|Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award|
|Awarded for||Excellence in science fiction and fantasy writing, literary achievements|
|Presented by||Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America|
The Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award is a lifetime honor presented annually by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) to no more than one living writer of fantasy or science fiction. It was first awarded in 1975, to Robert Heinlein, and was renamed in 2002 for Damon Knight, the Association's founder, who had died that year.
The presentation is made at the annual SFWA Nebula Awards banquet, commonly during May, but it is not one of the Nebulas—which recognize the preceding calendar year's best works of SF and fantasy, selected by vote of all Association members. SFWA officers and past presidents alone submit Grand Master nominations and the final selection must be approved by a majority of that group. The recipient is announced in advance, commonly during the preceding calendar year, which is the publication year and official award year for the Nebulas.
In 2023, SFWA announced the creation of the Infinity Award, which posthumously honors creators who died before they could be considered for the Grand Master Award. The first recipient of the Infinity Award was Octavia E. Butler.
The Grand Master Award was originally limited to six per decade and six were presented in the ten years to 1984; twelve in the twenty years to 1994. All were 67 years old (Isaac Asimov) to 75 years old (Lester del Rey) at the time of presentation; Alfred Bester had died at 74. Andre Norton was the first of ten women so honored. Anne McCaffrey was the first recipient named after the award was retitled the "Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master" in 2003. From 1995 the award has been conferred annually, with exceptions only in 2002 and 2011 (2001 and 2010 Nebula award years). Nalo Hopkinson was the youngest to receive the honor, age 59.
Starting in 1995, the SFWA also awarded the title of Author Emeritus "as a way to recognize and appreciate senior writers in the genres of science fiction and fantasy who have made significant contributions to our field but who are no longer active or whose excellent work may no longer be as widely known as it once was." No more than one Author Emeritus was named each year, and the recipient was invited to speak at the annual Nebula Awards banquet. Fourteen were named in the 16 years to 2010 (the 2009 Nebula award year), none of whom had ever been named Grand Master—as remains true through 2013/2014. Its status as a consolation prize was a matter of controversy, and by October 2013 the Author Emeritus webpage had been removed by SFWA.
A total of 39 SFWA Grand Masters have been created in the 45 years from 1974/1975 to 2021/2022. Please note: The list below shows the year of the award ceremonies for each respective recipient, but the actual title of each individual award uses the preceding year.
|1975||Robert A. Heinlein (1907–1988)|
|1976||Jack Williamson (1908–2006)|
|1977||Clifford D. Simak (1904–1988)|
|1979||L. Sprague de Camp (1907–2000)|
|1981||Fritz Leiber (1910–1992)|
|1984||Andre Norton (1912–2005)|
|1986||Arthur C. Clarke (1917–2008)|
|1987||Isaac Asimov (1920–1992)|
|1988||Alfred Bester (1913–1987)|
|1989||Ray Bradbury (1920–2012)|
|1991||Lester del Rey (1915–1993)|
|1993||Frederik Pohl (1919–2013)|
|1995||Damon Knight (1922–2002)|
|1996||A. E. van Vogt (1912–2000)|
|1997||Jack Vance (1916–2013)|
|1998||Poul Anderson (1926–2001)|
|1999||Hal Clement (1922–2003)|
|2000||Brian W. Aldiss (1925–2017)|
|2001||Philip José Farmer (1918–2009)|
|2003||Ursula K. Le Guin (1929–2018)|
|2004||Robert Silverberg (1935–)|
|2005||Anne McCaffrey (1926–2011)|
|2006||Harlan Ellison (1934–2018)|||
|2007||James Gunn (1923–2020)|
|2008||Michael Moorcock (1939–)|||
|2009||Harry Harrison (1925–2012)|||
|2010||Joe Haldeman (1943–)|||
|2012||Connie Willis (1945–)|||
|2013||Gene Wolfe (1931–2019)|||
|2014||Samuel R. Delany (1942–)|||
|2015||Larry Niven (1938–)|||
|2016||C. J. Cherryh (1942–)|||
|2017||Jane Yolen (1939–)|||
|2018||Peter S. Beagle (1939–)|||
|2019||William Gibson (1948–)|||
|2020||Lois McMaster Bujold (1949–)|||
|2021||Nalo Hopkinson (1960–)|||
|2022||Mercedes Lackey (1950–)|||
|2023||Robin McKinley (1952–)|||
In 2023, SFWA announced the creation of the Infinity Award, which posthumously honors creators who died before they could be considered for the Grand Master Award. As SFWA President Jeffe Kennedy said, "Over the years, so many creators have been passed over for the Grand Master nod, for one reason or another. Some died tragically early. Others were not recognized for their work during their lifetimes because of cultural prejudices and blind spots."
The first recipient of the Infinity Award was Octavia E. Butler.
|2023||Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006)|||
In 1989, the anthology Grand Masters' Choice was published, edited by Andre Norton and Ingrid Zierhut. Later three more anthologies honoring recipients of the Grand Master Award and collecting some of their short works have been published: The SFWA Grand Masters, Volume 1 (1999), The SFWA Grand Masters, Volume 2 (2000), and The SFWA Grand Masters, Volume 3 (2001), all edited by Frederik Pohl. Collectively, they honor the first fifteen recipients of the award.