Campbell Name Removed from Award

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.]

53 thoughts on “Campbell Name Removed from Award

  1. Might this all have some impact on the other award named after Campbell – the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, a juried award? (I first heard of it on the cover of my DAW edition of Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said.)

  2. As I said over in the other post, good job Trevor Quachri and Dell Magazines. I like the new name. I don’t see the change getting held up by WSFS rules. It’s been administered by WSFS, but it’s Dell Magazines’ award. The name change had to be initiated by them. The award is only mentioned in two places in the WSFS Constitution:

    3.7.3: Nominations shall be solicited only for the Hugo Awards, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book.

    3.11.2: Final Award ballots shall list only the Hugo Awards, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book.

    Seems like it should be a simple case of updating the name to what the sponsor is now calling it.

  3. @gottacook, Who knows? That would be up to that organization to decide. I hope so.

  4. I’m a member of the WSFS Committee which handles technical wording issues (humourously called “The Nitpicking and Flyspecking Committee”). It’s my contention that the current wording of the WSFS Constitution now contains incorrect terminology, and that, according to WSFS Standing Rules, it can be corrected without requiring motions and a 2-year ratification process.

    Rule 4.3: Numbers, Titles, References, and Technical Corrections.
    … The Business Meeting Secretary may change punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and other wording in the Constitution and Standing Rules only insofar as such changes clarify meaning and enhance consistency, and only insofar as such changes do not modify the substantive meaning of the documents.

  5. I hope I finally managed to credit everybody who sent me the link — I kept finding emails I hadn’t spotted before.

  6. The use of the name in the constitution is clearly pointing to a thing/entity rather than determining the name of an award. If the constitution said that each year WSFS will throw a custard pie in the face of Camestros Felapton, I wouldn’t escape the custard pie by changing my name.

  7. Thank you for that information.
    — Andrew

    Please note that I am only speaking in a personal capacity right now, and am not speaking for the NP&FS Committee or any other WSFS entity.

    However, I agree with Camestros Felapton’s assessment. Changing the occurrences of “Campbell” to “Astounding” in the WSFS rules posted by Laura is only a technical change of nomenclature; under either name, they are referring to the same award.

  8. Camestros Felapton: If the constitution said that each year WSFS will throw a custard mustard pie in the face of Camestros Felapton, I wouldn’t escape the custard mustard pie by changing my name.

    Fixed That For You. 😀

  9. I now wish even more that it was practical for us to go to NZ next year. How much money could we raise for DUFF by throwing pies at Camestros?

  10. If the constitution said that each year WSFS will throw a custard pie in the face of Camestros Felapton, I wouldn’t escape the custard pie by changing my name.

    Can we bypass the 2 year review process for a Motion to amend the constitution to include this bylaw? I think it could really add to Worldcon’s culture. 😛

  11. We could offer a choice of custard or mustard pies to the throwers, and possibly a discount for people who want to throw one of each.

  12. Mike, I would have sent it to you, but I checked the comments of the last post and it was there already. Filers are fast!

    The comments on that editorial seem to be running maybe 60/40 positive. There’s the usual grumpy negative remarks, together with the pleased responses from professionals and fans.

  13. @JJ

    Camestros Felapton: If the constitution said that each year WSFS will throw a custard mustard pie in the face of Camestros Felapton, I wouldn’t escape the custard mustard pie by changing my name.

    That might depend on whether yellow mustard or brown mustard was used…

    I’ll see myself out.

  14. Worldcon awards the Big Heart award, Masquerade awards, etc. without them being specifically authorized by the constitution. There’s no reason to think it couldn’t award an Astounding Award for Best New Writer.

  15. bill: Worldcon awards the Big Heart award, Masquerade awards, etc. without them being specifically authorized by the constitution. There’s no reason to think it couldn’t award an Astounding Award for Best New Writer.

    I think you misunderstand. Worldcon does not administer nominations or final voting for any of those awards on the official Hugo nominating and voting ballots, which is what is covered in the WSFS rules. The question is whether the Astounding Award can be included on the official Hugo ballots. From the sound of it, that is not going to be a problem.

  16. @bill: technically, Worldcon does not award the Big Heart; it provides a space where the award can be presented. (Ditto the Chesleys, IIRC.) Whether Masquerade, Art Show, etc. awards are awarded by the Worldcon or by an independently authorized agent could be endlessly and uselessly debated; they’re in the huge heap of things that people think are customary but that are not described in the WSFS rules. cf the discussion in recent weeks about a potential placeholder Worldcon which would do only what was required: run the Hugo and site-selection processes. AFAICT, a Worldcon could even have a separate ballot for whatever it chose to — it just couldn’t mingle it with the two required ballots.

  17. Bonnie McDaniel: That might depend on whether yellow mustard or brown mustard was used…

    SPICY BROWN MUSTARD ALL THE WAY

  18. Whatever else you may think about the whole thing, you have to admit that the “Astounding Award” is just a delightful name, and the fact that we’re going to be able to call people “Astounding Award winners” is fabulous! 😀

  19. Always this mustard. When Camestros has had his fill of mustard pie, I expect a review.

  20. So it puts a separate block on the ballot and labels it “This is not part of the official Hugo Ballot”. BFD.

    I can rules-lawyer with the best of them, but this is not complicated. The WSFS constitution tells how to administer the Hugo Awards. The Astounding Award for Best New Writer is not a Hugo, and is not otherwise addressed in the constitution, so the constitution doesn’t control it.

  21. Speedy reaction, decent name choice, so kudos to Analog. Also massive kudos to Ng and the others who brought this up.
    I agree that constitutional issues are a non-starter, easily fixed. The award is named for identification purposes but not otherwise controlled by the constitution; when its owners change the name then the meaning is not lost and while it needs a technical change putting through in due course that doesn’t prevent it carrying on under the new name in the meantime.
    To use a slightly ridiculous example, if any of the countries named in 4.8.5 were to change their name, would they have to be excluded from Nasfics for two years while the constitution got changed? I don’t think anyone would consider that a sensible interpretation.

    (Also, I’m very keen on this mustard proposal)

  22. Oh, this is great! I’m looking forward to congratulating future winners of the Astounding Award for Best New Writer!

    [goes off to change the category name on her 2020 nominations spreadsheet]

  23. @JJ —

    SPICY BROWN MUSTARD ALL THE WAY

    Nonono. For a pie, it’s gotta be honey mustard!

  24. You all do understand that as I would only attend incognito that the only way Worldcon could ENSURE that I had a mustard pie thrown in my face is if they throw a mustard pie in EVERYBODY’S face?

  25. The mustard pie in the glorious land above the sky. It might be unlikely that Camestros will receive his mustards worth, but we all must have dreams.

  26. Picture a clause in a strange constitution
    With fantasy prizes for make-believe guys
    Some one amends it
    The motion goes slowly
    A clause about mustard in pies
    [dum, dum, dum, dum]
    Throwing mustard pies at Worldcon
    Throwing mustard pies at Worldcon
    Throwing mustard pies at Worldcon
    Ahhhhhh, ahhhhhhhhh

  27. You all do understand that as I would only attend incognito that the only way Worldcon could ENSURE that I had a mustard pie thrown in my face is if they throw a mustard pie in EVERYBODY’S face?

    That would raise even MOAR money for DUFF!

    If anyone wants a recipe for mustard soup (sooooo much better tasting than you think) hit me up.

  28. Now hold on! There are always contrary positions accompanying any issue and I have one!

    Throwing custard, or mustard (of any variety – I’ve not seen anyone yet mention dijon or honey-mustard and Ghu knows we ought to be inclusive, especially when this particular proposal is seriously inclusivity adjacent) pies is not a simple exercise and there are a huge number of technical issues that really need to be polled, researched, evaluated, tested and codified before I – and I’m sure a lot of others – would be comfortable in moving forward with it.

    I will note, by way of example, that we have not yet devoted any attention to pie diameter, pie mass, allowable velocities, venues, pie plate construction and materials (there is a serious difference between aluminum and glass; there’s specific gravity, safety consideration, recycling considerations not to mention cost (do we really want to saddle each and every Worldcon with having to purchase glass pie pans?).

    From what distance(s) is it allowable to throw this projectile? May it be thrown in any venue at any time? How do we handle collateral damage? (You can certainly expect some if it is allowable to throw such a pie while in an elevator – a scenario that could easily take place at a Worldcon.) Is the thrower of said pie allowed to ‘mash’ said pie into its target (retaining contact with at least the pie plate) or must it entirely leave their physical posession in order to constitute a legal throw? Who is responsible for measuring? HOW do they measure?

    WHO CLEANS UP? Are we going to have to add an entirely new department to ConComs? Does this function get absorbed into Hospitality or Security?

    Should targets be registered prior to throwing? If so – what’s the procedure? What about cases of mistaken identity?

    Much as I like the idea and will happily endorse the CONCEPT, I really think we need to slow down, calm down, take a few breaths, maybe even count slowly to ten (as Elliot Shorter once advised me) before we make rash decisions that future generations of fans might come to regret, or maybe even argue over for several years at business meetings.

  29. Xtifr says Whatever else you may think about the whole thing, you have to admit that the “Astounding Award” is just a delightful name, and the fact that we’re going to be able to call people “Astounding Award winners” is fabulous! ?

    Yeah I’m glad they didn’t name it the Analog Award which would have just clunked. This one, well, feels like it’s right. And yes they get bonus points for being responsible caretakers and making a quick, but considered change in the name.

  30. Paul Weimer on August 27, 2019 at 5:25 pm said:
    Heh…so did I, Mike. Or so I thought…

    I’m a witness to that! I first saw Trevor Quachri’s statement by clicking your link in the previous post.

    @Steve Davidson

    If you’re wondering how he eats and breathes, and other science facts, then repeat to yourself “It’s just a proposal, I should really just relax for World Science Fiction Society Theater 3000!”

  31. I want you all to know that there is as yet no rule against dressing up in mustard at the Masquerade.

  32. Steve –
    Sounds like the WSFS Business Meeting needs to refer the whole thing to the Shoo Fly Specking Pie committee.

    I’ll volunteer to be on it to test all the pies.

  33. Now I want someone to enter the masquerade in a costume called Camestros Felapton which is just a person in normal pants and shirt with a mustard pie on his face (Maybe cut eye holes in the aluminium pie plate?) Except nobody but Filers would get it.

  34. @lenora for extra deep diving, said person would have to be paired with someone in a a costume labeled as “wife Foz Meadows”

  35. And someone else dressed as a cat.

    (Btw, I assume no-one would actually try this but for the sake of my own paranoia: please don’t throw mustard of any kind in an actual person’s face, I strongly suspect it would not be a good mix with fragile eyeballs.)

    I think the Astounding Award for Best New Writer is a lovely name and I’m delighted that they found such an appealing compromise.

    (Has anyone set off the Standlee signal re: the change?)

  36. @Hampus Eckerman: There is no rule about anything at the Masquerade; as I pointed out to @bill, it’s not mentioned in the Constitution. However, most individual masquerades since the notorious peanut butter episode have had individual bans on costumes that could make a mess — or at least make a mess of other costumes in a crowded room.

    @bill: The WSFS constitution tells how to administer the Hugo Awards. The Astounding Award for Best New Writer is not a Hugo, and is not otherwise addressed in the constitution, so the constitution doesn’t control it. Now you’re lawyering, despite expressing contempt for the idea. The constitution explicitly permits the (ex-)Campbell and the Lodestar to be on the ballot, and bars everything else — and the Worldcon as a whole would be in deep trouble if it attempted to be involved at all with the Big Heart (let alone the Seiun, which at least used to be (re-?)presented at Worldcon). If you really believe this is a trivial distinction you don’t know enough about Worldcons to argue the issue; if you’re just trolling, don’t.

    wrt mustard pies: I think they should be brought in whole and apportioned at some suitable time, so we can see who can cut the mustard.

  37. @Chip Hitchcock

    wrt mustard pies: I think they should be brought in whole and apportioned at some suitable time, so we can see who can cut the mustard.

    LOL

    @Martin Wooster

    So far as I’m aware no device exists that could force you to feel, or not feel, emotions. Emotion away.

  38. @Martin Wooster–What’s been getting pushback here isn’t people being depressed by the decision, or even disagreeing that a name change was appropriate.

    It’s been people claiming Jeannette Ng committed a Code of Conduct violation, that she made discriminatory statements about all white males, that no reasonable person could find Campbell’s statement about Kent State, or against democracy, to be fascist by any reasonable definition, that changing the name of the award because Campbell’s racism, sexism, antisemitism, and xenophobia means that to be consistent we have to change the names of a whole bunch of other things, or than the correct name for the Award Formerly Known as Campbell should now be The Jelly Backbone Award.

    I haven’t seen you doing any of those things. Just saying you’re disappointed. I don’t thing anyone will be giving you a hard time over that.

  39. @Martin Wooster: I had to chair a meeting where we threw someone out of a grioup once. He was a fucking piece of work and we needed rid of him.

    I still felt bad the day after. You’re welcome to feel bad about this.

  40. Camestros Felapton on August 28, 2019 at 1:27 am said:

    Picture a clause in a strange constitution
    With fantasy prizes for make-believe guys
    Some one amends it
    The motion goes slowly
    A clause about mustard in pies
    [dum, dum, dum, dum]
    Throwing mustard pies at Worldcon
    Throwing mustard pies at Worldcon
    Throwing mustard pies at Worldcon
    Ahhhhhh, ahhhhhhhhh

    *WILD APPLAUSE*

    (Post edit addendum: When did the commenting editor start converting MMD markup into HTML? That’s potentially handy.)

  41. @Chip Hitchcock

    The constitution explicitly permits the (ex-)Campbell and the Lodestar to be on the ballot, and bars everything else

    As I tried to say earlier, the Worldcon can administer, including conducting nominations and the tallying of votes, any award it pleases by using a separate ballot from the Hugo ballot.

    (I’m not sure why we are going round and round about this, since I think we both agree that there is absolutely no issue with the Worldcon administering the Astounding award.)

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