Peter S. Beagle will be the Next SFWA Grand Master

Peter S. Beagle will be the Next SFWA Grand Master

Peter S Beagle Grand Master-small

Is it OK to post now on the other significant SF news from Tuesday (happier news)? Because it does seem worthwhile to mention that Peter Beagle has been named the latest SFWA Grand Master.

I confess — somewhat bewilderedly — that I had not thought of him when I speculated on who the next GM might be. (I believe that’s because early in his career he was not a “core genre writer,” in that he didn’t publish in the magazines. (Yes, Fantasy & Science Fiction published “Come Lady Death,” but as a reprint.) That’s not a good reason, it’s just what I think must have made me forget him.) But on seeing the announcement, I thought, well, of course! Peter Beagle IS a Grand Master, and this is an award he eminently deserves.

I (with many other fans, to be sure) absolutely adore The Last Unicorn. And his other fiction is quite marvelous as well. I’ve used a few of his stories in my books.

I met him once, at an Archon I believe, and I was able to speak with him briefly. The main thing I remember is his mention of Robert Nathan as an influence, which seems quite clear — for instance, Nathan’s One Last Spring certain brought Beagle’s A Fine and Private Place to my mind.

(I do wonder, now, who the next GM will be? Will Kate Wilhelm finally get a long overdue nod? Or Carol Emshwiller? How about Michael Bishop? Gregory Benford? Nancy Kress? And I’m sure I’ve forgotten some obvious candidates.)

Rich Horton’s last Retro Review for us was the November 1962 issue of Amazing Stories. His website is Strange at Ecbatan. See all of Rich’s retro-reviews here.

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John ONeill

I was a little surprised, looking over the list, that Philip K. Dick was never a master. Nor J.G. Ballard.

But looking at current candidates… I would include George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois.

Others: John Varley, John Crowley, David Brin, Joan D. Vinge, William Gibson, Kim Stanley Robinson, Lois McMaster Bujold. Some younger candidates- Neil Gaiman, Neal Stephenson, China Mieville.

Nick Ozment

John, I agree about Dick. I suppose that while he was well respected in the field during his lifetime, he wasn’t held in awe as he is now until posthumously?

The only thing that surprises me about the Beagle announcement is that he wasn’t a Grand Master already. How many other living fantasy authors have his stature (especially with the loss of icons like Ursula Le Guin)?

Steven H Silver

I’m a firm believer that the two reactions a SFWA Grand Master announcement should engender are “Of course, that’s the perfect choice.” and “I can’t believe [authorname] isn’t already a Grand Master.”

Nick Ozment

Rich Horton,

So it sounds like, as I suspected, the recipient must be living to receive the designation; and able to attend and physically receive the award?

They’d better get one to Carol Emshwiller quick — she’s 96 years old!

John ONeill

For those with Facebook access, the comment thread Rich mentioned above is here:

Also, shame on me for not mentioning it earlier: I think Peter Beagle is a fantastic choice for Grand Master this year.

John ONeill

> I believe A. E. Van Vogt’s health was in serious decline when his award was made, but I don’t know if he attended the ceremony or not.


I believe he did attend. I remember the heartbreaking quote that several have shared from van Vogt after the ceremony:

“I remember having been a writer, but I don’t remember anything I wrote.”

Quoted by multiple attendees. Here’s Robert Sawyer:

Steven H Silver

Following the Bester presentation, a rule was instituted that the recipient needed to be living. Bester was, in fact, alive when he was announced as a Grand Master, however he died prior to the ceremony.

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