon to spread it. Alert Jerry Pournelle and David Gerrold and Robin Wayne Bailey and Robert Silverberg and anyone else you might think even tangentially useful.

Go thee hence, in d’name’a de Lawd, do this noble deed!!!

Yr. Pal, Harlan

 

Spinrad’s career has spanned almost 50 years, and has had its share of controversies. His 1969 novel Bug Jack Barron managed to alienate both the British Parliament and major bookstore chain W.H. Smith with its sexual themes and political commentary, and The Iron Dream (1972) was banned in West Germany for perceived promotion of Nazism, despite its blatantly satirical nature. The latter novel explored the close nature of science fiction and fantasy literature to the militaristic power fantasies of the Nazis, but the irony was lost on many, including the American Nazi Party, who put the book on its recommended reading list.

Power, culture, sex and the richness of language have featured prominently in Spinrad’s work, and if it has been controversial it has also been widely acclaimed by both critics and other writers, such as Ellison and Ursula Le Guin. He has often explored futuristic cultures and societies in a depth that has both thrilled and challenged readers, in his novels The Void Captain’s Tale, Child of Fortune and He Walked Among Us. Star Trek fans will recognize his name from the fan-favorite “The Doomsday Machine” and his works have been nominated for the Hugo Award and repeatedly for the Nebula Awards, with The Iron Dream winning the French Prix-Tour Apollo Award in 1974.

Despite having, as critic Cat Rambo wrote in 2011, “probably irritated and offended as many readers and critics as has (Harlan) Ellison”, and having trouble finding publishers for many of his novels, Spinrad ultimately believes that the goal of writing science fiction is hope. In a 1999 Locus Online article, he wrote:

“Providing hope is something science fiction should be doing. It sounds arrogant to say it, but if we don’t do it, who the hell will? One of the social functions of science fiction is to be visionary, and when science fiction isn’t being visionary, it hurts the culture’s visionary sense. And when the culture isn’t receptive, neither is science fiction. It’s a downward spiral.”

Ellison’s call to action is already getting positive reception in the science fiction community. Steve Davidson over at Amazing Stories agrees wholeheartedly, writing:

“You read one of his novels and said to yourself – “god, this author must be at the top of the SF pantheon;  hell, he ought to be getting Pullitzers for science fiction!”  (Then of course you immediately set out for the bookstore to buy absolutely everything else the man has ever written so you could drown yourself in awesome social commentary, brilliant satire and damned fine SF, all at the same time!).

We agree.

There are writers who shape the genre.

Spinrad is one of them.

[additional reporting by Jason Hunt]

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Timothy Harvey

Timothy Harvey is a Kansas City based writer, director, actor and editor, with something of a passion for film noir movies. He was the art director for the horror films American Maniacs, Blood of Me, and the pilot for the science fiction series Paradox City. His own short films include the Noir Trilogy, 9 1/2 Years, The Statement of Randolph Carter - adapted for the screen by Jason Hunt - and the music video for IAMEVE’s Temptress. He’s a former President and board member for the Independent Filmmakers Coalition of Kansas City, and has served on the board of Film Society KC.

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