April 9th, 2013


Elizabeth Bear, Andy Duncan join Sturgeon Award jury

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Elizabeth Bear and Andy Duncan have accepted appointment to the jury for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short SF of the year. They replace Frederik Pohl, who retired from the jury after having served for many years, almost since the Award's inception.

Elizabeth Bear
photo by Kyle Cassidy

Elizabeth Bear was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. She is the John W. Campbell New Writer, Hugo, Locus, and Spectrum Award-winning author of more than a dozen novels and nearly a hundred short stories, including her 2008 Sturgeon Award-winning story, "Tideline." Her work has been nominated numerous times for these and other awards. Bear's hobbies include rock climbing and cooking. Bear lives in Massachusetts, but may frequently be found in Wisconsin, the home of her partner, fantasist Scott Lynch.

Andy Duncan won the Sturgeon Award for his 2001 Asimov's novella "The Chief Designer." His first collection, Beluthahatchie and Other Stories, won a World Fantasy Award, as did his SciFi.com story, "The Pottawatomie Giant." Duncan has been nominated six times for the Nebula Award, twice for the Stoker, three times for the World Fantasy Award, twice for the Shirley Jackson Award, and twice for the Hugo Award. Duncan has been a juror for the Philip K. Dick, Shirley Jackson, and Bram Stoker awards, and has taught at Clarion, Clarion West, and the SF Writing Workshop at the University of Kansas. Recent books include The Pottawatomie Giant & Other Stories, his second short-fiction collection; Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic, an anthology co-edited with F. Brett Cox; The Night Cache, a stand-alone novella; and Alabama Curiosities, an offbeat travel guide. A tenure-track faculty member in the English department at Frostburg State University in Maryland, Duncan also teaches a weekly seminar on 21st-century science fiction and fantasy in the Honors College of the University of Alabama.

Andy Duncan
photo by Al Bogdan

The Sturgeon Award for the best short science fiction of the year is one of the major annual awards for science fiction. It was established in 1987 by James Gunn, Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at KU, and the heirs of Theodore Sturgeon, including his widow Jayne Sturgeon and Sturgeon's children, as an appropriate memorial to one of the great short-story writers in a field distinguished by its short fiction.

Sturgeon, born in 1918, was closely identified with the Golden Age of science fiction, 1939-1950, and is often mentioned as one of the four writers who helped establish that age. The others were Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and A. E. van Vogt; all four had their first SF stories published in 1939. In addition to fiction (his best-known novel is the classic, More than Human), Sturgeon also wrote book reviews, poetry, screenplays, radio plays, and television plays, including two classic teleplays for the original Star Trek. He was a popular lecturer and teacher, and was a regular visiting writer at the Intensive Institute on the Teaching of Science Fiction. Sturgeon died in 1985.

His books, manuscripts, and papers have been deposited at the University of Kansas, as he wished. See this page for news and information about the 2011 acquisition, valued at over $600,000.

For its first eight years (1987-1994), the Sturgeon Award was selected by a committee of short-fiction experts headed by Orson Scott Card. Beginning in 1995, the Sturgeon Award became a juried award, with winners selected by a committee composed of James Gunn, Frederik Pohl, and Judith Merril. After the 1996 Award, Judith Merril resigned and was replaced by Kij Johnson, the 1994 Sturgeon winner; in 2005, George Zebrowski joined the jury. Since 1999, one of Sturgeon's children has also participated in this process, usually Nöel Sturgeon.

The current jury consists of Elizabeth Bear, Andy Duncan, James Gunn, Kij Johnson, George Zebrowski, and Nöel Sturgeon, Trustee of the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Estate.

Eligible stories are those published in English during the previous calendar year. Nominations come from a wide variety of science-fiction reviewers and serious readers as well as from the editors who publish short fiction. Nominations are collected during the winter by Chris McKitterick, who produces a list of finalists based on nominators' rankings. The jury then reads all of the finalists and debates their merits during the spring until they arrive at a consensus decision in May. The winning author is usually contacted in May and invited to attend the Campbell Conference; the winner often attends the last day or two of the SF Writers Workshop, as well.

The Sturgeon Award is presented during the Campbell Conference Awards Banquet at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, as the focal point of a weekend of discussions about the writing, illustration, publishing, teaching, and criticism of science fiction.

Press release also available on the CSSF News page here.


Galaxy magazine cover

Frederik Pohl Steps Down from Sturgeon Award Jury

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Also available in .doc or .pdf version

Earlier this year, Frederik Pohl announced his intentions to step down from his long-time service to the Award.

New Sturgeon Award juror Andy Duncan talks about being honored with the Award by Pohl:

One of the highlights of my life was being handed my Sturgeon Award trophy by Frederik Pohl, at the 2002 ceremony, as he's been one of my heroes since I was a kid. His stories, novels, and nonfiction, and the magazines and anthologies he has edited, have not only shaped the field of science fiction for me and everyone else, but have shaped my conception of what it means to be a professional writer. On the Sturgeon jury, in particular, his firsthand knowledge of the science-fiction short story is simply irreplaceable; the jury will have a Fred-shaped hole in it forever.

Pohl presents the Sturgeon Award to Duncan.

Chris McKitterick recalls how Pohl changed his life:

I first came to the University of Kansas to take James Gunn's SF Writing Workshop in the summer of 1992, and was both astounded and incredibly pleased to discover that we had the opportunity to work with not only Gunn but another master of the art - completely to ourselves! - Frederik Pohl. I first read his work in the form of Gateway, which still holds a central place in my heart and deeply influenced how I write. That workshop truly changed my life. I felt that I must do my absolute best to become a real SF writer so I could retroactively deserve such access and professional attention. Fred returned to the Workshop and Campbell Conference just about every year for the following two decades, sharing his time, intelligence, and gentle wisdom with other summer-program attendees. Fred is one of the reasons I fell in love with the Center. No one can be Fred, but he inspires us to be our absolute best.

James Gunn shares an excerpt of his essay, "Fred and Me," from the Gateways collection:

Pohl at the 2002 Campbell Conference.

Fred told me once, "Conventions never end; they just adjourn to another venue." That’s the way it was for Fred and me. We met at a convention, the World Science Fiction Convention of 1952, held in the old Morrison Hotel in Chicago. It was my first convention, my first meeting with SF writers and editors, and even readers, of any kind, and it was a wonderful beginning.

I’d been writing science fiction since the spring of 1948 and having my stories published since the fall of 1949. During those two years I kept writing, among other things a novella, "Breaking Point," that I adapted from a three-act play I wrote as an Investigation and Conference project. I sent it to Horace Gold, editor of Galaxy, and one day I got a telephone call from this clipped New York voice saying he liked "Breaking Point," but it was too long and would I let Ted Sturgeon cut it down.

Horace also suggested my name to Fred Pohl, who was running a literary agency called Dirk Wylie and, I later discovered, was close to Horace, and Fred became my agent. He was a good agent, and he sold a lot of stories for me—some to Horace (though not "Breaking Point," which he sold to Lester del Rey at the new Space Science Fiction), some to John Campbell, some to lesser markets, and one wondrous sale to Argosy—and a couple of novels.

When Orson Scott Card got too busy to organize the Sturgeon Award decision process, I asked Fred if we could do it. Together we recruited Judy Merril and later, after her resignation the year before her death, we got Kij Johnson, a previous winner, as a replacement. I haven’t even mentioned Fred’s distinguished service as president of the Science Fiction Writers of America (or the irony of his having criticized its value in earlier days), or as president of World SF, or his many invitations to speak as a futurist, or his lecturing on science fiction in Europe for the US Information Agency (he paved the way for my three later trips), or his Grand Master Award from SFWA, or his awards from other groups such as the Science Fiction Research Association, or the trends his stories and novels have anticipated. You can look it up.

We’ve all grown old together, Fred and me and science fiction, too. Conventions are not what they used to be (neither is the future). I wasn’t there at the beginning of the conventions, as Fred was, or of the Futurians, who were banned from the first World Convention but got their revenge by taking over a good part of science fiction in their day. But we’ve seen a lot of it—Fred for more than seventy years, me for only sixty. Maybe the next convention will convene in an alternate universe.

We will truly miss Fred's contributions to the Center and the Award.