If, like me an hour or so ago, you’re wondering what exactly mythopoeic means, and consequently who and what the eponymous society is, allow me to elucidate. Or rather, let me quote the society:
The Mythopoeic Society is a national/international organization promoting the study, discussion, and enjoyment of fantastic and mythopoeic literature through books and periodicals, annual conferences, discussion groups, awards, and more. We are especially interested in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams, prominent members of the informal Oxford literary circle known as the “Inklings” (1930s-1950s). …
Scholars of the Inklings had observed that these men all created myth, so Society founder Glen GoodKnight borrowed a Greek adjective meaning “myth-making” as the name of the Society. Although the Inklings were all Christian authors, the Mythopoeic Society strives to follow what GoodKnight called “the Middle Way”: neither denying the religious beliefs and purposes of our three core authors, nor serving as an organization seeking to propagate those beliefs; and while urging the importance and relevance of our central authors, avoiding the trap of becoming a “cult of personality” for any one of them.
I dunno, a cult of Tolkien personality, or a Lewis personality cult, might not be so bad. But anyway, that’s the Mythopoeic Society. I had never heard of them before, but then I’ve been rather preoccupied lo these past two years or so. I’m also not familiar with the authors they name in their awards list (as presented below), but if the book blurbs are any indication, they all sound interesting.
One might suspect that Mythopoeic Society awards finalists’ works would all be elves and orcs, dwarves and goblins and gnomes and whatnot. But that’s not necessarily the case. Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven, for example, is set in a parallel of China’s Tang Dynasty (he apparently specializes in the alternate history subgenre), while Karen Lord’s Redemption in Indigo is a retelling of a Senegalese folktale – this one sounds particularly interesting; Lord’s debut novel has garnered several other accolades as well.
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature
- Guy Gavriel Kay, Under Heaven (Roc)
- Karen Lord, Redemption in Indigo (Small Beer Press)
- Patricia A. McKillip, The Bards of Bone Plain (Ace)
- Devon Monk, A Cup of Normal (Fairwood Press)
- Sharon Shinn, Troubled Waters (Ace)
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature
- Catherine Fisher, Incarceron and Sapphique (Dial)
- Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight (HarperCollins)
- Polly Shulman, The Grimm Legacy (Putnam Juvenile)
- Heather Tomlinson, Toads and Diamonds (Henry Holt)
- Megan Whalen Turner, The Queen’s Thief series, consisting of The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings (Greenwillow Books)
There are also awards for scholarly works on this same genre. Here’s the complete list of the Mythopoeic Society’s 2011 Award Finalists.
Postscript: Credit where credit is due; I first heard of this while perusing Locus Online.