Kate Wilhelm

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m doing some confirmation research on one of my women in sf projects. I looked up online information about Kate Wilhelm and discovered that her contributions to the field have been marginalized. She’s not listed as one of the co-founders of Clarion in many listings, she’s not even mentioned as an sf writer, let alone an award-winning one on some sites. (These are not easily correctable or I’d send y’all there.) In starting Clarion, in running Milford, in being involved in the early days of SFWA, as well as in her writing, Kate Wilhelm has influenced more generations of writers than almost anyone else still alive in the field.

Whenever I mention her to people running SFWA as a possible Grand Master, I get weird looks. It doesn’t help that I don’t belong to SFWA (long story). But because her importance to the field isn’t obvious to many nowadays, she’s not getting serious consideration.

Folks, she’s 87. The Grand Master Award is named for her husband. She was at his side, as his equal, forming much of the structure of the SF field. She has written consistently in both mystery and science fiction for sixty years.

She’s 87. It’s past time to give her this award. Please, start agitating.

16 comments for “Kate Wilhelm

  1. September 14, 2015 at 8:25 am

    I am startled. I have long been a fan of hers & read her work consistently, always looking for any work of hers I might have missed. Please, do do all that you can to make her visible. She should know this while she still can. It is a gift to know of the impact of her work while she still can. For me, I have thoroughly enjoyed her work both as SF and in the mysteries. I read Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang very very early when first I discovered SF; then reread it many years later. And she is still writing! At least, to my knowledge, her latest novel came out only 2 (!) years ago. I met her once at WisCon and was deeply impressed. Yes, let’s make her person and her work known. For her sake and for our sake and for the sake of younger readers/writers for the sake of role models and of pleasure in reading.

  2. Justin Semmel
    September 14, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    I definitely think SFWA should honor Kate Wilhelm and is a bit late about it. However, as I’m not a writer, how would I get my opinion acknowledged? Writing to John Scalzi and Jim Hines is an idea, I suppose, but increasing the authors in SFWA’s knowledge of history might be even better. Still not good on how to do that. If I think of anything, I’ll get back to you.

    • September 14, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      Sure, letting John & Jim know would help. So will upping the bandwidth on this. Thanks!

  3. Normandy Helmer
    September 14, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    Her papers are at the University of Oregon Library, where I used to work. I’m not part of SFWA but would be happy to help if you need research or other stuff done in Eugene.

  4. September 14, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Makes me wonder what other women in SF have been marginalized. My first thoughts were Joana Russ & Leigh Brackett.

  5. September 14, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    And Suzette Haden Elgin. Others yet I’m sure.

  6. Matthew E Townsend
    September 14, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    I will share the FB post nd the article, but lets get a good link to the clarion people am cnn tag them so people know who to email….

  7. Marsha Valance
    September 15, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    How may I help? I lobbied for years–unsuccessfully–for the American Library Association to honor Andre Norton before her death–let’s get Kate Wilhelm recognized before hers.

    • September 15, 2015 at 1:28 pm

      Since I am not a SFWA member, I can’t organize this. I’m sure someone here can or on Facebook…anyone?

  8. September 15, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    It should be noted that SFWA gave Kate the Solstice Award when they inaugurated it in 2009.


    —Gordon V.G.

    • September 15, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      It’s very nice, but it’s not the Grand Master award. She has Nebulas as well.

  9. Rand Stamm
    September 15, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Kate Wilhelm is such a gifted writer, and as such as well as co-founder of Clarion deserves great recognition. I had the great good fortune to be introduced to her and her husband Damon Knight by my brother when they popped into Gandalf’s Den books in Eugene, Oregon — they were all friends along with Herb Varley and would all drop in to Michael Coan’s shop where I worked off and on…

  10. September 15, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Here’s a link to the collection. http://library.uoregon.edu/node/3524 It’s alphabetical, so Kate’s collection is listed at the end.

  11. Michael Stamm
    September 15, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    I am astounded and appalled. Ms. Wilhelm hasn’t done much SF writing in recent years (that I am aware of–I would be delighted to find I’m wrong) but her contributions from the ’60s through the ’80s, at least, are seminal. WHERE LATE THE SWEET BIRDS SANG is probably the best-known of a number of important works. What can those like me do to help?

    • Kristine Kathryn Rusch
      September 16, 2015 at 6:05 pm

      Just put the word out. I’m not a SFWA member, so I can’t do anything, but I’m sure someone will take up the bandwagon. The word is spreading through social media.

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