Niven Named SFWA Grand Master

J-Sun

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I don't necessarily love every Grand Master or anything [1] but it's still a list of extraordinarily high caliber overall and, SFWA or not, is about the last award left worth paying attention to [2], so I always get excited to see a new one named. Congrats to Mr. Niven!

(This seems like "News" but if it's suitable for GBD or somewhere else and would be better noticed, mods please move. :))
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[1] I do have at least one physical book by all but 5 of the 31, though, and have read at least one book by all but 2 (Moorcock and Gunn - who are in the Pile).

[2] Though naming Connie Willis so insanely early (if at all) as well as some other choices (not necessarily bad but less than perfect) show the award is probably declining, if more slowly than the rest.
 

JoanDrake

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I think they could have given it to Terry Pratchett before he passed on, but I guess they really had no way of knowing he would go so soon and Niven is very deserving.

I don't think authors of this caliber write for awards or accolades or even money. These are people creating a body of work that will speak to the ages for them, a Legacy.
 

Vince W

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This is probably long overdue. Niven is one of my favourite Authors. Congrats Mr. Niven.
 

K. Riehl

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I remember Harlan Ellison standing up before the group and excoriating them in 1993-94 for not naming Roger Zelazny before he passed in '95.

He's still not in. :-(

Regardless, Mr. Niven is very qualified and all congratulations to him.
 

Bick

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I missed this, I'm not sure how. It's certainly deserved based on his solo output, which I've read most of. I'm less familiar with his co-authored works, but as a tribute to Niven, I think I'll pick up a co-authored book from the tbr 'shelf' later this month.
 

2DaveWixon

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I remember Harlan Ellison standing up before the group and excoriating them in 1993-94 for not naming Roger Zelazny before he passed in '95.

He's still not in. :-(

Regardless, Mr. Niven is very qualified and all congratulations to him.
As I understand it, the rules say that the award can go only to a living person -- no retroactive grandmasterships allowed. I remember that I was with Gordy Dickson (then a recent past president of SFWA) when he got a call, as the word was passed that Alfie Bester was failing, and they needed to speed up his award process. They did.
But it doesn't work if there's no warning.
Sad but true.

Dave Wixon
 

Lew Rockwell Fan

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/me applauds long and hard for his fav living writer.

It's certainly deserved based on his solo output, which I've read most of. I'm less familiar with his co-authored works, but as a tribute to Niven, I think I'll pick up a co-authored book from the tbr 'shelf' later this month.
Lucifer's Hammer or Fallen Angels would be good starters. It is an interesting contrast. In the coauthored works Niven's magic at the sentence level is diluted, which is a loss, but there are gains that more than offset it - the plots are Harder SF, no imaginary arms or genetic luck, and he works with people who have expertise in areas he hasn't, so the collective background knowledge is greater - which shows.
 

Bick

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In the coauthored works Niven's magic at the sentence level is diluted, which is a loss, but there are gains that more than offset it - the plots are Harder SF, no imaginary arms or genetic luck, and he works with people who have expertise in areas he hasn't, so the collective background knowledge is greater - which shows.
That's an interesting and perceptive comparison. I think I agree although I've not thought about the differences in those terms while reading Niven. I have read a few co-authored books, including Fleet of Worlds (with Ed Lerner) since my post. I do think one other difference is that in Niven's classic solo works he throws in 'big ideas' like confetti (such as the exploding galactic core and pak history) and this is missing a little from the later collaborative works. Oath of Fealty seemed a bit pedestrian to me, for instance.
 

Lew Rockwell Fan

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I do think one other difference is that in Niven's classic solo works he throws in 'big ideas' like confetti (such as the exploding galactic core and pak history) and this is missing a little from the later collaborative works. Oath of Fealty seemed a bit pedestrian to me, for instance.
Yes, you are absolutely right. Odd that that didn't hit me in the face as much as the other differences, at least at the moment I wrote that, but now that you point it out, yes, very true. Indeed, the big ideas are a huge part of why I like Niven, and, in truth, SF in general.
 

Bick

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And that is why my favourite Niven is Protector, LR Fan. He provides a story that explains humanity, our place on earth, the foundations of old age, the future of our species, our colonisation of space and the natural history of Mars, all in one short novel. Amazing stuff!
 

Lew Rockwell Fan

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he throws in 'big ideas' like confetti
And BTW, on that score, if you haven't read some of his non-fic, I think you'd enjoy it. I believe there is some of it in "N-Space" and "Playgrounds of the Mind". Maybe also in the Baen collection series "Destinies" (Ace), "Far Frontiers" (Baen), and "New Destinies" (Baen). In the Baen collections there are also similar items by other authors. Charles Sheffield, Jerry Pournelle, Robert Forward, and another physicist whose name I can't recall how to spell ATM, but is similar to that of the geologist Mohorovicic, come to mind. Pournelle also edited at least one of those. In truth, when this sort of thing is done well (and almost all the essays in the books I mentioned are) I like it more than I do SF itself. It is kind of like distilled essence of SF.
 
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