The big news in the publishing world is that the trophy given for World Fantasy Awards, a bust of H.P. Lovecraft, will be retired. The impetus for the change was World Fantasy Award winner Nnedi Okorafor's discovery of Lovecraft's pernicious racism, and the realization that she had the bust of a man who, at at least one point in his lifetime, would have considered her subhuman, and who went to his grave without giving up his youthful racist beliefs.
I am a fan of Lovecraft's 'weird tales' (even now, I am taking a break from finishing up a re-read of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward), and I have written quite a few blog posts about the man and his body of work, addressing his racism as well as his stories. It's tempting to believe that he was reconsidering his reactionary attitudes in the days before his untimely death, but the fact remains that he harbored some heinous attitudes. Lovecraft's position in the Fantasy and Science Fiction pantheon is undeniable, though, as sword and sorcery author Charles R. Saunders acknowledged in a recent interview. Whenever you encounter 'nameless horrors from beyond' in a story, Lovecraft's shadow can be found.
There's no need, though, for the Old Man of Providence to lend his long, lugubrious countenance to an award. Speculative fiction has been enriched by such African-American authors as Samuel R. Delany, Octavia Butler, and the aforementioned Nnedi Okorafor and Charles R. Saunders. The Fantasy and Science-Fiction community is not the exclusive white boys club it used to be (a few years ago I wrote a post about women F&SF authors)- it's time the leading lights of the community recognized this reality.
With the retiring of the HPL statue, the World Fantasy Association needs to come up with another award statue- if they didn't want to rename the 'Howard', they could always rename the statue after Robert E. Howard... wait, what?