So what's the story about Stanislaw Lem and SFWA?


Paraphrasing past-president Jerry Pournelle, who was a member at the time (the mid-70s):

While it is true that Lem was unpopular with some SFWAns for his opinions, there was apparently a miscommunication about the meaning of the term "honorary" membership. According to the SFWA by-laws then in force, honorary membership was intended not as an "honor" but as a means to extend benefits of SFWA membership to individuals who would otherwise be ineligible, such as SF writers who had not published in the U.S.

(Another honorary member was J.R.R. Tolkien, whom SFWA assisted with regard to an unauthorized U.S. edition of Lord of the Rings. As soon as an authorized edition was published in the U.S., Tolkien joined as a duly paid-up "Active" member.)

When it was noted that Lem's work had been published in the U.S., making him ineligible for further honorary membership, he was offered full, voting, Active membership. An individual SFWAn offered to pay for this membership, in case the currency transaction was an obstacle. Lem declined both offers.

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