Kansas is hot and humid this time of year, but every year writers come from far and wide (this time as far as England) to attend the Campbell Conference on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, Kansas. It’s a cozy gathering, with the conference and award ceremonies being a far more intimate grouping than one usually finds in the genre.
The first day of the Campbell Conference is dominated by the Campbell Awards ceremony. The John W. Campbell Memorial Award is awarded annually during the Campbell Conference now held in Lawrence, Kansas on the University of Kansas Campus. The award is given for the best science fiction novel of the year, as chosen by a selection committee of writers and editors. (This is not to be confused with the other award–the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.)
This year’s finalists were a tough group, and the committee ended up with a tie for the award, shared between Cory Doctorow for Little Brother, a young adult novel about a young man’s fight against an overweening government, and Ian R. MacLeod for Song of Time, deals with a dying woman’s attempts to preserve her life’s memories and her interaction with a young man she’s rescued from the sea.
Also awarded at the same ceremony, the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Short Story went to James Alan Gardner for “The Ray Gun: A Love Story,” which originally appeared in Asimov’s, February 2008 issue (and can now be read on-line for free). The story of a boy, a girl and a ray gun (yes, it is a love story) brought Hugo-nominee Kij Johnson, one of the jurists for the award, to tears.
All three winners will be remaining in Kansas for the Campbell Conference, which is led by Science Fiction Grand Master James Gunn. It’s always a wonderful chance for the new writers (the conference follows directly on the heels of the writers’ workshop) and fans who attend because the venue is an intimate one. Not only do they get a chance to talk with the winners, but the teachers and organizers of the workshops (James Gunn, Kij Johnson and Chris McKitterick) as well as other editors and authors who attend. More information can be found here.