Vernor Vinge Wins 2020 Robert A. Heinlein Award

Vernor S. Vinge, a four-time Hugo Award-winning science fiction author and retired mathematics and computer science professor, is the 2020 winner of the Robert A. Heinlein Award. The award is bestowed for outstanding published works in science fiction and technical writings that inspire the human exploration of space. This award is in recognition of Vinge’s body of work, including his nine novels, more than two dozen short stories, and many non-fiction articles.

The award will be formally announced on the evening of Friday, May 22, 2020, 8:00 p.m. at opening ceremonies during Balticon 54, the 54th Maryland Regional Science Fiction Convention. Balticon and the Robert A. Heinlein Award are both managed and sponsored by The Baltimore Science Fiction Society. A grant from the Heinlein Society funds half of the costs associated with the award and the family of the late author Dr. Yoji Kondo provides additional funding for the award.

The Robert A. Heinlein Award is a sterling silver medallion bearing the image of Robert A. Heinlein, as depicted by artist Arlin Robbins. The medallion is matched with a red-white-blue lanyard. In addition, the winner receives two lapel pins for use when a large medallion is impractical, and a plaque describing the award for home or office wall display.  

The Robert A. Heinlein Award selection committee consists of science fiction writers and was founded by Dr. Yoji Kondo, a long-time friend of Robert and Virginia Heinlein. Members of the original committee were approved by Virginia Heinlein. The current Chairman of the Selection Committee is Michael F. Flynn.

Virginia Heinlein authorized multiple awards in memory of her husband, other awards include the Heinlein Prize, which is fully funded by Virginia Heinlein’s estate, and a National Space Society award for volunteer projects.

More information on the Robert A. Heinlein Award, including past winners, can be found here. More information on Balticon can be found at www.balticon.org.

Vernor Vinge at the 16th Annual Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy in 2006.

[Based on a press release.]

Dr. Yoji Kondo (1933-2017)

Dr. Yoji Kondo and Ursula Kondo at the Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s 50th anniversary party.

Scientist and sf author Dr. Yoji Kondo died October 9 reported his daughter on Facebook.

He wrote SF under the name Eric Kotani, coauthoring five novels with John Maddox Roberts, Act of God (1985), The Island Worlds (1987), Between the Stars (1988), Delta Pavonis (1990), and Legacy of Prometheus (2000), another novel, Supernova, with Roger MacBride Allen, and a solo novel, Death of a Neutron Star (1999).

In his primary career,  Kondo headed the astrophysics laboratory at the Johnson Space Center during the Apollo and Skylab Missions. He served as director of the International Ultraviolet Explorer satellite observatory at Goddard Space Flight Center and was a coinvestigator of the Kepler Mission to detect Earth-sized planets within the habitable zone of their primary stars. He was a winner of the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement.

During his tenure at NASA he held concurrent appointments as professor at several U.S. universities, as well as the Institute of Space & Astronautical Research in Japan, and the University of La Plata in Argentina.

Kondo edited or co-edited numerous scientific books, including X- ray Binaries, The Local Interstellar Medium, Exploring the Universe with the IUE Satellite, Evolutionary Processes in Interacting Binary Stars, Observatories in Earth Orbit and Beyond, The Realm of Interacting Binary Stars, and Space Access and Utilization Beyond 2000.

Kondo figured in one of my favorite anecdotes from the 2001 Worldcon, which shows he was an acknowledged heavy-hitters in hard sf. Program organizers Laurie and Jim Mann had so many people respond positively to their participant questionnaire that although hundreds could be used, nearly 200 could not. Some came to the Green Room in hope of last-minute openings. They were shown a list of about 20 vacancies that needed to be filled, and several were added that way. One vacancy never seemed to get filled. Many would see the title of one panel, “Worldbuilding 101,” and be ready to volunteer, since most sf writers, not unreasonably, feel that’s something they know about. Then they’d read the names of the other panelists – Greg Benford, Hal Clement and Yoji Kondo – and speechlessly go away.

Kondo was a long-time friend of Robert and Virginia Heinlein. He edited the posthumous Heinlein collection Requiem: New Collected Works by Robert A. Heinlein and Tributes to the Grand Master (1992), and was on The Heinlein Society’s first Board of Directors.

Since 1998 he had served as a judge in the Writers of the Future Contest.

His wife, Ursula, and his daughter, Beatrice (now on The Heinlein Society board), survive him.

[Thanks to Keith Kato for the story.]

Crook and Heinlein Awards Given at Balticon

The Compton Crook Award and Robert A. Heinlein Award were awarded during opening ceremonies at Balticon 46, the Maryland Regional Science Fiction Convention, on May 25.

The Compton Crook Award winner was T. C. McCarthy for his novel Germline.

The Robert A. Heinlein Award went to Stanley Schmidt, author and editor of Analog.

Compton Crook Award: Left to right, T. C. McCarthy, 2011 Crook Award winner; James Knapp, Master of Ceremonies; SF Author Mark L. Van Name. Photo by Patti Kinlock.

 

Robert A. Heinlein Award: Left to right, Ian Randal Strock accepts the award on behalf of winner Stanley Schmidt from SF author and Heinlein Award Chairman Dr. Yoji Kondo. (Dr. Kondo writes as Eric Kotani). Photo by Patti Kinlock.

[Thanks to Dale Arnold for the story.]