Connie Willis is the 2011 Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master

Science Fiction Writers of America President John Scalzi writes, "The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has named Connie Willis, one of the most-awarded and beloved science fiction writers of her generation, as its 2011 recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award. Congratulations Connie!"

“When I heard that Connie was going to be named a Grand Master, I was surprised, because I assumed she’d long since been given the honor. It’s overdue and well deserved – congratulations, Connie, and welcome to the club.” –Joe Haldeman, 2010 Grand Master

“My most treasured childhood possession is Terry Carr’s 1984 Year’s Best Science Fiction anthology, not least because it contains Connie Willis’s “Blued Moon”. Her writing changed my understanding of what SF is and what it can be: funny, poignant, wise, feminist. And then I read “All My Darling Daughters” and my concept of SF expanded again, in entirely different directions. Thirty years on, I’m still floored by those stories; Willis’s work bears up startlingly well under rereading. It doesn’t rely on shock or in-jokes or other stale devices. It’s just plain smart, and built on the backs of instantly recognizable characters. I’m thrilled that SFWA is honoring such a fine writer and beloved member of the SF community.” –Rose Fox, Publisher’s Weekly

I met Connie Willis thirty years ago and have been an eyewitness to her dramatic rise from promising young writer to award-winning professional to a figure of historic importance to science fiction. Although she is well loved for her humor — and deservedly so – it is her stories of desperate people in crisis, of good people confronting evil and of ordinary people finding their nobility that form the foundation of her amazing career. She stands at the very center of our genre and is without question one of the best writers of my or any other generation. –James Patrick Kelly, 2-time Hugo Award winner

SFWA Names Connie Willis Recipient of the 2011 Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award (Thanks, John!)


  1. Hmmm… I’ve never heard of this person or those books (I never cared that much about SF) but now I am curious.

    1. Try reading “The Doomsday Book” and “To Say Nothing of the Dog” – these were my introduction to Willis.  I tend to prefer the longer story format but her short fiction is also quite good.  In fact, I rarely read short fiction.  I make exceptions for Willis and Kage Baker.

  2. Connie Willis has a number of non-SF books as well, equally deserving of praise. Though I wouldn’t let a genre description hold you back. It didn’t hold her back.

  3. So happy to hear that she has finally been honored! She is one of my favorite writers. “Lincoln’s Dreams,” “Bellwether,” “The Doomsday Book,” “Passage,” “Blackout” and “All Clear” are all excellent. They should definitely be classified as science fiction, but they are so well written that they can be enjoyed by people who generally avoid the genre.

    1.  I’m actually not sure Lincoln’s Dreams, Passage, or Bellwether are science fiction at all.  Not that it matters precisely, because they’re fabulous books.  Passage is creepy beyond belief…

      I’ve passed Bellwether around my department.  Sociologists are not usually main characters of anything.  :D

  4. I find this a very strange experience for me: I am a big SF fan, and never before have I heard people I respect gush over an author’s work so much yet, when I went and read them, been so disappointed. Fire Watch, which includes All My Darling Daughters, was a huge disappointment to me. I felt like most of the stories were duds, with one or two being mildly interesting.

    I am just saying this in passing, really, I don’t mean to discourage anyone from checking out her books. I don’t have to like everything everybody else likes, or vice versa. In fact, as a mentor of mine likes to point out, “that’s why they make different flavored jelly beans”.

  5. Um What?

    I am a huge science fiction fan and have read a lot. Her name doesn’t ring a bell. They should have included a listing of her books, I had to do a amazon search for her. None of them really jumped out at me. Much of her work seems to be short stories in magazines and such…

    It shows volumes (heh pardon pun) that both John Scalzi and Joe Haldeman spoke out for her as I have enjoyed both of their works immensely.

    Anyway I just find it confusing that she is getting awarded for being one of the “most-awarded and beloved science fiction writers of her generation”. I’m 34, and I don’t think it is my generation, and I read a lot of the older material as well.

    That said I will definitely check out one of her more popular books to see for myself.

    1.  She’s been around – but I, too, didn’t find her for a long time.  Which is too bad, because she’s really stunning as a writer. 

  6. I’ve been reading scifi and fantasy for almost 40 years and I’ve never heard of her. But my local public library has exactly one of her books. I’ll check it out…

  7. I’ve found her to be highly variable and generally in need of a good editor. Doomsday Book was about twice as long as it needed to be and seriously repetitive.

  8. Connie Willis’ work is one of the reasons why modern Science Fiction is being increasingly marginalised and irrelevant. Her work is derivative, lacking in innovation and frankly boring. For a story set in the future (and past, obviously), Doomsday Book was curiously out of touch; I recall several plot points occurring because of a missed phone call… this is in the future, by the way. 
    If you SFWA guys and girls want to keep patting yourself on the back and telling each other that people like Connie Willis represent you, knock yourself out. Just don’t expect anyone else – and by this I mean the set of humans extraneous to the set of Science Fiction Writers and a few of their readers – to take notice. To be honest, I’m surprised Scalzi still involves himself in this mess…

  9. The Doomsday Book was superb. Anyone who thinks science fiction is about predicting the future is, frankly, out of touch.

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