A Tunnel in the Sky

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Damon Knight

SFWA Grand Masters

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America presented the first Grand Master Award in 1975, then in 2002 it was officially renamed the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in honor of the organization's founder. It is essentially a Lifetime Achievement award selected by peer review. Originally limited to six times each decade, and that did apply for the first two decades, but since the award is for living authors only, a lot of the membership argued that too many worthy writers missed out on the opportunity. I mean, can you believe that neither Theodore Sturgeon or Roger Zelazny are Grand Masters? Neither are Philip K. Dick or Frank Herbert. Alfred Bester just barely made it under the wire, with the award being presented posthumously since he had passed away a couple of months after the announcement was made. The rules were amended, and since 1995 there have been only two years in which no award was given. It is not officially a Nebula Award, but it is presented at the Nebula Awards ceremony each year. The following is a list of all recipients, with the year being when it was presented, although in a lot of cases the announcement was made in the previous year. At the end I will give you a list of writers that I feel deserve the honor in upcoming years. Links on names take you to other articles about their work.


1975 - Robert A. Heinlein

1976 - Jack Williamson

1977 - Clifford D. Simak

1979 - L. Sprague de Camp

1981 - Fritz Leiber

1984 - Andre Norton

1986 - Arthur C. Clarke

1987 - Isaac Asimov

1988 - Alfred Bester

1989 - Ray Bradbury

1991 - Lester del Rey

1993 - Frederik Pohl

1995 - Damon Knight

1996 - A. E. van Vogt

1997 - Jack Vance

1998 - Poul Anderson

1999 - Hal Clement

2000 - Brian W. Aldiss

2001 - Philip Josť Farmer

2003 - Ursula K. Le Guin

2004 - Robert Silverberg

2005 - Anne McCaffrey

2006 - Harlan Ellison

2007 - James Gunn

2008 - Michael Moorcock

2009 - Harry Harrison

2010 - Joe Haldeman

2012 - Connie Willis

2013 - Gene Wolfe

2014 - Samuel R. Delany

2015 - Larry Niven

2016 - C. J. Cherryh

2017 - Jane Yolen

2018 - Peter S. Beagle

2019 - William Gibson

2020 - Lois McMaster Bujold


Now for a few writers that I think at least deserve consideration, presented alphabetically, not in my preference order, and I am limiting it to those who are at least 60 years old. There will be many I don't mention that others might, but I can't read everything and everyone has different tastes. If and when any of these are chosen I'll add their names to the list above, and I might even add others later. There were a few I would have included except they are still in their 50s. Although there are no women on the following list (just moved Bujold up to the winner's list), I know that will change in a few years.

Gregory Benford, Michael Bishop, Ben Bova, David Brin, David Gerrold, George R. R. Martin, Tim Powers, Kim Stanley Robinson, Spider Robinson, Norman Spinrad, Neal Stephenson, John Varley.

If you pressured me into ranking them in preferential order, my top five picks would be Spinrad, Varley, Gerrold, Robinson, Brin.


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