The John W. Campbell Award For Best New Writer is being renamed. The award’s sponsor announced today that the award would be given a new name after this year’s winner, Jeannette Ng, condemned the award’s namesake for his fascist and racist beliefs during their acceptance speech at the 2019 Hugo Awards ceremony. Starting next year, the award will be called the Astounding Award for Best New Writer.
Since 1973, Dell Magazines has awarded the Campbell to the best emerging writer in the speculative fiction genre. Since its inception, winners have included such authors as C.J. Cherryh, Orson Scott Card, Ted Chiang, Elizabeth Bear, John Scalzi, Mary Robinette Kowal, and most recently, Jeannette Ng.
In his announcement, Analog Science Fact and Fiction editor Trevor Quachri said that “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.”
Past award recipients praised the move on Twitter. Kowal said that the change “makes me even more proud to be an Astounding Award Winner,” and thanked Ng for their “passionate, beautiful speech which drove this change.” John Scalzi, who earned the award in 2006, said that it’s “proof that you can change things when you speak.”
Ng themselves reminded readers of the long campaign that resulted in the change:
I am not the only one who has spoke up about this over the years. There have been petitions, letters and opinion columns before me. I stand on the shoulders of giants and I fear I am be stealing all their thunder in this. https://t.co/QYsEe22tsN
— Jeannette Ng 吳志麗 (@jeannette_ng) August 27, 2019
The award isn’t the first to shed the namesake or visage after discussion within the science fiction community. In 2015, the World Fantasy Society announced that it would change the award of the World Fantasy Award, which featured a bust of H.P. Lovecraft. That change came after author Daniel José Older spoke out about the horror author’s racist and bigoted views. Other authors, such as Nnedi Okorafor, had written about the impact that honoring such figure represented. In 2017, the organization unveiled a new award in the form of a tree, designed to represent all aspects of the fantasy genre.