World Fantasy Convention 2023 To Be Held in Kansas City

World Fantasy Convention℠ 2023 will be hosted from October 26-29 at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center in Kanasas City, Missouri.  

The organizing entity is World Fantasy Convention 2023, a Kansas not-for-profit incorporated earlier this year by Ruth Lichtwardt and Rosemary Williams.  Lichtwardt’s experience includes chairing the 2016 Worldcon in Kansas City, and Williams is a conrunner and published author.  

The WFC 2023 Guests of Honor are:

KIJ JOHNSON

Kij Johnson writes fantasy and science fiction including the novels The Fox Woman and Fudoki; the short story collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees; the novella, The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe; and more than fifty stories. She’s won the Hugo, World Fantasy, Nebula, and Sturgeon Awards, as well as the Grand prix de l’imaginaire and others. She’s worked in publishing, comics, games and miscellaneous tech companies; currently she teaches creative writing at the University of Kansas, where she was associate director for the J. Wayne and Elsie M. Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction and currently serves in the same capacity for The Ad Astra Center. She teaches novel masterclasses and short fiction workshops online and in person. She lives in Kansas.

VINCENT VILLAFRANCA

Vincent Villafranca has been sculpting since childhood. In 1991, while working on a degree in history,  he took an elective art course and was introduced to bronze-casting. Vincent instantly became fascinated with the idea of preserving his small sculptures in metal. After graduating, he worked in a bronze foundry just outside of Austin, Texas where he further developed his sculpting, mold-making and bronze-casting skills. He continues to make a wide array of sculptures, from tiny, intricate dragons to large-scale futuristic robots. Vincent is a lifelong fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy, thus, he was quite honored to design the World Fantasy Award, the 2013 Hugo Award and the Ray Bradbury Nebula Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation. He lives in north Texas with his ecologist wife and an assortment of animals.

ELIZABETH LEGGETT

Elizabeth Leggett is a two time fan artist Hugo winner, gold award winner in the digital category in Infected By Art 10 and bronze winner overall. She is a gallery artist, and science fiction and fantasy novel cover designer. Her clients include KEEP Contemporary gallery in Santa Fe, NM, Prince of Cats Literary Productions, Melinda Snodgrass, DreamForge Magazine, Uproar Books, Houghton, Mifflin and Harcourt, Walter Jon Williams and more. Her work can be seen in Spectrum Volumes 22, 24, 26, and 27 and the premiere issue of Spectrum Art Quarterly. She can also be found in Infected By Art Volumes 3-10. She is a five time Chesley nominee.

JONATHAN STRAHAN

Jonathan Strahan (www.jonathanstrahan.com.au) is a Hugo and  World Fantasy Award award-winning editor, anthologist, and podcaster. He has edited more than 90 books, is reviews editor for Locus, a consulting editor for Tor.com, and the co-host and producer of the Hugo-winning Coode Street Podcast.

Worldcon 76 Hugo Base Designers

2018 HUGO BASE. Sara Felix and Vincent Villafranca are collaborating to create the 2018 Hugo Award base.

Each artist individually has created a past Hugo base.

Villafranca produced the iconic 2013 LoneStarCon 2 Hugo base. (And he designed the new World Fantasy Award trophy.)

Sara Felix of Austin, who is also the current president of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists, created the 2016 MidAmeriCon II Hugo base.

1943 RETRO HUGO BASE. The 1943 Retrospective Hugo Award base is being created by con chair Kevin Roche.

[Thanks to JJ for the story.]

Utah Wins 2019 Westercon Bid

Utah’s unopposed bid to host the 2019 Westercon won the site selection vote. The results were announced on July 2 at this year’s con in Tempe, Arizona.

Utah Fandom Organization, Inc. will host Westercon72 in Layton, UT with Kate Hatcher as chair. Their website will be online shortly

Kevin Standlee reports 43 votes were cast, with 4 No Preference. The 39 votes expressing a preference went to —

Utah 32
Tonopah NV 3
Reno NV 2
Hopland CA 1
“Both” 1

Westercon 72 has announced their guests of honor:

  • Author Guest of Honor: Jim Butcher
  • Artist Guest of Honor: Vincent Villafranca
  • Cosplay Guest of Honor: Kitty Krell
  • Fan Guests of Honor: Kevin Standlee, Lisa Hayes, and Kuma Bear

There is also a Utah for 2019 bid for the NASFiC, which if selected will be held in combination with Westercon 72.

Writers React: Thumbs Up for New WFA Design, Thumbs Down for Lovecraft Nominee Pins

Everyone’s raving about Vincent Villafranca’s winning design for the World Fantasy Award. However, World Fantasy’s statement in the same press release that nominee pins will still feature the supposedly retired Lovecraft image is being widely criticized.

There was one dissent, from a Castalia House blogger —

Here is a sampling of the reaction to the news about the Lovecraft nominee pin:

[Thanks to JJ for the story.]

Villafranca Comments on Winning WFA Design Competition

Vincent Villafranca reacted to the news that his World Fantasy Award design has won the competition and shared some insights about the imagery he used:

I am thrilled to have had my design selected to be the new World Fantasy Award. This design relies heavily upon the majesty surrounding trees. I have always viewed trees as being magical, mysterious and oftentimes macabre. They have spurred human imagination for millennia and continue to do so. I live in a rural area in north Texas and am surrounded by numerous ancient oaks. I have always felt that the trees are full of stories. Many of the older oaks have witnessed sweeping changes brought on by humans and extreme weather events brought on by nature.

It was my intention to leave the design open-ended so that it could be interpreted by the viewer. However, one personal view of the design that I would like to share is that the tree represents the story written on paper, and it is being depicted as grasping the mind of the reader, which is represented by the disc. The sculpture can be seen in many ways, but what remains constant is that trees are intrinsically powerful and magnificent.

The artist is already hard at work doing all the bronze-casting/welding involved in making the awards.

Villafranca’s Winning World Fantasy Award Design Revealed

Vincent Villafranca’s design for the new World Fantasy Award trophy has been chosen the winner by the World Fantasy Awards Administration and the Board of the World Fantasy Convention following a year-long public competition.

Villafranca, the Chesley Award-winning sculptor and designer of the 2013 Hugo base, was among several artists invited to participate:

Professional artists already proficient in 3-D arts working within the fantasy/horror community were invited to submit designs in the first instance, and those shortlisted were then asked to supply a model and specifications. A professional foundry provided a quote to produce the awards in the future, to ensure it would be within the budget of the seated World Fantasy Convention as well as future conventions.

Villafranca will be at the 2017 WFC in San Antonio, Texas, where the awards will be presented for the first time.

Last year’s WFA winners, given certificates at the 2016 award ceremony in Columbus, OH will get copies of the new statuette, too, once they have been cast.

The press release reiterated the Board’s reasons for asking artists to do the design work without payment, which had aroused intense discussion among professional artists:

There is no financial remuneration for the winner, as the Awards Administration and the Board of the World Fantasy Convention are not fund-holding entities; each convention is run by a discrete group of people and is self-funding, so this was not a commercial opportunity for the winning artist. However, Vincent Villafranca will receive two life memberships to the World Fantasy Convention as a small token of our thanks.

Semi-finalist Misty Hawkins will receive two memberships to the 2017 World Fantasy Convention.

The move to replace the WFA’s bust of Lovecraft, designed by Gahan Wilson, gained impetus in 2014 when 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. Discussion snowballed in social media and many authors – including past WFA winner Nnedi Okorafor – urged award administrators to move on from the Lovecraft image. Within a few months The Guardian was reporting that the board of the World Fantasy awards “was ‘in discussion’ about its winners’ statuette”. When Sofia Samatar won in 2014, she made a statement about the controversy in her acceptance speech, saying “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.” However, the Board continued using the Lovecraft trophy through 2015.

Given the reason for changing the trophy, it will be interesting to see how authors receive the decision to perpetuate the Lovecraft image in the WFA nominee pins —

The Board of the World Fantasy Convention and the Awards Administration would like to thank world-famous artist Gahan Wilson, who sculpted the original WFA Statuette. The bust of HP Lovecraft, which was in use for more than four decades, was donated in perpetuity and will continue to live on in the shape of the nominee pins given out to all those shortlisted for a World Fantasy Award.

A thorough interpretation of the new design was also part of the press release:

The Awards Administration wanted something representational that would reflect the depth and breadth of the fantasy field, from horror to high fantasy and all stops in between. Trees—good trees, evil trees, prophetic trees, harboring trees, forests full of demons, forests of sanctuary—turn up throughout art and literature from the very beginning. They represent life, strength, nature, endurance, wisdom, rebirth, protection; they symbolize the link between heaven and earth. In Christian mythology, mankind starts with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. In Norse mythology, the entire structure of the universe is dependent on the giant ash Yggdrasill, the World Tree, which many Eastern European countries see as a home to the spirits of the dead. Indian mythology has the cosmic tree Asvattha, and there are plenty of fantastical trees in Greek and Roman mythology too, including dryads, the nymphs who inhabit trees, the Dodona grove of prophetic trees, and Argo, Jason’s ship, which maintained the magical properties of the tree which provided its wood.

The Green Man is a magical figure in many countries; druids are tied to the oak and the ash; some oak trees were thought to be oracular. Yews guard the entrance to the underworld, rowan keeps witches away. In Native American myth the hero Gluskap created humans by shooting an arrow into the heart of a birch. In Persia, the tree which grew from the decomposing corpse of the first human split into a man and woman, and the fruit became the other races of mankind. Buddha reached enlightenment under a Bodhi tree, which in turn inspired Robert Jordan’s Chora trees.

Trees bestride fantasy literature, from Roger Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber to Robert Holdstock’s WFA-winning Mythago Wood cycle, C.S. Lewis’ Narnia chronicles to Michael Sullivan’s Age of Myth cycle, the godswoods of Westeros in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ents and Enid Blyton’s Magical Faraway Tree.

But not all trees are nurturing: it’s the treatment of a Chora sapling which begins a bloody war in Jordan’s books. Tolkien’s Mirkwood is as evil as its denizens and Weasels and Stoats rampage around Kenneth Grahame’s Wild Wood; J.K. Rowling’s Whomping Willow has terrified millions, while Patrick Rothfuss’ Cthaeh, lurk unseen in the branches of a giant tree in the fae realm. There’s the baobab tree in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, Ray Bradbury’s The October Tree, the apple tree in The Wizard of Oz, and many more.

Vincent Villafranca has encapsulated the worlds of fantasy in the branches of our new award, and we thank him.

The 2017 World Fantasy Convention takes place in San Antonio from November 2-5.

First Copperhead Award Goes To Duarte

Fred Duarte Jr. Photo by Mark Olson.

Fred Duarte Jr. Photo by Mark Olson.

The convention-running group ALAMO, Inc., the Alamo Literary Arts Maintenance Organization, debuted the Copperhead Award at Smofcon last weekend.

Fred Duarte, Jr. (1957–2015) is the first winner of the new award, voted to him posthumously by the ALAMO Board of Directors.

The Copperhead Award will be awarded “on an occasional basis to an individual who has made an extraordinary impact on Texas Fandom.”

Fred made an indelible impact on Texas Fandom as a conrunner, a fan, and most importantly as a friend. As a conrunner, Fred had a deep resume. He chaired or co-chaired two World Fantasy Cons (2000, 2006), four Armadillocons (1987, 1988, 1992, 1995), a Westercon (1996), and Smofcon 13 (1995). He ran the WSFS division for LoneStarCon 3 (2013), was vice-chair for LoneStarCon 2 (1997), and headed the “Program ‘Oops’” department for Noreascon 3 (1989).

The Copperhead Award trophy will be designed and cast by Chesley Award-winning sculptor Vincent Villafranca of Wise County, Texas.

[Thanks to Scott Zrubek for the story.]

Iconic Base

A close up of the 2013 Hugo Award base by artist Vincent Villafranca. Photo by Ed Dravecky.

A close up of the 2013 Hugo Award base by artist Vincent Villafranca. Photo by Ed Dravecky.

Ed Dravecky’s photo of the 2013 Hugo Award base in the LoneStarCon 3 Wikipedia article gives the best view of this finely detailed piece I’ve seen outside of the video broadcast during the Hugo ceremonies. (Is that online? I couldn’t locate it.)

LoneStarCon 3 Unveils Hugo Award Base

2013 Hugo Award base designed by Victor Villafranca. Photo: Kevin Standlee. Permission for non-commercial and journalistic uses with attribution granted.

2013 Hugo Award base designed by Victor Villafranca. Photo: Kevin Standlee. Permission for non-commercial and journalistic uses with attribution granted.

Close-up of 2013 Hugo base. Photo: Kevin Standlee. Permission for non-commercial and journalistic uses with attribution granted.

Close-up of 2013 Hugo base. Photo: Kevin Standlee. Permission for non-commercial and journalistic uses with attribution granted.

Victor Villafranca’s 2013 Hugo Award trophy was displayed for the first time at LoneStarCon 3’s Opening Ceremonies on August 29. Thanks to Kevin Standlee for making his photos freely available at TheHugoAwards.org.

In other Hugo news, look for Ann Gentry’s article about the award, “Hugo Rising”, in the August 30 issue of the Austin Chronicle

The culmination of Worldcon is the formal Hugo Awards ceremony, in which rocket-shaped trophies named for Hugo Gernsback, editor of the first pulp magazine, are bestowed on outstanding science fiction and fantasy work from the past year. Sixteen categories spanning fiction, film, art, and fan work, plus the unaffiliated John W. Campbell Award for best new writer, make this something like the Academy Awards of sci-fi, with most fans listening for the announcement of Best Novel at the end of the night. And like the Oscars, they have plenty of detractors. Every year the release of the shortlist raises cries of sinister cronyism and downright irrelevance, with fans taking to their blogs to lambast the ludicrous process of whittling down the vast and increasingly varied body of science fiction to just five nominees in each category.