The meaning of any literary award is ultimately embodied in the books that have won it. Looking over not only the list of prior winners, but the full list of prior nominees, I am enormously impressed by the good company in which I have so suddenly found myself. Book after book and writer after writer are ones I recognize as still being talked about, argued about, and recommended to each other by readers long, long after the distressingly short sell-by date meted out to novels by today's market economics.
Co-incidentally, I was recently involved in an on-line discussion of Tolkien, on whose work, in part, this society and its distinguished history are based. I first read The Lord of the Rings in the mid-60's, when I was 15; I re-read it most recently last winter, at age 52. Some dozen or two re-reads fall in the 37 years between. I can still remember where I was sitting when I first opened up The Two Towers and read, with a pounding heart, "Aragorn sped on up the hill ...." My father's home office, the air faintly acrid with the scent of his pipe tobacco, in the big black chair under the window, yellow late afternoon winter light shining in through the shredding silver -- gray clouds beyond the chill bare Ohio woods to the west. Now, that's imprinting.
The chair, the room, the man, the world are all gone now. I still have the book. It has stitched itself like a thread through my life from that day to this, read variously, with different perceptions at different ages; today, my over-trained eye even proofreads as it travels over the lines, and sometimes stops to re-arrange a sentence or quibble with a word choice. Is it a perfect book? No, doubtless not. No human thing is. Is it a great book? It is in my heart; it binds time for me, and binds the wounds of time. "And he sang to them ... until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness" is no bad epitaph for a writer. I could crawl on my knees through broken glass for the gift of words that pierce like those. Thank you all for setting The Curse of Chalion on your shelves next to books that live like this.
And the Lion is exceedingly cool.
-- Lois McMaster Bujold
Author, The Curse of Chalion
(Winner of the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature)
© 2002 by Lois McMaster Bujold
Original copy is here
Added to The Bujold Nexus: November 16th 2003
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Last updated: November 16th 2003