World Fantasy Award Calls Out New Design to Replace HP Lovecraft Trophy
World Fantasy Convention is now on the lookout for a new design for its World Fantasy Award trophy after massive remonstration pushed the organization to drop the previous one that was modelled after HP Lovecraft, who was called an "avowed racist and a terrible wordsmith."
Until Apr. 2 next year, the organizers of the accolade will accept submissions and concepts from artists. "The ideal design will represent both fantasy and horror, without bearing any physical resemblance to any person, living or dead," World Fantasy Convention stated on its website.
In elaborating on the removal of the design, World Fantasy Convention said that the time has merely come to change it. Although it did not forget to make clear that despite this modification, they remain thankful to Gahan Wilson for his design, which was used in the awards for around 40 years.
The complaints about the World Fantasy Award trophy design revert to 2011, the year Nigerian-American sci-fi and fantasy writer Nnedi Okorafor bagged one for her novel "Who Fears Death." In her blog, the author felt "conflicted" about taking home the trophy and having to see it in her home.
"A statuette of this racist man's head is one of my greatest honors as a writer," she wrote in her blog, adding that she had it placed beside her Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa and her Carl Brandon Society Parallax Award, "an award given to the best speculative fiction by a person of color."
Okorafor was given notice by a friend about one of Lovecraft's poems titled "On the Creation of Nigger," which he penned back in 1912. There, Lovecraft wrote: "the beast they wrought, in semi-human figure, filled it with vice, and called the thing a Nigger."
"This wasn't racism metaphorically or abstractly rearing its ugly head within a piece of fiction, this was specific and focused. Who does that? Even in the early 1900s? That excuse of 'that was just how most whites were back then' has never flown with me. The fact that a lot of people back then were racists does not change the fact that Lovecraft was a racist," Okorafor went on to say.
On the other hand, an online petition to ditch Lovecraft was started by Daniel José Older a year ago. There, he urged to "stop co-signing his bigotry and move sci-fi/fantasy out of the past." Older even suggested having Octavia Butler as the new face of the World Fantasy Awards.