The John W. Campbell Memorial Award

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award for the best science-fiction novel of the year is one of the three 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 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.

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.

Selection Process

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 pay advance fees to attend the World Science Fiction Convention, which meets annually at different locations on Labor Day weekend. The Nebula Awards are voted on by a few hundred of about two 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 distinguished committee small enough to discuss among its members all of the nominated novels. The current jury:

 The jury has been honored to have some of the most distinguished members of the SF world, including authors, scholars, and academics from the field. Former jurors include:

  • T.A. Shippey served the Campbell Award for 40 years. He joined the panel of judges in its second year, which looked at the novels for 1974, and retired in 2015.
  • Paul Di Filippo from 2009-2015.
  • Paul A. Carter retired in 2009 after serving almost since the Award's inception.
  • Farah Mendlesohn from 2006-2008.
  • Brian Stableford
  • Robert H. Wilcox
  • Sam Lundwall until 1996.
  • Harry Harrison and Brian W. Aldiss served as the first jurors in 1972.

James Gunn has served the jury since its earliest days.

Campbell Award (on right) and trophies. 
SF&F Hall of Fame Award and plaque are in the background
Starting in 2004, winners of the Campbell Award began receiving personalized trophies.
The permanent Award, beside the new trophies in this photo, bears the names of every winner.

Nominations come from the science-fiction publishers as well as individual jurors. Nominations are usually requested in the fall by Chris McKitterick in the United States and Paul Kincaid in the United Kingdom, and the jurors read and debate the merits of these books through late April or early May. This process produces a list of finalists based on jurors' rankings. After vigorous debate on the merits of the finalists, the final decision arises from a vote by the jurors during late 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.

Eligible novels are those published in English during the previous calendar year. If you are a science-fiction publisher interested in participating in the Award nominations process, please contact Chris McKitterick ( for more information.

Campbell Award finalists.
Campbell Conference.
Images of the Campbell Award trophy.

The Award has been presented to an unusual variety of authors from around the world, including honoring a number of first-time novelists, as listed below.


1st Radiomen, Eleanor Lerman
2nd (tie) Going Dark, Linda Nagata
2nd (tie) The Thing Itself, Adam Roberts
3rd The Water Knife, Paolo Bacigalupi


1st The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, Claire North
2nd A Darkling Sea, James L. Cambias
3rd The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu (Ken Liu, translator)


1st Strange Bodies, Marcel Theroux
2nd Evening's Empires, Paul McAuley
3rd The Red: First Light, Linda Nagata


1st Jack Glass: The Story of a Murderer, Adam Roberts
2nd Any Day Now, Terry Bisson
3rd (tie) Alif the Unseen, G. Willow Wilson
3rd (tie) Empty Space, M. John Harrison


1st (tie) The Islanders, Christopher Priest
1st (tie) The Highest Frontier, Joan Slonczewski
3rd Embassytown, China Miéville
Honorable Mention Osama, by Lavie Tidhar


1st The Dervish House, Ian McDonald
2nd How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Charles Yu
3rd The Quantum Thief, Hannu Rajaniemi


1st The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi
2nd Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America, Robert Charles Wilson
3rd The City & the City, China Miéville


1st (tie) Song of Time, Ian MacLeod
1st (tie) Little Brother, Cory Doctorow
3rd The Philosopher's Apprentice, James Morrow


1st  In War Times, Kathleen Ann Goonan
2nd The Yiddish Policeman's Union, Michael Chabon
3rd The Execution Channel, Ken MacLeod


1st  Titan, Ben Bova
2nd  The Last Witchfinder, James Morrow
3rd (tie) Farthing, Jo Walton
3rd (tie) Blindsight, Peter Watts


1st  Mindscan, Robert J. Sawyer
2nd  Spin, Robert Charles Wilson
3rd  The Summer Isles, Ian R. Macleod


1st  Market Forces, Richard Morgan
2nd  Air, Geoff Ryman
3rd  The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger


1st  Omega, Jack McDevitt
2nd  Natural History, Justina Robson
3rd  The X President, Philip Baruth


1st  Probability Space, Nancy Kress
2nd  Kiln People, David Brin
3rd  Hominids, Robert J. Sawyer


1st (tie)  Terraforming Earth, Jack Williamson
1st (tie)  The Chronoliths, Robert Charles Wilson
2nd  (no award due to tie)
3rd  Probability Sun, Nancy Kress


1st Genesis, Poul Anderson


1st  A Deepness in the Sky, Vernor Vinge
2nd  Darwin's Radio, Greg Bear
3rd  Greenhouse Summer, Norman Spinrad


1st  Brute Orbits, George Zebrowski
2nd  Starfarers, Poul Anderson
3rd  Distraction, Bruce Sterling


1st  Forever Peace, Joe Haldeman
2nd  Slant, Greg Bear
3rd  Secret Passages, Paul Preuss


1st  Fairyland, Paul McAuley
2nd  Blue Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson
3rd  The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell


1st  The Time Ships, Stephen Baxter
2nd  The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson
3rd  Chaga, Ian McDonald


1st  Permutation City, Greg Egan
2nd  Brittle Innings, Michael Bishop
3rd  No award


1st  No award
2nd  Beggars in Spain, Nancy Kress
3rd  Moving Mars, Greg Bear


1st  Brother to Dragons, Charles Sheffield
2nd  Sideshow, Sheri S. Tepper
3rd  A Fire Upon the Deep, Vernor Vinge


1st  Buddy Holly Is Alive and Well on Ganymede, Bradley Denton
2nd  The Difference Engine, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
3rd (tie)  A Woman of the Iron People, Eleanor Arnason;
3rd (tie)  Stations of the Tide, Michael Swanwick;
3rd (tie)  The Silicon Man, Charles Platt


1st  Pacific Edge, Kim Stanley Robinson
2nd  Queen of Angels, Greg Bear
3rd  Only Begotten Daughter, James Morrow


1st  The Child Garden, Geoff Ryman
2nd  Farewell Horizontal, K. W. Jeter
3rd  Good News from Outer Space, John Kessel


1st  Islands in the Net, Bruce Sterling
2nd  The Gold Coast, Kim Stanley Robinson
3rd  Dragonsdawn, Anne McCaffrey


1st  Lincoln's Dreams, Connie Willis
2nd  The Sea and Summer, George Turner
3rd  The Unconquered Country, Geoff Ryman


1st  A Door into Ocean, Joan Slonczewski
2nd  This Is the Way the World Ends, James Morrow
3rd  Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott Card


1st  The Postman, David Brin
2nd  Galapagos, Kurt Vonnegut
3rd (tie)  Kiteworld, Keith Roberts;
3rd (tie)  Blood Music, Greg Bear


1st  The Years of the City, Frederik Pohl
2nd  Green Eyes, Lucius Shepherd
3rd  Neuromancer, William Gibson


1st  The Citadel of the Autarch, Gene Wolfe
2nd  The Birth of the People's Republic of the Antarctic, John Batchelor
3rd  Tik-Tok, John Sladek


1st  Helliconia Spring, Brian W. Aldiss
2nd  No Enemy But Time, Michael Bishop
3rd  None awarded


1st  Riddley Walker, Russell Hoban
2nd  None awarded
3rd  None awarded


1st  Timescape, Gregory Benford
2nd  The Dreaming Dragons, Damien Broderick
3rd  The Shadow of the Torturer, Gene Wolfe


1st  On Wings of Song, Thomas M. Disch
2nd  Engine Summer, John Crowley
3rd  The Unlimited Dream Company, J. G. Ballard


1st  Gloriana, Michael Moorcock
2nd  And Having Writ..., Donald Benson
3rd  Altered States, Paddy Chayefski


1st  Gateway, Frederik Pohl
2nd  Roadside Picnic, Arkady & Boris Strugatsky
3rd  A Scanner Darkly, Philip K. Dick


1st  The Alteration, Kingsley Amis
2nd  Man Plus, Frederik Pohl
3rd  Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, Kate Wilhelm


1st  The Year of the Quiet Sun, Wilson Tucker*
2nd  The Stochastic Man, Robert Silverberg
3rd  Orbitsville, Bob Shaw

*The committee felt that no truly outstanding original novel was published in 1975. 1st place, therefore, was a "special retrospective award" made to a truly outstanding original novel that was not adequately recognized in the year of its publication (1970).


1st  Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, Philip K. Dick
2nd  The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin
3rd  None awarded


1st (tie)  Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke;
1st (tie)  Malevil, Robert Merle
2nd (tie)  The Embedding, Ian Watson;
2nd (tie)  The Green Gene, Peter Dickinson
Special non-fiction award: The Cosmic Connection, Carl Sagan

To the right is the poster from the second-ever Campbell Award presentation (held at Fullerton). The Campbell Award is now presented each year during the Campbell Conference, usually held in Lawrence, KS. Click the image to see a larger size.


1st  Beyond Apollo, Barry N. Malzberg
2nd  The Listeners, James Gunn
3rd  Darkening Island (Fugue for a Darkening Plain), Christopher Priest
Special award for excellence in writing: Dying Inside, Robert Silverberg

Click here to see the finalists for the John W. Campbell Award.
Click here for more information about the Campbell Conference.
Click here to see images of the Campbell Award trophy.

updated 9/16/2016

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