Saturday, July 8, 2006

Rob wins John W. Campbell Memorial Award

Robert J. Sawyer has just won the world's top juried award for science fiction: the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Novel of the Year.

The award, which Sawyer won for his latest novel, Mindscan, was presented Friday night, July 7, 2006, at a banquet at the J. Wayne and Elsie M. Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas.

With this award win -- his 38th for his fiction -- Robert J. Sawyer now joins the most-select club in all of science fiction: the seven writers who have won all three of the field's top awards for best novel of the year:

(The full list of winners of all three awards: David Brin, Arthur C. Clarke, Joe Haldeman, Frederik Pohl, Kim Stanley Robinson, Robert J. Sawyer, and Connie Willis; Sawyer is the only Canadian to win all three.)

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award was created to honor the late editor of Astounding Science Fiction magazine (renamed Analog Science Fiction and Fact in 1960). Campbell, who edited the magazine from 1937 until his death in 1971, is often called the father of modern science fiction. Writers Harry Harrison and Brian W. Aldiss established the award in 1973 as a way of continuing Campbell's efforts to encourage writers to produce their best possible work.

[As a reflection of Campbell's stature, there's also another award named for him: the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, which is voted on by readers and sponsored by the publisher of Campbell's magazine Analog; that award shouldn't be confused with the juried John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Novel of the Year.]

The 12 finalists for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award this year were:
  • Transcendent by Stephen Baxter (published by Gollancz)
  • The Meq by Steve Cash (Del Rey)
  • Child Of Earth by David Gerrold (BenBella)
  • Mind's Eye by Paul J. McAuley (Simon & Schuster UK)
  • Seeker by Jack McDevitt (Ace)
  • Learning The World by Ken MacLeod (Tor)
  • The Summer Isles by Ian R. MacLeod (Aio)
  • Counting Heads by David Marusek (Tor)
  • Mindscan by Robert J. Sawyer (Tor)
  • Accelerando by Charles Stross (Ace)
  • The World Before by Karen Traviss (Eos)
  • Spin by Robert Charles Wilson (Tor)

Baxter, McAuley, Traviss, and Ian MacLeod are British; Cash, Gerrold, McDevitt, and Marusek are American; Ken MacLeod and Stross are Scottish; and Wilson and Sawyer are Canadian. This was Sawyer's third Campbell nomination. He'd previously been nominated in 2001 for his Calculating God, and in 2003 for his Hominids.

Previous winners of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award include such SF classics as Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke, Gateway by Frederik Pohl, The Postman by David Brin, and The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter.

The stellar jury consisted of eight major writers, editors, and scholars from the United States and Britain:

  • Nebula-winning physicist Gregory Benford, author of the classic SF novel Timescape
  • Historian Paul A. Carter, author of The Creation of Tomorrow: Fifty Years of Magazine Science Fiction
  • Hugo-winning author and scholar James Gunn, past president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
  • Elizabeth Anne Hull, past president of the Science Fiction Research Association
  • Christopher McKitterick, associate director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction
  • Hugo-winning scholar Farah Mendlesohn, editor of Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction
  • Nebula-winning author and editor Pamela Sargent, editor of the Women of Wonder anthologies
  • T.A. Shippey, editor of The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories

Mindscan is Sawyer's sixteenth novel. It was published in hardcover by Tor Books, New York, in April 2005, and was a selection of the Science Fiction Book Club; the paperback came out in January 2006. Film rights have been optioned by Toronto producer Scott Calbeck.

The novel tells the story of Jacob Sullivan, a young man who copies his consciousness into an artificial body, since he believes his biological body is about to die due to a congenital illness. But shortly after this, a cure is found for his condition, and the biological version must battle the copy for the right to be considered the real Jake Sullivan.

Entertainment Weekly says Mindscan "lucidly explores fascinating philosophical conundrums," and Publishers Weekly declares: "This tightly plotted novel offers plenty of philosophical speculation on the ethics of bio-technology and the nature of consciousness."

SF Site calls Mindscan "a brilliant and innovative novel, with complex and highly entertaining courtroom drama. In Sawyer's capable grasp the story positively sings with humor, insight, and depth." And Starlog says Mindscan is written "with intelligence and far-reaching vision worthy of Isaac Asimov."

Sawyer's next novel, Rollback, will be published by Tor in April 2007, following full-text serialization beginning in the October 2006 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact — the magazine John W. Campbell himself edited for so many years.

Robert J. Sawyer's Website

Campbell Award Website

Previous Campbell Winners


At July 08, 2006 1:41 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

The Canadian Press wire service has picked up this story, which is already online at the VANCOUVER SUN. Read the story here.

At July 08, 2006 2:48 AM , Anonymous Morris Berengut said...

Congratulations to you, Robert for achieving this distinction. It is wonderful to know that Canada can offer so much in terms of excellent literature and great writers to the rest of the world.

Toronto, Canada

At July 08, 2006 3:03 AM , Blogger Robert Arrowsmith said...

Congratulations Rob!

I just got your email and wanted to jump on and tell you how much you deserve this.

It couldnt have gone to a more hard working and talented writer.

All the best.

From Australia...

At July 08, 2006 8:28 AM , Blogger J Erwine said...

I just finished reading this yesterday (yeah, I'm a bit behind on my reading), and I certainly agree that you deserved this award.


At July 08, 2006 8:38 AM , Blogger Lou_Sytsma said...

Congratulations! Great win for a great book!

At July 08, 2006 10:48 AM , Blogger Armchair Anarchist said...

Congratulations are in order, Mr. Sawyer.

Just to highlight one error in the press release info there (not your error, I might add, not to mention one made frequently): Charles Stross, although resident in Scotland, is not Scottish. I made the same error in a review of Accelerando; it's an easy one to make because so many (but by no means all) of the great British SF writers seem to hail from north of the border.

But I digress; to reiterate, congratulations! I'm ashamed to admit that I've not read any of your novels yet (I'm not a financially well off person, and library where I work doesn't buy a very diverse selection of SF, despite my efforts to nudge them in the right directions), but you are in the list of 'persons to read ASAP', and this award has nudged you further up. Maybe I'll get to review some of your work sometime soon! Anyway, congratulations again, and keep up the good work.

At July 08, 2006 11:52 AM , Anonymous Deanna said...

Saw the story on the CBC website.

I just dropped by to say congratulations! :D

At July 08, 2006 5:11 PM , Blogger Steve said...

Congrats... I'm going out tonight to purchase a copy!

At July 08, 2006 5:35 PM , Anonymous Karen Jackson said...

Read this last summer (no, I really wasn't sucking up to you in class!) and loved it. A well deserved congratulations!

At July 08, 2006 5:45 PM , Blogger Horia Nicola Ursu said...

Congratulations! I can't wait to read it!

At July 09, 2006 8:46 AM , Anonymous Dwight Williams said...

Congratulations, Rob!


At July 10, 2006 11:47 AM , Blogger John said...

Congratulations! I read the novel last summer and loved it. I can't wait for your next book.

At July 12, 2006 9:47 AM , Anonymous Jane Garthson said...

Congratulations! You belong in that august company, and it is wonderful to have a Canadian on that list.

I have not yet read Mindscan but I promise to.


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