Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dallas (Heart) Nebulas

I've been on the phone a bit this week dealing with media issues for the upcoming Nebula Awards in Austin. This is a good thing. The Austin Chronicle ran a somewhat snarky piece this week, but as P.T. Barnum said, it's doesn't matter if it's good press or bad press as long as the name is spelled right. But in dealing with Edward Nawotka of the Dallas Morning News, I had a very comfortable feeling. The man had already done a good bit of homework, and after our conversation kept in touch with me via email, clarifying points here and there and generally doing what a good reporter should. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and Nawotka's pudding, published today, is pretty darn tasty indeed:
"People always judge science- fiction writing by its worst examples," says author Joe R. Lansdale. "Sci-fi is more respected than when I was a kid – when it was considered that old hokey stuff. People are beginning to appreciate what a unique genre it is and what an interesting pocket universe we have here in Texas."

That universe will get some international attention this weekend as the 2008 Nebula Awards are presented in Austin. Mr. Lansdale, a prolific author of mystery, horror, comics and sci-fi works, often set around his hometown of Nacogdoches, will serve as toastmaster.

The Nebulas are one of science fiction's top honors, dating to 1965, when Frank Herbert won the inaugural best novel prize for Dune. Winners are chosen by members of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Sci-fi's other top awards, the Hugos, are voted on by fans. "The Nebulas are essentially like the Oscars, while the Hugos are like the People's Choice Awards," said Jayme Lynn Blaschke, a communications officer at Texas State University who also serves as the Nebulas' publicist.

Texas is home to 71 members of the writers group. "That makes it third only to California and New York," says Betsy Mitchell, the editor-in-chief of sci-fi publisher Del Rey books.

Ms. Mitchell will be on hand to honor the 68-year old British-born (and part-time Austinite) Michael Moorcock as a grand master. Another Texan, 78-year-old Ardath Mayhar of Chireno, author of some 60 books of fiction and poetry, will be deemed author emeritus.

Other luminaries expected to attend the Saturday night awards ceremony are Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon, whose The Yiddish Policeman's Union is nominated for best novel, and Bruce Sterling (a part-time Austinite), whose story "Kiosk" is shortlisted in the novelette category, as is "Memorare" by another one-time Texan, Gene Wolfe.

I wonder how much flack I'm going to take for the Oscars/People's Choice comment. There's no malice there, obviously, but you know how easily those wacky genre types get bent out of shape.

The article is really most excellent. I can't stress that enough. Read the whole thing at the link above.

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