The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) is proud to announce that Robin McKinley has been named the 39th Damon Knight Grand Master for her contributions to the literature of science fiction and fantasy.
The SFWA Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award recognizes “lifetime achievement in science fiction and/or fantasy.” It is named after author Damon Knight, SFWA’s founder and the organization’s 13th Grand Master. McKinley joins 38 writers who’ve been granted the title, including other luminaries such as Nalo Hopkinson, Peter S. Beagle, Connie Willis, Ursula K. LeGuin, Ray Bradbury, Anne McCaffrey, and Joe Haldeman.
Robin McKinley is one of the leading writers of the modern fairy-tale retelling genre, and indeed, her debut Beauty, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, could be said to have started the fairy-tale retelling trend. She is also celebrated for her original fantasy novels. Her 1982 book The Blue Sword received the Newbery Honor, and its 1984 prequel The Hero and the Crown was awarded the Newbery Medal. School Library Journal said, “Her work has impacted not just the Newbery canon, but the fantasy genre, too.” Her 1985 anthology Imaginary Lands won the World Fantasy Award, and Water, the 2002 collection she co-wrote with Peter Dickinson, was later nominated as well.
Sunshine (2003), a dark sensual vampire fairy tale that Neil Gaiman called “A gripping, funny, page-turning, pretty much perfect work of magical literature,” won the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature and was named to NPR’s “Top 100 Science-Fiction Fantasy Books” list and Tor.com’s list of “Best SFF Novels of the Decade.” Spindle’s End, McKinley’s Sleeping Beauty retelling, was named to Time Magazine’s “100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time” in 2020.
McKinley’s biography, in her own words, and her full bibliography can be viewed here:
“I read McKinley’s Deerskin in my late-twenties and it turned my world upside-down,” says SFWA President Jeffe Kennedy. “From there I went on to read everything McKinley has written. With every story, each book, she haunts, delights, and enlightens me. Naming an author who’s been such a profound influence on me as both a reader and a writer as SFWA’s newest Grand Master is one of the greatest privileges of my life.”
On being named a SFWA Grand Master, McKinley shares, “I am astonished, amazed, delighted & dumbfounded. Thank you very much.”
The 39th Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master award will be presented to McKinley at the 58th Nebula Awards ceremony, which will take place during the annual SFWA Nebula Conference. Further details about next year’s conference will be released soon.