2014 Andre Norton Award Judges

SFWA has announced the 2014 Andre Norton Award committee. The judges are:

  • Katherine Sparrow (chair)
  • Christopher Barzak
  • Erin M. Hartshorn
  • Merrie Haskell
  • Jenn Reese
  • Rachel Swirsky
  • Greg Van Eekhout

The Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy is presented annually by SFWA to the author of an outstanding young adult or middle grade science fiction or fantasy book published in the previous year. 

The committee will consider submissions of young adult/middle grade prose or graphic works first published in English in 2013.

He Was the Dean

Promotional copy for the new Murray Leinster biography says he was known as “The Dean of Science Fiction.”

I should not have been surprised: I read this in Sam Moskowitz’ Explorers of the Infinite: Shapers of Science Fiction way back in the Seventies. However, I’d managed to forget it since. Or possibly repressed it, because as a young fan my fannish loyalties were to that rival claimant of the title: Robert A. Heinlein.

Heinlein acquired the title “Dean of Science Fiction” sometime around 1960, says J. Daniel Gifford in Robert A. Heinlein: A Reader’s Companion.

How? Thomas Clareson suggests in his essay for Voices for the Future (1976) that whoever wrote the jacket copy on his books was responsible:

Today Heinlein is known to many, thanks to paperback advertising techniques at least, as the “Dean” of science fiction writers, not so much because of his length of service as because of his relationship to the corporate body of science fiction.

Certainly a book cover was the first place I saw Heinlein called “Dean.” On the other hand, Leinster was called “Dean” in 1949 by no less an authority than Time Magazine

In the U.S., Will F. Jenkins, a 27-year veteran, who also writes under the pen name of Murray Leinster, is regarded as the dean of writers in the field.

Leinster was rather humble about the whole thing. In his introduction to Great Stories of Science Fiction (1951) he explained that he was sometimes called “’Dean’ of science fiction writers by virtue of my having outlived a number of better men. This wholly accidental distinction is perhaps the reason I was given the opportunity to compile this book.”

And as Leinster makes clear, the term “Dean” was primarily associated with seniority, length of service in the sf field. Lester Del Rey in The World of Science Fiction, a survey of the genre published in 1980, echoed the choice of Leinster:

…Murray Leinster, whose work remained popular in science fiction for more than fifty years and who was rightly named “the Dean of science fiction writers.”

I don’t know whether Heinlein liked being called “Dean” or thought it mattered at all. Maybe Bill Patterson can answer this in a later volume of his Heinlein bio. From a fan’s viewpoint I thought the name suited RAH because so many of his stories involved mentoring, the acquiring of self-discipline, or were delivered in the voice of a respected elder who has things to say about life, like Lazarus Long.

After Leinster died in 1975 some of the writers who acknowledged him as the “Dean” thought the title deserved to be perpetuated, which meant picking a successor. Isaac Asimov made it clear he preferred length of service as the criterion for naming someone the “Dean.” In his 1979 essay for IASFM “The Dean of Science Fiction,” Heinlein was not a finalist. Asimov listed Jack Williamson, Clifford D. Simak, L. Sprague de Camp and Lester Del Rey. And just a few years later – even while all four were still alive – Asimov seemed to have narrowed his list to two, saying in The Hugo Winners: 1980-1982 (1986) “the only writer who can possibly compete with [Clifford D. Simak] as ‘dean of science fiction’ is Jack Williamson, who is four years younger than Cliff but has been publishing three years longer.”

Both Simak and Heinlein died in 1988. Del Rey died in 1993. De Camp died in 2000.

Williamson seems to have been the writer most people felt comfortable calling the “Dean” in later years. Several of his peers labeled him by some version of the title both before and after Heinlein died. Interestingly, when Algis Budrys dubbed Williamson the “Dean of Science Fiction” in a 1985 essay for The Science Fiction Yearbook the usage even passed muster with the volume’s editor, Jerry Pournelle, a good friend of Heinlein’s. Williamson lived on until 2006, continuing to produce, his last novel The Stonehenge Gate published just the year before he died.

Some others regarded Arthur C. Clarke as the true heir to the title. Gerald K. O’Neill in The High Frontier (1989) called Clarke the dean of science fiction, and so did a contributor to a 1989 volume of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Clarke passed away in 2008.

People outside the field have always bandied the title about – Ray Bradbury was called the Dean on a TV show in the Sixties. Now he practically qualifies, though not quite – I imagine Fred Pohl has the edge in years as a professional writer.

Other specialties in the science fiction field have their “Deans.” Google tells me Frank Kelly Freas was called the “dean of science fiction artists,” though I must say I managed to go my entire time in fandom up to today without ever hearing him called that.

The New York Times once referred to Donald Wollheim as the “Dean” of science fiction editors, according to a 1981 article in The Bloomsbury Review.  Campbell had been so-called at least as early as 1947 — in Samuel Stephenson Smith’s How to Double Your Vocabulary, of all places — but he’d been dead almost ten years before The Bloomsbury Review took up the subject.

And let’s not forget that in Ann Arbor in 1975, Dean McLaughlin, author of “Hawk Among the Sparrows,” was who trufans called “Dean of Science Fiction.”

Of course, many will have become aware that no woman author’s name has been mentioned at any point, even in touching on the most recent decade. Ursula K. LeGuin regularly offers wisdom about topical issues in the field, and until death ended her long career Andre Norton was respected and influential, so there are women who might have been nominated to the role. However, I suspect the whole notion of a “Dean of Science Fiction,” which was never more than of anecdotal significance, is fading from fannish awareness too rapidly for a real sense of injustice to take hold.

[Thanks to John Lorentz, Google Ngram and Steven H Silver’s SF Site for help with this story.]

Ellison Added to SF Hall of Fame

For Harlan Ellison it never rains but it pours. Lucky for him it’s raining honors this week.

He learned from the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle that he’ll be inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame this June.

His editor at IDW greeted him with the news that his hardcover graphic book Phoenix Without Ashes entered the New York Times Bestseller List at #6 in its first week of publication – Harlan’s first-ever appearance on that list.

And the Encyclopaedia Britannica has created an entry about him. According to Harlan, “I am right next to Ralph Ellison, just following Ellis Island. What a wonderful thing.” Call it a story of requited love. Harlan has been irresistibly attracted to the encyclopedia since he was a kid.

When he accepted the 1970 Forry Award Harlan told those of us at the banquet about his times as a young fan in Cleveland. Harlan joined the first local sf club (Andre Norton was also a member). He started collecting. Then… “I went into the phase I called ‘liberating’ volumes from my high school library. I stole the first 23 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. They never suspected a thing. But then I got greedy, and they finally caught me when I tried to stuff both the Index and the World Gazetteer under my jacket…” So now the circle has closed in a way his high school librarian would not have predicted. It’s a well-deserved accolade.

Locus reports that the full list of 2011 inductees to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame includes Ellison, Vincent Di Fate, Moebius, and Gardner Dozois.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame was founded in 1996 by the Kansas City Science Fiction and Fantasy Society (KCSFFS) in conjunction with the J. Wayne and Elsie M. Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas. Four individuals are added each year, chosen on the basis of their continued excellence and long-time contribution to the science fiction field.

TN Supreme Court Denies
Horadam Hearing Request

The Tennessee Supreme Court has denied Victor Horadam’s request for it to reconsider appeals court’s decision in the dispute over rights to Andre Norton’s works. As Locus Online reports:

The appellate court’s decision from late 2008 will stand, which means Norton’s longtime caregiver Sue Stewart will control the copyright to books published during Norton’s life, including royalties on any reprints, while Horadam will receive royalties on any works published for the first time posthumously. Stewart says she is “currently working on several projects involving Andre’s work. Her estate will be making an important announcement in the near future.”

Stewart Awarded Norton Rights and Royalties

Tennesee’s Court of Appeals has ruled on a lawsuit between two heirs of Andre Norton, with caregiver Sue Stewart being awarded the copyrights and royalties to most of Norton’s works, valued at $250,000 by the estate.

Specifically, the judges ruled that Stewart would control copyrights to books published during Norton’s life, but Dr. Victor Horadam would retain royalties on works published after her death. Stewart also will get the royalties for reprints.

The Court of Appeals of Tennessee did affirm the lower court’s decision to remove Sue Stewart as executrix of the Norton estate in favor of an independent third party.

Stewart publicly presented her side of the case last July, saying in part:

On behalf of myself and Andre I feel that I must speak out now regarding the litigation lodged by Victor Horadam against myself and Andre’s estate. For 3 years now I have tried to refrain from making any comments concerning this matter. I feel I must respond to an article that was published last week in several newspapers across the country. This article essentially dealt with Victor Horadam and his relationship with Andre as he saw it. While I contend that he was a friend and a fan, I do not necessarily agree with his assumption that he was her “dearest friend” or “leading fan”. Andre had countless fans through out the world. She also had extensive correspondence over the years with many of them, one who received 1062 letters. ([Mr. Horadam] says he received 500).

[Via Crotchety Old Fan.]

Andre Norton Estate in Court

Andre Norton’s heirs are in court fighting for control of the rights to 130 of her books with royalty income worth perhaps $70,000-$80,000 per year, according to an Associated Press story.

There are two main litigants for the lion’s share of the estate. Norton’s longtime fan, Victor Horadam, was left “the royalties from all posthumous publication of any of my works.” Sue Stewart, Norton’s caretaker at the end of her life, was named as the beneficiary of the “residuary clause” – all other property or money not explicitly assigned in the will. Stewart is arguing that the will intends for her, not Horadam, to get the royalty income from any works published before Norton died. Horadam went to court, asking a judge to provide an interpretation of “posthumous publication.”

Norton moved to Murfreesboro, a Nashville suburb, in the 1990s and established a writer’s research library. As she got older, the library was closed, and Norton, who had no children or other close relatives, moved in with her caretaker, Sue Stewart. Over the years, she gave Stewart more than $250,000, according to court testimony.

The case is under review by the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

[Thanks to Mike Deckinger for the link.]