Every year at the Hugo Awards, a lucky writer is given the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, named for the noted sf editor and fascist John W Campbell, whose editorials in the pages of Astounding Science Fiction lamented the demise of slavery, cheered the murder of the Kent State 4, advocated violent reprisals over the Watts Uprising, and promoted Dianetics (Campbell wasn't just a racist kook: he was several kinds of kook).
This year, Campbell Award winner Jeannette Ng correctly described Campbell as a fascist in her acceptance speech, and attracted no small amount of racially charged condemnations from sf fans who were nostalgic for the Campbell days.
Luckily, the management of Dell Magazines -- which sponsors the Campbell Award -- were more intellectually honest, and last week, they announced that they'd be changing the name of the award to the Astounding Award, which is great, even if it means that in years to come, the Hugo program and ballot will celebrate "The Astounding Award for Best New Writer (formerly the Campbell Award) (not a Hugo Award)."
Speaking as a winner of both Campbell Awards (I think I'm the only one!), I'm grateful to Ng for her bravery and intellectual rigor. Well done!
Though Campbell’s impact on the field is undeniable, we hope that the conversation going forward is nuanced. George Santayana’s proverbial phrase remains as true today as when it was coined: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We neither want to paper over the flaws of those who have come before us, nor reduce them to caricatures. But we have reached a point where the conversation around the award is in danger of focusing more on its namesake than the writers it was intended to recognize and elevate, and that is something nobody—even Campbell himself—would want.
A Statement from the Editor [The Astounding Analog Companion]