The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award

The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short science fiction of the year 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.

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 English 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.

Sturgeon Award (on right) and trophies
Starting in 2004, winners of the Sturgeon Award began receiving personalized trophies.
The permanent Award, beside the new trophies in this photo, bears the names of every winner.

Selection Process

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. In 2013, Frederik Pohl retired from long service to the Award, and Elizabeth Bear and Andy Duncan joined the jury. Since 1999, one of Sturgeon's children has also participated in this process, usually Noel 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. Award-winners are listed below.

Sturgeon Award Winners

2013

1st  "The Grinnell Method," by Molly Gloss
2nd  "Nahiku West," by Linda Nagata
3rd  Eater-of-Bone, by Robert Reed
A special Sturgeon Award for Distinguished Service was presented to Frederik Pohl this year.

2012

1st "The Choice," by Paul McAuley
2nd "Six Months Three Days," by Charlie Jane Anders
3rd "The Paper Menagerie," by Ken Liu

2011

11st  "The Sultan of the Clouds," by Geoffrey A. Landis
2nd  "The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon," by Elizabeth Hand
3rd  "The Things," by Peter Watts

2010

1st  "Shambling Towards Hiroshima," by James Morrow
22nd (tie)  "Things Undone," by John Barnes
2nd (tie)  "This Wind Blowing, and This Tide," by Damien Broderick
2nd (tie)  "As Women Fight," by Sara Genge

2009

1st  "The Ray Gun: A Love Story," James Alan Gardner
2nd  "Memory Dog," Kathleen Ann Goonan
3rd  "The Tear," Ian McDonald

2008

1st (tie)  "Tideline," Elizabeth Bear
1st (tie)  "Finisterra," David R. Moles
2nd (tie)  "Memorare," Gene Wolfe
2nd (tie)  "The Master Miller's Tale," Ian R. MacLeod

2007

11st  "The Cartesian Theater," Robert Charles Wilson
2nd  "A Billion Eves," Robert Reed 
3rd  "Lord Weary's Empire," Michael Swanwick

2006

1st  "The Calorie Man," Paolo Bacigalupi 
2nd "The Little Goddess," Ian MacDonald 
3rd  "Magic for Beginners," Kelly Link

2005

1st  "Sergeant Chip," Bradley Denton
2nd "Voluntary State," Christopher Rowe
3rd  "Mere," Richard Reed

2004

11st  "The Empress of Mars," Kage Baker
2nd "Bernardos House," James Patrick Kelly
3rd  "It's All True," John Kessel

2003

"Over Yonder," Lucius Shepard

2002

"The Chief Designer," Andy Duncan

2001

"Tendeleo's Story," Ian McDonald

2000

"The Wedding Album," David Marusek

1999

"Story of Your Life," Ted Chiang

1998

"House of Dreams," Michael Flynn

1997

"The Flowers of Aulit Prison," Nancy Kress

1996

"Jigoku no Mokushiroku," John G. McDaid

1995

"Forgiveness Day," Ursula Le Guin

1994

"Fox Magic," Kij Johnson

1993

"This Year's Class Picture," Dan Simmons

1992

"Buffalo," John Kessel

1991

"Bears Discover Fire," Terry Bisson

1990

"The Edge of the World," Michael Swanwick

1989

"Schrodinger's Kitten," George Alec Effinger

1988

"Rachel in Love," Pat Murphy

1987

"Surviving," Judith Moffett

Click here to see a list of Sturgeon Award finalists.

Click here to see images of the Sturgeon Award trophy.

Click here to see Sturgeon's essay regarding "Ask the next question" and the trophy's design.

Theodore Sturgeon Resources

  • The Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust website is a fantastic resource for all things Sturgeon. It contains many stories, audio readings of Sturgeon's works, information about new and reprinted work (the Trust owns the copyright to his work), and much more - even a recipe!
  • The Theodore Sturgeon Page contains a great deal of information about Theodore Sturgeon, including publications, reminiscences by friends and colleagues, a bio, photographs, and more.

updated 3/3/2014

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