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The 1998 Theodore Sturgeon and John W. Campbell Awards
by Dave Truesdale

On Friday, July 10th, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Novel of 1997, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for Best Short SF of 1997, were presented in Lawrence, Kansas. On Saturday, July 11th Dave Truesdale, editor of Tangent and Contributing Editor to the SF Site, filed this report.

Following in the venerable fannish tradition of writing informal, highly personal reports of SF conventions which SF history dates back to the 1930s, I offer my off the cuff impressions of the 1998 John W. Campbell and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards ceremonies.

Even though I'd attended this prestigious affair once in the early 80s (when Brian Aldiss won the Campbell Award for Best Novel for HELLICONICA SPRING, and a few years before the Ted Sturgeon Award was initiated, and combined with it in a joint awards ceremony), I have been fortunate to have been to the last five awards presentations.

Informality and spontaneity are the key fannish words to look for when reading a convention ("con") report. Though not a true con-rep, but a recounting of an awards ceremony, I nevertheless begin with the fannish intro of...

Hi everyone!

Forever Peace
Art by Jensen
...Just drove home from the Sturgeon and Campbell Awards banquet and ceremonies. As usual, they were held in Lawrence, Kansas, about 25 miles west of Kansas City, Missouri, where yours truly lives. The dinner began at 6 PM. The awards began around 7:30 or so. The 1998 winner of the John W. Campbell Award for best novel of 1997 was Joe Haldeman for Forever Peace (Ace). The 1998 Theodore Sturgeon Award for best short SF went to Michael F. Flynn for "House of Dreams" (novelette, Asimov's 10-11/97).

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inductees for 1998 were (two go to living authors and two are awarded posthumously every year) Robert Heinlein, C.L. Moore, Hal Clement, and Fred Pohl (who also serves as one of the three Sturgeon judges, James Gunn and 1994 winner Kij Johnson being the other two).

Joe Haldeman was in Germany and wasn't able to attend, but the esteemed Susan Allison, Joe's editor at Ace Books, flew in and accepted the award in his place. She relayed that Joe was deeply honored and regretted not being able to attend.

Michael F. Flynn was in attendance to accept his Sturgeon award and gave a short, humorous speech. He was also honored and grateful, and the 60 or so in attendance received his remarks with heartfelt applause.

James Gunn noted that this year people attended from even more diverse parts of the country than usual, pointing out that one Jiang Yunsheng (I'm sure I've mangled his first name, but it was Yun-something. I deeply apologize to him.) came in from China! He was a most pleasant sort, even though he spoke nary a word of English. Jim Gunn traveled to China last year (and wrote about it in an ANALOG from last year) and I'm sure Jiang was one of his new friends.

Dave Truesdale and Michael Flynn.
Photo by Keith Stokes
An SFRA (Science Fiction Research Association) person who had just returned from the Netherlands, flew in from New Jersey or New York, and presented an essay on the very first Campbell winner: Barry Malzberg's novel BEYOND APOLLO. Very lit. crit./academic, she had people rolling their eyes -- at least at the table where I sat -- as she attempted to tie all kinds of "hidden" stuff in the novel to various things, including homosexuality (from when one of the astronauts in the real Apollo 13 hugged one of his fellow astronauts to keep him warm), and all sorts of other obscure stuff (Yawn.)

Following the dinner, speeches, and awards presentations, we all hung around for about half an hour chatting with Susan Allison and Michael Flynn, taking pictures, then adjourned to the party, this year hosted by a local resident. As usual, Fred Pohl and I found ourselves in the designated smoking area, this year out on the rear balcony of an otherwise crowded apartment. He mentioned in passing that he was quite pleased with the solid quality of the Sturgeon finalists this year, as opposed to last year when he felt the quality -- while quite high on the good stuff -- was more uneven. This was echoed by Kij Johnson, who took over judging duties with the passing of Judith Merril last year. I felt pretty good about this, as should all of the Tangent reviewers, and others who nominated stories this year (just some of whom include Gardner Dozois, Ellen Datlow, Gordon Van Gelder, Mark Kelly, and Michael Swanwick).

The 1998 John W. Campbell Award for Best Novel
1. Forever Peace, Joe Haldeman
2. Slant, Greg Bear
3. Secret Passages, Paul Preuss
Fred and I cut our reminiscences of his early fandom days short at one point when a ruckus arose inside the apartment. We looked in through the back porch sliding glass doors to see Robin Wayne Bailey hopping around in the kitchen like he'd been stung by a bee. Seems he leaned backward against a snack table into a candle, setting his white dress shirt on fire. He was relatively unscathed, but burned a whole the size of a lemon in the back of his shirt. When it was all over, we of course thought it was pretty funny and he's never heard the end of it yet. (Aside: For the past 8 or 9 years until he stepped down this year, Robin served as the South-Central Regional director of SFWA. He spear-headed last year's Nebula Awards weekend in Kansas City (which by all accounts was one of the best ever) and was given a special Nebula award for Special Service at this year's Nebula Awards in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In August of this year, White Wolf will publish his new Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser novel, Swords Against the Shadowland.)

Susan Allison and Michael Flynn.
Photo by Dave Truesdale
Let's see...Marie Loughin, editor of the on-line fiction magazine E-SCAPE, and David Phalen (stories in ANALOG and elsewhere) drove in from Manhattan, Kansas. Merry Simmons came in from North Carolina, scholar and SF historian Paul Carter came in from Arizona or New Mexico (shame on my erratic memory; he is one of the long-standing and most erudite and entertaining of the Campbell judges, along with Greg Benford and a double handful of others from the US and Europe). There were also attendees from Texas and Seattle, not to mention a Campbell/Sturgeon regular, John Ordover, from New York. He is Pocket Books Star Trek editor. SF Hall of Fame board members (who inducted this year's members with fine speeches, one and all) Keith Stokes, Allison Stein, and Ben Thomas-Morgan were obviously present, as was long-time local Lawrence horror magazine editor (Eldritch Tales) Crispin Burnham.

The marathon Campbell conference commenced at nine o'clock (Saturday) morning, the 11th. The first session lasted three hours, then there was the usual welcome break for lunch. Then back at it for the afternoon session. It was very informal -- as usual, with minimal but crucial direction given by Jim Gunn and/or Fred Pohl. A tremendous range of subjects were covered. Usually there are about 20-25 or so sitting around a huge oval table, and we just let fly with whatever is on our minds. This year the topic was the SF novel. Last year it was the SF short story. It goes back and forth every other year. Fred, Jim, and Elizabeth (Betty) Hull (Mrs. Fred Pohl) are always there, as are (Sturgeon director) Chris McKitterick and Kij Johnson, John Ordover, myself (Sturgeon secretary), and Robin Bailey (well, most of the time for us last three). Last year, the Campbell and Sturgeon winners also attended and made the discussion quite lively and entertaining. They were Englishman Paul J. McAuley, who won the Campbell Award for his novel Fairyland, and Nancy Kress, who won the Sturgeon for her story "The Flowers of Aulit Prison," which also just won the Nebula this year! Michael Flynn stayed over and was in attendance this year.

Robin Wayne Bailey, Susan Allison, Kij Johnson,
Christopher McKitterick, unknown (back of head), David Phalen.
Photo by Dave Truesdale
All in all, it was another invigorating weekend of awards and interesting people. I feel compelled to add that one of the real surprises was the dinner itself. For the past four years we've been served chicken disguised in one way or another. Fine fare, to be sure, but it gets tiresome. This year we were delighted with marinated, sauteed strips of tender beef served medium rare, and new potatoes, garnished with julienned carrots and spring onions, with fragrant sprigs of rosemary. But dessert is always a treat. Last year we couldn't get enough of the cherry cheesecake. This year it was some delicious semi-chilled chocolate stuff in the shape of little pie wedges (not mousse, much firmer), with soft chocolate chips on the inside, and whipped cream and strawberries on top. Yep (patting stomach), it was a fine evening.

The 1998 Theodore Sturgeon Award for Best Short SF
1. "House of Dreams," Michael F. Flynn (Asimov's Oct/Nov 97)
2. "...Where Angels Fear to Tread," Allen Steele (Asimov's, Oct/Nov 97)
3. "Coming to Grips With the Great Plague," Brian Stableford (Omni, Dec 97)

Copyright © 1998 by Dave Truesdale

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