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John W. Campbell Award

The John W. Campbell Award is presented annually along with the Hugos. It's a "new writer" award, given to the best new writer to enter the field during the previous two years. As such, it is often (though not always) the first recognition a newcomer to our genre ever receives. It's a great boost to a budding career, and something that winners and nominees both will long treasure. (You never forget your first time).

All that was certainly true for me. I published my first story in 1971, which meant that I was eligible for the very first Campbell Award when it was presented at Torcon 2 in 1973. I lost (to Jerry Pournelle), but the nomination was a huge thrill for me, and helped encourage me in those dark days that all young writers battle through.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that the Campbell Award is important, and I urge everyone reading this to be sure and nominate their own favorite new writers. The Campbell is governed by the same rules as the Hugos, so you can nominate online at the Denvention website whose URL I gave below.

What's that you say? You read new writers, but you don't keep track of when they first published, so you're not sure who is eligible for the award and who's not?

Fortunately, there's an easy fix. Just go to http://www.writertopia.com/awards/campbell and you'll find a whole website devoted to keeping track of new writers and Campbell eligibles. Check it out, and I'm sure you'll find some writers you've enjoyed... and others that you may not have heard of yet who you need to check out.

Then read, nominate, vote.

We have an especially strong crop of new young fantasists coming up of late, including Joe Abercrombie, David Anthony Durham, and Scott Lynch (who was a Campbell Award finalist last year, losing to Naomi Novik, but is eligible again this year). The Campbell does not usually draw nearly the number of nominations the major Hugos do, and sometimes only one or two votes decide who gets on the ballot and who doesn't... so if you don't nominate and your personal favorite misses the cut, you'll have only yourself to blame.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 24th, 2008 10:40 pm (UTC)
Oh, I wish I could nominate and vote! But the rules say:

To be able to nominate a writer for the 2008 award, you must have either been an attending member of the 2007 Worldcon in Japan or be a supporting or attending member of the 2008 Worldcon in Denver before Jan. 31, 2008.

Feb. 24th, 2008 11:07 pm (UTC)
nonetheless we can read wonderful things written by talented people until books we're waiting for come out. (not meant as a dig towards you GRRM, as I am waiting for about 5 books. . .)
Feb. 24th, 2008 11:44 pm (UTC)
It's a tough call this year, although the all-conquering Patrick Rothfuss being ruled non-eligible makes it more of an open field than last year. The two obvious choices are Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch, and between them I think Abercrombie edges it. He has the advantage of numbers (three books released in the period compared to Lynch's two) but I think the rapid improvements in writing ability between the books and the spectacular quality of the third novel - IMO the best individual epic fantasy instalment since A Storm of Swords - puts him ahead.

Damn, I wish I was going to Worldcon :-(
Feb. 25th, 2008 01:17 pm (UTC)
I heartily agree. Even though I knew I didn't have a prayer in last year's contest, the nomination alone croggled my brain.

I didn't know that you'd been a Campbell nominee, but it makes being in the club that much sweeter. Thanks.

(thanks also for giving me another excuse to use this icon!)

(Deleted comment)
Feb. 25th, 2008 06:25 pm (UTC)
JWC Award, Vol. 6
The sixth volume of the Campbell Award anthology was finished, delivered, proofed, and ready to go to press when the publisher, Bluejay Books, went bankrupt. I was unable to resell the book, and the series died there. However, bound galleys of JWC-6 had been printed and distributed to reviewers and bookstores, so the book does exist in that form... making it perhaps the rarest book I've ever been associated with, though not the most valuable.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 25th, 2008 07:35 pm (UTC)
Songs of Stars and Shadows
Comparatively, less. Most of the print run of SONGS OF STARS AND SHADOWS was destroyed in a warehouse flood shortly after the book was published, so there are far fewer copies of that one (my second collection) floating around than there are of A SONG FOR LYA AND OTHER STORIES (my first collection).
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 26th, 2008 07:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Songs of Stars and Shadows
You're short a zero. Closer to 15,000.

That seems like a lot today, and indeed, in the current market, a sale of 15,000 copies for a mass market paperback short story collection would be considered quite robust. But in 1977, it sucked. There were fewer books being published then, and the average SF paperback sold around 30,000 copies, according to the conventional wisdom of the day. Indeed, A SONG FOR LYA AND OTHER STORIES, a year before, had sold three times as many copies as we got out of STARS AND SHADOWS before the flood destroyed the rest.

The hideous puke green cover didn't help either. LYA, the year before, had the infamous "flying lips" cover by Patrick Woodruffe, which has gone on to become an iconic image. Whatever you think of it (some loved it, some hated it), it really popped on the racks. The cover for STARS AND SHADOWS faded into the wallpaper.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


George R.R. Martin
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