by Grant Carrington

   Winners was published in the June 1 1975 issue of NEW LOOK

   Back in 1969, when I was a student at the Clarion Science Fiction Writers' Workshop, we had a fantasy that the workshop was an alien conspiracy to get promising young SF writers together in one place so they could be destroyed. If such a conspiracy truly existed, the aliens missed an excellent chance on April 26th, when the Science Fiction Writers Of America (SFWA) held their tenth annual Nebula Awards Banquet at the Hotel Warwick in New York City.
    More than 250 writers, editors and critics listened to an afternoon of panels about the publishing and promotion of SF, featuring editors James Baen of GALAXY magazine, Sharon Jarvis of Doubleday, and David Hartwell of Putnam-Berkeley, agent Kirby McCauley, Susan Peterson, promotion director of Ballentine Books, Baird Searles, co-owner of New York's Science Fiction Book Shop, Jonathan Ward of CBS Radio News, and Hollywood writer Harlan Ellison.
    At the evening's banquet and awards, SFWA president Frederick Pohl presented a plaque to SFWA founder Damon Knight (of Madeira Beach). Then the Nebula winners were announced: Woody Allen's "Sleeper" as Best Dramatic Presentation of 1974; Ursula K. LeGuin's "The Day Before the Revolution" as Best Short Story; Gordon Eklund and Gregory Benford's "If the Stars Are Gods" as Best Novelette; Robert Silverberg's "Born With the Dead" as Best Novella; and Ursula K. LeGuin's The Dispossessed as Best Novel. None of the award winners, all West Coast writers, were present. The acceptance speeches, by agents, editors, and friends, were all brief and non-commital, except for Harlan Ellison (accepting for Silverberg), who noted that with all the winners coming from the West, East Coast writers must all be "burnt-out" cases.
   The highlight of the evening, however, was the awarding of SFWA's first Grand Master Award, "a special award...given, not for one work, but as recognition for a long and honored career in the field of science fiction." This first Grand Master Award went, of course, to Robert A. Heinlein, author of Stranger in a Strange Land. In his acceptance speech, almost breaking into tears several times, Heinlein said, "I never thought I'd win one of thes things." Heinlein's most famous books were written before SFWA was founded. He called it "one of the most beautiful things" he'd ever seen and said that it meant more to him than a Hugo (SF's other major award, given by readers and fans at the World Science Fiction Convention each fall), since it came from his colleagues.