2015 World Fantasy Awards Ballot

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This image of the traditional World Fantasy Award’s Lovecraft bust created by Gahan Wilson is displayed on the 2015 WFC web page.

The 2015 World Fantasy Award shortlist has been released.

The ballot was picked by a two-step process. The two items in each category receiving the most nominations from members of the World Fantasy Convention were placed on the final ballot. The remainder were added by the judges. The 2015 World Fantasy Awards judges are Gemma Files, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Bénédicte Lombardo, Bruce McAllister and Robert Shearman.

Novel

  • Katherine Addison, The Goblin Emperor (Tor Books)
  • Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Stairs (Broadway Books/Jo Fletcher Books)
  • David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks (Random House/Sceptre UK)
  • Jeff VanderMeer, Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy (Farrar, Straus and Giroux Originals)
  • Jo Walton, My Real Children (Tor Books US/Corsair UK)

Novella

  • Daryl Gregory, We Are All Completely Fine (Tachyon Publications)
  • Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen, “Where the Trains Turn” (Tor.com, Nov. 19, 2014)
  • Michael Libling, “Hollywood North” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nov./Dec. 2014)
  • Mary Rickert, “The Mothers of Voorhisville” (Tor.com, Apr. 30, 2014)
  • Rachel Swirsky, “Grand Jeté (The Great Leap)” (Subterranean Press magazine, Summer 2014)
  • Kai Ashante Wilson, “The Devil in America” (Tor.com, April 2, 2014)

Short Story

  • Kelly Link, “I Can See Right Through You” (McSweeney’s 48)
  • Scott Nicolay, Do You Like to Look at Monsters? (Fedogan & Bremer, chapbook)
  • Ursula Vernon, Jackalope Wives (Apex Magazine, January 2014)
  • Kaaron Warren, “Death’s Door Café” (Shadows & Tall Trees 2014)
  • Alyssa Wong, “The Fisher Queen,” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May/June 2014)

Anthology

  • Ellen Datlow, ed., Fearful Symmetries (ChiZine Publications)
  • George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, eds., Rogues (Bantam Books/Titan Books)
  • Rose Fox and Daniel José Older, eds., Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History (Crossed Genres)
  • Michael Kelly, ed. Shadows & Tall Trees 2014 (Undertow Publications)
  • Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant, eds., Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales (Candlewick Press)

Collection

  • Rebecca Lloyd, Mercy and Other Stories (Tartarus Press)
  • Helen Marshall, Gifts for the One Who Comes After (ChiZine Publications)
  • Robert Shearman, They Do the Same Things Different There (ChiZine Publications)
  • Angela Slatter, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings (Tartarus Press)
  • Janeen Webb, Death at the Blue Elephant (Ticonderoga Publications)

Artist

  • Samuel Araya
  • Galen Dara
  • Jeffrey Alan Love
  • Erik Mohr
  • John Picacio

Special Award—Professional

  • John Joseph Adams, for editing anthologies and Nightmare and Lightspeed magazines
  • Jeanne Cavelos, for Odyssey Writing workshops
  • Sandra Kasturi and Brett Alexander Savory, for ChiZine Publications
  • Gordon Van Gelder, for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
  • Jerad Walters, for Centipede Press

Special Award—Non-professional

  • Scott H. Andrews, for Beneath Ceaseless Skies: Literary Adventure Fantasy
  • Matt Cardin, for Born to Fear: Interviews with Thomas Ligotti (Subterranean Press)
  • Stefan Fergus, for Civilian Reader
  • Ray B. Russell and Rosalie Parker, for Tartarus Press
  • Patrick Swenson, for Fairwood Press

The winners will be announced at the World Fantasy Con in Saratoga Springs, NY from November 5-8.

Already announced are the World Fantasy Life Achievement Winners: Ramsey Campbell and Sheri S. Tepper.

WFC To Continue With Lovecraft Bust? Last year Daniel Jose Older collected over 2,500 signatures on a petition calling for the replacement of “avowed racist and a terrible wordsmith” H.P. Lovecraft on the World Fantasy Award.

The Guardian reported last September that the “board of the World Fantasy awards has said that it is ‘in discussion’ about its winners’ statuette”.

When Sofia Samatar won in 2014, she made a statement about the controversy in her acceptance speech, which she later expanded into a blog post —

2. The Elephant in the Room I think I used those words. I think I said “I can’t sit down without addressing the elephant in the room, which is the controversy surrounding the image that represents this award.” I said it was awkward to accept the award as a writer of color. (See this post by Nnedi Okorafor, the 2011 winner, if you are confused about why.) I also thanked the board for taking the issue seriously, because at the beginning of the ceremony, Gordon van Gelder stood up and made an announcement to that effect: “The board is taking the issue very seriously, but there is no decision yet.” I just wanted them to know that here I was in a terribly awkward position, unable to be 100% thrilled, as I should be, by winning this award, and that many other people would feel the same, and so they were right to think about changing it.

In May, File 770 reached out to the WFC Board about the status of the Lovecraft image but received no acknowledgement.

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh for the story.]

Update 07/12/2015: Incorporated official revisions to ballot. See details here

77 thoughts on “2015 World Fantasy Awards Ballot

  1. Mad Professah

    I love The Bone Clocks! But fantasy?? Wha……?

    While it has Fantasy in the title the World Fantasy Awards are probably the broadest of the major awards when it comes to awarding speculative fiction. Horror, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy all appear to have equal footing with prior nominees including well known authors of all of those genres. It by King, Song of Kali by Simmons, The Damnation Game by Barker, Strangers by Koonts, On Stranger Tides by Powers, The Drive In by Lansdale, Boy’s Life by McCammon (one of the best books I’ve ever read), and on and on and on. Speculative fiction in general is by far more awarded than what is considered straight up fantasy.

    Personally I hold that award in the highest regard as I’ve enjoyed so many of the past nominees.

    Glad to see TGE and City of Stairs in there!

  2. Fantasy, in the form of the conflict between the two immortal factions, was central to The Bone Clocks, far more so than the speculative element.

  3. Replace H. P. Lovecraft’s image with someone else? How about a bust of Andrea Dworkin? I’ve always found her pretty scary.

  4. Isn’t it interesting that this looks nothing like the Hugo ballot.

    Just as the Locus and Nebula shortlists looked nothing like the Hugo ballot!

    It just stands as another example of Puppy ridiculousness, that none of their oh-so-nuggety works were listed on any other major SFF award.

  5. OffendedPup on July 8, 2015 at 9:58 pm said:
    Replace H. P. Lovecraft’s image with someone else? How about a bust of Andrea Dworkin? I’ve always found her pretty scary.

    Sad puppy scared of feminism. In other news: sky blue, water wet.

  6. I think Grand Jeté is the best SFF novella of the year, but nominating for a strictly fantasy award is quite absurd. It’s clearly science fiction.

  7. Yay for Jo Walton’s nomination! And the other contestants look very good as well. Just wish, they had done away with the Lovecraft statue.

  8. @ Redheadedfemme

    Isn’t it interesting that this looks nothing like the Hugo ballot.

    Just as the Locus and Nebula shortlists looked nothing like the Hugo ballot!

    Well, not nothing. Goblin Emperor is on there! Y’know, the book that snuck on despite the Puppies.

    Certainly no sign of the amazing year we’re supposed to believe that John C. Wright had. There’s a classic case of “show, not tell.”

  9. You don’t have to be a Puppy to be concerned about an Andrea Dworkin Award — everything I’ve ever read both by her and about her didn’t resemble feminism as I’ve been given to understand it since I was a teen-ager, but rather more like misandry.

    I was one who remarked negatively here about the appearance of the Lovecraft Award until someone else mentioned it had been designed by Gahan Wilson, so its appearance is…satirical? Affectionate? Anyway not so bad while placed in context.

    That Lovecraft himself was racist didn’t translate into actions since he was approving of programs intended to reduce poverty and provide some measure of dignity. It’s pretty clear that with him the personal was not the political.

    His position in modern fantasy writing is like only two others: he, Tolkein, and Lewis each occupy their own mountain peak, with all others trying to approach their level but not reaching it. It would be an insult to previous winners, I think, to say “Your award is no longer valued the same as it was before.” It also would be an insult to Gahan Wilson, who created the statuette in good faith.

    If some are that dissatisfied, perhaps the award could rotate in busts of the three or others on a list of whoever else is representative of the genre as a whole to be selected by each year’s committee.

    And if Lovecraft was such an awful wordsmith, why are his stories still selling eighty and ninety years after they were written? If he was such an awful wordsmith, why do his stories still grip the heart and make younger readers sleep with the lights on? Why are filmmakers and television writers still adapting his work? Why does everyone recognize the names of his Elder Gods and Old Ones, and laugh at every parody?

    The committees giving the award aren’t racist, so the award shouldn’t be taken as such. Whatever the man was, the genre and the spirit of the award transcend him into ideas much greater, and are for the best writing in one race, that of Human.

  10. I am a great fan of Lovecraft’s body of work, avid Call of Cthulhu player and I love what the myth has grown into.
    But Lovecraft was an avid racist, there is no denying that and it shows not only in his personal letters but also in his books. To me Lovecraft represents the Horror genre much more than the Fantasy genre. He trades in fear and fear of the unknown is his big thing. I therefore think that the racism in his works strikes a core issue, even if Lovecraft himself was unaware of it.

    Even though I think Lovecraft is a truly good author I don’t think he should be the face of an award in this day and age. There are others that are way better suited to represent the Fantasy genre, without the political implications.

  11. @ David K. M. Klaus
    – Lovecraft’s racism did translate into actions. He wrote racist texts. He doesn’t get a cookie for not participating in a lynching.
    – We surely can agree that not everyone need share your high opinion of the man’s writings.
    – Changing the statuette does not affect previous winners. Or rather, they’d have to work themselves into hysterics over the fact that the body which gave them the award changed the statuette. Same with Gahan Wilson: The work was done, was appreciated but for reasons which have nothing to do with Gahan Wilson’s work would be exchanged for something else.
    – Popularity and sales don’t equal quality.
    – The issue is that the guy whose face is on the award didn’t believe there is just one race. He believed black people are beasts full of vice. Can you honestly not see how that can be a problem for POC receiving the award or really anyone who cares about the topic. Surely, if there are people who can separate the man from his racism and the award from the man, we can allow for the fact that others can’t and be considerate of them.

  12. You don’t have to be a Puppy to be concerned about an Andrea Dworkin Award —

    You’d certainly need to share a bit of their paranoid worldview, since Andrea Dworkin’s only connection to Fantasy (as far as I am aware) is having been friends with Michael Moorcock.

  13. I’m not sure that Rachel Swisky’s story is unambiguously SF; however, I have no knowledge of all the religious aspects, and that keeps throwing me out of the story, since I’m obviously failing to understand the essence of it…

  14. Honestly, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to call “The Bone Clocks” a fantasy novel. I’d also think it’s pretty reasonable to call it a science fiction novel.

  15. I’m conflicted on the HPL award. He was a nasty little man in serious ways, but also a visionary genius.

    I wonder if keeping it as HPL keeps an important conversation and teaching moment in the forefront though. We can acknowledge why his work is important and to be valued, and also understand why he personally was awful, and do that all the time?

  16. Gully

    I think most of us are conflicted about it; I think that when it reaches the point where it hurts people, as it does, then we should stop defending it and choose something which does not convey in-your-face ‘think yourself lucky that we are graciously giving you this statue of a thoroughly disgusting guy’.

    We are all capable of mind-boggling insensitivity to others; usually, however it’s spontaneous and most of us recognise at least subsequently that we’ve done so and regret it. This isn’t one of those occasions; we’re doing it deliberately, and that makes it pretty indefensible…

  17. For some time I have believed that they should replace Lovecraft with the Doors of Durin on the award. Better symbolism, and less ugly.

  18. Lovecraft in a 1936 letter to C. L. Moore:

    “As for the Republicans—how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft world, and revel in (consciously or unconsciously) mendacious assumptions (such as the notion that real liberty is synonymous with the single detail of unrestricted economic license or that a rational planning of resource-distribution would contravene some vague and mystical ‘American heritage’…) utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead.”

  19. I get it, I just wonder if there is value in keeping a conversation about his awfulness in the foreground. Sunlight the best disinfectant and all.

    I’d be pretty shocked if Tolkien was not a pretty vicious racist in lots of ways, given the cultures he was born to and lived in, in the timeframe he did. Of course, he seems to have been more circumspect in his actions and writings, but a Briton formed in the South Africa of that era raises questions does it not?

  20. @Gully Foyle:

    Tolkien is not the subject here. Tolkien’s visage is not on a major award. No one is arguing Tolkien.

    Lovecraft now, he was undoubtedly a terrible racist and his visage *is* on a major award.

    Lovecraft’s reality is what we are discussing. Speculations and guesses about anyone else are irrelevant.

  21. Congratulations to all the nominees! I’m particularly pleased to see The Goblin Emperor on there.

    I hope they change the statuette. Lovecraft’s racism was extreme even for his time, and however influential he was and is that doesn’t mean he has to be the face of one of sf/f’s most prestigious awards. Not sure which author I’d pick to replace him, though – Ursula Le Guin? Octavia Butler?

    Re: Andrea Dworkin

    Since she’s not known for being a speculative fiction author (although people do like to take passages from her fiction and present them as things she said or wrote in her essays) I doubt she’ll be on any awards any time soon.

    @Gully Foyle

    I think we can keep that conversation in the spotlight without handing an award with his face on to anyone, let alone writers who know perfectly well he would’ve hated them for no good reason.

  22. Tolkien left South Africa long before he could be formed by it, at three years old, and his parents were from England in the first place.

    I’m not aware of any obvious statements of his about racism — except for the famous letter to a German publisher (re a German translation of The Hobbit) asking if he was Aryan:

    I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people.

    and the associated letter to GA&U regarding the letter:

    In any case I should object strongly to any such declaration appearing in print. I do not regard the (probable) absence of all Jewish blood as necessarily honourable; and I have many Jewish friends, and should regret giving any colour to the notion that I subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine.

  23. Even the Lovecraft fan in my household would like to see the statuette changed to something else, on the grounds that it looks hideous.

  24. I can understand the frustration over the Lovecraft statue. I would argue that if the award is to be changed than they should avoid using any person on the award. I doubt anyone of note would not be objectionable to someone. Nothing is more iconic of fantasy than a dragon. Have someone like Michael Whelan design an amazing dragon sculpture.

  25. Hey all, more than happy to cede the ground – I am not attempting to defend lovecraft, but racism is best conquered in plain sight, not hidden and ignored. i know my questions may have been misperceived, if so, sorry

  26. @Gully

    I’m pretty sure the disagreement is in the specifics rather than the overall stance. 🙂 I didn’t see what you were saying as a defence of Lovecraft at all.

    I think that leaving Lovecraft as the statuette would look to a casual observer like ignoring his racism. More people see the award than see the discussions going on around it. Similarly, I hope people aren’t too put off by this year’s Hugo ballot, because I expect that a lot of people who use it as a suggested reading list won’t know about the Puppies. 🙁

  27. Gully

    There is a time honoured maxim amongst barristers (trial lawyers):

    ‘Never ask a question when you don’t know the answer’

    for reasons entirely obvious. Your post was a remarkably good example of what happens when you ignore that maxim. If you are going to allege that an individual was racist then you need to have some evidence of that fact; slurring someone because you are trying to find some reason to defend another indubitably racist person is really not a good idea.

    On a more cheerful note, Muguruza is into her first ever Wimbledon final, and we are about to see Serena Williams play Sharapova in the next semi-final…

  28. Gully

    You are claiming that your perfectly straightforward assertions were ‘misperceived’ and thus it’s our fault, not yours.

    That isn’t true.

  29. I’m rarely comfortable judging the past by our rather recent arrival at the truth. Really, how many writers/thinkers/people from before, say, 1970, could measure up? Dante, Shakespeare, Milton all fall short. So many wrong about sex, race, religion, orientation, and so much more. Is there no point at which we can separate people’s achievements from their shortcomings (or the evils of their era)?

    Anyhow, I totally understand that for many people, the awfulness of Lovecraft’s racism is too raw a problem to put aside, and they want the statue changed. But I do wish we were better able to recognize people’s failings, contextualize them and move on.

  30. The Hugo is a rocket.
    The Nebula is a nebula.
    The Stoker is a house.
    So why is the World Fantasy Award a guy’s face?
    That’s a huge part of what makes his personal qualities, such as racism, relevant.

    You could defend it on history if he were just that important to the field, but he’s not — he’s important, but not more important than many other faces that could be on there.

    I’ll defend him as not being a terrible wordsmith, but again, he’s far from the only not-terrible-wordsmith in the field.

    You could defend it on aesthetics if it were simply gorgeous in itself, but it’s not — Gahan Wilson is an amazing 2-D artist, but his distortions do not translate well to 3-D and it’s always been a hideous-looking thing.

    As far as I know there’s not some monetary reason not to change it — some legacy that specifically stipulates that the form of the award not be changed.

    At that point you’re left with “tradition” as the reason to keep doing it. And “tradition” might be a fine thing to keep up when it’s not hurting people. But people have made it clear that it is hurting them.

    At that point there’s no reason to keep it.

  31. Maybe if we brainstorm a new award? I’ve been sitting here trying to come up with an iconic “this is fantasy” object. A wand? A zombie? A unicorn?
    There’s a bunch of super-creative people here. Ideas?

  32. A dragon comes to mind — not particularly original but it wouldn’t tie into personal histories. Since it’s world fantasy, something that plays with a globe? I like the idea of something indicating imagination opening to wonder, but I am really clearly no artist.

    I suspect if there were an artistic challenge made and entries accepted, there would be some marvelous possibilities in response.

  33. If one wanted to redesign the award statuette, and keep Lovecraft in the mix, why not an image of Cthulu?

  34. I am confused by the repeated claims that horror that involves the supernatural is somehow not fantasy. At any rate, not only has not-quite-fantasy been nominated for/won World Fantasy awards, so too have stories with no speculative element: Dennis Etchison’s “The Dark Country” and Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore.

    The World Fantasy Award was conceived of as a counter to Tolkien’s influence on fantasy, so the chances of the trophy ever becoming a dragon are slim. Thankfully so, as it is hard to conceptualize a more obvious cliché. What’s the use of a pewter dragon as a prize when there are innumerable such items for sale in the huckster room of most regional conventions?

    The Lovecraft bust should be changed for the simple reason that a number of recent winners and nominees have objected to it. An award is designed to honor winners and nominees (nominees receive a pin of very similar design); if the honorees feel even a scintilla less honored, then something has gone wrong. Most of the pro-Lovecraft arguments—and I am a Lovecraftian, mind you—have confused who is being honored. The WFA doesn’t honor Lovecraft, it honors its winners and nominees.

    In 2011, I recommended that the award be a statuette of a chimera, as, like fantasy, a chimera is a lot of things. Still haven’t heard a better idea. I suspect that for now the discussion is off the table anyway, as there was a haphazard vote at the last World Fantasy Convention and most voted against changing the bust to something else.

  35. @Gully

    I don’t think anyone suggests that Lovecraft should be forgotten and his books shunned. He is a skilled writer in my opinion, he should be read and discussed in his personal context.

    But “being” an award is even more of an honour than getting one. It says to the winner “you are a great author in the tradition of (in this case Lovecraft)” and I see why, in context of his racism, this would be offensive to many writers.

    I’d be very much in favour of changing the award away from a person to something more representative of Fantasy, like a Gate or a Dragon.

  36. Petréa Mitchell on July 9, 2015 at 6:44 am said:
    Even the Lovecraft fan in my household would like to see the statuette changed to something else, on the grounds that it looks hideous.

    Gahan Wilson was a talented visual artist, but sculpture is not what one thinks of when one thinks of him. Two-dimensional art was where he really shone.

    Does anyone know how a sculpted grotesquerie by the talented Mr. Wilson became the official statuette for the World Fantasy Award?

    At any rate, there is no reason to cling to one form of an award, especially when that form is so problematic in so many ways.

  37. I’d sort of like a lamassu, but that’s mostly just because I really like them. 🙂

    @Nick Mamatas

    Good comment.

  38. The Bone Clocks is an excellent novel whatever the category it falls under. That is another one I would have liked to see nominated for a Hugo.

  39. But I do wish we were better able to recognize people’s failings, contextualize them and move on.

    In the context of his times, Lovecraft was still outstandingly racist. I can quote his poetry, if you like.

  40. Noah Body

    I do occasionly rise to the bait when Shakespeare is involved; any actor, given the choice between playing Shylock, the nominal villain, or playing Antonio, the nominal hero, of ‘The Merchant of Venice’ will grab the role of Shylock at the speed of light.

    This is because Shakespeare gave Shylock some of the most perfectly honed speeches in the English language, which enable him to completely dominate the play; both writer and audience knew perfectly well that Christians refraining from charging interest were non-existent. Shakespeare’s own father had been charged with usury, and there are certainly hints that Shakespeare himself loaned money at interest.

    All plays require that their audiences suspend their disbelief; the Merchant needed that more than most. It’s incredibly difficult to play it as anything other than a tragedy, which is what it was and is. And actors will carry on coveting the role of Shylock till the sun goes nova…

  41. That Lovecraft himself was racist didn’t translate into actions since he was approving of programs intended to reduce poverty and provide some measure of dignity.

    Read the 1912 poem by H. P. Lovecraft that Damien Walters reprints here …

    http://damiengwalter.com/2012/08/23/what-do-we-do-about-lovecraft/

    … and tell me how you’d feel, as a person of color, to step up to the podium to be handed a World Fantasy Award that’s in his image.

    I enjoy Lovecraft’s continued influence on fiction and gaming. I’m also a great fan of Gahan Wilson’s grotesque cartooning. But I have trouble defending the continued use of that statuette.

  42. Anyhow, I totally understand that for many people, the awfulness of Lovecraft’s racism is too raw a problem to put aside, and they want the statue changed. But I do wish we were better able to recognize people’s failings, contextualize them and move on.

    In this case, there’s no chance to move on because the issue is contemporary. Handing out yearly awards fashioned after Lovecraft is like continuing to fly the Confederate battle flag over a government building or keeping a high school named after Nathan Bedford Forrest. At some point it’s fair for the people of the present to say, “we’ve had enough of that, thanks.”

    Being a product of your times does not mean you have to be honored in ours.

  43. I’m a fan of Lovecraft’s writing but not a fan of his racist attitudes. The WFA is not the Lovecraft Award so there is no reason the statuette can’t be changed. Nick Mamatas’ chimera is still my favourite replacement idea suggested in the last go-round elseweb of this discussion.

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