SFRA 2010, Saturday, Awards Banquet

On Saturday evening as the temperature descended from 114 degrees, everyone converged on the Carefree Opera House pictured above for the prebanquet reception and awards banquet.

The reception inside the western themed (and air conditioned) opera house was a pleasant beginning to the evening. SFRA members mingled and chatted over drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

Then, we all sat down for the banquet and awards presentation conducted by SFRA President Lisa Yaszek.

Dave Mead began the award presentations with the Graduate Student Paper Award (our last–hereafter known as the Best Student Paper Award), which Alfredo Suppia accepted on behalf of Andrew Ferguson, who is currently studying at the University of Liverpool.

Patrick Sharp awarded the Mary Kay Bray Award for best review or essay in the SFRA Review to Ritch Calvin (next year, I will be the chair of this committee) for his very informative article, “Mundane SF 101.”

Doug Davis presented the Clareson Award for Distinguished Service to Dave Mead (I was on Dave’s panel at my first SFRA conference in 2006–I quickly learned how friendly and helpful a guy he is).

Craig Jacobsen awarded the Pioneer Award to Allison de Fren for her Science Fiction Studies essay, “The Anatomical Gaze in Tomorrow’s Eve.” de Fren’s acceptance speech demonstrated how serendipity and hard work can lead to professional success.

And finally, Lisa Yaszek presented Eric Rabkin with this year’s Pilgrim Award, which honors lifetime contributions to the fields of science fiction and fantasy studies. Professor Rabkin’s acceptance speech demonstrated his gift as a writer and public speaker. He told us the story about his father’s desire to give his son a better chance in life through making a distinction between pulp science fiction and ‘classic science fiction.’ After surviving Robinson Crusoe, his father asked him at age 12 why he was reading something else: ‘that crap,’ meaning the hand-me-down SF pulps that his father had already read. Eric’s father told him that he should read classic science fiction, such as A. E. Van Vogt’s Slan (1946). It was at this point that he began to formulate the differences between literature and science fiction, but also the distinctions between different kinds of science fiction. Unfortunately, I cannot replicate Professor Rabkin’s moving speech here, but this standing ovation should help indicate how well it was received and how well respected Professor Rabkin is by scholars:

And here is a picture of the award winners in attendance at SFRA 2010. From left to right: Dave Mead, Eric Rabkin, Ritch Calvin, and Allison de Fren.

After the banquet, we walked out into a now very comfortable desert night to seek out the Conference Headquarters villa for the closing reception.

Published by Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.