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(Some) Women Honoured at World Fantasy Convention

4th Nov 2013

Tanith Lee
Cheryl Morgan reports from the World Fantasy Convention, the annual networking event for the fantasy and horror community.

The World Fantasy Convention, took place in Brighton last weekend, with Joanne Harris a guest of honour.

The World Fantasy Awards, announced at the event, have historically recognized mainly male writers of horror and the darker end of fantasy. Writers of epic and urban fantasy rarely get a look in, while paranormal romance is shunned. This year was unusual in that the convention gave lifetime achievement awards to two British women: Susan Cooper and Tanith Lee (pictured).

Cooper is a fantasy legend. Her series of children’s novels, The Dark Is Rising Sequence, inspired a generation of fantasy writers. In 1975 she won the Newbery Medal for The Grey King. Now 78, she is still writing. Her latest novel, Ghost Hawk, came out this year.

Lee started out writing science fiction and has since moved into both fantasy and horror. Her work is noted for themes of feminism and sexuality, and she’s written lesbian erotica under the pen name Esther Garber. Her best-known work is Death’s Master.

Most of the other awards went to male writers, but there were exceptions. Translator Lucia Graves, got a prize for her work bringing The Prisoner of Heaven by best-selling Spanish novelist, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, to English-speaking readers. The top award of Best Novel went to G. Willow Wilson for Alif the Unseen, which mixes cyberpunk with Arabian Nights style fantasy and contemporary Middle-Eastern politics.

The British Fantasy Awards were also announced at the convention. Again most winners were men, but Best Newcomer was won by Helen Marshall’s amazing horror collection, Hair Side, Flesh Side. Saga, by Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan, won Best Graphic Novel, as it should.