The World Fantasy Award is a prestigious award given to writers of fantasy since 1975. The award comes not only with the acclaim and envy of peers but also with a statuette, a bust of H.P. Lovecraft. However, as of next year, Lovecraft will no longer be the face of the World Fantasy Award.
According to File770, “[Editor] David Hartwell announced at the World Fantasy Award ceremony on November 8 that this will be the last year that the award trophy will be in the form of the traditional — and controversial — H.P. Lovecraft bust designed by Gahan Wilson.”
The late author has been removed, thanks to an important campaign against him.
Lovecraft was the creator of the Cthulhu mythos, which told tales of Elder Gods, dread, sanity-shattering terrors that lay dreaming but try to emerge. With the first story, “The Call of Cthulhu,” published in 1928, Lovecraft’s works became shorthand for mind-crushing evil, and Cthulhu is still popular today.
Lovecraft was also a virulent racist who deeply held to the belief that anyone other than Anglo-Saxons was inferior.
According to The Guardian, World Fantasy Award winner Nnedi Okorafor "discovered Lovecraft’s racist 1912 poem On the Creation of Niggers following her win, and blogged about how 'conflicted' it made her feel." “A statuette of this racist man’s head is in my home. A statuette of this racist man’s head is one of my greatest honours as a writer,” she wrote.
Although I fell in love with his work years ago when I flipped to a random page at a bookstore and read something about a Latin translation driving people insane, Lovecraft's racism makes him a poor representation of the genre. Fantasy is a world in which anyone can become a hero. His works, though compelling, are not inclusive--the opposite of what the genre stands for.
Currently, the World Fantasy Award has yet to decide on a new statuette. Author Daniel Jose Older, who created a petition at Change.org to remove Lovecraft’s image, suggested it uses the image of Octavia Butler — the brilliant late author whose works touched on both race and gender.
However, Kevin J. Maroney, an editor at the New York Review of Science Fiction (note: also my former boss, for whom I worked at the magazine) argues that Octavia Butler wrote science fiction, not fantasy, and is therefore not an ideal candidate. Maroney suggests “a replacement that can fairly represent all of fantasy and all of its audience and creators, whether it be a iconic creature such as a dragon or chimera ([Nick] Mamatas’s suggestion); a map (my own preference) or a book; or something more abstract still."
What would you like to see as the statue for the World Fantasy Award?