Locus Awards Weekend Report

Locus Awards Weekend
Connie Willis, Liza Groen Trombi (by Francesca Myman)

The Locus Awards were held June 28-30, 2019 at the Executive Inn in Seattle for the 14th consecutive year. Connie Willis and Daryl Gregory emceed the ceremony. Atten­dance reached 160, starting on Friday night with readings by Willis and Amal El-Mohtar, fol­lowed by a Clarion West-hosted party in honor of first-week instructor Elizabeth Hand. Willis and El-Mohtar also taught the Locus Writers Workshops that bookended the weekend.

Saturday started with two well-attended panels and a salon: “Playing in the Histori­cal Sandbox” panel with El-Mohtar, Gregory (m), Robert R. McCammon, Molly Tanzer, and Willis; “The Mechanics of Magic” with Tina Connolly, Mary Robinette Kowal (m), C.L. Polk, Jasmine Silvera, and Tiffany Trent; and kaffeeklatsche-style “Donut Salon” on “Other People’s Words: The Role of Editors and Anthologists” with Jason Heller, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Nisi Shawl, Gary K. Wolfe (m), and Lisa Yaszek.

The autographing session included many awards finalists: Connolly, Gregory, Heller, Kowal, Nancy Kress, McCammon, Cherie Priest, Polk, Tanzer, and Trent; also Greg Bear, TJ Berry, Curtis C. Chen, Eileen Gunn, and more. Banquet attendees received free books courtesy of Crown & Del Rey, DAW, Harper Voyager, Orbit, Saga, Tachyon, Titan, and Tor & Locus editor-in-chief Liza Groen Trombi opened the ceremony, introducing Gregory and Willis, who welcomed the crowd with humor. There was a raffle, the Hawaiian-shirt-cum-trivia-contest (this year’s prize autographed banana went to Cathy Tenzo) and then Willis entertained the crowd with tales of her Yellowstone adventures. Mid-story a crash of dinosaurs swooped through to give Willis chocolate gifts. The “Second Banana” Award went to super-volunteer Tegan Moore for meritorious cheery assistance.

2019 Locus Awards winners and accepters
2019 Locus Awards winners and accepters (l to r): standing: Chloe Smith (for Charles Vess), Nancy Kress (for Gardner Dozois), Amal El-Mohtar (for Brooke Bolander), Eileen Gunn (for Charles Vess & Ursula K. Le Guin), Patrick Nielsen Hayden (for Tor,, Phenderson Djèlí Clark, and Martha Wells), and Jason Heller (for Paul Tremblay); Seated: Mary Anne Mohanraj (Special Award Recipent), Tina Connolly (for Naomi Novik), Nisi Shawl (for Rebecca Roanhorse), Mary Robinette Kowal, C.L. Polk (for N.K. Jemisin), David Naimon (& for Ursula K. Le Guin), and Liza Groen Trombi (for Justina Ireland) (by Francesca Myman)

The Locus Award for Best Art Book went to The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition by Charles Vess & Ursula K. Le Guin. Gunn accepted on behalf of Vess, who thanked Joe Monti of Saga, and Le Guin, saying, “I’m happy to have known you.”

The Best Non-Fiction Award went to Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing by Ursula K. Le Guin & David Naimon. Naimon accepted, talking about Le Guin’s connection to the West Coast literary scene, and read her poem, “Leaves”.

Charles Vess won the award for Best Artist. Francesca Myman accepted, thanking fellow nominees and Ursula K. Le Guin, saying that “she proved to be the best collaborator ever.”

Gardner Dozois won the award for Best Editor. Willis accepted, saying, “He was the most unpredictable person I knew; and the funniest…. He did, however, take his writing and his editing seriously. I’m so happy that he got this, and so sorry that he can’t be here today.”

Best Publisher went to Tor and Best Magazine to Patrick Nielsen Hayden accepted, saying, “The year that I started was 1988, it was also the first year that Tor won this award. We’re as pleased and grateful today as we were on that first occasion.” On behalf of Irene Gallo, he said, “We’re proud to be part of this community and its conversations. Thank you so much.”

The award for Best Collection went to N.K. Jemisin’s How Long ’til Black Future Month?. Kowal read a speech from Jemisin: “You like me! You really like me!” She thanked voters, Orbit, the Knight agency, past writing groups, and family and friends.

Best Anthology went to The Book of Magic, edited by Gardner Dozois. Kress accepted, saying, “If Gardner were here he’d say something screamingly funny, and probably obscene, sending half the room into laughter and alienating the other half entirely…. He was a wonderful person and a wonderful anthologist.”

The Cretaceous Crew
The Cretaceous Crew (by Mary Anne Mohanraj)

The 2019 Locus Special Award went to Mary Anne Mohanraj for Community Outreach & Development. Mohanraj said, “I’m thrilled!” and talked about founding publications, the diversification of WisCon, and the overall concept of seeing a need and taking action to address it. She exhorted people to volunteer, saying “you will have fun, you will get to geek out… and we just keep making it better!”

“The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” by Phenderson Djèlí Clark won Best Short Story. Nielsen Hayden accepted, reading, “This story was actually rejected the first time I sent it out into the world, and here it is, winning actual things! To all the writers out there, take this as a lesson. Take your literary shot.” He thanked Fireside, the readers, and “Dani, Nia & Nya – thanks for being my number-one fans.”

Best Novelette went to The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander. El-Mohtar accepted, thank­ing Irene Gallo, Marco Palmieri, Katharine Duckett, Mordicai Knode, and more. She thanked “everyone who voted; on such an incredible ballot, where every choice is a good one.”

Martha Wells’s Artificial Condition won the Best Novella category. Nielsen Hayden accepted for her, thanking Jennifer Jackson, Michael Curry, editor Lee Harris, publisher Irene Gallo and everyone at, audiobook narrator Kevin R. Free and everyone at Recorded Books, cover artist Jaime Jones, and cover designer Christine Foltzer.

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse took Best First Novel. Shawl accepted, saying, “I am blown away. This is an amazing honor.” She spoke about the ways in which the book was “not supposed to suc­ceed.” “It is urban fantasy when urban fantasy is dead. It stars a Navajo woman as an unlikeable heroine…. And it was written by me. A first novel by a 40-something Black and Indigenous woman with no formal writing background….” She thanked “the people who saw its potential, my potential, and believed,” agent Sara Megibow, editor Joe Monti, husband Michael Roanhorse and daughter Maya, “my Taboo Pony War Eagles – you know who you are. And all the fans and booktubers and Twitter folks and Native nerds who get it… and who finally get to see themselves in science fiction and fantasy.”

Best YA Book went to Dread Nation by Justina Ireland, who simply said, “Thanks!”

The Best Horror Novel went to Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World. Heller accepted for Tremblay, congratulating the other recipients and nominees and thanking Locus “not only for the award, but for all that you’ve done and continue to do in support of speculative fiction.” He said, “That many of my contemporaries connected with the story, a grueling allegory for our current political anxieties and predica­ment, one that asks how do we go on in the face of a daily onslaught of horrors, means the world to me.”

Best Fantasy Novel went to Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. Connolly accepted on her behalf, thanking Navah Wolfe, Dominick Parisien, Anne Groell, “and the whole amazing team at Del Rey books,” agent Cynthia Manson, and the Locus community, “all of you who celebrate this genre that flings wide the doors of the imagination.”

Mary Robinette Kowal won the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel for The Calculating Stars. Kowal said, “There are a ton of people I should thank… one of those is Gardner Dozois. Calculating Stars began as a novelette, ‘The Lady Astronaut of Mars’, that he asked me to write for the anthology Rip-Off!…. Patrick Nielsen Hayden… published it in print [with air quotes] on which then led to it winning a Hugo. Without those two people and their actions this story, this novel, would not then have unfolded. So thank you for that, and thank you all for this!”

The Locus party crowned the evening, running late into the night, with people spilling off for conversa­tions in the bar or common areas of the hotel.

Members of Clarion West, Class of 2019
Members of Clarion West, Class of 2019 (by Francesca Myman)

Thanks to Norwescon for their support and sponsorship, the publishers who donated books, Doug & Pat Booze, Clarion West, Patricia Johnson of Clise Hotels, Duane Wilkins and Lilly Cantwell of University Book, and special thanks to Connie Willis for her continued generosity and efforts on behalf of the Locus Awards, and for sharing all of her stories.

–Arley Sorg

This report and more like it in the August 2019 issue of Locus.

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