Each year, the Center for the Study of Science Fiction (that's the organization housed here at KU and affiliated with the English Department and Spencer Research Library) puts on a month-long educational program that begins with a two-week intensive SF writer's workshop and concludes with the Intensive English Institute on the Teaching of Science Fiction. Between these two programs is the Campbell Conference, which includes scholarly presentations and discussions as well as the Awards Banquet.
This was perhaps the most successful Conference we've ever held, certainly the most well-attended (more than 100 paying attendees), and the most stellar.
To give you an idea of the scale of this year's event, special guests included 12 of the most important writers and editors in modern fiction -- including two Grand Masters of science fiction and three SF Hall of Fame members -- with dozens of awards between them. They included (I'll not list all their awards, only those presented here):
Brian Aldiss, Campbell Award winner of 1983, one of this year's Hall of Fame inductees
Gregory Benford, Campbell Award winner of 1981
Harry Harrison, this year's Hall of Fame inductee
Jack McDevitt, this year's Campbell Award winner
Frederik Pohl, the only two-time Campbell Award winner (1978 and 1985)
Joan Slonczewski, Campbell Award winner of 1987
George Zebrowski, Campbell Award winner of 1999
Also present were authors Greg Bear and Pamela Sargent (both winners of other international awards, as are most of those listed above); Phil Baringer (professor in the Physics and Astronomy department who participated in the formal discussions); Kij Johnson (winner of the 1994 Sturgeon Award); former NASA program director Donna Shirley; a number of scholars and local authors; seven of the jurors of the awards presented here; many of the Hall of Fame committee; and of course our own James Gunn, founder of the Center.
We were able to attract this group because so many are winners of awards presented by the Center, and this year attending former and current winners were all given physical trophies to take home. Formerly, the winners' names were engraved on the permanent trophies housed here and winners went home with a certificate. However, starting this year, current and former winners of the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short SF of the year and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best SF novel of the year will all receive a permanent trophy to take home.
Here are this year's John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best SF novel of the year winners:
1st Omega, Jack McDevitt
2nd Natural History, Justina Robson
3rd The X President, Philip Baruth
Harry Harrison and Brian Aldiss -- the founding fathers of the Campbell Award -- were both present for this year's presentations and delivered an entertaining talk about its creation and early history.
Here are the winners of this year's Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short SF of the year:
1st "The Empress of Mars," Kage Baker
2nd "Bernardo’s House," James Patrick Kelly
3rd "It's All True," John Kessel
Here are the finalists for this year's Campbell and Sturgeon awards:
The Campbell Conference is described in detail here:
Without the help of Lydia Ash and Ruth Lichtwardt, we could not have put on such a successful conference. Both of them helped in so many ways, including Lydia offering her home for the off-campus parties and Ruth putting together the most successful signing ever held at the Bookstore. Both of them did a million other things -- thank you two so much!
Thanks to KU employees Eric Grospitch and Whitney Fox, and Lily Coultis who helped ensure we had food and rooms and everything else a conference needs to exist. We got a lot of compliments about this year's excellent dinner. I recommend these folks if you are planning a campus event!
Thanks to Professor Phil Baringer who dared respond to an award-winning paper presenter and offered insights unique to his expertise.
Thanks also to Kij Johnson (author and Associate Director of the Center), who worked continuously with me for months to make sure everything ran smoothly. And of course thanks to Jim Gunn, without whom none of this would have happened.
Finally, thanks to those who attended the conference. Without you, we wouldn't have a reason to get together! If I'm forgetting others, please forgive me -- it's been a whirlwind.
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame induction ceremony was also part of this year's Campbell Conference, but starting next year the inductions will take place at the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle. The Campbell and Sturgeon awards will continue to be given by the CSSF during the Campbell Conference here at the University of Kansas next year.
We hope to put together a DVD of highlights from this year's conference -- the theme of which was “Science Fiction: The Past, the Present, and the Future” -- as well as a collection of the papers presented in the panels. Check with me if you are interested in either of these, though we won't have information about that until the Fall.
Believe it or not, we hope to expand upon this year's success with an even bigger conference next year. I'll let you know more about that as we find funding.
Thanks for your time!