World Fantasy Award  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The World Fantasy Awards are annual, international awards given to authors and artists who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in the field of fantasy. Since 1975, when they were first awarded, they have been handed out at the World Fantasy Convention.

The awards are considered among the most prestigious in the speculative fiction genre, and can be awarded to any work falling within the realm of fantasy, although some media are restricted to certain categories.

World Fantasy Award winners are chosen by a panel of judges, which differs every year. The judges presiding over the 2008 awards are Peter Coleborn, Robert Hoge, Dennis L. McKiernan, Mark Morris, and Steve Pasechnick.

Winners are chosen from groups of nominees (generally five or six per category), also selected largely by the judges, with two picked by members of the annual WFC. The World Fantasy Awards thus differ significantly in administration from other notable genre awards, such as Hugos or Nebulas. For the Hugos, the nominees and winners are chosen solely by members of the World Science Fiction Convention, while the Nebulas are awards for authors chosen by authors, specifically members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Thus neither the Hugos nor Nebulas have overseeing judges.

Because of the small number of judges for the World Fantasy Awards, and because they usually try to read very comprehensively in the field, selections for the awards are often eclectic. For example, low-selling but high-quality works from small press publications, which may be overlooked by other awards, often receive a critical spotlight in the World Fantasy Awards.

The World Fantasy Awards are also unique in having categories for single-author collections and multi-author anthologies - categories which the Nebulas and Hugos lack.

At the 1991 awards, comic book the Sandman issue #19 "A Midsummer's Night Dream," by Neil Gaiman, won the Award for Best Short Fiction. The widely-circulated story that the rules were subsequently changed to prevent another comic strip from winning is not true. The official website states: "Comics are eligible in the Special Award Professional category. We never made a change in the rules."

The award statue itself is a bust of H. P. Lovecraft in honor of his prolific work and contributions to the world of fantasy.

Current and past categories for the awards

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