Delany Campaigns to Make Katherine MacLean a SFWA Grand Master

Katherine MacLean

Samuel R. Delany called on SFWA today to honor Katherine MacLean as a Grand Master:

Let’s make Kathryn McLean [sic] a Grand Master of Science Fiction. She is in her 90’s and the award can only go to a living writer!

It is the renewal of a plea he made in 2013 when his own selection as a Grand Master was announced.

His latest Facebook post quoted praise for the author from the Wikipedia entry for MacLean:

Damon Knight wrote, “As a science fiction writer she has few peers; her work is not only technically brilliant but has a rare human warmth and richness.”[1] Brian Aldiss noted [citation needed] that she could “do the hard stuff magnificently,” while Theodore Sturgeon observed [citation needed] that she “generally starts from a base of hard science, or rationalizes psi phenomena with beautifully finished logic.”

The full title of the SFWA honor being the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award, Knight’s accolade should count for even more.

Delany adds:

Since it is not about quantity, but quality and influence, that is why the award should be given her. As I wrote to her when I the award was announced for me:

“Among the great absurdities of the SF world is that I am a grand master and you are not. Happy birthday and much love.” By not honoring her, we make our awards mean less. Her single collection of short stories (The Diploids) and her Nebula Award winning novel [sic] (Missing Man) pointed a new generation of writers the way sentences had to be put together to tell a story both humanly and intellectually satisfying, and an older generation recognized it.

MacLean’s novella “The Missing Man” won a Nebula Award in 1971. The expanded novel-length version was nominated for a Nebula in 1976. In 2003 MacLean was honored as an SFWA Author Emeritus. In 2011, she received the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award.

[Thanks to Brian Z. for the story.]

13 thoughts on “Delany Campaigns to Make Katherine MacLean a SFWA Grand Master

  1. I didn’t realize that she was still alive – she certainly should be at the top of the list for Grandmaster status, since she’s been writing since the 1940s (I love “The Snowball Effect,” by the way).

  2. Quite right he is, too.

    I agree about “The Snowball Effect”, that story warped my young brain.

  3. As just a lil’ ol’ fan, I’ve been “campaigning” for years for Norman Spinrad to get it so I’d still be partial to that, though I certainly wouldn’t mind MacLean getting it and the age thing is an issue, I’ll grant. I was just under the impression that there was a sort of unspoken implicit “rule” that getting the Emeritus award meant you wouldn’t get the Grand Master. At least, I know of no one who’s won both. Anyway, award or not, everyone should read her excellent work, starting with The Diploids.

    FWIW, I reviewed her collection The Trouble with You Earth People back in August.

    BTW, despite the GM being given out more often than originally planned, there’s getting to be quite a backlog of several people who should get it.

  4. Jason – I had never heard of MacLean until now, except for the story “Trouble with Treaties” that she co-wrote (in the 1970s reprints of the Star Science Fiction all-original paperback anthologies), which I found mostly amusing (“THE CAT!!”). I’ll try to check out her solo stuff.

  5. Excellent idea, Chip! The autobiographical chapter by Maclean — “The Expanding Mind” — in Martin Greenberg’s Fantastic Lives is really great. Does anyone know if a digital version of that piece is online? It would be a great bit of background on Katherine Maclean and her writing.

  6. It’s been quite a while since I read it, but I remember being very impressed with Maclean’s SF novel, The Missing Man.

  7. @PhilRM: Me, too. It’s the only thing I know of having read by her, though I bet there’s more. That book made an impression on me. There are several scenes I can still see.

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