An incomplete commentary on The John W. Campbell Memorial Awards

60 views
Skip to first unread message

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 9, 2002, 1:21:17 PM12/9/02
to
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.


1973

1: Beyond Apollo (Barry Malzberg)
2: The Listeners (James Gunn)
3: Darkening Island (Christopher Priest)
special award for excellence in writing: Dying Inside (Robert
Silverberg)

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.


1974

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".


1975

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?

1976

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.


1977

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.

1978

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.

1979

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.

1980

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.


1981

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.

1982

1: Riddley Walker (Russell Hoban)
2: None awarded
3: None awarded

Hoban is another author I am too stupid to appreciate.

1983

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.

1984

1: The Citadel of the Autarch (Gene Wolfe)
2: The Birth of the People's Republic of the Antarctic (John
Batchelor)
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.


1985

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.


1986
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.


1987

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
pap.

1988

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.

1989

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.

1990

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.

1991

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?

1992

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.

1993

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?


1994

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.

1995

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.

1996

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.


1997

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.


1998

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
Free_.

1999

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
Sterling.

2000

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
historical accuracy.

2001

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.

2002

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

Randy Money

unread,
Dec 9, 2002, 4:53:19 PM12/9/02
to

James Nicoll wrote:
[...]

> 1984
>
> 1: The Citadel of the Autarch (Gene Wolfe)
> 2: The Birth of the People's Republic of the Antarctic (John
> Batchelor)
> 3: Tik-Tok (John Sladek)
>

[...]

> Indeed, I have never even seen the second one.


Just to note, Batchelor has had a lengthy writing career as a mainstream
novelist. I believe -- and am willing to be told I'm wrong that this is
the only book he's written that's s.f., though a couple others may lean
that way. It was, I also believe, his first novel.

Randy M.

Nicholas Whyte

unread,
Dec 9, 2002, 5:19:14 PM12/9/02
to
On 9 Dec 2002 13:21:17 -0500, jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) wrote:
> 1975
>
> 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?

For the mid-1970s, I think the answer is "yes".

> 1976
>
> 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

In the year of _The Forever War_? Boggle.

> 1978
>
> 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.

The only year on the list when I really think all three winners were
superb. However they are in the wrong order!

> 1986
> 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.

I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but what happened to _Ender's
Game_ this year?

> 1996
>
> 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.

Agreed. Extraordinary.

> 2000
>
> 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.

Which, quite inexplicably, won the Nebula. (See other thread.)

> 2001
>
> 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.

_Ash_ is absolutely fantastic. _Genesis_ is as you say OK but far from
Anderson's best. _The Fresco_ must surely seem more than a little
silly even to Tepper fans (and I count myself among them). Likewise
_Calculating God_ had a very silly ending after an OK build-up.

Nicholas

John F. Carr

unread,
Dec 9, 2002, 8:07:09 PM12/9/02
to
In article <3df5145e...@news.cis.dfn.de>,
Nicholas Whyte <nichol...@hotmail.com> wrote:

>> 1978
>>
>> 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.
>
>The only year on the list when I really think all three winners were
>superb. However they are in the wrong order!

What is the goal of the Campbell Award? To reward Campbellian SF?
I say _Gateway_ wins that fight, and probably wins overall.

Did Dick ever sell anything to Campbell?

>> 1986


>
>I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but what happened to _Ender's
>Game_ this year?

Did it lose out for being an expanded short story?

>> 1996
>>
>> 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.
>
>Agreed. Extraordinary.

Same comment as above: is this another "best SF novel" award or
a subgenre award?

A response to a comment I made a year or two ago about the failure of
the Hugo award criticized me for not preferring the "delightful" Willis
over the stodgy Vinge. I think being "delightful" should be close to
disqualifying for the Hugo award.

(Of the three novels, I liked _Chaga_, didn't finish _Diamond Age_, and
didn't start _Time Ships_.)

--
John Carr (j...@mit.edu)

John M. Gamble

unread,
Dec 9, 2002, 9:33:19 PM12/9/02
to
In article <3df53e3d$0$3942$b45e...@senator-bedfellow.mit.edu>,

John F. Carr <j...@mit.edu> wrote:
>In article <3df5145e...@news.cis.dfn.de>,
>Nicholas Whyte <nichol...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>>> 1978
>>>
>>> 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.
>>
>>The only year on the list when I really think all three winners were
>>superb. However they are in the wrong order!
>
>What is the goal of the Campbell Award? To reward Campbellian SF?

No, decidedly not. In fact, this caused a minor (i presume) disagreement
in the letter column of Analog. Poul Anderson wrote a letter expressing
his disappointment, and maybe a little anger, over the selection of the
committee, as they would not have been choices the JWC would have made.

Harlan Ellison responded by pointing out that that was not a requirement
of the award, and who would think that Hugo Gernsback would publish any
of the [then] current Hugo winners?

>I say _Gateway_ wins that fight, and probably wins overall.
>
>Did Dick ever sell anything to Campbell?

Yes, the one whose title escapes me, where an android loaded with planet-
destroying bomb lands on Earth.

--
-john

February 28 1997: Last day libraries could order catalogue cards
from the Library of Congress.

Richard Horton

unread,
Dec 9, 2002, 10:40:40 PM12/9/02
to
On 9 Dec 2002 13:21:17 -0500, jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) wrote:


> 1973
>
> 1: Beyond Apollo (Barry Malzberg)
> 2: The Listeners (James Gunn)
> 3: Darkening Island (Christopher Priest)
> special award for excellence in writing: Dying Inside (Robert
> Silverberg)
>
> 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.
>

I read most of my Malzberg when I was about 15 and you could get tons
of his thin paperbacks easily. This includes _Beyond Apollo_ which I
rather liked. There was a time during which I was into 70s
depression. I still like Malzberg's prose, though his stories often
bore me beyond that.

> Gunn's novel was competent as I recall. Pity that he seems to
>have fallen into obscurity of late.
>

Competent but little more. He's written a recent series of novelettes
for Analog about the discovery of plans for a spaceship left by aliens
and found by a UFO nut. The first one ("The Giftie") was pretty good
but the later ones were much worse.

> 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.
>

Not nearly Priest's best book but I thought it was pretty good.


> 1974
>
> 1: Rendezvous with Rama (Arthur C. Clarke)
> 2: The Embedding (Ian Watson)

The Embedding is "Yet Another Sapir-Whorf" story, as someone
characterized Chiang's "Story of Your Life". I was very impressed
when I read it, pretty much right after it came out.

>
>
> 1975
>
> 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?
>
> 1976

>

> 1977
>
> 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.
>

I liked both the Pohl and the Wilhelm. The Alteration is a very
worthy winner, though, one of the very best Alternate History novels.
Amis was a wonderful writer.

>
> 1980
>
> 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.
>

On Wings of Song is fine and all, but my lord, Engine Summer is stone
brilliant and surely deserved this award, and every other award given
out that year!

>
> 1981
>
> 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.
>

I suspect _The White Abacus_ was the first book by him lots of
Americans saw as well. I'd have given this award to _Shadow_ but
_Timescape_ is certainly a fine book.


>
> 1984
>
> 1: The Citadel of the Autarch (Gene Wolfe)
> 2: The Birth of the People's Republic of the Antarctic (John
> Batchelor)
> 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.
>

_Tik-Tok_ is good, but I'd still give this award to the Wolfe.

>

> 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.
>

_Lincoln's Dreams_ is also a favorite of mine.



> 1989
>
> 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.
>

A McCaffrey story called "The Littlest Dragonboy" is in my daughter's
7th grade Literature Anthology (subtitled "The Stories That Will Live
Forever" which I beg to doubt!).

> 1990
>
> 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.
>

Not that I am claiming to be smart or anything but I think _Good News
From Outer Space_ is extremely good.

> 2001
>
> 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.
>

And Ash is very good indeed.

> 2002
>
> 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.

No, if there's a tie for first, the next book is third. Didn't we
already have this thread?

How the Williamson book can be ranked even with the Wilson by anyone
totally befuddles me. I guess they wanted to be seen to be just as
silly as the Hugo and Nebula voters who gave part of the same book
novella awards.

--
Rich Horton | Stable Email: mailto://richard...@sff.net
Home Page: http://www.sff.net/people/richard.horton
Also visit SF Site (http://www.sfsite.com) and Tangent Online (http://www.tangentonline.com)

Niall McAuley

unread,
Dec 10, 2002, 6:15:38 AM12/10/02
to
"James Nicoll" <jdni...@panix.com> wrote in message news:at2mut$at9$1...@panix1.panix.com...

> 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

I didn't think much of the Wolfe at first, but I read it only
recently in an edition with _Claw of the Conciliator_, and
by the time I got halfway through the second one, I was hooked.
Hard to give an award to a book that's just a lump out of a story,
though.
--
Niall [real address ends in se, not es.invalid]

David Tate

unread,
Dec 10, 2002, 9:22:14 AM12/10/02
to
Richard Horton <rrho...@prodigy.net> wrote in message news:<YmdJ9.2136$UD.82...@newssvr15.news.prodigy.com>...

> On 9 Dec 2002 13:21:17 -0500, jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) wrote:

> > 1974
> > 1: Rendezvous with Rama (Arthur C. Clarke)
> > 2: The Embedding (Ian Watson)
>
> The Embedding is "Yet Another Sapir-Whorf" story, as someone
> characterized Chiang's "Story of Your Life". I was very impressed
> when I read it, pretty much right after it came out.

Actually, it's not a Sapir-Whorf story at all. It's a
Transformational Grammar story -- Chomsky instead of Whorf[*]. It was
the first (and, so far as I know, the ONLY) well-known sf story that
actually tried to extrapolate from TG the way Vance and Chiang did
Whorf, or Heinlein and van Vogt did Korzybski. Walter Meyers talks
about _The Embedding_ at some length in his (delightful, out of print,
getting dated) _Aliens and Linguists_.

I thought the first 2/3 of _The Embedding_ was nicely engrossing,
partly because I'm a linguistics slut. The last 1/3 made me think
that _Stranger in a Strange Land_ didn't have such a messy,
disappointing ending after all...

David Tate

[*]And certainly neither Chomsky nor Whorf thought you could
(*SPOILER*) just by growing a brain with the correct Deep Structure...
That part just seemed silly.

Matt Ruff

unread,
Dec 10, 2002, 10:17:19 AM12/10/02
to
Randy Money wrote:
>
> Just to note, Batchelor has had a lengthy writing career as a mainstream
> novelist. I believe -- and am willing to be told I'm wrong that this is
> the only book he's written that's s.f., though a couple others may lean
> that way.

"Lean that way" is a fair description. See, for instance, "Peter Nevsky
and the True Story of the Russian Moon Landing."

-- M. Ruff

Mark 'Kamikaze' Hughes

unread,
Dec 10, 2002, 6:33:08 PM12/10/02
to
10 Dec 2002 01:07:09 GMT, John F. Carr <j...@mit.edu>:

> In article <3df5145e...@news.cis.dfn.de>,
> Nicholas Whyte <nichol...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>>> 1986
>>I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but what happened to _Ender's
>>Game_ this year?
> Did it lose out for being an expanded short story?

Can't be - they awarded _Blood Music_, which was another short story
damaged by being expanded to a novel.

--
<a href="http://kuoi.asui.uidaho.edu/~kamikaze/"> Mark Hughes </a>
"We remain convinced that this is the best defensive posture to adopt in
order to minimize casualties when the Great Old Ones return from beyond
the stars to eat our brains." -Charlie Stross, _The Concrete Jungle_

raycun

unread,
Dec 11, 2002, 12:12:38 PM12/11/02
to
Richard Horton <rrho...@prodigy.net> wrote in message news:<YmdJ9.2136$UD.82...@newssvr15.news.prodigy.com>...

> > 2001


> >
> > 1: Genesis (Poul Anderson)
> > 2: (tie) Ash (Mary Gentle)
> > Calculating God (Robert Sawyer)
> > Infinity Beach (Jack McDevitt)
> > 3: The Fresco (Sherri S. Tepper)

> > 2002
> >
> > 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.
>
> No, if there's a tie for first, the next book is third. Didn't we
> already have this thread?

Common sense is on your side, but Campbell award precedent is not.
Have another look at the 2001 winners.
(Presumably it was just a different committee, with a different way of
handling post-tie ranking)

Ray

Richard Horton

unread,
Dec 11, 2002, 11:05:41 PM12/11/02
to
On 11 Dec 2002 09:12:38 -0800, ray...@hotmail.com (raycun) wrote:

>Richard Horton <rrho...@prodigy.net> wrote in message news:<YmdJ9.2136$UD.82...@newssvr15.news.prodigy.com>...
>
>> > 2001
>> >
>> > 1: Genesis (Poul Anderson)
>> > 2: (tie) Ash (Mary Gentle)
>> > Calculating God (Robert Sawyer)
>> > Infinity Beach (Jack McDevitt)
>> > 3: The Fresco (Sherri S. Tepper)
>
>> > 2002
>> >
>> > 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.
>>
>> No, if there's a tie for first, the next book is third. Didn't we
>> already have this thread?
>
>Common sense is on your side, but Campbell award precedent is not.
>Have another look at the 2001 winners.

Good point. Not my fault that the 2001 committee were stone morons,
though.

>(Presumably it was just a different committee, with a different way of
>handling post-tie ranking)

Very likely.

I remember where I participated in such a thread, anyway, it was on
Dueling Modems, to do with IIRC some poetry award. Why some people
can't figure out that if four books placed ahead of you you aren't
better than fifth place I'm sure I can't see.

Mike Schilling

unread,
Dec 13, 2002, 8:42:42 PM12/13/02
to

"James Nicoll" <jdni...@panix.com> wrote in message
news:at2mut$at9$1...@panix1.panix.com...
>>
> 1985
>
> 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.

The clause "not written by Isaac Asimov" belongs in there somewhere. it was
Asimov who dreamed up "the planet which was a single city" and didn't mean
it as a dystopia.


James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 14, 2002, 12:14:49 PM12/14/02
to
In article <m0wK9.590$Ud2.22...@newssvr21.news.prodigy.com>,

Yeah, you're right. I wonder who else is in the select group of
urbophiles?

Peter D. Tillman

unread,
Dec 14, 2002, 8:38:47 PM12/14/02
to
In article <atfou9$8a5$1...@panix2.panix.com>,
jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) wrote:

> In article <m0wK9.590$Ud2.22...@newssvr21.news.prodigy.com>,
> Mike Schilling <mscotts...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >"James Nicoll" <jdni...@panix.com> wrote in message
> >news:at2mut$at9$1...@panix1.panix.com...
> >>>
> >> 1985
> >>
> >> 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.
> >
> >The clause "not written by Isaac Asimov" belongs in there somewhere. it was
> >Asimov who dreamed up "the planet which was a single city" and didn't mean
> >it as a dystopia.
>
> Yeah, you're right. I wonder who else is in the select group of
> urbophiles?

Well, I think we can safely rule out China Mieville... ;-]

Mark 'Kamikaze' Hughes

unread,
Dec 14, 2002, 10:21:09 PM12/14/02
to
14 Dec 2002 12:14:49 -0500, James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com>:

> In article <m0wK9.590$Ud2.22...@newssvr21.news.prodigy.com>,
> Mike Schilling <mscotts...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>>"James Nicoll" <jdni...@panix.com> wrote in message
>>news:at2mut$at9$1...@panix1.panix.com...
>>> 1985
>>> 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.
>>The clause "not written by Isaac Asimov" belongs in there somewhere. it was
>>Asimov who dreamed up "the planet which was a single city" and didn't mean
>>it as a dystopia.
> Yeah, you're right. I wonder who else is in the select group of
> urbophiles?

There was a great anthology, _The City: 2000 AD_ (written in 1976, but
most of the stories are set long after 2000[0]). It managed to nicely
capture being both in love with the city and horrified by it.

Most cyberpunk fiction is quite happy with cities, grimy bits and all.
A cyberpunk book without loving descriptions of pushing through crowds,
or slipping down a darkened alleyway, or of half-broken neon lights
reflecting on someone's chrome prosthetics, would just be unnatural.

P.K.Dick often seemed fairly enthusiastiac about city living, even
when his cities were completely dysfunctional (DADoES, f'rinstance).

_Oath of Fealthy_, by Niven and Pournelle.

For fantasy, Fritz Leiber clearly loved cities.

Walter Jon Williams' _Metropolitan_, of course.

These are all somewhat tarnished cities, but the people wouldn't live
anywhere else (can't, in some cases). I don't know of many perfect city
stories.


[0] I saw a while back that Conan O'Brien's still doing his "In the Year
2000" skits, where he predicts amazing advances for the futuristic date
of... 2000. He's been doing this routine since the early '90s, so it
was only a little silly when he started doing it. Now it's *weird*.

James Bodi

unread,
Dec 15, 2002, 2:04:34 AM12/15/02
to

--- I don't know about that. To me, this was about an anti-city, a vertical
suburb. Note the omnipresent planning, and the complete lack of anonymity.
Remember the reaction of Noonan, the reporter.

Konrad Gaertner

unread,
Dec 15, 2002, 12:17:42 PM12/15/02
to
Mark 'Kamikaze' Hughes wrote:
>
> 14 Dec 2002 12:14:49 -0500, James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com>:

> > Yeah, you're right. I wonder who else is in the select group of
> > urbophiles?
>

> For fantasy, Fritz Leiber clearly loved cities.

Since you brought up fantasy, add Pratchett. Would Peake count?
I've only seen the BBC mini-series, so can't really tell...

> These are all somewhat tarnished cities, but the people wouldn't live
> anywhere else (can't, in some cases).


--KG

r.r...@thevine.net

unread,
Dec 15, 2002, 12:17:33 PM12/15/02
to
On 15 Dec 2002 03:21:09 GMT, kami...@kuoi.asui.uidaho.edu (Mark
'Kamikaze' Hughes) wrote:

There was a short story I read (and which, of course, I can't remember
the title or author of) about a scientist that built the "perfect'
city. He'd spent years studying people and how they reacted to
various stimuli, and designed the city to have the perfect blend of
industry/parks/residential/etc, with buildings designed to perfectly
reflect humans aesthetics and functionality, etc. The story involved
him extolling the virtues of his city to a potential citizen. The
punchline of the story was that no-one wanted to live there!

Rebecca

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 15, 2002, 1:07:16 PM12/15/02
to
In article <3dfcb87...@news.thevine.net>, <r.r...@thevine.net> wrote:

snip

>There was a short story I read (and which, of course, I can't remember
>the title or author of) about a scientist that built the "perfect'
>city. He'd spent years studying people and how they reacted to
>various stimuli, and designed the city to have the perfect blend of
>industry/parks/residential/etc, with buildings designed to perfectly
>reflect humans aesthetics and functionality, etc. The story involved
>him extolling the virtues of his city to a potential citizen. The
>punchline of the story was that no-one wanted to live there!

The old comic _Mr X_ featured a city whose original design
was to be the perfect city but this wasn't cost effective and changes
were made without (as I recall) the permission or knowledge of the
architect. The result was a beautiful city that slowly drove the
inhabitants insane.

James Nicoll

Mark 'Kamikaze' Hughes

unread,
Dec 15, 2002, 1:14:35 PM12/15/02
to
Sun, 15 Dec 2002 17:17:42 GMT, Konrad Gaertner <kgae...@worldnet.att.net>:

> Mark 'Kamikaze' Hughes wrote:
>> 14 Dec 2002 12:14:49 -0500, James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com>:
>> > Yeah, you're right. I wonder who else is in the select group of
>> > urbophiles?
>> For fantasy, Fritz Leiber clearly loved cities.
> Since you brought up fantasy, add Pratchett. Would Peake count?
> I've only seen the BBC mini-series, so can't really tell...

Pratchett certainly does. Gormenghast is as large as a town, but it's
still just one castle. There's no real cities in the Gormenghast realm,
and _Titus Alone_ doesn't seem very fond of modern cities.

Joe Mason

unread,
Dec 15, 2002, 7:10:53 PM12/15/02
to
In article <atigck$jm7$1...@panix2.panix.com>, James Nicoll wrote:
> The old comic _Mr X_ featured a city whose original design
> was to be the perfect city but this wasn't cost effective and changes
> were made without (as I recall) the permission or knowledge of the
> architect. The result was a beautiful city that slowly drove the
> inhabitants insane.

That makes me thing: how would you classify the dream-cities of Lord
Dunsany and Lovercraft? Lovecraft in particular used them to escape the
modern world, but they were still cities, and they were good.

Joe

William December Starr

unread,
Dec 16, 2002, 12:19:52 AM12/16/02
to
In article <at2mut$at9$1...@panix1.panix.com>,
jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) said:

> 1984
>
> 1: The Citadel of the Autarch (Gene Wolfe)
> 2: The Birth of the People's Republic of the Antarctic (John
> Batchelor)
> 3: Tik-Tok (John Sladek)
>
> I wonder if Wil Smith will be buying the rights to the Sladek?

I'd rather see him buy the rights to the Wolfe. "...Starring Will
Smith as Sevarian!"

-- William December Starr <wds...@panix.com>

John M. Gamble

unread,
Dec 16, 2002, 2:36:26 AM12/16/02
to
In article <tillman-4999AE...@news.fu-berlin.de>,

Not necessarily (unless he has specifically said so, of course). The only
work that i've read of his is Perdido Street Station, but still, up until
the Bad Accident (being cagey for the benefit of those who don't know
about the <spoiler>), his characters are happy to be there, because
outside the city seems to be worse.

Nancy Lebovitz

unread,
Dec 23, 2002, 4:36:10 AM12/23/02
to
In article <atjvpq$6e9$1...@e250.ripco.com>,

John M. Gamble <jga...@ripco.com> wrote:
>In article <tillman-4999AE...@news.fu-berlin.de>,
>Peter D. Tillman <til...@aztec.asu.edu> wrote:
>>In article <atfou9$8a5$1...@panix2.panix.com>,
>> jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) wrote:
>>
>>> In article <m0wK9.590$Ud2.22...@newssvr21.news.prodigy.com>,
>>> Mike Schilling <mscotts...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>>> >
>>> >"James Nicoll" <jdni...@panix.com> wrote in message
>>> >news:at2mut$at9$1...@panix1.panix.com...
>>> >>>
>>> >> 1985
>>> >>
>>> >> 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.
>>> >
>>> >The clause "not written by Isaac Asimov" belongs in there somewhere. it was
>>> >Asimov who dreamed up "the planet which was a single city" and didn't mean
>>> >it as a dystopia.
>>>
>>> Yeah, you're right. I wonder who else is in the select group of
>>> urbophiles?

Possibly Walter Jon Williams for _Metropolitan_ and _City on Fire_--
that planetary city is no utopia, but the lack of countryside isn't
the problem.

>>
>>Well, I think we can safely rule out China Mieville... ;-]
>
>Not necessarily (unless he has specifically said so, of course). The only
>work that i've read of his is Perdido Street Station, but still, up until
>the Bad Accident (being cagey for the benefit of those who don't know
>about the <spoiler>), his characters are happy to be there, because
>outside the city seems to be worse.

Besides, the city is dirty and yucky and corrupt, but it's also really
really cool.
--
Nancy Lebovitz na...@netaxs.com www.nancybuttons.com 100 new slogans

I want to move to theory. Everything works in theory.

Nancy Lebovitz

unread,
Dec 23, 2002, 4:38:27 AM12/23/02
to
In article <atigck$jm7$1...@panix2.panix.com>,

James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com> wrote:
>In article <3dfcb87...@news.thevine.net>, <r.r...@thevine.net> wrote:
>
> snip
>
>>There was a short story I read (and which, of course, I can't remember
>>the title or author of) about a scientist that built the "perfect'
>>city. He'd spent years studying people and how they reacted to
>>various stimuli, and designed the city to have the perfect blend of
>>industry/parks/residential/etc, with buildings designed to perfectly
>>reflect humans aesthetics and functionality, etc. The story involved
>>him extolling the virtues of his city to a potential citizen. The
>>punchline of the story was that no-one wanted to live there!
>
> The old comic _Mr X_ featured a city whose original design
>was to be the perfect city but this wasn't cost effective and changes
>were made without (as I recall) the permission or knowledge of the
>architect. The result was a beautiful city that slowly drove the
>inhabitants insane.
>
There was a computerized city in a Robert Sheckley story (_Dimension
of Miracles_?) which was so helpful that no one was willing to live
there.
Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages