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North, Doctorow win annual SF awards

In a room full of some of the most brilliant minds in science fiction today, two of the premier science-fiction writing awards sat, waiting to be given away. Claire North, aka Catherine Webb, won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science-fiction novel of 2014 and Cory Doctorow won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short science fiction of 2014. The awards were presented at the Campbell Conference banquet on June 12.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August,” published by Redhook, won North the Campbell Award. “A Darkling Sea,” by James L. Cambias and published by Tor won second place. “The Three-Body Problem,” by Cixin Liu (Ken Liu, translator), also published by Tor won third place. North said the Campbell Award carries with it a fantastic legacy.

“It’s this catalog of amazing names, and it’s good to be reminded of how many greats there’ve been,” North said. “I think it embodies the evolution, but also the continuity, of science fiction more than many [awards] out there.”

Doctorow’s “The Man Who Sold the Moon,” won him the Sturgeon Award for the first time. Here is a link to his take on winning the award. The short story is included in the 2014 collection titled, “Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future,” edited by Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer, and published by William Morrow. “Shatterdown,” by Suzanne Palmer won second place. It’s published in the June 2014 issue of “Asimov’s Magazine.” Sam J. Miller won third place for “We Are the Cloud,” published in the Sept. 2014 issue of “Lightspeed.”

Doctorow is just the seventh person to win both the Campbell Award and the Sturgeon Award. Although Doctorow couldn’t be at the conference to accept the Sturgeon Award in person, he sent a video acceptance speech in which he said it was the first award for which his work was ever nominated. He also said receiving the award is an “incredible honor.”

“This honor means the world to me, especially because it came for this story,” Doctorow said, “which is a story that, to me, expresses the most sincere hope we can have about utopia. Not that one day we’ll come up with a system that works perfectly all the time, but that someday we may tell ourselves the right story so that when things go badly, we treat each other well instead of turning on each other with the conviction that our neighbors will turn on us if we don’t on them first.”

North and Doctorow both have lengthy resumes, but it’s not just experience and time that have brought them to the forefront of science fiction.

“I think there’s no point in trying to predict what will be successful,” North said. “No one knows what the next successful book is going to be. No one’s got a clue; if we did we’d all be millionaires! So, I think the key is to write what you love and hopefully that comes through in the text and other people will feel that joy as they read it.”

On behalf of the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction, Chris McKitterick, the center’s director, would like to thank all who attended and say to the winners, “Congratulations!”
Tags: campbell, claire north, cory doctorow, hieroglyph, science fiction, sturgeon, the first fifteen lives of harry august
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