This weekend I attended the 2016 Nebula Conference here in Chicago, where CJ Cherryh received the SFWA Damon Knight Grand Master Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Part of the Friday afternoon programming included “An Hour With CJ Cherryh, SF’s Newest Grandmaster.” I sat in the front row, with Nebula nominees Ann Leckie and Lawrence M. Schoen, and captured the first part of the speech, in which Cherryh entertained the audience with recollections of her childhood ambition to be a writer, discovering science fiction, her early career, selling her first novel to Donald Wollheim at DAW Books, and her recent marriage to fellow novelist Jane Fancher. She spoke of the core of optimism in her work, calling it “The attitude behind my writing.” About science fiction writers, she said:
That’s our job… to make people face the future with confidence. With a notion that there is something they can do, and they should be doing it. Because, remember that [we’re] one generation removed from barbarism. People have to believe there’s a reason to keep on keeping on, and this is what we are. We are a romance of the machine. In the time when people declared Romance was dead, we were the despised literature that kept going, and kept inventing, and saying, ‘There’s a way out of this.’
The clip above includes the entirety of her prepared remarks (about 13.5 minutes), and her responses to the first few questions, including why she choose to write under “CJ Cherryh” rather than her full name.