Yesterday we heard the sad news that Ursula Le Guin passed away. There is something wonderful in the almost continuous outpouring of tributes and memories that has been ongoing since. Her work touched a lot of people. She changed the shape of science fiction and fantasy, attitudes to gender and race, and she encouraged us to reconsider the way we approached the stories and characterisation of indigenous peoples in fiction.
People are sharing quote after quote from her on Twitter, and every single one is perfect.
Many feel that she should have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
And I remembered that there had briefly been a buzz about creating an Award in Diana Wynne Jones’s name after she died, and nothing ever came of it. And I thought that we should have a prize named for a woman, and which honoured the contribution of the woman whose name it bore, just as we do for so many male writers.
“Can we make an award in her honour?” I asked, “Who would not be floored to be awarded the Ursula Le Guin Award[?]”
If ever there were a literary giant for the science fiction and fantasy genres, it is her.
Over the course of today quite a few people have shared this sentiment. Dave Moore of Abaddon Books offered his support, as did Laura Lam, Laura Blackwell (whose tweet prompted mine), and a number of others.
Dave suggested an award for women writers or progressive SFF. I felt it shouldn’t only be for women writers, that it should reflect the significance of her writing – beyond being a woman who wrote. Something with progressiveness would fit. Laura Lam suggested breaking the barriers of SF.
I’ve suggested the Ursula Le Guin Award for Breaking the Barriers of Speculative Fiction – reflecting the breadth of her writing and achievements.
But beyond this, I do not know what to propose. The tweet has had likes and retweets, but this is not enough. I supposed I had hoped it would reach the eyes of someone who knew what to do.
It’s all very well to say ‘There should be a thing!’, but how are such things organised? It seems to me that no action should be taken without talking to Ursula’s family and friends, but I did not know her, personally, and would not be the person to do that. Besides which… I’m not sure that just now is the time.
There are also questions about how, where, and when such an award would be presented. What criteria might apply. What would the award look like and who would make it? Where would the money come from for that? Should there be money for a prize? Who would the judges be and how would books be submitted for the award?
Do you have experience with these things? Would you be willing and able to bring this to fruition?
I am not very well and I’m not well-placed to spearhead this, but I would like for something to come of it. Can you help?
[Edit: The Clark Award/Tom Hunter has offered coaching / mentoring / consultancy for anyone willing to take this up: “to share EVERYTHING I know about award running, marketing, promotion, time management, logistics, publisher liaison”. Contact via the Clark Award contact form.
I need to stress that I am not well enough (mentally or physically) to do this myself but still very much think this would be a wonderful thing to happen. Please consider volunteering.