This award was created to honour the late John W. Campbell,
who edited Astounding/Analog from 1937 until his death in 1971 and
was established by Harry Harrison and Brian Aldiss in 1973. Harrison
also edited a memorial collection titled _Astounding_ which I would
recommend (This is not a general recommendation of Harrison, particularly
not of his recent works).
I believe this is a committee award but sadly I can't find who was
on the committees. This is a pity because there are some choices I would
dearly love to know the background behind.
1: Beyond Apollo (Barry Malzberg)
2: The Listeners (James Gunn)
3: Darkening Island (Christopher Priest)
special award for excellence in writing: Dying Inside (Robert
I always got the impression I was too stupid to appreciate
Malzberg and definitely too young when I tried to read _Beyond Apollo_.
Just looking at his name gives me a hint of 1970s depression.
Gunn's novel was competent as I recall. Pity that he seems to
have fallen into obscurity of late.
Don't think I read the Priest (Check library). Nope, I must have
as it is in one of the read-books rooms but no memory of it.
_Dying Inside_ is one of, if not the, Silverberg's best.
1: Rendezvous with Rama (Arthur C. Clarke)
2: The Embedding (Ian Watson)
special non-fiction award: The Cosmic Connection (Carl Sagan)
It's a pity this award overlaps with the Hugos and the Nebulas so
much. _Rendezvous_ is ok, I suppose but I don't think award worthy. Never
read any Watson aside from "The Very Slow Time Machine".
1: Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (Philip K. Dick)
2: The Dispossessed (Ursula K. LeGuin)
3: None awarded
Dick is another author I never got into and so can't comment
on. The Dispossessed I've commented on elsewhere. Are there so few note-
worthy books in SF that the same ones need to be awarded multiple awards?
1: The Year of the Quiet Sun (Wilson Tucker)
There's an interesting footnote for this to the effect
that the committee felt there was no truly outstanding novel
published this year so this was a special retrospective award
for a truly outstanting novel that was not adequately recognised
in the year of its publication (1970)
Which is fine, because _The Year of the Quiet Sun_ is indeed
one of the quiet classics of SF but I really wonder about what possessed
the committe to go on to then award
2: The Stochastic Man (Robert Silverberg)
3: Orbitsville (Bob Shaw)
'Sorry, nothing this year is really good enough for an award, but
here's a medal anyway, Bobs' is how this reads to me. By coincidence this
is the year Silverberg left SF.
1: The Alteration (Kingsley Amis)
2: Man Plus (Fred Pohl)
3: Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (Kate Wilhelm)
My library appears to be an Amis-free zone. Funny that _The
Alteration_ should have come up in conversation recently. The Pohl
was minor Pohl, I thought, but I know others disagree. The Wilhelm
is very 1970s but I like it.
1: Gateway (Fred Pohl)
2: Roadside Picnic (Arkady and Boris Strugatsky)
3: A Scanner Darkly (Philip K. Dick)
I can only comment on the first one, which I greatly like. Once
again I wonder about the multiple awards certain books win and what that
says about the SF community.
1: Gloriana (Michael Moorcock)
2: And Having Writ... (Donald Benson)
3: Altered States (Paddy Chayefski)
More bountiful ignorance from James, as the only one of these I
read was the second. _And Having Writ..._ is charming and somewhat amusing
but I am not sure I'd give it an award.
1: On Wings of Song (Thomas Disch)
2: Engine Summer (John Crowley)
3: The Unlimited Dream Company (J.G. Ballard)
I liked Disch's entry. Actually aside from his SFcrit book _The
Dreams Our Stuff is Made of_, which is not very good, I've liked
everything I have read by him so why don't I own more of his books?
The other two books I have not read, although I own the Ballard.
1: Timescape (Gregory Benford)
2: The Dreaming Dragons (Damien Broderick)
3: The Shadow of the Torturer (Gene Wolfe)
Liked _Timescape_ (perhaps Benford's best), was too stupid for
the Wolfe and have never seen a copy of the Broderick because by some
quirk of Canadian bookselling the very first book by him I ever saw was
_The White Abacus_ in 1997.
1: Riddley Walker (Russell Hoban)
2: None awarded
3: None awarded
Hoban is another author I am too stupid to appreciate.
1: Helliconia Spring (Brian Aldiss)
2: No Enemy But Time (Michael Bishop)
3: None awarded
Hmmm. I like the Aldiss but award-worthy? Oh well, porridge shortage,
avoidence of, I suppose. Liked the Bishop, another author whose works are
inexplicably rare in my library.
1: The Citadel of the Autarch (Gene Wolfe)
2: The Birth of the People's Republic of the Antarctic (John
3: Tik-Tok (John Sladek)
I wonder if Wil Smith will be buying the rights to the Sladek?
Missed the other two. Indeed, I have never even seen the second one.
Sladek is always worth reading.
1: The Years of the City (Fred Pohl)
2: Green Eyes (Lucius Shepard)
3: Neuromancer (William Gibson)
The Pohl stands out as one of the few SF books featuring cities
that isn't actively hostile to the idea of cities and the people who
live in them. I get the impression not enough SF authors have had tractors
roll on them.
Two of the three were edited by Terry Carr, someone whose skills
I really wish I had appreciated more while he was alive.
1: The Postman (David Brin)
2: Galapagos (Kurt Vonnegut)
3: (tie) Kiteworld (Keith Roberts)
Blood Music (Greg Bear)
Must have been a lean year. About a third of _The Postman_ is
interesting, the Bear is a padded version of an ok short and the Roberts
didn't do much for me. I'd say I wasn't a Vonnegut fan but I seem to
own half a shelf of his books somehow.
1: The Door into Ocean (Joan Sloczewski)
2: This is the Way the World Ends (James Morrow)
3: Speaker For the Dead (Orson Scott Card)
The Sloczewski I thought was eye glazingly dull, the Morrow
is a Morrow and should therefore be read despite the author's peculiar
ideological problem with nuclear war and mass extinction (Seems immoral
to build all those nukes and then never use them). The Card is over-rated
1: Lincoln's Dreams (Connie Willis)
2: The Sea and the Summer (George Turner)
3: The Unconquered Country (Geoff Ryman)
I really like _Lincoln's Dreams_, my favourite Willis novel
in fact. The Turner is glum but well written (The perkiest Turner
I have read starts off with 90% of humanity dying so perhaps he isn't
for the easily depressed). The Ryman is in my To Be Read room.
1: Islands in the Net (Bruce Sterling)
2: The Gold Coast (Kim Stanley Robinson)
3: Dragonsdown (Anne McCaffrey)
OK, the Sterling I understand and while I hate the Robinson I know
perfectly respectable people who inexplicably disagree with me on it but
*Dragonsdawn*? Truly the ways of committee are strange. I wonder if this
was one of Herman Kahn's 'I want beef unless you have ham, in which case
I want chicken' decisions.
1: The Child Garden (Geoff Ryman)
2: Farewell Horizontal (K.W. Jeter)
3: Good News From Outer Space (John Kessel)
The Ryman starts off with truncated lifespan and economically
driven child abuse and then gets depressing (Although not compared to
his Oz book). Never understood the fuss over Jeter. Kessel I am too
stupid to properly appreciate.
1: Pacific Edge (Kim Stanley Robinson)
2: Queen of Angels (Greg Bear)
3: Only Begotten Daughter (James Morrow)
No particular gripes about any of these, although the Bear left
surprisingly little impression for a book I recall liking. Could it be
that I remember the books I hate most distinctly?
1: Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede (Bradley Denton)
2: The Difference Engine (William Gibson and Bruce Sterling)
3: (tie) A Woman of the Iron People (Eleanor Arnason)
Stations of the Tide (Michael Swanwick)
It seems a curious choice to rate the excellent Swanwick novel
below _The Difference Engine_, which is not very good.
1: Brother to Dragons (Charles Sheffield)
2: Sideshow (Sherri S. Tepper)
3: A Fire Upon the Deep (Vernor Vinge)
I wonder what the committee saw in the Sheffield that I missed?
1: No Award
2: Beggars in Spain (Nancy Kress)
3: Moving Mars (Greg Bear)
Again, I wonder what message this is supposed to sent to Kress
and Bear? I have hated every Kress I read, especially this one, but the
Bear is a standard Bear and if you like this sort of thing, this is the
sort of thing you'll like.
1: Permutation City (Greg Egan)
2: Brittle Innings (Michael Bishop)
3: No Award
I'd have put the Bishop above the Egan (which I thought was deeply
silly and awkwardly structured) but I suspect I am in the minority here.
1: The Time Ships (Stephen Baxter)
2: The Diamond Age (Neal Stephenson)
3: Chaga (Ian McDonald)
Speaking of curious choices, why anyone would rate the excellent
McDonald below a stodgly but competent sequel and a broken-plotted thriller
utterly escapes me.
1: Fairyland (Paul McAuley)
2: Blue Mars (Kim Stanley Robinson)
3: The Sparrow (Mary Doria Russell)
No idea what people see in the Mars books. The McAuley is worth
reading, as always. Never read the Russell.
1: Forever Peace (Joe Haldeman)
2: Slant (Greg Bear)
3: Secret Passages (Paul Preuss)
I suppose this goes to show anything by Haldeman with Forever
in the title will win an award. At least it was better than _Forever
1: Brute Orbits (George Zebrowski)
2: Starfarers (Poul Anderson)
3: Distraction (Bruce Sterling)
I can only assume the committee was either insane, bribed by Zebrowski
or on serious drugs. _Brute Orbits_ is one of the worst SF novels to see print
in the 1990s. Starfarers is not nearly as bad but neither compares to the
1: A Deepness In the Sky (Vernor Vinge)
2: Darwin's Radio (Greg Bear)
3: Greenhouse Summer (Norman Spinrad)
Again with the Bear, this time a silly bio-thriller with half a
plot. Thought the Spinrad unreadable although his upcoming _The Druid
King_ is OK in a cinematic sort of way, although I can't speak to the
1: Genesis (Poul Anderson)
2: (tie) Ash (Mary Gentle)
Calculating God (Robert Sawyer)
Infinity Beach (Jack McDevitt)
3: The Fresco (Sherri S. Tepper)
Decisiveness, thy name is not committee. Most of these I did not
read but _Genesis_ is minor Anderson at best.
1: (tie) The Chronoliths (Robert Charles Wilson)
Terraforming Earth (Jack Williamson)
3: Probability Sun (Nancy Kress)
Again one wonders if the committee is trying to send some sort
of subtle message here by not giving the Kress (Which I never read)
second place. Probably not. The Wilson is good, better than _Bios_
by a long shot.
"Repress the urge to sprout wings or self-ignite!...This man's an
Episcopalian!...They have definite views."
Pibgorn Oct 31/02