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May 31, 2007

Campbell Award Nominees That I Know

No, not the Campbell Award I've got, the other Campbell Award. The list of this year's nominees is out, and includes a number of folks I like quite a bit, including David Louis Edelman (I believe this is his first major award nomination -- rock on, David), Karl Schroeder, Charlie Stross, Vernor Vinge, Jo Walton and Peter Watts (there are 13 nominees in total). Congrats to them all. I'd make squee sounds for them all, but that's not very manly, is it.

Posted by john at May 31, 2007 11:35 AM

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Steven H Silver | May 31, 2007 11:59 AM

Seem now the Campbell and Sturgeon Awards (among others) are open to the accusations of being picked by a small cadre (disclosure: for several years, I've been asked for my recommendations for the Sturgeon Award by the committee).

I'll note with extreme pleasure the inclusion of Nick DiChario's A Small and Remarkable Life , Jo Walton's Farthing, and Jack McDevitt's Odyssey on this list.

Skip | May 31, 2007 12:44 PM

One thing that strikes me about this list is the number of books on it I've never even seen. There's a Barnes and Noble within walking distance of my office, so I wander up there at least once a week. Probably 2/3 of the list were never on the 'just arrived' shelves of the SF and Fantasy aisle. A few more are in my 'wait for the paperback' category, and 2 of them I own, but have not read yet.

If this was the best that the genre had to offer last year, then there's a problem. Because I, as a consumer who buys probably 100 books a year, haven't heard of more than half of these.

Steven H Silver | May 31, 2007 12:58 PM

Skip: FWIW, two of the books (DiChario & Sapergia) were published by Canadian presses and didn't have a large distribution (if any) in the US and one of the books (Harrison) was published in the UK and wouldn't have had a US distribution. One of the US books (Edelman) was by a small press and another (Morrow) was published by the non-SF imprint of a major house.

John Scalzi | May 31, 2007 01:13 PM

Also, of course, one may also argue that one of the reasons to have awards is to call attention to worthy works that might otherwise be lost in the shuffle.

My response to seeing a book I've never heard of be nominated for a creditable award is not to assume that the book is no good, but to wonder how a book that is good has somehow eluded my notice.

David Louis Edelman | May 31, 2007 01:41 PM

I am flabbergasted and awestruck. Or maybe flabberstruck and awegasted, not sure which. Thanks for the call-out, John.

Skip: You're right, it's frustrating that the books the chains choose to emphasize don't always mesh with the ones the awards committees select. But if you think it's frustrating as a reader, imagine how frustrating it is as an author...

Steven: Not sure I'd call Pyr (my publisher) a small press. They're the SF imprint of Prometheus Books, which is an established press that releases over 100 titles a year. Pyr's published stuff by Robert Silverberg, Mike Resnick, Michael Moorcock, Ian McDonald, Sean Williams, and Justina Robson, just to name a few.

Skip | May 31, 2007 02:19 PM

I didn't mean to imply that these works were somehow substandard, so please don't take it that way. It's just that, you know, I don't have any way of knowing, because they didn't show up on the shelves.

I do buy books online, but I don't typically buy them from authors I'm not familiar with. For those, I like to actually hold the book, open it to a random page and see whether or not the prose sends daggers into my eyes.

I think I'll wander over to B&N for lunch and see how many of these they currently have in stock. Because I'm curious.

David Louis Edelman | May 31, 2007 02:32 PM

I didn't mean to imply that these works were somehow substandard

No such implication inferred.

You know, I remember when Spin was nominated last year for the Hugo, I looked everywhere for a copy of it. I simply couldn't find hide nor hair of it anywhere, until I finally spotted a lone copy misfiled deep in the shelves at Borders.

Madeline F | May 31, 2007 02:46 PM

I think it's cool that the Campbell and Sturgeon are picked by a small cadre. I mean, they don't hide it, that's what they do. They're a small group who have for many years looked for great SF together, and they have a track record behind them. They come up with interesting new stuff I haven't seen elsewhere.

It wouldn't be cool if every award was from a small persistent group, but it's nice to have a mix of small perrenial group/small annual group/large self-selected group awards.

Steven H Silver | May 31, 2007 02:59 PM

If I may, the Sidewise Award (which I founded in 1995) has also been selected by a small group of alternate history fans. The judge panel has ranged from 3 up to 8 and is currently at 6, including a South African and an Englishman.

I'm proud to say that we've nominated stories published originally in foreign languages (French and Portuguese) and given the award not only to one of those works, but to several works published outside the typical SF community and by many non-SF authors, thereby calling attention to books and authors who might otherwise have been overlooked.

David: Pyr still feels like a small press to me, and I have several of their books on my shelf. Their market saturation isn't as great as a major publishing house, although they certainly aren't a micropress (such as my publishing house, ISFiC, which has published Resnick, Turtledove, Sawyer, McDevitt, and forthcoming, Huff).

Skip | May 31, 2007 03:37 PM

Well, after going to B&N at lunch, they had exactly two of the books currently in stock. Titan, and Rainbow's End. That's it. That's kind of depressing, even though it's about what I expected.

John Scalzi | May 31, 2007 03:42 PM

Remember you can always special order.

Skip | May 31, 2007 03:58 PM

Well, yes. I could. But if it's an author I'm not familiar with I really like to check it out first by reading some random sections in the middle. And for a lot of these guys, there weren't even any other works on the shelves.

Plus, actually physically having the books in hand lets me see things like the blurbs on the back cover. When I looked at a different book by one of the authors (Harrison, I think), the top blurb was something like, paraphrasing. "Unlike all the other crap you read, this guy actually writes literature." Something like that's a red flag for me to put the book down and step away. If I don't get to physically hold it, I don't get that.

I know, I'm being picky. But as a consumerm, that's what I get to do.

John Scalzi | May 31, 2007 04:20 PM

Sure. This is where libraries come in handy.

Tim of Angle | May 31, 2007 04:44 PM

Face it, Scalzi, you pixel-stained techno-peasants have spoiled us for the real world....

Skip | May 31, 2007 05:26 PM

Darn you, Scalzi. Darn you to heck. You have the perfect opportunity to go all Laurell K Hamilton on a reader and you choose not to. Where's the fun in that?

Joe Sherry | June 2, 2007 02:17 PM

As I started to type out a response saying that I thought Pyr was a smallER press rather than a small press I was going to make the argument that Nightshade and Subterranean were small presses...but I think those two are specialty presses.

Maybe there is no distinction, but Pyr still feels somewhat larger than "Small Press" to me, based on the amount of books they are publishing a year and plan on publishing in the future.

I'd call Golden Gryphon a small press.

Lou Anders | June 3, 2007 10:33 PM

Hi all,
First, we are absolutely thrilled with David's Campbell nomination and many thanks to John for calling it out here.

Second, to clarify if I may, Pyr is an imprint of Prometheus Books, a company that was established in 1969, publishes - as Dave pointed out - around 100 titles a year - has a 3,000 plus title backlist, recently had a NY Times Best Seller (God: The Failed Hypothesis), and, employs around 40 people, not counting additional reps, interns, and freelancers. Their annual revenue is searchable on sites like Yahoo Finance and is in the respectable seven figures. In short, they are the very definition of a mid-sized publisher. In fact, I believe Publishers Weekly defines a mid-sized publisher as one that employs 10 or more people. We are four times that and then some.

My arm of it, Pyr, accounts for 16 to 18 of their 100 books per year. To date we have published 38 titles in 44 editions and most of the parent companies 40 plus employees contribute to the process of producing, packaging and marketing each of these titles. Also, although this is our first Campbell nominations, we and our novels have already earned Hugo, World Fantasy, and Philip K Dick award nominations and won an Independent Publisher Award (for John Meaney's Paradox). We have just come off of a major promotional push for six of our titles, in a campaign in all Borders stores nationwide (not every store complied with the terms of the promotion - it is often hard to enforce on a store by store level) and a month of promoting two select titles in the top 200 Barnes and Nobles in the country. So while every store will not stock every book, our recent titles by authors like Mike Resnick, Kay Kenyon, Ian McDonald, Justina Robson, Joel Shepherd etc... should be quite visible in chains right now. (But don't neglect the independents!)

What's more, for those like Skip who prefer to sample before you buy, substantial excerpts of most of our titles are available online at www.pyrsf.com. David's own website, www.infoquake.net, displays a full third of his award-nominated novel. And "Award-nominated" makes it sound quite good too, doesn't it? So check it out!

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