From the SFRA 2021 Conference
Remarks on the Mary Kay Bray Award 2020
Agnieszka Kotwasińska, Jessica FitzPatrick and Rich Horton
The 2020 Mary Kay Bray Award considered all non-fiction, fiction, and media reviews, features, interviews or retrospectives published in the SFRA Review over the past year. In a flurry of email exchanges over the past few months, two names kept reappearing in all of our deliberations, which is why we decided to go with our instincts and recognize two excellent reviewers: Virginia L. Conn and Andy Duncan.
Conn’s calm and perceptive voice leads the readers assuredly through complex theoretical and political goals of Anindita Banerjee and Sonja Fritzsche’s edited anthology on socialist and postsocialist SF writing in Europe and Asia: Science Fiction Circuits of the South and East. We welcome the careful contextualization and clear synthesis of this review and Conn’s writing has nothing to fault it except being (deliciously) dense and beautifully layered.
Duncan’s review of Alec Nevala-Lee’s Hugo-nominated book, Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction, is intelligent and illuminating, both about the substance of the book, and the wider significance of the people the book concerns. We appreciate the way the reviewed text’s relevance is put to question and how Duncan acknowledges the field’s shift in attention to less-known figures in a way that feels respectful and vital. The clarity, strength of writing, and engaging voice is what makes this piece work so well on many levels.
We strongly feel that the two selections are beautifully balanced in that Andy Duncan’s review gives us a very nuanced view of the field’s past, and Virginia L. Conn’s is an exciting look at how we are growing in understanding of the much broader present. We would like to thank the two winners as well as all the contributors and the SFRA Review editing team for their outstanding work!