The World Fantasy Awards were announced at the World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs this weekend. Gene Wolfe's Soldier of Sidon won for best novel, and Jeffrey Ford's "Botch Town" took home the prize for best novella. Mary Rickert won both the award for short story (for "Journey Into the Kingdom") and for best collection (for Map of Dreams).
Salon Fantastique edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling won the award for best anthology. Datlow accepted the award both for herself and on behalf of the absent Windling, and dedicated the award to Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, whose living room, she said, has been a real-life salon fantastique for many years--a place where writers can meet and exchange ideas, encourage each other's writing, and fire each other's creativity.
Shaun Tan won the award for best artist, and special awards went to former Science Fiction Book Club editor Ellen Asher (Special Award: Professional) and reviewer/critic Gary K. Wolfe (Special Award: Non-professional).
Author Diana Wynne Jones and publisher Betty Ballantine were each presented with the World Fantasy Award for life achievement. Jones was unable to accept in person due to poor health, but she sent her editor Sharyn November in her place, and provided a funny and heartfelt acceptance speech which related a conversation she and November had about the award. In it, November stressed that it was an award for life achievement up until this point and instructed Jones not to die.
Ballantine was on hand to accept her award and in her acceptance speech challenged all in the audience to teach a child to read.
Author Guy Gavriel Kay was charming and funny in his role as toastmaster for the award ceremony. In lieu of reading the award ballot as a list of titles and names, he constructed a pun-filled narrative, dubbed "The World Fantasy Fairy Tale," in which every title and nominee's name was woven into the story. The audience was instructed to clink their glasses every time a title or nominee's name was mentioned. The aforementioned puns included some real groaners (for which Kay did apologize), such as "I didn't know the Windling could sweep Datlow."
Saratoga Springs was an inviting and pleasant host city. The hotel was situated within walking distance of numerous restaurants and interesting (to fantasy aficionados) local businesses, several of which had special signs welcoming members of the convention. Others, like the labyrinthine Lyrical Ballad Bookstore, enticed convention passersby with a window display full of old and unusual works of fantasy and horror.
Also of interest to fantasy fans was the Hathorn Spring, a naturally carbonated spring first discovered in the late 1800s which is believed to have curative properties. Several con-goers made an expedition to the Spring to "take the waters," though some speculated that doing so might prevent one from ever leaving the city. (It doesn't.) But while it won't bind you to that locale forevermore and may indeed cure what ails you, it is not necessarily recommended as a beverage, unless you happen to like bubbly seawater.
This year's guests of honor were Carol Emshwiller, Kim Newman, Lisa Tuttle, and artist Jean "Moebius" Giraud. Also in attendance were fans, booksellers, and other authors, from best-selling scribes like Peter Straub and George R. R. Martin to up-and-coming writers like Ken Scholes and David J. Williams who you may not have heard of yet, but certainly will in the near future. --John Joseph Adams
[Ed.: With Jeff VanderMeer attending Utopiales in France this week (lucky him!), we were fortunate enough to get this report on the World Fantasy Awards from editor and critic John Joseph Adams, whose anthology of apocalpytic fiction, Wastelands, comes out in January.]