CSSF News Archive: 2011-2014
Hugo Award-Winning Author Harry Turtledove
"What if? What Alternate History Fiction Tells Us About Our Past, Present, and Future"
Hugo Award-winning writer Harry Turtledove - broadly christened as the "Master of Alternate History" - presents about his work and the alternate-history genre at McPherson College on January 16.
The special McPherson College Lecture is entitled "What if? What Alternate History Fiction Tells Us About Our Past, Present, and Future." The public is invited and encouraged to attend this free lecture.
For more information, call the Union Programs office at (785) 864-7469.
KANSAS CITY, MO - January 6, 2014
Click here for full press release
Planet Comicon is pleased to announce a massive Star Trek: The Next Generation event. Kansas City welcomes Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Brent Spiner, and Wil Wheaton for the weekend, plus William Shatner will be available on a limited schedule for photos and autographs on Sunday only.
The con will also host many other comic and media personalities for the weekend. Advance tickets to Planet Comicon 2014 are available online now.
Michael Dirda presents this Fall's Richard W. Gunn Memorial Lecture:
"A Literary Life:
Jayhawk Ink bookstore will have copies of several of Dirda's books available to purchase in the room (as well as in the bookstore on Level2) and have signed by the author after his talk.
Click the image to download
the full-size .pdf poster.
In 1978 Michael Dirda joined the staff of The Washington Post as an assistant editor in its book review section. In those days, The Post still used typewriters, six-ply paper and linotype machines, and was riding high in the wake of Watergate. In this Fall's Gunn Lecture, Dirda - a Fulbright Scholar and Pulitzer-Prize-winning critic - speaks about literary journalism then and now, life at a great newspaper, some of the writers he has come to know, and the ongoing evolution of books and publishing.
Dirda, a weekly columnist for The Washington Post, is the author of the memoir An Open Book and of four collections of essays: Readings, Bound to Please, Book by Book and Classics for Pleasure. His latest book, On Conan Doyle, received the 2012 Edgar Allan Poe Award for nonfiction from the Mystery Writers of America. A Fulbright Fellowship recipient, Dirda graduated with Highest Honors in English from Oberlin College, and earned a PhD in comparative literature (medieval studies and European romanticism) from Cornell University. In 1993 he won the Pulitzer Prize for his literary criticism.
Dirda's review column for The Washington Post was one of the very first that seriously covered science fiction and other genres not typically treated with the same respect as mainstream literature. Check out his Science Fiction Reading List as documented by a fan.
The Lecture Series
The Gunn Lecture, endowed by Dr. Richard W. Gunn, James Gunn's brother, has featured several science-fiction scholars. Although it has also sponsored speakers on Shakespeare and Ralph Ellison, it often brings distinguished science-fiction scholars to the campus beginning with scholar Fredric Jameson, William A. Lane Professor at Duke University; and continuing with Bill Brown, Edgar Carson Waller Professor at the University of Chicago; China Miéville, British author of what has become known as the New Weird; Nöel Sturgeon, Theodore Sturgeon's daughter, Trustee of his literary estate (which recently made a major donation of his papers to KU), Dean of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto, and juror on the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award; and most recently science-fiction author, activist, journalist, and technology activist Cory Doctorow. The Center also recently co-sponsored a visit from Michael Chabon, prize-winning author and editor.
In the spirit of "Zombie Week," the University of Kansas SUA is bringing Max Brooks, the author of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is giving a talk at KU. World War Z is a post-apocalyptic novel about humankind's struggle with a zombie virus. The novel was made into a movie starring Brad Pitt, released this summer.
The event is free for students and the general public thanks to the Lawrence Public Library.
For more information call the Union Programs office at (785) 864-7469.
LAWRENCE, KS - September 19, 2013
James Gunn will read from and sign his new novel Transcendental on Wednesday, Oct. 9, in the Jayhawk Ink
Come get a copy of his wonderful new novel that Frederik Pohl called, "his best yet, and in it he demonstrates his possession of one of the most finely developed skills at world-building (and at aliens-creating to populate those worlds) in science fiction today. Read it!"
LAWRENCE, KS - September 29, 2013
"Dive in to the history, the art, the teaching and the lessons of the future!"
"Authors On The Air is proud to present the Science Fiction Spotlight, with Mack Meijers, welcoming to the studio the author, editor, anthologist, scholar and grand master of science fiction - James Gunn. Born in the interbellum, James Gunn is a man more than an author of science fiction. A navy veteran, he has a rich career in writing, and teaching, in science - and science fiction. Winner of the Hugo Award, 24th Grand Master of the SFWA, and Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction."
"Tune in, listen in, call or Skype in for great conversation, an in-depth interview, sneak peeks - a good dose of the how-to and the history of the future and much, much more! The Science Fiction Spotlight - featuring straight-up and in-depth sessions of interviews and conversations, with the masters of the genre, upcoming talents - published and self-published - and industry professionals."
LAWRENCE, KS - September 2, 2013
Frederik Pohl authored nearly 50 novels, dozens of short stories, and several nonfiction books, and has edited a number of anthologies and magazines, perhaps most notably Galaxy. Pohl won the Hugo and Nebula Awards multiple times, as well as the Campbell Award (and until recently, he was the only two-time Campbell winner, 1978 and 1985). Here's a short biography on his website.
At the 2013 Campbell Conference, the Center presented a special Sturgeon Award to Fred for his long and distinguished service to the Award and the Center.
Starting in 1995, when the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award became a juried award, Pohl served first with James Gunn and Judith Merril, and since then with several other distinguished jurors until retiring in 2013. Pohl was associated with Gunn since the 1940s, eventually becoming involved with what later became the Center for the Study of Science Fiction. Here he presented many talks, recorded a discussion about "The Ideas in Science Fiction" in 1973 Literature of Science Fiction lecture series, served the Intensive Institute on Science Fiction and Science Fiction Writing Workshop, and lent his understanding to the Center in countless other ways. We cannot begin to express how much we will miss his help, insight, and friendship.
Right up until his death, Pohl continued expanding the time-scope of The Way the Future Was: A Memoir, published serially along with other thoughts a blog at The Way the Future Blogs, which earned him a Hugo Award - for fan writing! The book and his recent additions are a moving, insightful, and revelatory look at the cultural history of SF.
Sturgeon Award juror Andy Duncan talks about being honored with the Award by Pohl:
CSSF Associate Director Kij Johnson discusses her relationship with Fred:
I met Fred Pohl in the summer of 1994, when I received the Sturgeon Award at the Campbell Conference. My vividest memory of the event was him shaking my hand and telling me I had written a fine story. I still feel proud and warm every time I remember this. A couple of years later, I became part of the Sturgeon jury with him, and I relished his part in discussion of the finalists and his company at each year's Campbell Conference. He was a brilliant writer, a great editor, a good agent, an intelligent critic, a charming speaker, a humorous conversationalist - and a great fan. I will miss him, as so many will.
CSSF Director Chris McKitterick recalls how Pohl changed his life:
I'll miss Fred a great deal. 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.
Fred hugely influenced my writing development - not just by example through his brilliant writing, but also through his insightful and inciseful critiques of my stories. In just a few words, Fred could pin down what was wrong with a story and suggest just what it needed to work. One of the most-memorable comments I ever received was Fred's, "If I were still editing Galaxy, I'd buy it." That was all he said about the story, and with that benediction, he made me feel like a real writer. One of my novellas owes its title to Fred; I can't recall what awful moniker it first bore, but when Fred Pohl said, "Your title isn't very memorable; I'd call it 'The Recursive Man,'" I knew immediately he was right and that I was in the midst of a genius wordsmith.
That workshop 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.
CSSF Founding Director James Gunn remembers Fred:
Since I learned of Fred's death I've remembered that he was associated with almost everything good in science fiction that happened to me. I first met Fred 61 years ago, and he sold my stories, bought my stories, edited my books, shared precious moments at meetings here and abroad, answered my calls to help my fledgling science-fiction programs, and was always there for encouragement and advice. Having his words on the cover of my current novel and in the commemorative program of LoneStarCon 3 is like a final blessing that I will always cherish.
Pohl at the 2002 Campbell Conference.
Check out this recording of Fred reading his brilliant story, "Day Million" - Part I:
And Part II:
Want to hear more from Fred? On November 10, 2012, Fred made a rare, live appearance at Windycon 39 in Lombard, Illinois, talking about his 75-year writing career. Leigh Hanlon of ChicagoScope recorded this piece which also features Pohl's wife, Elizabeth Anne Hull, and author and journalist Leah A. Zeldes, who interviews Pohl:
He was a truly great man, and kind, and thoughtful, and patient, and good. He never stopped pursuing his passions, which among many things included continuing to educate himself, writing, and even traveling well into his 90s. His endless promotion of science was inspiring, and his gentle criticism of the foolish ways of humans made me a better person. I'll miss him a great deal. We all will. The loss of Frederik Pohl makes the world a little less bright.
Our hearts go out to Betty, who was wonderful for him, and good to him, and helped keep Fred lively and active even when life became challenging.
LAWRENCE, KS - July 19, 2013
The University of Kansas Natural History Museum hosts a science discussion and lecture series of informal "science café" events called "Science on Tap" presented at a local brewery. For this summer's event, Chris McKitterick leads a conversation on "Science Fiction: Mythologies for a Changing Age" from 7:30pm - 9:00pm on Tuesday, July 23, at Free State Brewing Company, 636 Massachusetts St., in Lawrence, KS.
Description: Speculative fiction has served as the mythology of our time from the very first stories humans told one another to today's most relevant literature. These stories provide concrete, emotionally and intellectually satisfying paths toward making sense of living in a world of ever-increasing change. For this Science on Tap, Chris McKitterick, Director of the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction, leads a discussion about the ways that science fiction provides our myths and teaches us how to survive and remain sane in an age of change.
LAWRENCE, KS - July 12, 2013
James Gunn will be Author Guest of Honor at the 2013 WorldCon in San Antonio, Texas, called LoneStarCon3. Former students and friends are invited to attend a special reception honoring Gunn during the convention; if you'll be at LoneStarCon and you're a "Young Gunn" or a friend of Jim interested in attending, please contact Chris McKitterick (firstname.lastname@example.org) ASP to be placed on the invite-only attendee list.
Today is also Gunn's 90th birthday - happy birthday, Jim!
Gunn's upcoming (August 2013) novel Transcendental just got a starred review from Kirkus Reviews that calls it "Gunns best in years - quite possibly his best ever." What a nice birthday present, wouldn't you say? Beyond being honored at this year's WorldCon, he just had a collection of essays published, was Guest of Honor at the 2013 SFRA/Eaton Conference, and will see at least two more books published before his next birthday. If only the rest of us could be so awesome at any age.
The winners of this year's John W. Campbell Memorial Award for the best science fiction novel, Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short science fiction, and Lifeboat to the Stars Award have been revealed, announced Christopher McKitterick, Director of the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction. The awards were presented during the Campbell Conference Awards banquet on Friday, June 14, as part of the Campbell Conference held annually at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
The first-ever Lifeboat to the Stars Award went to Tau Ceti, a unique combination of novella by Kevin J. Anderson and sequel novelette by Steven Savile; Anderson was on hand to accept the award. The Lifeboat Foundation established this new award to recognize the best work of science fiction published in 2011 or 2012 that contributes to an understanding of the benefits, means, or difficulties of interstellar travel, in the hope that it will assist with the Foundation's goal to improve humankind's long-term survival. Eric Klien, President and administrator of the Foundation, said, "science fiction has the ability to explore the unknown and its human implications. We want to encourage writers to contribute their imaginations to these vital purposes."
Molly Gloss won the Sturgeon Award for her short story "The Grinnell Method," from the September, 2012, issue of Strange Horizons. Though she was unable to attend, Gloss provided a video of her acceptance speech. Linda Nagata won second place for "Nahiku West," published in the October issue of Analog. Robert Reed took third place with Eater-of-Bone, a stand-alone novella by PS Publishing. The jurors note that the voting for this year's prize was especially close, and that all of the top three stories deserve recognition. The Sturgeon Award 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 partner Jayne Engelhart Tannehill and Sturgeon's children, as an appropriate memorial to one of the great short-story writers in a field distinguished by its short fiction.
Adam Roberts won the Campbell Award for Jack Glass: The Story of a Murderer; due to other obligations, Roberts was unable to attend, but sent his video acceptance. Terry Bisson's Any Day Now, published by Overlook, won second place. Third place was a tie between M. John Harrison's Empty Space, published by Gollancz and Night Shade Books; and G. Willow Wilson's debut novel, Alif the Unseen, published by Grove Press. As with this year's Sturgeon Award, the Campbell Award voting was extremely close, which is why the jury wished to recognize four books this year instead of the usual three. Writers and critics Harry Harrison and Brian W. Aldiss established the Campbell Award to honor the late editor of Astounding Science Fiction magazine (which later became Analog) as a way of continuing his efforts to encourage writers to produce their best possible work. Campbell, who edited the magazine from 1937 until his death in 1971, is called by many writers and scholars the father of modern science fiction.
Depending on your reading tastes, your favorite book or short story for 2012 might turn out to be any of the finalists, so the jurors recommend that you read all the works on both the Sturgeon short-list and the Campbell short-list.
Additionally, James Gunn presented a special Sturgeon Award to Frederik Pohl for his long and distinguished service to the Award and the Center. Starting in 1995, when the Sturgeon Award became a juried award, Pohl served first with James Gunn and Judith Merril, and since then with several other highly respected jurors. Pohl also presented many talks, recorded a fantastic discussion about "Ideas in Science Fiction" for the Literature of Science Fiction Lecture Series, served the Intensive Institute on Science Fiction and Science Fiction Writing Workshop, and lent his understanding to the Center in countless other ways. We very much appreciate his insight and friendship, and will miss him.
Using the theme "To the Stars" ("Ad Astra Per Aspera" is the Kansas state motto), this year's Saturday morning round-table discussion explored SF's long relationship with off-planet travel, its promises, and the future of the human race as a galactic species. We also discussed the important steps along the path to the stars, and of course science fiction and its role in these themes. On Saturday afternoon, Kevin J. Anderson, Andy Duncan, and James Gunn read from new works, and the second issue of James Gunn's Ad Astra journal was released. Attending special guests included authors Andy Duncan, James Gunn, and Kij Johnson; editor Eric T. Reynolds; film-maker Kevin Willmott and cinematographer Matthew Jacobson, who hosted a special screening of their upcoming film, Destination: Planet Negro!; plus many others.
Congratulations to all the honorees! Many thanks to all who attended, and thanks to the winners for providing us all with such fine reading - Ad Astra!
LAWRENCE, KS - June 10, 2013
Best-selling SF author Kevin J. Anderson kicks off the Conference on Friday afternoon with a talk about dreaming big and making unrealistic expectations pay off.
From 9:00am - 4:45pm, the Spencer Research Library will display a selection of rare SF materials from the special SF collections in the Johnson room. Stop by any time, and ask for Elspeth Healey if you would like a tour. This, of course, is open to the public whether or not you've registered for the Conference.
On Friday evening, the Awards Ceremony and Banquet honors the winners of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and "Lifeboat to the Stars" Award, followed by a reception in the Oread Hotel.
Saturday morning's round-table discussion theme is "To the Stars," where we will explore SF's long relationship with off-planet travel, its promises, and the future of the human race as a galactic species. We will also discuss the important steps along the path to the stars.
During lunch break on Saturday, get your books signed by this year's guest authors and editors at a mass autographing session. The bookstore has volumes for everyone on hand.
Saturday evening sees a special screening of the new Kevin Willmott film, Destination: Planet Negro!, followed by a Q&A with the director and cinematographer Matthew Jacobson. Afterward is another reception in the Oread Hotel.
Sunday morning is an informal "meet the authors and editors" session, followed by an informal reception off-campus sponsored by Kansas City in 2016, a bid for the 74th Worldcon.
The Hydrogen Sonata, by Iain M. Banks
Any Day Now, by Terry Bisson
Existence, by David Brin
The Rapture of the Nerds, by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross
Empty Space, by M. John Harrison
Intrusion, by Ken MacLeod
Railsea, by China Miéville
The Fractal Prince, by Hannu Rajaniemi
Blue Remembered Earth, by Alastair Reynolds
Jack Glass: The Story of a Murderer, by Adam Roberts
2312, by Kim Stanley Robinson
Slow Apocalypse, by John Varley
Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson
The Campbell Award is one of the major annual awards for science fiction. The first Campbell Award was presented at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1973. Since then the Award has been presented in various parts of the world: at California State University at Fullerton; at St. John's College, Oxford; at the World SF Writers Conference in Dublin; in Stockholm; at the World SF meeting in Dublin again; the University of Kansas; and in a joint event with the SFRA Convention in Kansas City in 2007.
Since 1979, the Campbell Award has been presented during the Campbell Conference 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.
The Award was created to honor the late editor of Astounding Science Fiction magazine, now named Analog. Campbell, who edited the magazine from 1937 until his death in 1971, is called by many writers and scholars the father of modern science fiction. Writers and critics Harry Harrison and Brian W. Aldiss established the award in Campbell's name as a way of continuing his efforts to encourage writers to produce their best possible work.
The Campbell Award differs from most other major awards in the field by being restricted to the novel and by its method of selection. The Hugo Awards are voted on by some thousand of the several thousand members who attend the World Science Fiction Convention, which meets annually at different locations on Labor Day weekend. The Nebula Awards are voted on by some hundred of the nearly three thousand members of the Science Fiction Writers of America and presented at the annual Nebula Award meeting usually held late in the Spring.
The Campbell Award is selected by a committee small enough to discuss among its members all of the nominated novels. The current jury consists of Gregory Benford, Paul Di Filippo, Sheila Finch, James Gunn, Elizabeth Anne Hull, Paul Kincaid, Christopher McKitterick, Pamela Sargent, and T.A. Shippey.
The Award will be presented Friday, June 14, at the Campbell Conference, held at the Oread Hotel in Lawrence, Kansas, June 14-16, 2014.
"Things Greater Than Love," Kate Bachus, Strange Horizons (19 March 2012).
"Immersion," Aliette de Bodard, Clarkesworld (June 2012).
"Scattered Along the River of Heaven," Aliette de Bodard, Clarkesworld (January 2012).
"Close Encounters," Andy Duncan, The Pottawottamie Giant (PS Publishing). NOTE: Duncan, a juror, removed the story from consideration.
"The Grinnell Method," Molly Gloss, Strange Horizons (3 September & 10 September 2012).
"The Weight of History, The Lightness of the Future," Jay Lake, Subterranean Press Magazine (Spring 2012).
"The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species," Ken Liu, Lightspeed (August 2012).
"Mono No Aware," Ken Liu, The Future Is Japanese (Haikasoru).
"Nahiku West," Linda Nagata, Analog (October 2012).
Eater-of-Bone, Robert Reed, (PS Publishing).
"The Peak of Eternal Light," Bruce Sterling, Edge of Infinity (Solaris).
"(To See the Other) Whole Against the Sky," E. Catherine Tobler, Clarkesworld (November 2012).
After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, by Nancy Kress (Tachyon Press).
The Sturgeon Award was established in 1987 by James Gunn, Founding Director of the Center, and the heirs of Theodore Sturgeon, including his partner Jayne Engelhart Tannehill and Sturgeon's children, as an appropriate memorial to one of the great short-story writers in a field distinguished by its short fiction. The current jury consists of Elizabeth Bear, Andy Duncan, James Gunn, Kij Johnson, George Zebrowski, and Noël Sturgeon, Trustee of the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Estate.
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 are deposited at the University of Kansas.
LAWRENCE, KS - April 9, 2013
Science Fiction Grand Master
James Gunn - who founded the
Center for the Study of SF at KU and taught the workshop from 1985 to 2010 -
joins this summer's Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop for Week One of the
Andy Duncan has once again agreed to serve as guest author for Week Two of
Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop. Welcome
back, Jim and Andy! Author and CSSF Director
who served as guest author from 1996 to 2010, has led the Workshop since 2011.
For 2013, the Workshop meets from June 2 - 14, followed by the Campbell Awards and Conference, which runs from June 13 - 16, which in turn is followed by the two-week Intensive Science Fiction Institute. Gunn joins us for the first week of the Workshop, for lunches throughout, and for the Conference; Andy joins us for the second week plus the Conference; and our Campbell Award- and Sturgeon Award-winning authors are usually on hand for the last day or two of the Workshop to share their expertise.
The Workshop is a fantastic experience, intended especially for writers who have just begun to publish or who need that final bit of insight or skill to become a published author. We work with all brands of speculative fiction, including horror, fantasy, magical realism, slipstream, speculative philosophy, all genres of science fiction, and so on, and it's a wonderful way to bond with fellow writers in a friendly and dedicated atmosphere. Plus we go out to dinner every night at a different restaurant in downtown Lawrence, watch lots of (both admirable and awful) SF film, and write our brains out.
Starting in 2011, the Workshop is also available for KU graduate credit as ENGL 757. If you're a grad student who needs summer credit to accelerate that graduation date, perfect! Most attendees, however, simply enroll as a professional workshop rather than for credit. Attendees come to KU from all around the world, so you'll get the chance to work with new people.
Interested? This is quite the opportunity to gain insights from some of the most-respected authors in the field. We are open for applications right now through May 20, but sooner is better as we usually fill early. See the website for details.
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 (see the next News item for more about Pohl's retirement).
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
We will truly miss Fred's contributions to the Center and the Award.
LAWRENCE, KS - April 2, 2013
Please give a warm welcome to the Center for the Study of Science Fiction's
AboutSF Coordinators, Meagan Kane and
Mackenzie VanBeest. They are currently
getting up to speed, consulting with prior AboutSF Coordinators, setting up
their workspace, and are in the midst of planning for future SF-education
outreach. Here is the official
When in Lawrence, KS, you can find Meagan and Mackenzie throughout the week
in the CSSF offices and Lending Library located in 3040 Wescoe (their schedule
is posted outside the room). If you prefer Facebook interaction, we have both a
page and a group here. AboutSF is also on Facebook; you can find the
Facebook Group here:
Speaking of our library, we'll host a grand re-opening later this spring, after we complete alphabetizing our massively improved holdings of books, magazines, digital media, and ephemera.
Meanwhile, welcome to Meagan and Mackenzie!
AboutSF is the Center's educational-outreach program. We help teachers, librarians, researchers, and readers learn more about speculative literature and how to use it in teaching. AboutSF is a joint project of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at KU, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and the Science Fiction Research Association, with generous support from Tor Books, The Heinlein Prize Trust, and several individual donors.
The KU School of Journalism streamed the talk, and it will soon be available via YouTube.
Lawrence, KS - February 4, 2013
"The Coming War on General Purpose Computing:
Jayhawk Ink bookstore will have copies of several of Doctorow's books available to purchase in Alderson Auditorium (as well as the bookstore on Level 2) and get signed by the author after the talk.
This is Doctorow's third visit to KU: first in 1999 when his story "Craphound" (his first published story) was a finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and next in 2009 when his novel Little Brother won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.
Don't miss hearing one of contemporary science fiction's brightest minds talk about some of our most-relevant issues! Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction and the KU Department of English.
Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist, and technology activist. He is the co-editor of the popular weblog Boing Boing, and a contributor to The Guardian, the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Wired, and many other newspapers, magazines, and websites. He was formerly Director of European Affairs for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit civil-liberties group that defends freedom in technology law, policy, standards, and treaties. He holds an honorary doctorate in computer science from the Open University (UK), where he is a Visiting Senior Lecturer; in 2007, he served as the Fulbright Chair at the Annenberg Center for Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California.
Doctorow's novels have been translated into dozens of languages and are published by Tor Books and simultaneously released on the Internet under Creative Commons licenses that encourage their re-use and sharing, a move that increases his sales by enlisting his readers to help promote his work. His work has won the Locus, Sunburst, Ontario Library White Pine, Prometheus, Indienet, and John W. Campbell Memorial awards, and been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon Memorial (for "Craphound"), and British Science Fiction Awards. His latest young-adult novel is Pirate Cinema, a story of mashup guerillas who declare war on the entertainment industry. His latest novel for adults is Rapture of the Nerds, written with Charles Stross and published in 2012. His New York Times Bestseller Little Brother was published in 2008. A sequel, Homeland, was just published. His latest short story collection is With a Little Help, available in paperback, ebook, audiobook and limited edition hardcover. In 2011, Tachyon Books published a collection of his essays, called Context: Further Selected Essays on Productivity, Creativity, Parenting, and Politics in the 21st Century (with an introduction by Tim O'Reilly) and IDW published a collection of graphic stories inspired by his short fiction called Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now. The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow, a PM Press Outspoken Authors chapbook, was also published in 2011.
He co-founded the open-source peer-to-peer software company OpenCola, sold to OpenText, Inc in 2003, and presently serves on the boards and advisory boards of the Participatory Culture Foundation, the Clarion Foundation, The Glenn Gould Foundation, and the Chabot Space & Science Center's SpaceTime project.
In 2007, Entertainment Weekly called him, "The William Gibson of his generation." He was also named one of Forbes Magazine's 2007/8/9/10 Web Celebrities, and one of the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders for 2007.
Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in London.
The Lecture Series:
The Gunn Lecture, endowed by Dr. Richard W. Gunn, James Gunn's brother, has featured several science-fiction scholars. Although it has also sponsored speakers on Shakespeare and Ralph Ellison, it often brings distinguished science-fiction scholars to the campus beginning with scholar Fredric Jameson, William A. Lane Professor at Duke University; and continuing with Bill Brown, Edgar Carson Waller Professor at the University of Chicago; China Miéville, British author of what has become known as the New Weird; and Nöel Sturgeon, Theodore Sturgeon's daughter, Trustee of his literary estate (which recently made a major donation of his papers to KU), Dean of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto, and juror on the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. The Center also recently co-sponsored a visit from Michael Chabon, prize-winning author and editor.
.doc version of full news release here.
Poster 1 uses the cover of Doctorow's novel, For the Win:
Poster 2 uses the cover of Doctorow's novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom:
Feel free to use these images and posters on your websites, share them around, remix them to help promote the talk, and so forth!
If you are unfamiliar with Doctorow's work and would like to get acquainted with it, here's a short reader (from the CSSF "Science, Technology, & Society" course) - all available free online:
Short story, "I, Robot."
Short-short story, "Printcrime."
Chapter 4 from the Campbell Award-winning novel, Little Brother.
Want to read more Doctorow stories? Novels? See the recommended reading, below.
Essay, "I Can't Let You Do That, Dave: What it means to design our computers and devices to disobey us."
Essay, "Disorganised but effective: The most profound social revolutions in human history have arisen whenever a technology comes along that lowers transaction costs for everyone."
Essay, "Internet copyright law has to have public support if it's going to work."
Essay, "A Vocabulary for Speaking about the Future."
Want to read more Doctorow articles and essays? Here's some more recommended reading to become familiar with his work:
Lawrence, KS - January 22, 2013
We will accept applications until February 4, 2013, unless filled sooner - or later if we don't get appropriate applicants.
Oxford, England - January 18, 2013
CSSF Associate Director and KU Fiction-Writing Professor Kij Johnson gave the inaugural Pembroke Lecture on Fantasy Literature at Oxford. The official website contains lots of photos, information, and a podcast of the talk. Here's the original press release.
Pembroke College invited award-winning author Kij Johnson to deliver the inaugural Pembroke Lecture on Fantasy Literature in Honor of JRR Tolkien. This is the first annual lecture in the series designed to explore the history and current state of fantasy literature. Johnson also offered a fiction masterclass at Pembroke on January 19th.
The series is intended to memorialize Tolkien, who was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke for twenty years; he wrote The Hobbit and much of The Lord of the Rings during his time at the college. The lectures are sponsored through a grant from the Pembroke Annual Fund.
In the photo below, organizers of the lecture found a photograph of Tolkien standing outside Pembroke, and then combined it with a photo of Johnson standing near the same spot. "These photographs demonstrate how we are all, literally, walking in the footsteps of people from the past!"
Lawrence, KS - October 23, 2012
The Lifeboat Foundation
that it will present an award for
the best work of science fiction published in 2011 or 2012 that contributes to
an understanding of the benefits, means, or difficulties of interstellar travel.
The award, of $1,000, will be presented at the 2013
Campbell Conference to
be held at the University of Kansas June 13-16.
The motto of the state of Kansas is "Ad Astra Per Aspera."
Eric Klien, President and administrator of the Foundation, said that travel to other solar systems is one way in which humanity can survive catastrophes, natural or manmade, and can contribute to humanity's understanding of the universe and of itself. "Many of our members are science-fiction writers, as well as scientists, and science fiction has the ability to explore the unknown and its human implications. We want to encourage writers to contribute their imaginations to these vital purposes."
For its part, the Campbell Conference, sponsored by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction, has selected interstellar travel as the topic for the 2013 Conference, which includes a roundtable discussion around a single topic. The Conference also features its traditional awards - the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for the best science-fiction novel of the year and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short science fiction of the year.
Robert J. Sawyer, the distinguished Canadian science-fiction writer, chairs the "Lifeboat to the Stars" award committee, which includes science-fiction author Greg Bear as its honorary chair. Sawyer will present the award at the award dinner on Friday, June 13, and will give a talk, open to the public, about the Lifeboat Foundation and his own writing on Thursday, June 12. Sawyer is the author of several novels, including FLASH FORWARD, which was adapted into a television series. Nominations for the Lifeboat award should be e-mailed to Sawyer.
Lifeboat's coordinating judge is
Robert J. Sawyer,
their consulting judge is
and their other judges include
Sherry E. Bell,
Kevin M. Berry,
Don V. Black,
Stephan Vladimir Bugaj,
Mike E. McCulloch,
Allen M. Steele, Jr,
John K. Strickland Jr,
Allen G. Taylor.
The Lifeboat Foundation will also present a bibliographical survey at the 2013 Campbell Conference covering science-fictional methods of interstellar travel.
The Chair of the Interstellar Travel Bibliographical Survey is Lifeboat's James Blodgett. Other members of the survey team include Tracy Atkins, Jason Batt, Greg Bear, Kevin M. Berry, André Caminoa, David Gerrold, Niklas Järvstråt, Eva-Jane Lark, Mike E. McCulloch, Robert J. Sawyer, Allen M. Steele Jr, John K. Strickland Jr, and Allen G. Taylor.
The Campbell Conference, which has been offered at the University of Kansas in Lawrence since 1978, is a feature of the summer science-fiction program. That program begins with two-week Writers Workshops in short stories and in novels, led by Chris McKitterick and Kij Johnson, the multiple-award-winning author of science fiction and fantasy and an assistant professor in the University's MFA writing program. The Conference is followed by the two-week Intensive Science Fiction Institute.
Lawrence, KS - November 27, 2012
Lawrence, KS - November 27, 2012
If you love science fiction and fantasy of any length, now's your chance to make your favorite works known! For the next few days (through the end of November), Locus Online is operating a survey of the best SF/F of the past 112 years on their website.
List what you consider the best novels in two separate categories - SF and fantasy - and combined SF/F in the novella, novelette, and short-story length. (Lots of horror in there, too; you pick where you think it best fits.) The 20th century gets 10 ranked positions for each category, and 21st century fiction gets five.
Here are some resources to refresh your memory:
That's a lot of reading references! I hope you find it useful not just for voting on the Locus survey, but for future reading, too.
Lawrence, KS - September 27, 2012
Jane Frances Gunn, 87, died Thursday, Sept. 27, at Brandon Woods. She was born in Phillipsburg, Kansas, April 8, 1925, the younger daughter of Ira and Olive Anderson. She was raised and attended grade and high school in Osborne, Kansas. She attended McPherson College for one year before transferring to the University of Kansas and earning a bachelors degree from the School of Journalism in 1947. After her children were raised she studied toward a masters degree in English.
In the School of Journalism, she met James Gunn, who had returned from three years of service in the Navy during World War II. They were married the day after she had completed her last class. She worked for the KU News Bureau, as a secretary to the head librarian at Northwestern University, as a reporter for the Kansas City Kansan, as the librarian for the KU School of Journalism, and as the co-owner and later sole owner of the Emporium, a Lawrence art consignment gallery.
The Gunns returned to Lawrence from Kansas City, Missouri, in 1955. Mr. Gunn held several positions with the University, retiring in 1993 as a professor of English. Their elder son Christopher died in 2005. She is survived by Mr. Gunn, of the home, and her younger son Kevin, of Lawrence.
Inurnment will take place at a later date at Pioneer ceremony. Memorials to the Lawrence Animal Shelter may be sent care of the Warren-McElwain Funeral Home.
St. Paul, MN - September 19, 2012
In 1987, L. Ron Hubbard challenged his fellow science fiction writers to forecast what the world would be like in 25 years. Then they put together a "time capsule" of letters to us, now, that was just opened. To discuss how accurately science fiction predicts the future, Chris McKitterick joined AlterNet futurist Sara Robinson and "The Daily Circuit" host Kerri Miller in a piece entitled, "What did science fiction writers predict for 2012?"
See McKitterick's blog for links to the original "time capsule" article, his own predictions, and more.
Lawrence, KS - September 12, 2012
CSSF Associate Director Kij Johnson is now on a book tour. Here are the dates and locations:
9/14 DreamHaven Books, 2301 East 38th Street, Minneapolis MN 55406
9/18 7 pm The Raven, 6 East 7th St., Lawrence, KS, 66044
9/29 7 pm Ad Astra Books & Coffee House, 141 N. Santa Fe, Salina, KS 67401
9/26 Writers Voice interview air date
10/9 Quail Ridge Books,, Ridgewood Shopping Center, 3522 Wade Avenue, Raleigh, NC
Chicago, Illinois - September 3, 2012
CSSF Associate Director Kij Johnson's novella, The Man Who Bridged the Mist" (Asimov's Science Fiction, October/November 2011), has won the Hugo Award - in addition to having just won the Nebula Award..
Kij is a new Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Kansas English Department starting this Fall semester.
Lawrence, KS - June 29, 2012
For immediate release (.doc version here)
The winners of this year's John W. Campbell Memorial Award for the best science fiction novel and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short science fiction have been revealed, Christopher McKitterick, Director of the University of Kansas Center for the Study of Science Fiction, announced today.
The Campbell Award is shared by Christopher Priest's The Islanders (Gollancz) and Joan Slonczewski's The Highest Frontier (Tor). Third place goes to China Miéville's Embassytown (Ballantine/Del Rey), and Lavie Tidhar's Osama (PS Publishing) takes Honorable Mention.
Paul McAuley's "The Choice" (Asimov's) won the Sturgeon Award. Second place goes to Charlie Jane Anders' "Six Months Three Days" (Tor.com), and third place goes to Ken Liu's "The Paper Menagerie" (F&SF). Finalists for both awards were also announced on the Center's website.
Winners are invited to accept their awards at the University of Kansas Awards Banquet on Friday, July 6, and will be featured at the Campbell Conference on Saturday and Sunday. Slonczewski will be present to accept her award, and Asimov's editor Sheila Williams will accept for McAuley.
Using the theme "Communication and Information," this year's Campbell Conference explores how changing technologies and the ways we gather and share information is changing science fiction and how we buy, share, and tell the stories that define the genre. Saturday afternoon, Kij Johnson hosts a curated readings session, which includes several attending authors and scholars, and serves to launch the new James Gunn's Ad Astra journal. Other authors and editors attending include Robin Wayne Bailey, M.C. Chambers, Tina Connolly, Andy Duncan, Sheila Finch, James Gunn, Kij Johnson, Vylar Kaftan, Larry Martin, McKitterick, and Eric T. Reynolds.
This is the fourth time in Campbell Award history that juror balloting has resulted in a tie: in 1974 between Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama and Robert Merle's Malevil; in 2002 between Jack Williamson's Terraforming Earth and Robert Charles Wilson's The Chronoliths; and in 2009 between Cory Doctorow's Little Brother and Ian MacLeod's Song of Time.
Priest and McAuley are Britons. A full-time author, Priest won the BSFA award in 1974 for Inverted World, in 1998 for The Extremes, in 2002 for The Separation, and in 2011 for The Islanders. He also won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the World Fantasy Award for The Prestige (1995). McAuley is a biologist who has taught at universities around the world, and is now a full-time author. His first novel, Four Hundred Billion Stars, won the 1988 Philip K. Dick Award; Fairyland won the 1997 Campbell Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award; and has been nominated for many more. Slonczewski is a Professor of Biology at Kenyon College, a novelist, and a textbook author. She also won the 1997 Campbell Award for A Door into Ocean, the only author besides Frederik Pohl to have been so honored twice.
St. Paul, MN - June 12, 2012
Chris McKitterick joined SF scholar and editor Gary Wolfe and "The Daily Circuit" host Kerri Miller to talk about influential SF and fantasy novels and offer suggestions for summer reading. See McKitterick's blog for links, recommendations, and more.
"Ray Bradbury lived his own story, one that was as magical as any of the fantasies and science fiction he published, and his enjoyment of his transformation from impressionable child to iconic child-in-adult storyteller was embodied in all his stories and relationships. As few in the field of science fiction have been, he was a bridge between the two cultures - not Snow's science and literature but science fiction and literature. That growing acceptance - fifty years in development - may be symbolized by Ray's essay about his early imprinting with the magic of imagination in this week's science-fiction issue of the New Yorker. He will be missed but his life will be celebrated.
"Personally, I had the privilege of meeting Ray a number of times, both in Los Angeles and at several science-fiction conventions, particularly the World Science Fiction Convention in Atlanta where I had him give a moving and eloquent guest-of-honor speech about his love for science fiction and what it had given him - his life - and what it had to offer to the world. And I'm glad that KU featured him speaking at the Lied Auditorium in his later years, and that I had the privilege of sitting next to him at dinner and enjoying a personal conversation.
"One of my regrets is that I was never able to add a filmed interview with Ray to my Science Fiction Lecture Film series. We tried to make arrangements twice, but were never able to complete arrangements."
Ray Bradbury (official page and Wikipedia article) was born on August 22, 1920, and made the world a better place through June 5, 2012. He will be missed by everyone in the SF world, and millions more who don't see genre distinctions. Among his many awards and recognitions, he was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1999, and the ceremony took place at the 2001 Nebula Awards in Los Angeles, where Robin Wayne Bailey had the honor of inducting him.
Lawrence, KS - May 20, 2012
Arlington, VA - May 19, 2012
CSSF Associate Director Kij Johnson's novella, "The Man Who Bridged the Mist" (Asimov's Science Fiction, October/November 2011), has won the Nebula Award - in addition to being up for the Hugo Award. This is Kij's third Nebula in a row!
Lawrence, KS - May 9, 2012
"High Adventure with Hadley Rille Books" event at Prospero's Books. Several area authors will read from and sign books, including Z.S. Adani, Sue Blalock, M.C. Chambers, Terri-Lynne DeFino, Karin Rita Gastreich, Chris Gerrib, Christopher McKitterick, Melissa Mickelsen, Mark Nelson, Shauna Roberts, and Hadley Rille Books editor Eric T. Reynolds.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
1800 W. 39th Street
Kansas City, MO
The Kansas City ConQuest SF Convention takes place on Memorial Day Weekend. This year's guests of honor include Gardner Dozois, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Ursula Vernon, and many more. As has been the case for several years now, AboutSF is again the recipient for Sunday's Charity Auction. Thank you, KaCSFFS!
May 25-27, 2012
Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center
Kansas City, MO
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live! is a visual-media-based convention, and 2012 is its first (hopefully annual) event.
May 18-20, 2012
Bartle Hall Grand Ballroom
301 West 13th Street
Kansas City, MO 64105
And of course don't miss the Center's Campbell Conference!
July 5-8, 2012
The Oread Hotel
1200 Oread Ave (two blocks north of the KU Kanas Union)
(with a couple informal events before and after elsewhere)
Lawrence, KS - April 8, 2012
Several area authors whose stories appear in the upcoming anthology, Aftermaths, will read from and discuss the new book, including James Gunn, Christopher McKitterick, M.C. Chambers, Karin Rita Gastreich, and Hadley Rille Books editor Eric T. Reynolds. Just in time for Earth Day!
There's also a Facebook event, "Down to Earth 2012," where you can join.
Lawrence, KS - April 7, 2012
CSSF Associate Director Kij Johnson's novella, "The Man Who Bridged the Mist" (Asimov's Science Fiction, October/November 2011), is now also a finalist for the Hugo Award - in addition to being up for the Nebula Award.
Lawrence, KS - March 20, 2012
Local comic-book and gaming store, Astrokitty Comics and More, has made AboutSF its charity recipient for its bimonthly Super Nerd Night for all of 2012. Local music venue The Bottleneck hosts the event, which includes an art contest with story prompts ("Drink and Draw"), vintage-console gaming, table games, live music by area bands, a burlesque show, silent movies, and much more. See which of your Facebook friends are already planning to go on the Super Nerd Night Facebook event page.
Lawrence, KS - March 14, 2012
Writer and educator John Tibbetts examines two of Burroughs' enduring creations in "From Africa to Mars! 100 Years of Tarzan and John Carter." Details:
Lawrence, KS - March 13, 2012
CSSF Associate Director Kij Johnson has been hired by the University of Kansas English Department as Assistant Professor of Fiction Writing. Kij is the newest faculty member in the Department's MFA in Creative Writing program. She is hired as a fiction specialist, though she will also offer courses in speculative fiction and related topics.
With a growing number of speculative-fiction courses in both literature and writing, and two current faculty members, KU's English Department continues to strongly support SF. If you're looking for a graduate or undergraduate program where you can study SF, consider KU!
Lawrence, KS - March 10, 2012
CSSF Founding Director James Gunn has just sold three books, including his newest novel:
Co-authored with Jack Williamson in 1954 and originally published in 1955, Star Bridge will be published in Tor Books' classic reprint series.
Together the two novels, almost 60 years apart, bookend a career and in some ways the space epic itself. Also to be reprinted:
Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction, to be published in China by the Beijing Division of the Shanghai Century Publishing Company. By a marvelous serendipity, the book was translated by Sasha Jiang, the Center's 2012 visiting scholar from China.
Lawrence, KS - March 6, 2012
The Center for the Study of Science Fiction again offers the Science Fiction Writers Workshop on short-fiction writing. SFWA Science Fiction Grand Master James Gunn established the Workshop in 1985 and led it on his own until 1996, when author and CSSF Director Christopher McKitterick began co-teaching; Kij Johnson also co-taught from 1996-2002, before branching off her own SF&F Novel Writing Workshop, offered during the same two-week period. Gunn stepped back his participation in 2010, but plans to drop in from time to time to meet the workshoppers and offer words of writing wisdom, and he usually joins us for lunch in the (very good) adjoining dorm cafeteria. We'll likely enjoy other special-guest authors and editors, as well. Starting in 2011, McKitterick leads the first week, and this year guest author Andy Duncan leads the second week.
Duncan's story "The Pottawatomie Giant" and his collection Beluthahatchie and Other Stories both won World Fantasy Awards in 2001, and his novella "The Chief Designer" won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award in 2002. Duncan has been nominated six times for the Nebula Award, twice for the Stoker, three times for the World Fantasy Award, the Shirley Jackson Award twice, and twice for the Hugo Award. His short-story collection, The Pottawatomie Giant & Other Stories, is currently available from PS Publishing. Recent books include 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.
Duncan attended Clarion West in 1994 and studied creative writing at North Carolina State University under John Kessel (another Gunn student). He taught Clarion in 2004 and Clarion West in 2005, was a full-time journalist for 12 years, and taught college for 17 years. He is an assistant professor of English at Frostburg State University in the western Maryland mountains, and an instructor in the Honors College of the University of Alabama. He regularly blogs at Beluthahatchie.
What's Andy's writing like? My favorite description, by Craig Jacobsen in the SFRA Review:
If Harper Lee and Gene Wolfe had a love child, Andy Duncan is it.
Click here to visit Duncan's complete bibliography.
The workshops usually fill early, so if you're interested in applying, please contact as soon as practical, and we can let you know about openings.
Wichita, KS - February 20, 2012
Cory Doctorow will speak at this year's Kansas Library Association conference in Wichita, KS. Doctorow's "Evening with an Author" talk is entitled, "Copyrights and Human Rights."
Lawrence, KS - February 12, 2012
Nöel Sturgeon gave this year's Richard W. Gunn Memorial Lecture, "Avatar and Activism: Ecological Indians, Disabling Militarism, and Science Fiction Imaginaries."
Nöel is Theodore Sturgeon's daughter and trustee of his literary
estate; Professor of Critical Cultures, Gender, and Race Studies at
Washington State University; and a juror for the
Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award.
The Gunn Lecture, endowed by Dr. Richard W. Gunn, James Gunn's brother, has featured several science-fiction scholars. Although it has also sponsored speakers on Shakespeare and Ralph Ellison, it often brings distinguished science-fiction scholars to the campus beginning with scholar Fredric Jameson, William A. Lane Professor at Duke University; and continuing with Bill Brown, Edgar Carson Waller Professor at the University of Chicago; and China Miéille, British author of what has become known as the New Weird. The Center also recently co-sponsored a visit from Michael Chabon, prize-winning author and editor.
Edmond, OK - February 29, 2012
CSSF Director Chris McKitterick presented this year's keynote address, "Science Fiction: Mythologies for a Changing Age," at the University of Central Oklahoma's annual Liberal Arts Symposium XXIV, which runs from 9:00am to 3:00pm, February 29.
The Symposium offers students the opportunity to present their exemplary writing and research and to participate in other academic and creative activities. "The symposium allows our upper-level students who might be headed for graduate or professional school an opportunity to attend something that closely resembles the experience of participating in an academic conference, without having to bear the expense and inconvenience of travel," said Professor Mark Silcox, chair of the Liberal Arts Symposium Committee and SF Writing Workshop alum. "It also helps students within our college prepare for the marketplace, gives them the opportunity to hear the ideas of scholars from outside the University, and helps provoke lively arguments about provocative subjects."
Lawrence, KS - February 20, 2012
Lawrence, KS - February 1, 2012
CSSF Director and author Christopher McKitterick is now accepting applications for the speculative-fiction Writing Workshop, which he has co-taught with James Gunn since 1996 and began leading in 2011. This workshop is now available for college graduate credit.
The workshops usually fill, so if you're interested, please apply as soon as practical.
The February 5, 2012, issue of WIRED magazine has a useful article, "102 Essential Science Fiction Books for Your Kindle." If you're looking to expand your understanding of the genre or build a solid library but haven't yet seen our Basic Science Fiction Library, check it out!
Kij Johnson Reading at KU Monday, January 23, 2012
Sheila Williams Article about the Center Appears in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
New York, NY December issue, 2011
For the December issues of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, editor Sheila Williams wrote a lovely article, "Sliding Doors" (click here to read), about her visit to the Campbell Conference in July, 2011, and reminisces about what could have been if she had come to KU to study SF. Thanks, Sheila! Part Two appears next month in the January, 2012, issue.
"The Gothic Imagination" Event Monday, Oct. 31
Kij Johnson Reading and Signing on Oct. 18 at Jayhawk Ink Bookstore
Gunn, Healey, and Sturgeon Discuss Theodore Sturgeon Acquisition on NPR
Lawrence, KS July 26, 2011
CSSF Founding Director James Gunn, KU Special Collections Librarian Elspeth Healey, and Sturgeon Trustee Noel Sturgeon appeared on KCURs Central Standard show tomorrow, Thursday, July 27, from 10:00am to 10:30am to discuss our newly acquired Sturgeon collection. The show aired on 89.3 FM; to listen to the NPR interview with James Gunn, Noel Sturgeon, and Elspeth Healey about the acquisition, see the AboutSF audio archive here.
Theodore Sturgeon Award and John W. Campbell Award Winners Announced
Lawrence, KS July 8, 2011
Irish author Ian McDonalds The Dervish House won the Campbell Award for the best science-fiction novel of the year and Geoffrey A. Landiss The Sultan of the Clouds won the Sturgeon Award for the best short science fiction of the year in a ceremony Friday at the University of Kansas.
The Campbell Award was presented to McDonald by Campbell Award juror Elizabeth Anne Hull. The Sturgeon Award was presented to Landis by Noel Sturgeon, Theodore Sturgeons daughter, trustee of his literary estate, and a member of the Sturgeon Award jury.
McDonald was born in Scotland in 1960 but was moved to Northern Ireland when he was five, and lived through the troubled years. He was turned on to science fiction by childhood television programs and began writing at the age of nine. He sold his first story at twenty-two and became a full-time writer in 1987. Much of his writing has focused on the developing nations of Africa, India, and South America, and one commentator has suggested that his life in Northern Ireland led him to consider that country a developing-world society. The Dervish House is set in Turkey, specifically Istanbul, five years after Turkey has been admitted to the European Union and offers, one reviewer said, a coalescence of order out of interacting possibilities.
Landis came to science fiction through science. He was born in Detroit in 1955 but moved regularly throughout his childhood. He is a NASA scientist with a Ph.D. in physics from Brown University after undergraduate studies at M.I.T. in physics and electrical engineering. He has worked on several space missions, including Mars Pathfinder and the long-lived Mars Exploration Rovers. He began publishing science fiction in 1984 and attended Clarion in 1985, where he met his wife, writer Mary Turzillo. Landis has won two Hugo Awards and a Nebula Award for his short fiction. He is known as a writer of hard science fiction, and The Sultan of the Clouds describes a possible way of living on Venusor, rather, living in floating cities in the upper atmosphere of Venus.
This is McDonald's second trip to the Awards ceremony. His Tendeleos Story won the Sturgeon Award in 2001.
Campbell Award second place went to How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, by Charles Yu; Chris McKitterick presented the award. Third place went to The Quantum Thief, Hannu Rajaniemi; Jen Green presented the award.
Sturgeon Award second place went to "The Maiden Flight of McCauleys Bellerophon," by Elizabeth Hand; Nathaniel Williams presented the award. Third place went to "The Things," by Peter Watts; Benjamin Cartwright presented the award.
The Awards are presented by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction during the Campbell Conference, a four-day event held annually at the University of Kansas. The Campbell Award is selected, from nominations by publishers, by a jury composed of seven writers and academics. The Sturgeon Award is selected, from nominations by reviewers and editors, by a jury composed of five writers and academics.
Theodore Sturgeon's Papers Donated to the Science Fiction Special
Author Michael Byers discusses his novel, Percival's Planet, which was inspired by the true story of Kansan and noted astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto. Byers talk will be introduced by Steven A. Hawley, KU Professor of Physics and Astronomy and former NASA astronaut.
The Ballroom event will also feature a guided astronomy display including Tombaugh artifacts, presented from 6:30 p.m. by the KU Department of Physics and Astronomy. Following the talk, Michael Byers will sign his books. Click here to read a sample from his book, published in the New York Times.
The event will conclude with a telescope viewing session on the Kansas Union 6th floor deck (weather permitting).
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