S. T. Joshi Rails Against Ending Use of Lovecraft Bust on World Fantasy Award

Two-time World Fantasy Award winner S. T. Joshi, author of numerous books on H. P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos, and the editor of many more critical works about them, publicly announced he is returning his awards in protest against the World Fantasy Con’s decision to stop using a bust of Lovecraft as the award trophy.

He wrote on his blog November 10:

It has come to my attention that the World Fantasy Convention has decided to replace the bust of H. P. Lovecraft that constitutes the World Fantasy Award with some other figure. Evidently this move was meant to placate the shrill whining of a handful of social justice warriors who believe that a “vicious racist” like Lovecraft has no business being honoured by such an award. (Let it pass that analogous accusations could be made about Bram Stoker and John W. Campbell, Jr., who also have awards named after them. These figures do not seem to elicit the outrage of the SJWs.) Accordingly, I have returned my two World Fantasy Awards to the co-chairman of the WFC board, David G. Hartwell. Here is my letter to him:

Mr. David G. Hartwell
Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010Dear Mr. Hartwell:

I was deeply disappointed with the decision of the World Fantasy Convention to discard the bust of H. P. Lovecraft as the emblem of the World Fantasy Award. The decision seems to me a craven yielding to the worst sort of political correctness and an explicit acceptance of the crude, ignorant, and tendentious slanders against Lovecraft propagated by a small but noisy band of agitators.

I feel I have no alternative but to return my two World Fantasy Awards, as they now strike me as irremediably tainted. Please find them enclosed. You can dispose of them as you see fit.

Please make sure that I am not nominated for any future World Fantasy Award. I will not accept the award if it is bestowed upon me.

I will never attend another World Fantasy Convention as long as I live. And I will do everything in my power to urge a boycott of the World Fantasy Convention among my many friends and colleagues.

Yours,
S. T. Joshi

And that is all I will have to say on this ridiculous matter. If anyone feels that Lovecraft’s perennially ascending celebrity, reputation, and influence will suffer the slightest diminution as a result of this silly kerfuffle, they are very much mistaken.

 

303 thoughts on “S. T. Joshi Rails Against Ending Use of Lovecraft Bust on World Fantasy Award

  1. Robert Whitaker Sirignano on November 12, 2015 at 7:14 am said:

    Okay Gary Farber, one more time: My father was a racist. And he did his rants about negroes and them Jews and did it frequently enough. In between his fatherly concerns and duties, –like taking me to movies, and buying tropical fish and toys and drawing comics from the news papers, reading to me. and giving me shelter and food. He helped with my homework and cleaned me when I was sick and fussed over me with real concern.

    So what do I do?

    Did I miss something? Were you planning on making a bust of your dad and using it as a model for a literary award? Because if not doing so amounts to denying one’s father then I’ve really have been pretty slack.
    To restore the moral balance I note my kids have singularly failed to use my likeness as a literary award – those ungrateful offspring! I intend to give them a good talking too about respecting their parents the next time they appear from their rooms.

  2. Brian Z.: Those were not finalists for Best Short Story!

    They were short fiction finalists. And what I said was:
    The WFA novel finalists were all discussed at great length by many commenters across many posts on here in the last 6 months. And to a lesser extent, so were most of the short fiction finalists.

    But you chose to “accidentally” ignore them, because all the discussions of them here during the past months didn’t support your faux “fisk” of what I said.

    No one here is obligated to meet your, or Vivian’s, or anyone else’s, expectations of how much time they should have to spend discussing the WFA nominees and winners before they are allowed to spend as much time as they want discussing the decision to change the WFA statuette.

  3. @JJ
    “No one here is obligated to meet your, or Vivian’s, or anyone else’s, expectations of how much time they should have to spend discussing the WFA nominees and winners before they are allowed to spend as much time as they want discussing the decision to change the WFA statuette.”

    Of course you are not obligated. And in particular, please, do not feel obligated to sell me bullshit to justify yourself.

  4. Sure, if “to lesser extent” means one discussion of the Hugo longlist.

    Go ahead and call me a liar, dishonest, spouting talking points, whatever you like. Or, take a deep breath and think: “Hmm. Look at us, making hundreds of comments about the bust, yet few to none about the winners except where they were coincidentally also related to the Hugo kerfuffle.” Entirely up to you.

  5. Since this comment thread is on a post about S.T. Joshi returning his old WFA awards and protesting their design change, it would seem reasonable that the comments on this thread focus on the design of the award, its appropriateness or lack thereof, and possible changes.

  6. Generally when there is a need for an award, people get together and start one.

    If only that were true then there would have been no puppy kerfuffle.

    Depending on one’s judgment of “need,” I suppose.

    Most of the Hugo voters don’t seem to think there’s a need for any awards for the bulk of what the Pups nominated, and most of the Puppies don’t seem to think there’s a need for any new award; they want to retool the existing one, so it finally deserves its decades of built-up prestige by going to works that they like.

  7. @Kurt Busiek, off topic, but I just finished “Through Open Doors”, and I promised I’d let you know what I thought.

    As I’ve never been a graphic novel reader, I’m not very familiar with the format, and it took me an embarrassingly long time (two and a half stories, I think) to recognize that it was an anthology with a framing device, rather than one long story. (I then started noticing the “leaving Astro City” roadsigns cleverly tucked at the end of each story.)

    I’m going to try to interlibrary load the rest of the Astro City books and start reading them in order. The one I read worked even without context, but I have a feeling I’d’ve gotten more out of it if I had known the backstories of what were apparently recurring characters. However, even without the history, I still enjoyed the book.

    So thank you to people who pointed me to it, back in the Comics bracket.

  8. So! I’m still liking the etched globe idea, with dragon and maybe interchangeable bases. Also: Lamassu. How’s everyone else’s favourites shaping up?

  9. Meredith, I think the winners should get brownies. <noddy-nod>

    (Or blondies, if they hate chocolate.)

  10. The Lurker in my Corner said “Nigella!” because it was (warning: squamous batrachian imagery at link…) Nigel.

  11. If I made a bust of my father that looked like the Ugly Head, he’d call me up to ask what he’d done to offend me.

  12. Cassy:

    I’m going to try to interlibrary load the rest of the Astro City books and start reading them in order. The one I read worked even without context, but I have a feeling I’d’ve gotten more out of it if I had known the backstories of what were apparently recurring characters. However, even without the history, I still enjoyed the book.

    Very glad you liked it!

    Meredith:

    So! I’m still liking the etched globe idea, with dragon and maybe interchangeable bases. Also: Lamassu. How’s everyone else’s favourites shaping up?

    I’m still liking the gryphon, the Baba Yaga hut and the head with architecture ideas.

    But I also want someone to start up an actual Lovecraft award for horror with a bust of Cthulhu for an award, because awesome.

  13. I definitely think all comments regarding whether there are too many comments on this topic should be subtracted from the tally of comments on this topic.

  14. RedWombat on November 12, 2015 at 2:55 pm said:

    If I made a bust of my father that looked like the Ugly Head, he’d call me up to ask what he’d done to offend me.

    Oh, so would mine. And he’s been dead thirty years.

  15. If I made a bust of my father that looked like the Ugly Head, he’d call me up to ask what he’d done to offend me.

    Oh, so would mine. And he’s been dead thirty years.

    Mine probably would have put in in a dark corner of a closet. He had better taste than that, judging by the art he chose for the walls. (Also: mechanical engineer, and dead 20 years. His oldest sister is still around.)

  16. Let us go then, me and you,
    When the awards are nearly due,
    Like shoggoths dissected upon a table;
    Let us go, through eldritch winding blogs,
    Muttering and wordy slogs,
    Of those upset in one-line tweets
    And those who pound the well-worn beats:
    “PC censorship!”–a tedious argument
    Of insidious intent
    To lead you to an overwhelming question….
    Oh, do not ask, “What the hell is that?”
    You behold the bust of Lovecraft.

    In the room the fans go fore and aft,
    Talking of H. Phillip Lovecraft.

  17. In any case, comparing the discussion of this unique, one-time change to the discussion of yet another routine award isn’t a very reasonable measure. Books and stories win awards all the time; a single instance just that big a deal. Try comparing the amount of discussion of all major changes to major SFF awards with the discussion of all works that have won major SFF awards, and I think you’ll find the book/story discussions dominate by a huge margin. 🙂

  18. @RedWombat:

    I grow old. Shall I wear my tentacles rolled?

    😉

    The judges’ scores for your effort:

    10.0, 10.0, 10.0, 10.0, 10.0 and a 2.7 from the eldritch judge (you didn’t point your toes).

    Those few of us left in 3966 applaud you!

  19. Now I am remembering that a real line Eliot wrote was

    I think the river
    is a strong brown god

    and in the context of a thread on Lovecraft that is hilarious.

  20. Kurt Busiek: But I also want someone to start up an actual Lovecraft award for horror with a bust of Cthulhu for an award, because awesome.

    I agree, but then a friend told me that one of the British Fantasy Awards uses (or used, since it seems to have changed?) a statue of Cthulhu, so it might be taken. Still, it’s nice to know that there is–or was–something like that out in the world somewhere!

  21. Mary Frances on November 12, 2015 at 4:31 pm said:

    Kurt Busiek: But I also want someone to start up an actual Lovecraft award for horror with a bust of Cthulhu for an award, because awesome.

    I agree, but then a friend told me that one of the British Fantasy Awards uses (or used, since it seems to have changed?) a statue of Cthulhu, so it might be taken. Still, it’s nice to know that there is–or was–something like that out in the world somewhere!

    I think there are some Ramsey Campbell characters out there who have a statuette of Daoloth, the Render of the Veils, that they’re not using any more….

  22. Hmm. Look at us, making hundreds thousands of comments about SFF novels, Hugo Awards, SFF stories, brownies, SFF TV shows, sausages, SFF movies, the WFA Statuette, and more SFF novels.

    Look at Brian Z the Troll, 99% of whose contribution on File770 consists of non-constructive attacking, mocking, misquoting, and trolling the other commenters here, yet still presuming to judge and critique what other people post.

    I can’t imagine what sort of sick and twisted psyche it is that gets pleasure from behaving the way that you do, Brian Z. I’d almost feel sorry for you for being so sad and pathetic, if you weren’t so deliberate with your horrible behavior.

  23. Whenever I see a project suggested but unstarted that sounds awesome I get this itch to have a go at starting it. This does not match up well with my generally low spoon levels.

    Which is to say, I’d quite like there to be a Lovecraft weird fiction award, and if someone else could do it instead that would be very nice. 😉

    @RedWombat

    Very nice!

    @JJ

    I find it hard to disagree with your second paragraph, but that last paragraph was a bit harsh.

    Look at us, making hundreds thousands of comments about SFF novels, Hugo Awards, SFF stories, brownies, SFF TV shows, sausages, SFF movies, the WFA Statuette, and more SFF novels.

    We’ve also covered cheesecake, pasta, noodles, Korean and Japanese food in general, pudding, cake, pizza, barbecue, fried breakfasts, weird creamed fish things, pie… Probably some stuff I’m forgetting. Oh! Shepherds Pie was definitely in there, too. There was a recipe, even.

    Filers are foodies in their spare time!

    Plus, comics.

  24. Let’s not forget: a few suggestions for SFF-related foodstuffs here and there.

    And speaking of food and SFF, does anyone remember the parties thrown by the San Jose in ’02 committee? Best room-party munchies I think I ever had! As I understand it, one of the committee was a caterer in RL. We need more committees like that!

    What’s the best con room-party munchie you ever encountered?

  25. JJ, thanks for admitting, in your inimitable way, that you overstated the six months of wide-ranging discussion of WFA finalists. You were thinking of your longlist thread, which I commend as a solid contribution – even though it was one, in my personal opinion, thrown into unfortunately sharp partisan relief by the kerfuffle.

    The WFA model of jury with some popular submissions makes it an important award worthy of attention, and I (at least) realized belatedly that I should have been talking more about the work WFA selected in addition to WFA controversies. Which I regret.

    I see no problem if folks have decided it is time to retire the bust. On the other hand, that petition didn’t just say Lovecraft was a terrible wordsmith – it cast those who feel differently as mired in the past, “co-signing his bigotry.” The rant by ST Joshi obviously undermined his case, but some dismay has been expressed even by the likes of Joyce Carol Oates – and while she speaks from a position of privilege, at the same time let’s not forget that she, and many of us, have parents or grandparents Lovecraft counted among the targets of his odious private speech. Everyone decides for themselves how to feel: I admired most of all the approach of Okorafor in her blog post. She presumably hoped that the “discourse about what it means to honor a talented racist” would be more elevated.

  26. Xtifr: SJ 2018 has a big overlap with SJ 02, so the food should be good again.

    Best consuite noms were Westercon 66, by far. Real food, often homemade, all hours of the night and day. With stuff anyone could eat, regardless of dietary restrictions. The bid parties for Kitty Hawk in whatever year that was that they were going for were also quite, quite excellent, particularly the Carolina BBQ. I ate a LOT of that.

  27. As ever, Brian Z’s characterization of Joyce Carol Oates’s reaction to the Lovecraftfuffle is as accurate as his paraphrases and characterizations of many others, and full of an insinuation that presumes people won’t go look for themselves.

    For those interested, and handy place to look is here:

    http://celestialtimepiece.com/2015/11/10/into-the-void-lovecraft-and-the-world-fantasy-award/

    …where you’ll find that far from expressing dismay, Oates asks for information, discusses racism and sexism among authors of the past, concludes that there’s no reason Lovecraft’s likeness needs to be on the World Fantasy Award and posts pictures of her cat nosing at her WFA.

    Brian will doubtless see this as another opportunity to set copious troll hooks; I merely invite people to look for themselves and see what “dismay” they can find.

  28. @BrianZ: I can’t really address the winners, because I’m more of a science fiction fan, and don’t really read that much fantasy, relatively speaking (aside from humorous fantasy, which gets scorned by all the awards). That said, I do think the jury system the WFA uses is interesting. It does turn up some obscure works at times. But what I’ve read of past winners suggests the overall results aren’t much better (or, contrariwise, much worse) than any of the other awards.

    As for Lovecraft’s writing, a large number of the people I’ve seen posting here (very much including me) seem to think his works are just fine, but still support changing the statue, for a wide variety of reasons. Thinking he’s a terrible wordsmith does not seem to be a majority view here by any means. This change for the WFA, though, does seem to have a whole lot of support. Which clearly underlines how distinct those two notions are.

    Heck, if Lovecraft became totally unpopular all of a sudden, I have some very good friends who would be pretty much out of work, since they publish a little role-playing game called “The Call of Cthulhu”. Nevertheless, I completely endorse the WFC’s decision. 🙂

  29. Presume you won’t look? Huh? I linked to and quoted her tweets, called them “measured” and indicated her dismay was qualified. I didn’t say she rejected the decision. Knock it off with the personal attacks and talk substance.

  30. a large number of the people I’ve seen posting here (very much including me) seem to think his works are just fine, but still support changing the statue, for a wide variety of reasons

    I didn’t object to changing the statue either, but I can see where, doing it on the heels of that petition, the formal announcement might have included some discussion of the thinking behind it.

  31. Eh, if they’d changed it at some other time, a discussion of the thinking behind it might be called for. Right now, the thinking seems pretty obvious.

  32. Ms. Oates sets a good model for conduct in the face of initially mysterious complaints: ask what’s up in an honest way, listen to the answers, think, respond. No fuss is had at any point.

    And cute cat pics affirm the goodness of the proceedings.

  33. Brian Z: JJ, thanks for admitting, in your inimitable way, that you overstated the six months of wide-ranging discussion of WFA finalists.

    Once again, you are claiming that I said something, when I did not say anything remotely resembling that.

    Seriously, is your life so sad and pathetic that all you can do “successfully” is be a troll and a wrecker?

    I mean, in rare moments, you actually seem to be reasonably intelligent. I can’t understand why you’d prefer to constantly engage in misquoting, diminishment, misplaced accusations, disingenousness, and other trolling behavior which earns you the disgust and dismissal of many here, when you could be making meaningful contributions to the discussion and the community and gaining the esteem of people here.

    Is it that you believe yourself to be only worthy of earning the disgust of others, and are determined to prove yourself right? Seriously, why would you want to behave this way?

  34. Thank you for the compliment, JJ. Still, while I don’t wish to be rude, you are not exactly raising my appraisal of the value of your esteem.

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