The Astounding Award for Best New Writer is the new title of the award formerly named for John W. Campbell, Jr. Analog editor Trevor Quachri announced the change today in a “Statement from the editor” at The Astounding Analog Companion blog.
The decision came quickly in the wake of Jeannette Ng’s acceptance speech criticizing the award’s namesake as a fascist, and widespread social media discussion.
Quachri echoed those criticisms in explaining the name change:
…However, Campbell’s provocative editorials and opinions on race, slavery, and other matters often reflected positions that went beyond just the mores of his time and are today at odds with modern values, including those held by the award’s many nominees, winners, and supporters.
As we move into Analog’s 90th anniversary year, our goal is to keep the award as vital and distinguished as ever, so after much consideration, we have decided to change the award’s name to The Astounding Award for Best New Writer.
…Though Campbell’s impact on the field is undeniable, we hope that the conversation going forward is nuanced. George Santayana’s proverbial phrase remains as true today as when it was coined: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We neither want to paper over the flaws of those who have come before us, nor reduce them to caricatures. But we have reached a point where the conversation around the award is in danger of focusing more on its namesake than the writers it was intended to recognize and elevate, and that is something nobody—even Campbell himself—would want.
The award has been given at the Worldcon since 1973, and Quachri says the nomination and selection process will remain the same. “It is also important to note that this change in no way reflects on past winners or their work, and they continue to stand deserving of recognition.”
Jeannette Ng’s initial response is:
One person pointed out that the Campbell Award by name is part of the WSFS Constitution and fears parliamentary foot-dragging, or worse, however the award is not a Hugo and a willing Worldcon committee could certainly implement the change.
[Thanks to Mark Hepworth, Hampus Eckerman, ULTRAGOTHA and Paul Weimer for the story.]