The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have named Samuel R. Delany their 2013 Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master. Mr. Delany has made a giant contribution to SFF ever since he began publishing in the 1960s, writing his strange, gorgeous novels in a lyrical language that often verges on poetry, and creating diverse alien worlds that have felt like home to his readers.
He has won four Nebula awards and two Hugo awards over the course of his career, was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2002, and has received the William Whitehead Memorial Award for a lifetime’s contribution to lesbian and gay literature.
Delany is 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.
Among his best-known works are Babel-17, The Einstein Intersection, Nova, Dhalgren, and Stars in My Pockets Like Grains of Sand. He wrote a memoir, Motion of Light in Water, detailing his life as a gay African-American man in New York during the 1950s and 60s, his marriage to poet Marilyn Hacker, and the beginning of his career as an author.
SFWA President Steven Gould said this in his announcement:
“…from the grains of sand in my pocket, I am delighted to pull this star. Samuel R. Delany is one of science fiction’s most influential authors, critics, and teachers and it is my great honor to announce his selection. When discussing him as this year’s choice with the board, past-presidents, and members, the most frequent response I received was, ‘He’s not already?’”
With his usual grace, Mr. Delany used his own statement to honor some of his great colleagues:
“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.”
The Grand Master Award has been given annually since 1975. Among those honored have been Isaac Asimov, Alfred Bester, Harlan Ellison, Ursula K. Le Guin, Connie Willis, and Gene Wolfe. The award will be presented at the 49th Annual Nebula Awards Weekend in San Jose, California, in May 2014.
Congratulations, Mr. Delany!