I rejoice in accepting [this beautiful award] for and sharing it with all the writers who were excluded from literature for so long — my fellow authors of fantasy and science fiction, writers of the imagination, who for the last 50 years, watched the beautiful awards go to the so-called realists.
I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can imagine alternatives to how we live now, and can see through our fear stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom — poets, visionaries — the realists of a larger reality.
Right now I think we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profit and advertising revenue, is not quite the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship.
Yet, I see sales departments given control over editorial. I see my own publishers in a silly panic of ignorance and greed charging public libraries for an ebook six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience, and writers threatened by corporate fatwa, and I see a lot of us, the producers, who write the books and make the books, accepting this, letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant and tell us what to publish and what to write.
Books are not just commodities. The profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable — so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often begin in our art, the art of words.
I have had a long career and a good one, in good company, now here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want and should demand our fair share of the proceeds. But the name of beautiful reward is not profit — it’s name is freedom.