On the Psi Phi Awards

The Psi Phi Awards are given each year for outstanding achievement in Star Trek publishing. Awards are given for best novel, best cover, best series, best new novelist, and a dozen other categories.

This year I was asked by the Awards’ organizers to write the presentation speech for Best Cover. Even though I had a pony in this race–the cover for Ring Around the Sky was in contention–I was glad to be asked and quickly agreed.

Alas, Ring Around the Sky didn’t win, so writing the speech presented no conflict of interest. 😉

The award for Best Cover went to the summer anthology Tales of the Dominion War. My presentation for the cover ran thusly:

Christmas Eve 1999 I received an unexpected e-mail.

The writer was a World War II veteran. He had served in the Army in the Pacific Theatre, fought at Iwo Jima. He wanted to know, was I the Allyn Gibson that had been in his unit? Sadly, I was not. At twenty-six I was fifty years too young to have been there. I wrote back, said as much, wished him well on his search, and thanked him for his service to his country.

Iwo Jima. A long, bloody battle, fought across seven square miles of volcanic rock that left twenty-six thousand dead and produced one of the truly iconic photographs of World War II–five Marines and a Navy corpsman raising a flag atop a hill on the island. An American flag, fluttering in the breeze.

This e-mail put me in a pensive mood that Christmas. My grandfather had passed away that May, and driving down to Baltimore the next day to visit my grandmother I thought of the role World War II had played in my family’s life. My grandfather had served in the Navy as part of the dirigible corps. One of his brothers fought at the Battle of the Bulge and came away with a ceremonial SS Officer’s sword. His other brother fought at islands and atolls across the Pacific. Perhaps, through some strange cosmic twist of fate it had been my great-uncle in that veteran’s unit. Unlikely, I know–the soldiers who fought at Iwo were Marines, my great-uncle was Army.

Flash forward a few years later. Pocket Books revealed the cover to their summer Star Trek anthology, Tales of the Dominion War, and what did it feature? A Federation flag, fluttering in the breeze.

It’s been too long. I don’t recall if the artwork by John Blackford and John Vairo, Jr. meant to channel the iconic image of the Iwo Jima flag-raising. For this reader it did. It’s a fantastic piece of artwork, evoking feelings of patriotism and extolling the sacrifice nations make in wartime. Simple, yet understated.

It gives me great pleasure to announce that the winner of the 2004 Psi Phi Award for Best Cover is Tales of the Dominion War. Congratulations!

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