World Fantasy Award

World Fantasy Award
World Fantasy Award tree.jpeg
Statuette used as award trophy since 2016
Awarded forBest fantasy works of the previous year
Presented byWorld Fantasy Convention
First awarded1975

The World Fantasy Awards are a set of awards given each year for the best fantasy fiction published during the previous calendar year. Organized and overseen by the World Fantasy Convention, the awards are given each year at the eponymous annual convention as the central focus of the event. They were first given in 1975, at the first World Fantasy Convention, and have been awarded annually since. Over the years that the award has been given, the categories presented have changed; currently World Fantasy Awards are given in five written categories, one category for artists, and four special categories for individuals to honor their general work in the field of fantasy.

The awards have been described by book critics such as The Guardian as a "prestigious fantasy prize",[1] and one of the three most prestigious speculative fiction awards, along with the Hugo and Nebula Awards (which cover both fantasy and science fiction). World Fantasy Award nominees and winners are decided by attendees of the convention and a panel of judges, typically made up of fantasy authors. Winners receive a small trophy; through the 2015 awards it was a bust of H. P. Lovecraft designed by cartoonist Gahan Wilson. The bust was retired following that year amid complaints about Lovecraft's history of racism; a new statuette designed by Vincent Villafranca depicting a tree in front of a full moon was released in 2017. The 2017 awards were presented at the 43rd World Fantasy Convention in San Antonio, Texas, on November 5, 2017, and the 2018 awards will be presented at the 44th World Fantasy Convention in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 4, 2018.


Bust of H. P. Lovecraft used as award trophy from inception through 2015

The World Fantasy Awards were established at the first World Fantasy Convention, an annual convention of professionals, collectors, and others interested in the field of fantasy, held that first year in horror writer H. P. Lovecraft's home city of Providence, Rhode Island in 1975. Winners were presented with a trophy in the form of a bust of an elongated caricature of Lovecraft designed by cartoonist Gahan Wilson, nicknamed the "Howard", which matched the theme of the first convention, "The Lovecraft Circle".[2] As stated by Wilson in First World Fantasy Awards: An Anthology of the Fantastic, "The point of the awards was, is, and hopefully shall be to give a visible, potentially usable, sign of appreciation to writers working in the area of fantastic literature, an area too often distinguished by low financial remuneration and indifference".[3]

At the start of the awards in 1975, seven categories were presented: Best Novel, Best Short Fiction, Best Collection, Best Artist, Special Award—Professional, Special Award—Non-professional, and Life Achievement. Only a few categories have changed since then, and no changes have been made to the rules. 1978 saw the addition of the Convention Award, a special award given for general contributions to the genre, and the only award not given every year since the beginning. The Short Fiction award was split into Short Story and Novella awards in 1982, and in 1988 the multi-author anthologies, previously eligible for the Collection award, were split into their own Best Anthology category. No changes have been made since.[4]

Winners were presented with the H. P. Lovecraft bust through the 2015 awards; at that ceremony the presenters announced that future ceremonies will no longer use the trophy. Although controversy had arisen in recent years over Lovecraft's history of racism, no explicit reason was given for the change.[5] A new statuette, designed by Vincent Villafranca, was announced in April 2017 to be used for the 2016 awards on. The new award, which depicts a tree in front of a full moon, was intended to evoke the use of trees and night imagery in mythology, fantasy, and horror works.[6]