The John W. Campbell Award is the Hugo Award (1) that is not a Hugo Award. Each year the publishers of Analog fund the award, named in honour of its greatest editor, which is presented to a writer who has made her first professional sale in the previous two calendar years.
There’s a good crop of Campbell nominees out there this year, and when the time comes these are the writers I’ll be considering:
Madeline Ashby had a great year, publishing a great story (“Social Services” in An Aura of Familiarity: The Coming Age of Networked Matter) as well as the latest in her Machine Dynasty series. I am seriously eager to read her forthcoming novel Company Town. [Amended: Sadly Madeline isn't eligible for the Campbell, though she is eligible for the Hugo!]
I met Helen Marshall at the Brighton World Fantasy Convention where we shared a fun evening in the bar. I read her powerful, demented collection Hair Side, Flesh Side after I got back to Perth, and consider her a serious contender for next year’s World Fantasy Awards. Oxford will never be the same (nor will tapas).
Tim Maughan had a very interesting short collection, Paintwork, out not that long ago. His short work is contemporary in-your-face post-cyberpunk SF and his novelette “Flight Path Estate” ranked amongst my favourite stories of the year. I think this is his last year of eligibility and he’d be a worthy nominee and award recipient.
I have not read E.J. Swift‘s Osiris Trilogy, but her story “Saga’s Children” in The Lowest Heaven was smart, savvy and engaging. I’m now seeking her work out eagerly and think she’s the sort of writer the Campbell should be recognising.
Back in August Gary K. Wolfe and I spoke to the engaging and wonderful Sofia Samatar on the Coode Street Podcast about her first novel, A Stranger in Olondria, which was probably the best first fantasy novel of the year. Sofia also produced a batch of strong short stories, including one of my favourites, “Selkies are for Losers”.
Finally, Benjanun Sriduangkaew seemed to come out of nowhere this year with stories like “The Bees Her Heart, The Hive Her Belly” and my own favourite “Fade to Gold”. Her stories were refreshing and different. What more could you ask from a Campbell nominee?
These are not the only fine writers who are eligible for the Campbell. Writertopia maintain a list of eligible writers that is worth looking looking at for suggestions and reminders.
I have no idea who will be on the Campbell ballot or who will walk up to the stage to receive the award in London this August, but any of these six fine writers would be great choices.
1. The award is not a Hugo, and has never been a Hugo. It is sometimes humorously referred to as “not a Hugo” because it presented during the Hugo Awards ceremony.