When Jeanette Ng used her Campbell Awards speech at this year's Worldcon Hugo Awards ceremony to denounce the hugely influential science fiction editor John W Campbell for being a fascist, it kicked off a long-overdue reckoning within science fiction over the abusers, creeps, grifters, and out-and-out fascists (including Campbell) whose sins and transgressions had been systematically swept under the rug for decades.
Within weeks, Dell Magazines, sponsors of the Campbell Award, announced they were renaming the award for Astounding, the magazine Campbell edited (now published under the weirdly retro name Analog).
Now, the Campbell Conference at the University of Kansas at Lawrence — who give out the other Campbell award — have announced that both the conference and the award will be renamed. The center is conference over immediately, and will be called the Gunn Center Conference, for its founder, the sf writer, critic and scholar James Gunn. The award will be renamed shortly, though the new name hasn't been announced.
I believe I'm the only winner of both Campbells. I endorse this decision wholeheartedly.
As you might expect, Scalzi has some smart things to say about the announcement and what it means for Campbell's legacy:
Campbell's current reassessment doesn't mean he stops being a part of the history of science fiction, or an influence on the field. I've noted before I write science fiction in a fashion that is essentially "Campbellian" in broad subject matter and tone, and it's done pretty well for me, and I suspect will continue to for a while to come. It would be difficult (and dishonest) for me not to acknowledge his influence on my work, or his continuing impact on the field in general. I also acknowledge that so much of the best science fiction and fantasy today is not Campbellian in subject or tone, and written by people and voices I suspect Campbell wouldn't have deemed essential to the genre. The state of the genre today is such that it has room for all of us, and the genre has never been healthier. There's no one editor serving as a bottleneck, either for writers or readers. This is good news.
Campbell is and will always be part of science fiction's history. But history isn't static, even if the facts of history stay the same. Anyone notable enough to be part of the historical record will find themselves the subject of reassessment, for however long they grace history's record. It is, weirdly, a privilege not many people get. Campbell was never guaranteed a pedestal, or an award, or a conference in his name, even if he got them for a while. He was never guaranteed to keep them. No one is.
The Gunn Center Makes a Change, and Further Thoughts on the Reassessment of John W. Campbell [John Scalzi/Whatever]