[Robert J. Sawyer] Science Fiction Writer
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Press Release
For Release Monday, May 4, 1998

SFWA Elects First Non-American President

[Science Fiction Writer Robert J. Sawyer] On May 4, 1998, Robert J. Sawyer was elected President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. SFWA is the world's oldest and largest association of SF professionals, with 1,400 active members in 23 countries. Sawyer, a Canadian who lives in Thornhill, Ontario, assumes office for a one-year term on July 1, 1998; he will be the organization's twentieth president, and the first non-American to ever hold the post.

[SFWA logo] SFWA was founded in 1965 by Damon Knight, who served as its first president. Other past presidents include such SF stars as Poul Anderson, Greg Bear, Ben Bova, Joe Haldeman, Frederik Pohl, Robert Silverberg, and Jane Yolen. SFWA's outgoing president is Michael Capobianco.

Sawyer, 38, ran with a platform based on protecting writers' economic rights, expanding SFWA's influence beyond America's borders, and proposing membership requalification, which, if adopted, will require all members to periodically put forth fresh credentials to maintain their voting status. SFWA has over US$300,000 in assets, and employs a full-time Executive Director, who will report directly to Sawyer.

There were four candidates for SFWA President this year (the most ever in history). Sawyer defeated his next-closest competitor by a 3:2 margin, the third-place candidate by a 2:1 margin, and the last-place candidate by a 5:1 margin (and, indeed, Sawyer had more votes than the third- and fourth-place candidates combined):

  • Robert J. Sawyer (146 votes)
  • Norman Spinrad (96 votes)
  • Will Shetterly (71 votes)
  • Thomas A. Easton (31 votes)

(Of SFWA's 1,400 members, only 1,031 are voting members; this was almost exactly a one-third voter turnout, quite high for a by-mail ballot.)

In 1996, Sawyer won SFWA's Nebula Award, the "Academy Award" of science fiction, for his novel The Terminal Experiment; his novel Starplex was the only novel to be nominated in 1997 for both the Nebula and the Hugo, and his Frameshift is a current Hugo Award finalist. His latest novel, Factoring Humanity, will be published later this month by Tor Books, New York.

From 1992 to 1995, Sawyer served on SFWA's Board of Directors as founder of the organization's Canadian Region. And for eight years he ran Ontario Hydra, Canada's first association of SF professionals. In addition to his SFWA duties, Sawyer has also previously served on the Membership Committee of The Writers' Union of Canada. In his new capacity as President-elect of SFWA, Sawyer will be luncheon speaker on the opening day of the Canadian Booksellers Association annual convention, on Wednesday, June 17, 1998.

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