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For Release Monday, May 4, 1998
SFWA Elects First Non-American President
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 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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