Monday, March 03, 2008

Here's to you, Richard Powers

...and to all of your fellow 2008 Inductees into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame -- Ian & Betty Ballantine, Rod Serling, and William Gibson. If you think that's Richard Powers the novelist, you've got the wrong Powers. I'm talking about Richard Powers, the seminal sf artist about whom John Clute said: "When we think of 1950s science fiction, we may see Kelly Freas, but, when we dream, we dream Richard Powers." Powers' art is bar none, amongst the most powerful and influential work in sf history. His work expanded the possibilities of sf art beyond the limits of pulp.

And yet despite his mighty influence on the trajectory of sf cover art for the 50's, 60's and beyond, Powers was never formally recognized by any of sf's major accolades, including the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist. I'm not an expert on Powers, and his career long preceded mine, but I suspect he probably didn't care much about awards. So perhaps it didn't matter to him that the field for which he gave so much, never formally recognized his body of work.

Fast forward to 2007 -- I was asked to be one of the judges for the Science Fiction Hall of Fame's 2008 class of inductees. I was not only honored to be in the company of my fellow judges, but delighted to make the case for Richard Powers. He wasn't inducted by me. He was inducted by our whole team, as were the other inductees, which were sometimes fiercely, but thoughtfully debated. It was a team effort -- Charles Stross, Ellen Datlow, Nancy Kress, Michael Cassutt, Ellen Asher, Robin Wayne Bailey, and me; that was this year's judging crew. Congrats to all of this year's inductees and their families; I was proud and humbled to be part of this process. Richard Powers -- wherever you are -- as of June 21, 2008, you'll forevermore be a Science Fiction Hall of Famer, the formal recognition your work deserved all these years, and will now deservedly have.

(pictured above: Richard Powers' cover illustration for Edmund Hamilton's THE STAR OF LIFE)


Blogger Lou Anders said...


5:11 PM  
Anonymous JOhn said...

I just recently heard about this from Bob Eggleton, then I ran across your blog. Fantastic news and WAY past due! Thanks for helping to remedy the oversight : )

I've been a HUGE fan of his work and own several pieces. I discovered Science Fiction in the 60's and it is his Surreal Abstracts from those PB covers that have haunted me all these years.

As you say, he probably did not give a rat's ass about awards -- but I'm still happy to see his work recognized.

8:04 PM  
Blogger John Picacio said...

Thanks, John! I wasn't alive when Powers' work dominated the racks, but so much of his work still communicates decades later. Still potent. He's one of the all-time greats, for sure...

9:43 AM  

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