banner with text that reads, J Wayne and Elsie M Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction, vintage design by McKitterick

This is part of an archived version of James Gunn's original Center for the Study of Science Fiction website, designed, built, and managed by McKitterick. The Center was run by Gunn, Johnson, and McKitterick 1992-2021, then taken over by the KU English department in 2022.

CSSF history overview 1969 - 2022

All content (except where otherwise noted) copyright Christopher McKitterick, 1992-2022.
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Chris McKitterick, Kij Johnson, and James Gunn of Gunn's original Center for the Study of Science Fiction (1982-2021, the first of its kind in the world) managed the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (which was to be renamed) until the Center was taken over (thus the timeline ending with the 2019 Award). The new English SF Center does not own or manage the Award, and its Chair and jury are seeking a new host organization friendly with our history and mission.

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award for the best science-fiction novel of the year is one of the three major annual awards for book-length science fiction, and the only juried award of its history and stature.

Selection and jury
Campbell Award trophy
Campbell Award history article by Harry Harrison and Sam J. Lundwall
John W. Campbell: The Man Who Invented Modern Fantasy and the Golden Age of Science Fiction


Authors and scholars Harry Harrison and Brian W. Aldiss established the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction novel of the year as a way of continuing Campbell's efforts to encourage writers to produce their best possible work: "to carry on and expand the tradition that Campbell had started, that of assuring the literary growth and development of science fiction." Campbell, who edited Astounding Science Fiction magazine, now named Analog from 1937 until his death in 1971, is called by many writers and scholars the father of modern science fiction, as it guided the evolution of SF during our Golden Age.

In 1977, Harrison wrote this about the award's inception:

"When John died it was a blow to all of us. After the memorial service a number of his writers were talking, and out of the talk came the Astounding anthology, what has been called the last issue of the Campbell magazine. It was a good tribute to a good editor. There is another tribute I think of just as highly, the award for the best SF novel of the year presented in his name and memory. An award I am sure he would have loved because it instantly became involved in controversy when the first prizes was presented. How John enjoyed a good argument and a good fight! That this fight sprawled through the letter columns of Analog for some months would have cheered him even more."

The first Campbell Memorial Award was presented at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1973. Since then the Award has been presented in various parts of the world: California State University at Fullerton in 1974; St. John's College, Oxford, England, in 1975; the First World SF Writers Conference in Dublin, Ireland, in 1976; Stockholm, Sweden in 1977; the World SF meeting in Dublin again in 1978; the Conference and Awards in Lawrence, KS, starting in 1979; a joint Conference/ SFRA Conference event in Kansas City in 2007; and as part of the special "Conference Academic Programming" track of MidAmeriCon II (WorldCon 2016) in Kansas City, Missouri.

Since 1979, the Campbell Award has often been presented during the Conference Awards Banquet, usually held on the campus of the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, as the focal point of a weekend of discussions about the writing, editing, illustration, publishing, teaching, and criticism of science fiction.

For a fuller discussion about the founding of the award, see this article by Harry Harrison and Sam J. Lundwall, and for more about Campbell and his legacy, see this article by Christopher McKitterick.

Selection Process and Committee

The Campbell Award differs from most other major awards in the field by being restricted to the novel and by its method of selection. The Hugo Awards are voted on by some thousand of the several thousand members who pay advance fees to attend the World Science Fiction Convention, which meets annually at different locations on Labor Day weekend. The Nebula Awards are voted on by a few hundred of about two thousand members of the Science Fiction Writers of America and presented at the annual Nebula Award meeting usually held late in the Spring.

The Campbell Award is selected by a distinguished committee small enough to discuss among its members all of the nominated novels. The current jury:

The jury has been honored to have some of the most distinguished members of the SF world, including authors, scholars, and academics from the field. Former jurors include:

  • Kingsley Amis
  • Paul A. Carter retired in 2009 after serving almost since the Award's inception
  • Paul Di Filippo from 2009-2015
  • James Gunn served the jury since its earliest days until his death in December, 2020, and was committee Chair from 1978-2018
  • Elizabeth Anne Hull until her death in 2021
  • Sam Lundwall until 1996
  • Farah Mendlesohn from 2006-2008
  • Eric Rabkin
  • T.A. Shippey served the Campbell Award for 40 years. He joined the panel of judges in its second year, which looked at the novels for 1974, and retired in 2015.
  • Brian Stableford
  • Robert H. Wilcox
  • Originating jury (1972 - 1973): Brian W. Aldiss, Tom Clareson, Harry Harrison, Willis McNelly, and Leon Stover Award (on right) and trophies. 
SF&F Hall of Fame Award and plaque are in the background
Starting in 2004, winners of the Campbell Award began receiving personalized trophies.
The permanent Award, beside the new trophies in this photo, bears the names of every winner.

Nominations come from the science-fiction publishers as well as individual jurors. Nominations are usually requested from the committee and publishers in November-December by Chris McKitterick, and the jurors read and debate the merits of these books through late April or early May. This process produces a list of finalists based on jurors' rankings, published in May. Only books that have received votes for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd (or on some occasions, Honorable Mention) make it onto the list of finalists, so this serves as a great "recommended reading" list. After vigorous debate on the merits of the finalists, the final decision arises from a vote by the jurors. The winning author is usually contacted in May and invited to attend the Conference at SF Center's expense, and often attends the last day or two of McKitterick's Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop and Kij Johnson's SF/F/H Novel Writing Workshop as well. Occasionally, when an author cannot attend, we invite the work's editor or a representative to accept the award on their behalf.

Eligible novels are those published (or only available) in English during the previous calendar year (for example, the 2016 Campbell Award went to a novel first published in English in 2015). We are beginning to see more foreign novels that were published in prior years make it onto our list of finalists, and welcome international publishers to submit nominations to better represent the best in book-length SF.

How to Nominate a Work
for the Campbell Memorial Award

If you are a science-fiction publisher interested in participating in the Award nominations process or for more information, please contact McKitterick in November:

We also consider self-published work of merit. Most jurors read only print books.

Campbell Award Winners

The Award has honored an wide diversity of authors from around the world, including a number of first-time novelists, as listed below from most-recent to the first in 1973.

Click here to see all the Campbell Award finalists back to 2003.


1st Blackfish City, by Sam J. Miller
2nd The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal
3rd Theory of Bastards, by Audrey Schulman


1st The Genius Plague, by David Walton
2nd (tie) The Moon and the Other, by John Kessel
2nd (tie) The People's Police, by Norman Spinrad
3rd The Rift, by Nina Allen


1st Central Station, by Lavie Tidhar
2nd Rosewater, by Tade Thompson
3rd (tie) The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
3rd (tie) Underground Airlines, by Ben Winters


1st Radiomen, Eleanor Lerman
2nd (tie) Going Dark, Linda Nagata
2nd (tie) The Thing Itself, Adam Roberts
3rd The Water Knife, Paolo Bacigalupi


1st The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, Claire North
2nd A Darkling Sea, James L. Cambias
3rd The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu (Ken Liu, translator)


1st Strange Bodies, Marcel Theroux
2nd Evening's Empires, Paul McAuley
3rd The Red: First Light, Linda Nagata


1st Jack Glass: The Story of a Murderer, Adam Roberts
2nd Any Day Now, Terry Bisson
3rd (tie) Alif the Unseen, G. Willow Wilson
3rd (tie) Empty Space, M. John Harrison


1st (tie) The Islanders, Christopher Priest
1st (tie) The Highest Frontier, Joan Slonczewski
3rd Embassytown, China Miéville
Honorable Mention Osama, by Lavie Tidhar


1st The Dervish House, Ian McDonald
2nd How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Charles Yu
3rd The Quantum Thief, Hannu Rajaniemi


1st The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi
2nd Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America, Robert Charles Wilson
3rd The City & the City, China Miéville


1st (tie) Song of Time, Ian MacLeod
1st (tie) Little Brother, Cory Doctorow
3rd The Philosopher's Apprentice, James Morrow


1st  In War Times, Kathleen Ann Goonan
2nd The Yiddish Policeman's Union, Michael Chabon
3rd The Execution Channel, Ken MacLeod


1st  Titan, Ben Bova
2nd  The Last Witchfinder, James Morrow
3rd (tie) Farthing, Jo Walton
3rd (tie) Blindsight, Peter Watts


1st  Mindscan, Robert J. Sawyer
2nd  Spin, Robert Charles Wilson
3rd  The Summer Isles, Ian R. Macleod


1st  Market Forces, Richard Morgan
2nd  Air, Geoff Ryman
3rd  The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger


1st  Omega, Jack McDevitt
2nd  Natural History, Justina Robson
3rd  The X President, Philip Baruth


1st  Probability Space, Nancy Kress
2nd  Kiln People, David Brin
3rd  Hominids, Robert J. Sawyer


1st (tie)  Terraforming Earth, Jack Williamson
1st (tie)  The Chronoliths, Robert Charles Wilson
2nd  (no award due to tie)
3rd  Probability Sun, Nancy Kress


1st Genesis, Poul Anderson


1st  A Deepness in the Sky, Vernor Vinge
2nd  Darwin's Radio, Greg Bear
3rd  Greenhouse Summer, Norman Spinrad


1st  Brute Orbits, George Zebrowski
2nd  Starfarers, Poul Anderson
3rd  Distraction, Bruce Sterling


1st  Forever Peace, Joe Haldeman
2nd  Slant, Greg Bear
3rd  Secret Passages, Paul Preuss


1st  Fairyland, Paul McAuley
2nd  Blue Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson
3rd  The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell


1st  The Time Ships, Stephen Baxter
2nd  The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson
3rd  Chaga, Ian McDonald


1st  Permutation City, Greg Egan
2nd  Brittle Innings, Michael Bishop
3rd  No award


1st  No award
2nd  Beggars in Spain, Nancy Kress
3rd  Moving Mars, Greg Bear


1st  Brother to Dragons, Charles Sheffield
2nd  Sideshow, Sheri S. Tepper
3rd  A Fire Upon the Deep, Vernor Vinge


1st  Buddy Holly Is Alive and Well on Ganymede, Bradley Denton
2nd  The Difference Engine, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
3rd (tie)  A Woman of the Iron People, Eleanor Arnason;
3rd (tie)  Stations of the Tide, Michael Swanwick;
3rd (tie)  The Silicon Man, Charles Platt


1st  Pacific Edge, Kim Stanley Robinson
2nd  Queen of Angels, Greg Bear
3rd  Only Begotten Daughter, James Morrow


1st  The Child Garden, Geoff Ryman
2nd  Farewell Horizontal, K. W. Jeter
3rd  Good News from Outer Space, John Kessel


1st  Islands in the Net, Bruce Sterling
2nd  The Gold Coast, Kim Stanley Robinson
3rd  Dragonsdawn, Anne McCaffrey


1st  Lincoln's Dreams, Connie Willis
2nd  The Sea and Summer, George Turner
3rd  The Unconquered Country, Geoff Ryman


1st  A Door into Ocean, Joan Slonczewski
2nd  This Is the Way the World Ends, James Morrow
3rd  Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott Card


1st  The Postman, David Brin
2nd  Galapagos, Kurt Vonnegut
3rd (tie)  Kiteworld, Keith Roberts;
3rd (tie)  Blood Music, Greg Bear


1st  The Years of the City, Frederik Pohl
2nd  Green Eyes, Lucius Shepherd
3rd  Neuromancer, William Gibson


1st  The Citadel of the Autarch, Gene Wolfe
2nd  The Birth of the People's Republic of the Antarctic, John Batchelor
3rd  Tik-Tok, John Sladek


1st  Helliconia Spring, Brian W. Aldiss
2nd  No Enemy But Time, Michael Bishop
3rd  None awarded


1st  Riddley Walker, Russell Hoban
2nd  None awarded
3rd  None awarded


1st  Timescape, Gregory Benford
2nd  The Dreaming Dragons, Damien Broderick
3rd  The Shadow of the Torturer, Gene Wolfe


1st  On Wings of Song, Thomas M. Disch
2nd  Engine Summer, John Crowley
3rd  The Unlimited Dream Company, J. G. Ballard


1st  Gloriana, Michael Moorcock
2nd  And Having Writ..., Donald Benson
3rd  Altered States, Paddy Chayefski


1st  Gateway, Frederik Pohl
2nd  Roadside Picnic, Arkady & Boris Strugatsky
3rd  A Scanner Darkly, Philip K. Dick


1st  The Alteration, Kingsley Amis
2nd  Man Plus, Frederik Pohl
3rd  Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, Kate Wilhelm


1st  The Year of the Quiet Sun, Wilson Tucker*
2nd  The Stochastic Man, Robert Silverberg
3rd  Orbitsville, Bob Shaw

*The committee felt that no truly outstanding original novel was published in 1975. 1st place, therefore, was a "special retrospective award" made to a truly outstanding original novel that was not adequately recognized in the year of its publication (1970).


1st  Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, Philip K. Dick
2nd  The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin
3rd  None awarded


1st (tie)  Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke;
1st (tie)  Malevil, Robert Merle
2nd (tie)  The Embedding, Ian Watson;
2nd (tie)  The Green Gene, Peter Dickinson
Special non-fiction award: The Cosmic Connection, Carl Sagan

To the right is the poster from the second-ever Campbell Award presentation (held at Fullerton in 1974). The Campbell Award is now presented each year during the Conference, usually held in Lawrence, KS. Click the image to see a larger size.


1st  Beyond Apollo, Barry N. Malzberg
2nd  The Listeners, James Gunn
3rd  Darkening Island (Fugue for a Darkening Plain), Christopher Priest
Special award for excellence in writing: Dying Inside, Robert Silverberg

Campbell Award finalists
Campbell Award trophy
Campbell Award history article by Harry Harrison and Sam J. Lundwall
John W. Campbell: The Man Who Invented Modern Fantasy and the Golden Age of Science Fiction

updated 8/10/2022