From the SFRA 2021 Conference
Remarks on the Lifetime Contributions to SF Scholarship Award 2020
Amy J. Ransom
It has been an honor to serve on this committee for the past three years, especially chairing it this year and working with committee members Arthur B. Evans, Professor Emeritus of DePauw University and eminent editor of Science Fiction Studies, and Isiah Lavender, III, Sterling Goodman Professor of English at the University of Georgia.So frequently, as attested to by other presenters here, award committee service involves anguishing deliberation over a number of extremely and equally qualified candidates. This year, as Art, Isiah and I looked over the list of past recipients of the award formerly known as the Pilgrim, we noted a glaring absence! Our decision to add Veronica Hollinger, Professor Emerita of Trent University, to the list of individuals recognized for Lifetime Contributions to SF Scholarship, as the award has been renamed, for 2021, was quick, easy, and inevitable.
Veronica’s work has been on the cutting edge of SF scholarship since the beginning of her academic career, legitimating the genre by connecting it to rigorous theoretical turns, such as Baudrillard and postmodernism. As the field evolved, so did her approaches, feminist and queer theory, poststructuralism and the posthuman, and the anthropocene. Her recent review essay of several volumes on the latest thing in SF, plant studies—one of which was last year’s winner of the book award—attests to her consistent ability to identify new theoretical trends. Her several dozens of juried articles and book chapters treat writers and works that span the history of SF from Shelley’s Frankenstein and Wells’s Time Machine through James Tiptree, Jr., cyberpunk and Gibson and Sterling, to Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy. Veronica is an essential contributor to reference works, an incontournable as we say in French, with key articles on feminist theory and sf, genre vs mode, and postmodernism in major scholarly handbooks. Indeed, one of her more recent texts appeared in Science Fiction Criticism: An Anthology of Essential Writings, and the number of her articles that has been reprinted attests to the ongoing relevance of her work. Her writing serves as a model for emulation, combining clarity and accessibility with theoretical rigour, a sense of humour, and the wry turn of phrase. As an editor, she is precise, thorough, insightful, and, again, rigorous.
In addition to the significant body of scholarship she has produced in her own right, Veronica’s roles as an editor—since 1990 a key member of Science Fiction Studies’s editorial team— and dissertation director should also be recognized. She has mentored the next generations of SF scholars, including myself. Her ability to “play well with others” is clear in her many collaborative projects, including the several books and special issues of journals she has co-edited. Veronica’s lifetime contributions to the field transcend the mere scholarly, as she brings humanity—in the best sense of the term—to all she does and to all she meets and works with. Congratulations, Veronica, and from all of us, sincerely, thank you.