Monday, February 04, 2008

Awards, ahhh, awards...

They're strange things, aren't they? They're flawed in so many ways. They invariably leave out wonderful books and authors. They can be lopsided, myopic, elitist. (This coming from somebody who has judged the Pen/Faulkner and Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards, by the way - both wonderful experiences - but you should hear some of the stories I heard along the way...) Do the judges read all the books? Do the masses pick more worthy winners than small cabals? Did my publisher even submit my book?...

An author can get a little tied up in knots as the big day approaches. This is made even worse because you don't want to look like you care, like you realize the announcement is coming, like you've given it a bit of thought... "Oh, those were announced, were they? I hadn't noticed..."

But don't be fooled. As flawed as the award process is in all its variations authors want them, need them, cherish them... They can jump start careers, sell books, win friends and enemies in high places... That, you see, is why I put the widget to the John W Campbell Award over on the sidebar here. It'll count down the nomination voting days, least anyone forget.

The Campbell is a wonderful award for new science fiction and fantasy writers. It's not a Hugo, but it's voted for in a similar manner and presented at Worldcon, which is in Denver this summer. It's got a wonderful history of predicting some major authors, think Stephen R Donaldson, Orson Scott Card, Karen Joy Fowler, Mary Doria Russell, Nalo Hopkinson, John Scalzi, just to name a few.

Science Fiction Awards Watch has a wee post up - Campbell Recommendations - which mentions me as one of the "high-profile" authors in contention. That's nice, but up until a few weeks ago I wasn't up on the Writertopia site that has info on the award. I had to contact them to ask if I was, in fact, eligible. Guess what? I am! Those little historical novels don't count in this equation. As far as fantasy goes I'm a newbie, and proud of it. Now I'm on the site!

So, I'll own up. I'll be paying close attention. I'd love to be in the running. I'd be over the moon, honestly, just to squeak in with a nomination. I won't even pretend otherwise. So if you happen to be a Campbell voter... give me a look, yeah?

On another note, you might want to check out Sandra McDonald's ongoing letter to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America voters for the Nebula. She's made the preliminary list, and she - quite respectfully (and humorously) - knocks her competition off one by one. Give it a look.

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Blogger Larry Nolen said...

Look on the bright side - you won't have to refresh a browser page every hour or so to see where you stand in the Campbell Award nominations. Think about the carnage that would ensue if they were to switch to a ranking system similar to that Amazon uses!

Or rather, don't think about it and think about frolicking local fauna instead...or something.

1:14 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

While everyone now seems to have got the idea about the Campbell not being a Hugo, very few people ever mention that it is sponsored by Dell Magazines. Stan and his colleagues deserve a bit of credit for helping promote new authors.

9:36 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

"Frolicking local fauna"? That would be alley cats batting around black widows; not the most inspirational. It's true, though, that it's good that such things as awards are so totally out of your hands. That's how it has to be, I guess. Out of hands, but not out of mind...

Cheryl, want to say more about the Dell Magazine sponsorship? I hear them mentioned sometimes when I read about the award. At other times I don't, so I'm a little fuzzy on the connection myself.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...


I'm not 100% sure of the history myself, but as I understand it Dell decided that they wanted to create an award for new writers, because a lot of people get their start by publishing short fiction in Dell magazines. They approached WSFS for help because there was already a good mechanism in place for handling Hugo voting, and WSFS agreed to manage the voting for the Campbell alongside the Hugos. Consequently the Campbell is voted on by the Hugo electorate, but Stan Schmidt always presents the Campbell, and the Campbell winner always gets a plaque, not a rocket. (Dell pays for the plaque, Worldcon pays for the rockets).

But for some reason a meme appears to have got around the younger writers that WSFS is incredibly rude for not recognizing the Campbell as a Hugo - almost as if WSFS is making some snooty statement about Hugo Gernsback being better than John Campbell. Nothing can be further from the case. It would be incredibly rude for WSFS to claim the Campbell as a Hugo when it is not their award.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Larry Nolen said...

I hear the latest Campbell Award winners get a tiara as well ;)

And David, I forget sometimes how different Western suburban life can be - I was thinking of the local friendly squirrels and rabbits that my dogs like to chase from time to time :P But yeah, it's a good thing the awards are not dragged out in public over a period of months, or else author productivity would drop below that of civil servants :P

3:55 PM  

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