Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Possible Worldcon Guests of Honor

This is when I make everyone feel really, really old. =) I figure it's only fair, since I'm turning 28 on March 20th, and *I* feel totally old. It's been ten years since I graduated from high school, almost, and we're planning my 10 year high school reunion... oy.

Anyway, I've been promising Cheryl Morgan that I would write up a post about who I would love to see as author guests at future Worldcons. There's apparently a rule that the author guest must have been active for the last 25-30 years, which basically means I'm looking at people who have been writing at least as long as since I was born. Hence the making everyone else feel old part.

This is the list I'm going off of, for people who are already past/committed Guests of Honor and won't be eligible for my dream list. I'm going to just do the list as bullet points, because really, I'd love to see any of these people be Worldcon Guests of Honor. I'll try to put dates where I can, of when people first published stuff.

  • Robin McKinley (BEAUTY-1978). Now, granted, Robin has ME which can be a bitch of a health condition, and she has two ailing hellhounds to care for. But she's local to the UK, so all you people planning UK Worldcons? Get me Robin McKinley as your GoH and I will love you forever.
  • Sheri Tepper (KING'S BLOOD FOUR-1983). I love her books; I love everyone on this list's books, by the way.
  • Diana Wynne Jones (various novels in the 1970s). She's not in great health, but oh wow, I love her stuff.
  • William Gibson (NEUROMANCER-1984). It's William freaking Gibson, people.
  • Orson Scott Card (various publications in the 1970s). Yes, Scott Card is a reactionary figure in the world of science fiction, particularly in terms of his political views. Despite that, he's a great writing teacher, and ENDER'S GAME *is* a classic which I dearly love. Even, ahem, if he is retconning it now...
  • Tamora Pierce (ALANNA: THE FIRST ADVENTURE-1983)
  • Kazuo Ishiguro (A PALE VIEW OF THE HILLS-1982). I just think he would be interesting to have and I couldn't think of another male author. =)
Ok, people, your turn now. Who has been writing for at least 25-30 years, has not been a Worldcon GoH, and has made some sort of decent contribution to the field, enough that they could warrant being a GoH?


Cheryl said...

Many thanks for doing this. I shall go point SMOFs your way. But first a few comments.

Firstly I can't see Card ever being a Worldcon GoH. Regardless of what he has done, no Worldcon would want to deal with the controversy his selection would create.

Gibson will be a GoH very soon, I'm sure, provided he is willing.

When people are making suggestions, please note that you don't need to limit yourselves to authors. Anyone in the industry is fair game, provided that they have a 25-30 year career behind them, and they won't demand a huge appearance fee.

You can find a list of past Worldcon GoHs here: http://www.nesfa.org/data/LL/TheLongList.html. People generally don't get the honor twice, as it is regarded as the equivalent of a Lifetime Achievement award.

Cheryl said...

I should also add that Worldcon generally has a Fan Guest of Honor, but this is perhaps not the place to get suggestions for that.

Anonymous said...

Dave Duncan - he doesn't quite meet your 25-30 year requirement (first book in 1987, I believe), but gets bonus points for having started at age 50. IMHO, the best and most original worldbuilder writing today except for maybe Ursula K. Le Guin.

Anonymous said...

I suspect Card wouldn't play well these days, and yeah, I think the frothing reactionary stuff is a big part of that. Anybody picking Card will probably be threatened with a boycott. Too bad we can't get the Card of the 1980s back.

I like the idea of Gibson. Dude practically invented the cyberpunk genre. He would be a good choice.

Another interesting thought might be Neal Stephenson (His first book came out in 1984.) I mean, he may be a few years away yet, but I think he will, and soon.

There's Pratchett, but the health problems make that interesting, and I see he's already been a GOH. Scratch that.

Robert J. Sawyer might also be a good choice, but he's about ten years or so from it (first book 1990).

There's a few thoughts here. I'll see what I can do about thinking of a few more.

Robert said...

Personally I'd like to see Cheryl as Fan GOH. She's definitely got the "world" part covered!

As to author, the only name I can think to add to your list is Jerry Pournelle.

And I think you'd get some very bad reaction from some quarters if Card were picked. Yes, he's qualified as a writer and writing teacher. As you indicate, there would issues, though.

Anonymous said...

Goodness, how about JG Ballard - still lives in Sunbury, (though he's not well)

Christopher Priest perhaps, or Tanith Lee

Nadine said...

I'd like to see Sheri Tepper too-unfortunately, her health is very bad, and I don't think she can travel at all.
Terry Brooks-whatever else you say, he has had a tremendous amount of influence on the field.
Piers Anthony-Ditto.
Peter S. Beagle-The Last Unicorn, anyone? A huge influence for a lot of younger writers.

Jenny Rae Rappaport said...

I agree that Card would be a bad guest choice for a number of reasons.

I forgot to add Neal Stephenson and just remembered him about five minutes ago when I was talking to my husband about DIAMOND AGE. Yes, definitely, I would love to see Neal Stephenson.

Also, what about Jane Yolen?

Jenny Rae Rappaport said...

davegullen, actually, looking at the long list again, I do believe Christopher Priest and Jane Yolen were guests of honor in 2005 in Scotland.

Tanith Lee I would adore.

Jonathan Strahan said...

In addition to the fine names already mentioned here, some possible worthies would include:

Charles N. Brown
Ginjer Buchanan
Ellen Datlow
Gardner Dozois
Donato Giancola
Stephen King
Nancy Kress
Patricia McKillip
Bruce Sterling
Michael Swanwick

I realise that I have a conflict of interest with Charles Brown, who is both my boss and a friend, but who else has been so prominent, won so many awards, and had so much influence without ever being a WorldCon GOH?

Anonymous said...

Here's some I haven't seen at a WorldCon :>

>Katherine Kurtz? 38 years writing and counting (1st Deryni 1970).

>Robert Aspirin - MythAdventures started in 1979

>Steven Barnes - started writing with Larry and Jerry in 1981

>Jerry Pournelle - A Spaceship for the King (1973)

>Samual R. Delaney - The Jewels of Aptor (1962)

>Michael Resnick - Birthright: The Book of Man (1982)

Kristin Laughtin said...

Robin McKinley, like you said, and I'd also like to see Neal Stephenson in a few years. And I believe there's still quite a while to go before he'd be eligible, but I'd love to see Robert Charles Wilson as a GoH in the future.

Rackstraw Press said...

John Clute.


Michael Kingsley said...

Getting into SF as a teenager during the 1970s, my choices would be:

Michael Bishop

Norman Spinrad

Vonda McIntyre

green_knight said...

Judith Tarr. Her writing stands up to the test of time.

Anonymous said...

As far as people who are qualified now, I think Tanith Lee and Glen Cook both deserve the nod. George Lucas, Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling would also be good choices, but they probably wouldn't come if they were invited.

Sean Stewart, if he keeps writing, would be a good choice in about ten years, and Jim Butcher in about fifteen.

David Eddings, Laurel K. Hamilton, Piers Anthony, and Tamora Pierce probably have too narrow a fanbase to make good GoH choices, but it wouldn't be out of line for a Worldcon to pick them. Iain Banks, who's got a broader range of fans who like him, hasn't really published enough SF to be appropriate.

And it's a damn shame that James Rigney (Robert Jordan), Gary Gygax, and Madeline L'Engle weren't made Worldcon GoH while they were alive.

Val Grimm said...

I like your suggestions. I also agree with another suggestion of Cheryl as a fan GoH...

All the people I can think of are probably too new -- Nalo Hopkinson (as a scholar and editor as well as a writer), James Morrow, Neal Stephenson, Rudy Rucker, Johanna Sinisalo . . .

But there, I threw some names out there. Maybe some of them would do.

Jenny Rae Rappaport said...

dhole, I think Tamora Pierce has a huge fan base among the YA readers, and that she would be a wonderful incentive to drawing younger readers to Worldcon. They would come. In droves.

I'd love Cheryl as fan GoH too. =)

Val Grimm, Rudy Rucker has definitely been writing long enough to qualify, as far as I know. I don't know if he'd have a big enough fan base, although I love his stuff.

Cheryl said...

People, people, what are you saying? Orson Scott Card might be controversial, but that would be nothing to the fury that would erupt in fandom if I got made fan G0H. It is very kind of you, but it isn't going to happen.

A few quick comments. Robert Asprin is dead; Delany was GoH in 1995; I am boggled at the idea that Iain Banks hasn't written enough SF to qualify - 10 novels and a collection at least.

Clute would be awesome.

Jannie said...

Off the top of my head and in no particular order:

Stephan Martiniere
Stephen Hickman
Donato Giancola
Otto Frello
Thomas Canty
M W Kaluta
Real Musgrave
John Jude Palencar
William Stout
Leo and Diane Dillon
Edward Koren
John Howe
Alan Lee
Brian Froud
Kinuko Craft
Tom Kidd
Charles Vess
Janny Wurtz
Ron Miller
HR Giger
John Byrne
Robert Crumb

And if you want to start the list of dead people who you wish could have been Worldcon GoHs. . .

Derek said...

I've had the pleasure of chatting with William Gibson on more than one occasion. He's awesome, and would be a great GoH. I have a picture of him and I together, framed and on my desk as inspiration.

But I am looking forward to Gaiman as GoH in Montreal. Should be a lot of fun.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot about Peter Beagle! He'd be great!

And if we're looking at suggestions for other GoH slots than Author, Phil Foglio and Tim Kirk spring immediately to mind. (Yeah, yeah, Foglio writes, too. But I mean it's not what he's primarily known for.)

Anonymous said...

As far as Iain Banks being insufficiently published in the field to qualify as GoH, I've taken a look at the past winners.

Because the early Worldcons were a very different beast than the modern cons, I limited this to 1960 on. Out of 70 GoH who seem to have been selected because of their writing, three had less published SF (in terms of novels, single author collections, screenplays and other substantial pieces of work) than Banks, at the time of their honorable guesting: Leigh Brackett in 1964, Dorris Lessing in 1987, and Richard Powers in 1991. Vernor Vinge, in 2002, had as many works as Banks has now.

So, clearly, I was wrong about it being too few works to be appropriate. But it's on the low side for a Worldcon GoH. (There were other, more prolific authors as guests of honor in 64, 87, and 91, as well.)

Cheryl said...


I don't think it is entirely about quantity. William Gibson has (I think) 8 novels and one collaboration to his name. I can't see anyone claiming that he can't be a Worldcon GoH because he hasn't written enough.

Anonymous said...


It's not entirely about numbers, no. (Though, with Gibson, you get eight novels, a collaboration, a collection, a movie screenplay, two X-Files screenplays, and some experimental poetry and performance art weirdness-- not much more than Banks, but a bit more.)

But William Gibson is a hugely influential figure in the field -- one of the founding fathers of cyberpunk, and of steampunk. Similarly, if J.K. Rowling were to be interested in being a Worldcon GoH, she'd be a good choice, despite a limited bibliography, and a relatively young career.

And while I love Bank's writing, both with or with out the infixed M, he doesn't have the same sort of weight in the field that Gibson or Rowling has.

Another three or four SF books by Banks and he'd be on the low end of average, as far as output by Worldcon Guests of Honor, but not remarkable in that regard. And he does seem to need another few years to get into the "25-30 year career" category, so by the time he meets your criteria, he might well meet mine.

Cheryl said...


They are not "my" criteria. They are the criteria traditionally used by Worldcon committees.

You are right about influence on the field, although of course if you were to ask any UK writer or fan Banks would probably be top of their list.

Anonymous said...


Whether or not Worldcon committees use that criterion, they aren't necessarily scrupulous about sticking to it: In the last ten years, you have Neil Gaiman, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Greg Bear, all of whom (at least as far as a casual google indicates) didn't have 25 years in the field before their GoH stints.

But I think we're wandering a bit afield here, and the strange fascination of lists is drawing me in to arguing where argument isn't really needed.

Banks is at the top of SF authors in terms of UK popularity, right up there with people like Pratchett and Rowling, but he hasn't written as much SF as most authors who get made Worldcon GoHs. He's also a couple of years shy of the 25 years in the field cutoff, but are the current and previous Worldcon pro author GoH. He'd be a decent choice, but I'd like to see a GoH with a few more books under his belt, or an impact on the field akin to Gibson's.

There are also a few more names that have occurred to me as good Worldcon GoHs:

Ian McDonald
Harry Turtledove
Tim Powers
Alan Moore (He'd be good paired with someone like Tanith Lee, or Diana Wynne Jones, I think.)
Somtow Sucharitkul (In addition to his more standard work, both under his name and as S. P. Somtow, he's written SF operas. That needs to be acknowledged.)
Diane Duane
David Weber

Amusingly, Charlie Stross might technically qualify, having first been professionally published in the 80s, and then nothing until approximately nine thousand novels in the last few years, but I can't really see anyone sane going for that logic.

Cheryl said...


Bear in mind that a casual Google is only likely to net you published books. Many authors have a track record in short fiction stretching back several years before their first novel. All of the Worldcons I have been involved in have been very diligent in checking the qualifications of their GoHs, because they know that other people will make the same checks and will yell at them if they got it wrong.

(FYI, there was a lot of yelling in some quarters about Neil, but Montreal had done their homework.)