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For Your Campbell Consideration: Best New Writer

February 19, 2009

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The John W. Campbell Award for best new writer (never to be confused with the John W. Campbell Memorial Award) is not a Hugo, but it’s given out during the Hugo ceremonies at worldcon every year, and decided by precisely the same mechanisms as the Hugos, so it’s certainly the next best thing.

I’ve always taken a special interest in this award. It was the first award that I was ever nominated for, way back in 1973, the first year it was given (I lost to Jerry Pournelle and Geo. Alec Effinger). I know how much the nomination meant to me then, and I suspect it means just as much to the young writers who are nominated for it now, three decades later. (And never mind about that asinine tiara).

My editing career grew out of the Campbell Award as well. The first book I ever edited was NEW VOICES IN SCIENCE FICTION, a collection of original stories by the finalists for that first Campbell Award. I went on to edit six volumes of NEW VOICES, and I’d probably be editing it still if it had sold a little better.

These days I edit the WILD CARDS series, and one of the joys of that job is the opportunity it allows me to work with talented new writers like Carrie Vaughn, Daniel Abraham, and the guy I’m nominating this year for the Campbell Award…


I had the honor of publishing Ian’s first story in INSIDE STRAIGHT, the wonderful Rustbelt tale called “The Tin Man’s Lament.” In BUSTED FLUSH, he returned in collaboration with Walton (Bud) Simons to give us “Political Science,” which many critics are calling one of the highlights of the book. And wait until you read the Rustbelt sections he wrote for SUICIDE KINGS, which I’ve just turned in to Tor.

And Ian’s talents are by no means limited to Wild Cards. He’s also sold Tor a wonderful new alternate world fantasy series called The Milkweed Triptych, the first volume of which is scheduled to be published in 2010. I’ve seen parts of it at our local writer’s group, and can’t wait to see more.

In real life, Ian’s a rocket scientist at Los Alamos. I could tell you some of the scary shit he’s working on, but then we’d have to kill you. But the scariest thing of all is how talented he is. I’m delighted to have him working for Wild Cards. This is a major talent, and I hope you’ll keep him in mind when filling out your Campbell Award nominations.

(If only so we can all laugh at him in that asinine tiara).

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