I received a number of awards and honors during last month’s trip to London, Dublin, and Belfast. I want to say a few words about all of them… but not all at once and not all today. I will address them all individually, and in no particular order.
Starting with the last, then… on the day before we left Ireland to return home to the Land of Enchantment, I was awarded the Burke Medal for “Outstanding Contribution to Discourse Through the Arts” by the College Historical Society at Trinity College, Dublin, the oldest surviving undergraduate society in the world.
The society’s auditor told me, “The College Historical Society, more commonly known as the Hist, is dedicated to the promotion of discussion and thought. Founded by Edmund Burke in 1770, the Society retains a deep interest and affinity to the field of social activism and continues its tradition of elevating civic discourse in the College. For 250 years the Society has recognised the efforts of great women and men who promote discussion and discourse. Pattie Smith, Sinéad O’Connor, W.B. Yeats, Natalie Dormer, Dame Hillary Mantel, Bob Geldof, and Ralph Fiennes have received the Burke Medal.”
That’s pretty heady company. I am very pleased and proud to be numbered among them. And for a noble reason — promoting discussion and discourse. In times like ours, when the toxic mobs on the internet seem to set the tone for debate, that is needed more than ever.
The medal itself was struck from the same molds that the Hist has been using for centuries. The president mentioned to me that he’d noted I had once won the Bram Stoker Award (as indeed I have), and that the medal they were giving me had once been awarded to Bram Stoker himself. I think that is so cool. Here’s a look:
In awarding the medal, the Hist said, “As a celebrated author, your exploration of difficult themes has inspired countless people worldwide to examine, more-closely, the fabric of our society. Through you, the reader has encountered new concepts, ideas, and emotions. From the magical children’s tale The Ice Dragon and the dark yet playful “A Night at the Tarn House” to the unprecedently popular A Song of Ice and Fire your work has made you a global phenomenon. And with your rise to greater prominence has come an increase in public dialogue around the major themes of your work. Your sublime writings have engendered intense debate on duty and honour, faith and cowardice, parricide and governance in readers world-wide. Our former member Oscar Wilde wrote that “It is through art, and through art only, that we can realise our perfection”. Through your art the general public have explored new themes, new ideas, and bettered themselves. This is precisely the contribution to public discourse that the Burke Medal aims to recognise.”
Since the Hist is devoted to discourse and discussion, those so honored are expected to say a few words. I was glad to do so. The good folks at Trinity recorded my speech and the Q&A that followed. YouTube has it up for those who are interested and could not be in Dublin to attend… but be warned, I got into some pretty heavy current issues in this one, not just my own life and writing and the world and SF and fantasy (though of course I touched on those as well).
Current Mood: pleased