SFWA’S 2024 Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award Goes to Jennell Jaquays

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association will posthumously present the 2024 Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award to Jennell Jaquays (1956-2024) at the 59th Annual SFWA Nebula Awards® ceremony on June 8. Her wife, Rebecca Heineman, will accept the award on her behalf.

The Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award is given by SFWA for significant contributions to the science fiction, fantasy, and related genres community. The award was created in 2008, with Wilhelm named as one of the three original recipients, and was renamed in her honor in 2016. Ms. Jaquays joins the ranks of the latest Solstice Award winners, including Cerece Rennie Murphy, Greg Bear, Petra Mayer, Arley Sorg, Troy L. Wiggins, Ben Bova, and Rachel Caine.

A multi-award winning and honored artist, game designer, editor, and activist, Jennell Jaquays left an indelible mark on the gaming industry and SFF community for nearly fifty years. Ms. Jaquays’ career began in college, when she and her friends created The Dungeoneer, one of the first licensed Dungeons and Dragons fanzines.

Now, from magazines to books, Ms. Jaquays’ art can be seen on multiple covers and throughout the pages of the many different forms and iterations of Dungeons and Dragons’ media. Having designed two modules of her own, “Dark Tower” and “The Caverns of Thracia,”  her writing was celebrated by players for eschewing traditional and linear game mechanics and are not only playable today–but continue to inspire game designers and GMs.

Also known for her game industry work at companies such as Coleco, TSR, and id Software, Ms. Jaquays designed and contributed to multiple projects such as Coleco Vision, certain levels on the Quake II and III video games, arcade conversions of Pac-Man and Donkey-KongHalo Wars, and created an expansion pack in Age of Empires III.

Ms. Jaquays was nominated for multiple H.G. Wells Awards for her work and creation of the “Dark Tower” D&D module and for her design and illustrations on“Griffin Mountain.” Her work with Coleco’s WarGames won her the 1984 Summer C.E.S. original software award. Additionally, Castle Greyhawk won an Origins Gamer’s Choice Award for Best Role-Playing Adventure, and in 2017, the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design inducted Ms. Jaquays into their Hall of Fame.

Inspired by her own journey, Ms. Jaquays also became a recognized transgender activist, spending time working as the creative director of the Transgender Human Rights Institute.

“A beacon of hope and inspiration, Jennell Jaquays worked tirelessly in the spirit of community while gifting us with her art, her games, and her stories for almost fifty years,” said SFWA Director-at-Large, Monica Valentinelli. “The Board is honored to commemorate Jennell Jaquays and her indelible legacy as an artist, writer, and game designer in the video game and tabletop roleplaying industries.”

[Based on a press release.]

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2 thoughts on “SFWA’S 2024 Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award Goes to Jennell Jaquays

  1. Well done!

    Even if I didn’t explicitly notice her work (much of which was done under her dead name), it impacted my years in the tabletop roleplaying hobby.

  2. Same here. Though when I learned a few years ago that she was trans I did remember the body (and gender) swapping wizard in Dark Tower

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