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Bob Sheckley for Grand Master!

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Bob Urell
Posted on Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 08:50 am:   

Okay, so I have a good sense of what most of you think of the SFWA, but I want to do some good, and I'm trying to keep a promise to a friend. Bob Sheckley mentioned in an interview I did with him about a year ago that he was a little hurt and disappointed with the SFWA for loading that Author Emeritus thing on him. Emeritus means retired, and Bob still earns every penny he gets from his typewriter. Seems more like a slap in the face than an honor, don't it?
So anyways, I think Bob's an important American writer, and I'm hoping some of you do too.
I've started a petition to the SFWA asking them to have Bob named a Grand Master. Here's the addie: http://www.petitiononline.com/CARMODY/petition.html
Thanks for your time.

Bob
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Rhys
Posted on Friday, February 06, 2004 - 04:43 am:   

Bob Sheckley should have the credit he deserves. He is absolutely one of the greatest SF writers. He is definitely a Grand Master.

And you -- the other Bob -- Bob Urell -- deserve credit for championing him in the way you have!
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Bob Urell
Posted on Friday, February 06, 2004 - 01:29 pm:   

You're such a nice young man, Rhys. But I'm not doing anything all that strenuous, so I can't really take any credit for it. Bob's my friend and I want this for him.
Signature update: 10
Gots a long way to go!
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Jetse
Posted on Friday, February 06, 2004 - 04:48 pm:   

Ehm, I just checked the SFWA website and found that they've only been doing these Grand Master Awards since 1998.

Also--I understand--they can only be given when the author in question is still alive.

Now I have nothing against Robert Sheckley, but personally I think another writer deserves the honor more...

As far as I understand, the Grand Master hasn't been given to Gene Wolfe. Well, he'd be on my list of living American authors that deserve it first.

FWIW,

Jetse, Dutch and no SFWA member.
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Bob Urell
Posted on Saturday, February 07, 2004 - 01:24 am:   

Hey Jetse,
Yeah, you're right and you're wrong, in my opinion. Wolfe absolutely deserves a Grand Master, and I can't imagine that that isn't in the cards. But that's the point. The SFWA, by tossing Bob an Author Emeritus "award" was basically dismissing fifty years of Bob's life. It was like saying, "Okay, you were good, now go off into the woods and die or something, 'kay?" Wolfe's going to get Grand Master, just as anyone could have guessed that Le Guin would get it. But if we look a bit deeper than that, we can see that the Grand Master award isn't just about who deserves it today, but who deserved it at any point in their career. Before Bob fell off the radar, he was putting out story after story of his own brand of science fantasy. His work directly influenced Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett and Robert Lynn Asprin and just about every other SF satirist of the last generation. He wrote, between the '51 and '60, some of the best satirical science fantasy we've got. By doing what he did, which was to analyze the absurdity of the pulp tradition, from which he moved away, and parodying it in his own stuff, Bob helped bring about the literary changes that would eventually lead to the New Wave and a deeper literary sensibility within the genre. I'm not saying it wouldn't have happened anyways, but Bob was and is an integral part of what the genre is today.

Bob, American and also no SFWA member.
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Thomas R
Posted on Saturday, February 07, 2004 - 02:15 am:   

I admit I never saw Emeritus that way. I thought it meant "now that you have one foot in the grave here's a way we can finally honor you before you croak" Whereas Grandmaster to me was for people who already won Nebulas and now get a Lifetime achievement award. Although Katherine MacLean won a Nebula for The Missing Man and later became Author Emeritus. I think she still even writes on occasion so that blows that theory.

Still I figured it went to people who were established Nebula darlings. So someone like James Blish, more old school Hard SFer, never got it at all. Sheckley only ever had one nomination for Nebula that I can tell so fit under the "well we have to give you something before you die, here" idea.

Granted it's not very just, but the whole Author Emeritus thing seems a bit patronizing to me. That he's still quite an active author made it worse, but...well it's late, goodnight.
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Bob
Posted on Saturday, February 07, 2004 - 03:30 am:   

I don't really think I can tell it any better than this, the ending bit of an interview I did with Bob last year,
In 2000, the SFWA tapped Bob as Author Emeritus. I thought it was a somewhat dubious award, considering Bob's ongoing career. "I knew they were trying to recognize me for something. I didnít think highly of it because Ďemeritusí sounds like retirement. So I didnít like that. Because Iíve always been active, in fact Iím writing more now than I have in some years. I would have liked to have gotten a Grandmaster Award -- in fact Harlan is pushing for that for me."

As if they were saying, he was good, no need to keep at it. Bob stares off into space for a second, perhaps recalling better times, days in the West Village tinged with hope and promise.

I ask him if he has any last words on the subject.

Bob nods his head, "I'm still here. I'm not done yet."

Pardon me for citing my own work, but that's the point in my conversation with Bob that brought out the Crusader gene I inherited from my dad's side of the family. If Grand Master honors authors whose impact upon the genre is tangible and easily discerned, then Bob Sheckley certainly fits the bill and deserves the recognition, Nebula or no. Most of the genre awards turn into political things, popularity contests at best, but let's hold this one thing to a higher standard. Let's say, that when an author acheives that status, Grand Master, that the genre couldn't be what it is without the work that they did for us.
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Jetse
Posted on Saturday, February 07, 2004 - 03:47 am:   

Sorry to hear that politics seems to be more important for receiving A Nebula or Grand Master Award than the actual quality of an author's oeuvre.

What personally makes me wonder: what is such a prize worth if it's more to do with lobbying than with actual merit?

The Arthur C. Clarke Award looks almost otherwordly professional in comparison...
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Bob Urell
Posted on Saturday, February 07, 2004 - 05:07 am:   

Hi Jetse,
You know, there isn't really any award that isn't more about the politics than the acheivement. Gabriel Garcia Marquez called the Nobel Prize for Literature, which one would consider the top prize any writer could aspire to, an "international snark hunt."
So, on one level, this thing I'm doing for Bob is ultimately pointless. Even if I'm successful -- dubious -- it probably won't really change anything. But on the other hand, I've got to see it from Bob's angle. If this makes up for fifty years of hard work, most of it laboring in obscurity, then I think it's a good and necessary fight to get it for him. Either way, I made a promise to a friend that I would do whatever small bit that I could to get this for him. He didn't ask me to, but I promised anyways.
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Thomas R
Posted on Saturday, February 07, 2004 - 11:14 am:   

Despite how it sounded, I hope you succeed. I just meant he did seem in some ways like the kind of writer they give Emeritus too, but if it seemed inappropriate even to him it's not much of an honor.
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Bob Urell
Posted on Saturday, February 07, 2004 - 01:06 pm:   

Oh, I wasn't arguing with you, Thomas. I was arguing the fallacious nature of the Emeritus award unto itself. The SFWA didn't do any favors with this one. I don't know any writers who've "retired." We all die in harness.
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Bob Urell
Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 12:53 pm:   

Hey! I'm not going away. Even if nobody else wants to talk to me. I'll talk to myself, which goes right along with what I had planned for tonight anyways, so that's fine. But I'd hoped for maybe a little more enthusiasm. Anyone willing to drop me a clue as to why this isn't a good and decent thing to do here? Anyone?
It's so cold and dark here and there are spiders....
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 01:52 pm:   

I signed....He's every bit as worthy as many recipients.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 02:02 pm:   

I signed....He's every bit as worthy as many recipients.
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Bob Urell
Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 11:01 pm:   

Thanks Lucius. I didn't want to ask cuz of all the nice things you've already done for me, but I really, really appreciate you taking the time to sign.
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Trent
Posted on Monday, February 16, 2004 - 08:58 pm:   

Sorry, Bob. I didn't see this thread under General. Pardon the duplication.

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