Theodore Sturgeon, the author memorialized with this award. Photo by Marc Zicree.
The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short science fiction of
the year 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.
born in 1918, was closely identified with the Golden Age of science fiction,
1939-1950, and is often mentioned alongside Isaac
Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and A. E. van Vogt as one of the four writers who
established and led the way through that time. All four published their
first SF stories in 1939, usually identified as the start of the Golden Age, and
Sturgeon was famous for providing the heart.
In addition to fiction (his
best-known novel is the classic, More Than Human), Sturgeon
also wrote book reviews, poetry, screenplays, radio plays, and
television plays, including two classic teleplays for the original
Star Trek. He was a popular lecturer and teacher, and was a
regular visiting author during the Intensive Institute on the Teaching of Science Fiction. Sturgeon died
His books, manuscripts, and papers have been deposited at
the University of Kansas, as he wished. See
this page for news and information about the 2011 acquisition, valued at
For its first eight years (1987-1994), the Sturgeon Award was selected by a committee of short-fiction
experts headed by Orson Scott Card. Beginning in 1995, the Sturgeon Award became
juried, with winners selected by a
committee composed of James Gunn,
Frederik Pohl, and
Judith Merril. After the
1996 Award, Judith Merril resigned and was replaced by Kij Johnson, the 1994 Sturgeon
winner. George Zebrowski
served on the jury from 2005-2013. Also in 2013, Pohl
retired from service to the Award, and Elizabeth Bear and Andy Duncan
joined the jury. Since 1999, one of Sturgeon's
children has also participated in this process, usually Noel Sturgeon.
The current jury consists of Elizabeth Bear, Andy Duncan, James Gunn, Kij Johnson,
Nöel Sturgeon, Trustee of the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Estate.
Eligible stories are those published in English during the previous calendar
year. Nominations come from a wide
variety of science-fiction reviewers and serious readers, the
editors who publish short fiction, and often times the jurors, as well. Nominations are collected during the winter by
who produces a list of finalists based
on nominators' rankings. The jury then reads all of the finalists and debates
their merits during the spring until they arrive at a consensus decision in May. The winning author is usually contacted in May
and invited to attend the Conference; the winner often attends the last
day or two of the SF Writers Workshop, as well.
The Sturgeon Award is presented during the
Conference Awards Banquet
at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, as the focal point of a weekend
of discussions about the writing, illustration, publishing, teaching, and
criticism of science fiction.
Note: If you read deeply or broadly in the short-SF field and would like to
be a part of the Sturgeon Award nomination process, drop us a note at
Gunn.SF.Center@gmail.com stating your interest. We're always
looking for great readers to help diversify our nominations pool!
Starting in 2004, winners of the Sturgeon Award began receiving personalized
trophies. The permanent Award, beside the new trophies in this photo, bears the names of
Sturgeon Award Winners
Sturgeon Award winners are listed below from most-recent to the first in
Click here to see the Sturgeon Award finalists back to 2003.
Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis," by Annalee Newitz. Slate,
the Day You Spend Forever with Your Dog," by Adam Shannon.
Last Days on Planet Earth," Daryl Gregory.
Tor.com, Sept 2018.
Press Charges and I Won't Sue," by Charlie Jane Anders. Boston Review:
Global Dystopias, Oct 2017.
2nd "And Then
There Were (N-One)," by Sarah Pinsker. Uncanny, March
3rd "A Series of Steaks,"
by Vina Jie-Min Prasad. Clarkesworld,
1st "The Future is Blue," by Catherynne M. Valente.
Drowned Worlds, ed. Jonathan Strahan,
Solaris Books, 2016.
2nd "Touring with the Alien," by Carolyn Ives Gilman.
Clarkesworld, April 2016.
3rd "Things with Beards," by Sam
Clarkesworld, June 2016.
1st "The Game of Smash and Recovery," by
Kelly Link. Strange Horizons, 17 Oct 2015.
2nd "The New Mother," by Eugene Fischer.
Asimov's, Apr/May 2015.
3rd "Gypsy," by
Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nov/Dec 2015.
1st "The Man Who Sold the Moon," by Cory Doctorow. Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future,
eds. Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer, Morrow, 2014.
2nd "Shatterdown," by Suzanne Palmer. Asimov's Jun 2014.
3rd ""We Are the Cloud," by Sam J. Miller. Lightspeed Sep 2014.
1st "In Joy, Knowing the
Abyss Behind," by Sarah Pinsker.
2nd "Mystic Falls,"
by Robert Reed. Clarkesworld, Nov 2013.
3rd "The Weight of the
Sunrise," by Vylar Kaftan.
Asimov's, Feb 2013.
1st "The Grinnell Method,"
by Molly Gloss
2nd "Nahiku West," by Linda Nagata
by Robert Reed
A special Sturgeon Award for Distinguished Service was presented to
1st "The Choice," by Paul McAuley
2nd "Six Months Three Days," by Charlie Jane Anders
3rd "The Paper Menagerie," by Ken Liu
1st "The Sultan of the Clouds," by Geoffrey A. Landis
2nd "The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon," by Elizabeth Hand
3rd "The Things," by Peter Watts
1st "Shambling Towards Hiroshima," by James Morrow
2nd (tie) "Things Undone," by John Barnes
2nd (tie) "This Wind Blowing, and This Tide," by Damien Broderick
2nd (tie) "As Women Fight," by Sara Genge
Ray Gun: A Love Story," James Alan Gardner
2nd "Memory Dog," Kathleen Ann Goonan3rd "The Tear,"
1st (tie) "Tideline," Elizabeth Bear
1st (tie) "Finisterra," David R. Moles
2nd (tie) "Memorare," Gene Wolfe2nd (tie) "The Master Miller's Tale,"
Ian R. MacLeod
1st "The Cartesian Theater," Robert Charles Wilson
2nd "A Billion Eves," Robert Reed
3rd "Lord Weary's Empire," Michael Swanwick
1st "The Calorie Man," Paolo Bacigalupi
2nd "The Little Goddess," Ian MacDonald
3rd "Magic for Beginners," Kelly Link
1st "Sergeant Chip," Bradley Denton
2nd "Voluntary State," Christopher Rowe
3rd "Mere," Richard Reed
1st "The Empress of Mars," Kage Baker
2nd "Bernardos House," James Patrick Kelly
3rd "It's All True," John Kessel
"Over Yonder," Lucius Shepard
"The Chief Designer," Andy Duncan
"Tendeleo's Story," Ian McDonald
"The Wedding Album," David Marusek
"Story of Your Life," Ted Chiang
"House of Dreams," Michael Flynn
"The Flowers of Aulit Prison," Nancy Kress
"Jigoku no Mokushiroku," John G. McDaid
"Forgiveness Day," Ursula Le Guin
"Fox Magic," Kij Johnson
"This Year's Class Picture," Dan Simmons
"Buffalo," John Kessel
"Bears Discover Fire," Terry Bisson
"The Edge of the World," Michael Swanwick
"Schrodinger's Kitten," George Alec Effinger
"Rachel in Love," Pat Murphy
"Surviving," Judith Moffett
Click here to see a list of Sturgeon Award finalists.
Click here to see images of the Sturgeon
Heard of Sturgeon's Law? Click hear to read about it.
Click here to see Sturgeon's essay regarding "Ask the next question"
and the trophy's design.
Click here page for information about his books, manuscripts, and papers deposited at the University of Kansas.
Theodore Sturgeon Resources
- The Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust website
is a fantastic resource for all things Sturgeon. It contains many stories, audio
readings of Sturgeon's works, information about new and reprinted work (the Trust owns the
copyright to his work), and much more - even a recipe!
- The Theodore Sturgeon Page
contains a great deal of information about Theodore Sturgeon, including
publications, reminiscences by friends and colleagues, a bio, photographs, and