The winner of this year’s annual Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short science fiction of 2020 is Rebecca Campbell, for her story, “An Important Failure,” published byClarkesworld.
The Sturgeon Award jurors praised Rebecca’s story as “thoughtful, moving, and intelligent,” “an absolutely beautiful story…measured, poignant, with deeply drawn complex characters.” Several noted her lovely descriptions of music and ability to move smoothly across historical periods, and, speaking to what made “An Important Failure” stand out, one juror described it as a climate story that provides no easy answers, “a story that can spur continued discussion…a rare quality.”
The second-place story for this year’s Sturgeon is Meg Elison’s “The Pill.”
The third-place story is Maureen McHugh’s “Yellow and the Perception of Reality.”
Sitting on this year’s jury were Elizabeth Bear, Kij Johnson, Sarah Pinsker, Noel Sturgeon, and Taryne Taylor.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the in-person presentation of the award will be postponed until a date and location to be announced.
The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award recognizes the best science fiction short story of each year. It 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.
The Sunburst Award Committee announced the winners of the 2020 Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic in Adult, Young Adult, and Short Story categories on August 31.
The winner of the 2020 Sunburst Award for Adult Fiction is Gods of Jade and Shadow, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey).
The Sunburst Jury commented:
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is an exquisite genre blender with a painfully human story at its heart. Gods of Jade and Shadow masterfully mixes together fairy tales, romance, historical fantasy, a coming-of-age feminist story, and a lavishly detailed odyssey through Mexican history and mythology. It is truly a tale of the fantastic, defying categorization while celebrating the magic of imagination itself.
“Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination”, Silvia Moreno-Garcia is no stranger to the Sunburst family. Her debut novel, Signal to Noise, won a Copper Cylinder Award. Her short story collection, This Strange Way of Dying was a finalist for the Sunburst. She has edited several anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award winner Cthulhu’s Daughters (published in Canada as She Walks in Shadows). Silvia is a publisher of Innsmouth Free Press, as well as being a columnist for the Washington Post. She holds an MA in Science and Technology Studies from the University of British Columbia. Gods of Jade and Shadow was the 2020 American Library Association Reading List winner in the Fantasy category.
The other shortlisted works for the 2020 Adult Award were:
Scott R. Jones, Shout Kill Revel Repeat [Trepidatio Publishing]
Helen Marshall, The Migration [Random House Canada]
Karen McBride, Crow Winter [HarperAvenue]
Richard Van Camp, Moccasin Square Gardens [Douglas & McIntyre]
YOUNG ADULT AWARD
The 2020 winner of the Sunburst Award for Young Adult Fiction is The Ghost Collector by Allison Mills [Annick Press]
The Sunburst Jury commented:
Allison Mills’ The Ghost Collector is both delightful and haunting. A delicious blend of the supernatural and the very real. Mills has great respect for her audience. Taking great care to keep the narrative moving while never simplifying the novel's ideas and themes of loss. The result is a nuanced study in empathy for both the characters and the readers.
As the daughter of a teacher-librarian, Allison Mills grew up surrounded by books, and discovered an early passion for fantasy tales, which grew into a life-long fascination with ghosts. As someone who is Ililiw-Cree and settler Canadian, she sympathizes with those who like to straddle boundary spaces. And this fascination with the ghost world inspired her first novel, The Ghost Collector. Allison is an avid student, achieving three Masters degrees, including an MFA in Creative Writing. She works as an academic librarian and archivist.
The other shortlisted works for the 2019 Young Adult Award were:
Nafiza Azad , The Candle and the Flame [Scholastic Inc.]
Sara Cassidy, Nevers [Orca Book Publishers]
Aviaq Johston, Those Who Dwell Below [Inhabit Media]
Jess Keating, Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray [Scholastic Inc.]
With a brilliant eye for detail and a masterful sense of control, Rebecca Campbell has crafted an unforgettable and quietly terrifying story, one that combines domestic horror – in this case the disorientation of postpartum depression – with the supernatural in a seamless and thoughtful fashion. It is at once plausible and terrifying. The fragmentation of the central character`s personality is believably and sympathetically drawn. As in all the best stories about mental disintegration, we are left wondering where the truth in fact lies.
Rebecca Campbell’s work has been in Canadian literary magazines such as Grain and Prairie Fire. She is also published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Interdictions Online and Interzone. Her first novel, The Paradise Engine, was published by NeWest Press in 2013. She received her Masters Degree in English at the University of British Columbia. Originally from Duncan, British Columbia, Rebecca now resides in Toronto.
The other shortlisted works for the 2019 Short Story Award were:
Amal El-Mohtar, “Florilegia” [The Mythic Dream, Gallery/Saga Press]
Kate Heartfield, “The Inland Beacon” [Tesseracts Twenty-Two Alchemy and Artifacts, July 2019]
Catherine Kim, “The Hundred Gardens” [Nat. Brut, Issue 12, Spring 2019]
Richard Van Camp, “Wheetago War II: Summoners” [Moccasin Square Gardens, Douglas & McIntyre]
The 2020 Sunburst Award jury members were Peter Darbyshire, Kristyn Dunnion, Omar El Akkad, Michelle Butler Hallett, John Jantunen, Michael Johnstone, Ursula Pflug, and Sarah Tolmie.