mckitterick: (Galaxy Magazine cover)
( Jul. 9th, 2014 12:54 pm)
Forgive me, religious-patriarchal figure, it's been more than a month since my last update. What have I been up to since my last confession?
  • Spent the first two weeks of June teaching the Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop at KU's Center for the Study of SF, a residential program that consumes pretty much every waking hour.

  • Did my thing at the Campbell Conference, which this year honored Frederik Pohl and discussed "Science fiction in the real world." We also presented the Campbell (best SF novel) and Sturgeon (best SF story) Memorial Awards.

  • Taught the Intensive SF Institute during the second two weeks of June, also residential (except for a few locals). Final projects should be piling in today. To all of you wonderful scholars and workshoppers who spent your June with us and are home now: I miss everyone so much!

  • Wrote another few thousand words on The Galactic Adventures of Jack & Stella:

    It's ALMOST DONE - and Book 2 has reached 4000 words.

  • My essay on "Frederik Pohl: Mr Science Fiction (A Love Story)" just came out in the current issue of Foundation - The International Review of Science Fiction.

  • I'm hard at work on a new Jupiter story (the follow-up to "Jupiter Whispers") for an upcoming anthology edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. Including this one, I plan to finish (or revise) at least three stories this month and send them out for consideration.

  • I'll be quoted in the next issue of Popular Mechanics magazine (!) about the top SF novels.

  • Oh, and I gave a bunch of talks and interviews for NPR's Up to Date show, the Lawrence Free State Festival, KU Endowment, the Lawrence Journal-World, SciFi4Me (part of their livestream of the Campbell Conference), and one (plus the usual stuff) at the Campbell Conference.

So I've been way out of touch with the world. Took most of last week as a sort of stay-cation. MUCH NEEDED.

How's your summer going?

Chris
The finalists for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction novel of 2013 have been announced. Congratulations to everyone on the list! A great set of books, any one of which could be your favorite of the year.



News item here.

Award details and former winners here.

Finalist list for this year and many prior years here.

Photos of the trophies here.
LAWRENCE, KS - May 5, 2014 for immediate release
Also available in .doc
or .pdf version


This year's finalists for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short science fiction have been selected, announced Christopher McKitterick, Director of the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction. The awards will be presented during the Campbell Conference on Friday, June 13, as part of the Campbell Conference held annually at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

The Gunn Center is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2014 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short SF of the year:

"Bloom," Gregory Norman Bossert. Asimov's, Dec 2013.
"The Weight of the Sunrise," Vylar Kaftan. Asimov's, Feb 2013.
"They Shall Salt the Earth with Seeds of Glass," Alaya Dawn Johnson. Asimov's, Jan 2013.
"Over There," Will McIntosh. Asimov's, Jan 2013.
"The Wildfires of Antarctica," Alan De Niro. Tyrannia and Other Renditions, Small Beer Press.
"The Irish Astronaut," Val Nolan. Electric Velocipede, May 2013.
"In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind," Sarah Pinsker. Strange Horizons, July 2013.
"Mystic Falls," Robert Reed. Clarkesworld, Nov 2013.
"Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer," Kenneth Scheyer. Clockwork Phoenix 4, Mythic Delirium Books.
"The Urishima Effect," E. Lily Yu. Clarkesworld, June 2013.










The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award recognizes the best science fiction short story each year. It was established in 1987 by James Gunn, Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at KU; and the heirs of Theodore Sturgeon, including his partner Jayne Engelhart Tannehill and Sturgeon's children; as an appropriate memorial to one of the great short-story writers in a field distinguished by its short fiction. The current jury consists of Elizabeth Bear, Andy Duncan, James Gunn, Kij Johnson, and Noël Sturgeon, Trustee of the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Estate.

Sturgeon, born in 1918, was closely identified with the Golden Age of science fiction, 1939-1950, and is often mentioned as one of the four writers who helped establish that age. The others were Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and A. E. van Vogt; all four had their first SF stories published in 1939. In addition to fiction (his best-known novel is the classic, More Than Human), Sturgeon also wrote book reviews, poetry, screenplays, radio plays, and television plays, including two classic teleplays for the original Star Trek. He was a popular lecturer and teacher, and was a regular visiting writer at the Intensive Institute on the Teaching of Science Fiction. Sturgeon died in 1985. His books, manuscripts, and papers are deposited at the University of Kansas.

The Award will be presented Friday, June 14, at the Campbell Conference, held at the University of Kansas Student Union in Lawrence, Kansas, June 14-16. The Campbell Conference has been held each year since 1978 at the University of Kansas. It includes a Friday-evening banquet where the annual Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award are given; a Saturday-morning roundtable discussion with scholars, scientists, and writers of science fiction; an afternoon discussion about interdisciplinary science-fiction studies, and other events. This year's topic is "Science Fiction in the Real World," with a special focus on the work and life of Frederik Pohl, a long-time friend of the Center.

James Gunn will read from and sign his new novel Transcendental this afternoon (Wednesday, Oct. 9), in the Jayhawk Ink Bookstore from 4:00pm-5:30pm. Transcendental is an alien Canterbury Tales-Origin of Species-New Space Opera mashup, full of ideas and wonder.


Come get a copy of his wonderful new novel that Frederik Pohl called, "his best yet, and in it he demonstrates his possession of one of the most finely developed skills at world-building (and at aliens-creating to populate those worlds) in science fiction today. Read it!"

James Gunn's newest novel, out now
from Tor Books. Click for full-size slipcover art (.pdf).


James Gunn, photographed in 2013 by Jason Dailey.

I put together a short memorial for Fred at the Center's website, here, including a few people's memories (and my own of how Fred changed my writing life).

I've missed seeing Fred at the annual Campbell Conference for a few years now, but knowing I'll never see him again is hard.

He was a truly great man, and kind, and thoughtful, and patient, and good. His endless promotion of science was inspiring, and his gentle criticism of the foolish ways of humans made me a better person. I'll miss him a great deal. We all will. The loss of Frederik Pohl makes the world a little less bright.

Hug someone you love today.

Best,
Chris

The new Riddick: Rule the Dark! (exclamation mark added for emphasis; why doesn't it come with an exclamation mark? All Riddick movies should come with exclamation marks) comes on in just over a week!

As if I needed any more reasons to see this movie, this'll do it: Riddick saves a space-puppy!


Click the image to see the short clip.

I love Vin Diesel for many reasons, but here's another one:



Yes:


Click the image to see the Penny Arcade page.

In other news, I'm heading to LoneStarCon3 on Friday morning (meaning I miss the James Gunn Guest-of-Honor reception on Thursday evening, which I helped organize... stupid first day of only-once-a-week class). Here's my WorldCon schedule (with a couple items I helped organize but can't attend):

Thursday
6:00pm - 8:00pm: Reception for students and close associates of Guest of Honor James Gunn

If you want to be part of this but haven't yet gotten an invite, let me know ASAP and I'll try to get you on the invite list! I'm sad that I can't attend, but I get to see Jim every week. Still, what's up with WorldCon starting on the Thursday of the first week of classes? ARGH.

Friday
5:00pm: "When is Hard SF Too Hard"
008A (Convention Center)
Nancy Kress, Michael J. Martinez, Christopher McKitterick, Jack Skillingstead.
Our panelists discuss the delicate balance between punching a button to go into hyperspace, and reaching for your calculator to figure out if you really could.

Saturday
4:00pm: "Cartography of Genre: Roman Epic Space Opera and the Academic Legacy of Jim Gunn"
008A (Convention Center)
Christopher McKitterick (Mod), Donald M. Hassler, Bob Cape
This includes a couple of papers: "Space Opera and the Greco-Roman Epic" Bob Cape, Austin College; "A Key Cartographer of the Genre: Jim Gunn" Donald M. "Mack" Hassler, Kent State University.

5:00pm: James Gunn Tribute
103B (Convention Center)
Michael Page, Gary K. Wolfe, Kij Johnson, Christopher McKitterick, John Kessel, and hopefully others!
A tribute by our panelists to LoneStarCon 3 Guest of Honor, James Gunn.

Sunday
5:30pm - 6:00pm: Reading: Christopher McKitterick
This one is uncertain, as at first I had thought I wasn't going to still be at the con on Sunday evening, so maybe and maybe not. *sigh*

Monday
Do you know a teacher, parent, librarian or anyone else interested in getting SF into the hands of young folks? The Center's two new AboutSF Volunteer Coordinator student-employees will present a "Teaching Science Fiction: A Workshop for Teachers, Librarians, and Parents" for much of the day on Monday. In their trial-run at ConQuest this year, they gave a fantastic presentation, and have been working hard at this longer version. I can't participate, as I'm on the plane during this time, but they'll do a great job, I'm sure. Check 'em out!

Okay, back to 1) writing and 2) work!

Best,
Chris
mckitterick: aboard the New Orleans trolley (just Chris)
( Jul. 19th, 2013 02:20 pm)
I realize that, like many, I've grown lazy about posting cool stuff I find on the internets, using the quick-and-easy Facebook method of sharing instead of posting a proper entry here. So here are a few recent links:

First up: Next Tuesday at 7:30pm in Lawrence's Free State Brewery, I'll be leading a conversation on "Science Fiction: Mythologies for a Changing Age." If you'd like to attend AND eat dinner, I encourage you to get there a bunch early, because the place usually fills up for these events, leaving standing-room only for those who arrive on time. If you just want to hang out and drink one of Free State's fantastic beers, well, come on down when we get started. Details here.

Today, between 4:27 and 4:42, the Cassini spacecraft out at Saturn will take the second-ever photo of Earth from beyond the Earth-Moon system. (The first was the famous "Pale, Blue Dot" shot that Voyager snapped.) The Americas, mid-Atlantic Ocean, and parts of Western Africa will be in the shot. Sure, it'll only be about a pixel wide, so your pretty face will be, um, rather tiny, but this is HISTORY! Get outside and wave at Cassini and Saturn today!

Gunn's upcoming (August 2013) novel Transcendental just got a starred review from Kirkus Reviews that calls it "Gunn's best in years - quite possibly his best ever." What a nice birthday present, wouldn't you say? Beyond being Author Guest of Honor at this year's WorldCon, he just had a collection of essays published, was Guest of Honor at the 2013 SFRA/Eaton Conference, and will see at least two more books published before his next birthday. If only the rest of us could be so awesome at any age.

Earlier this week, I submitted the fourth essay due to various people this summer. This frees me up to write, y'know, MY OWN stuff! Of course, mostly I've been recuperating from the month-long Science Fiction Summer program here at KU - which, don't get me wrong, I love, but being a residential thang where a guy needs to be "on" about 18 hours a day, sucks up a ton of creative juices. Even so, The Galactic Adventures of Jack & Stella - still planning to get it and my previous novel out to the agent later this month.

In related news, I've nearly finished updating my Hot-Rod Newport to using a complete MSD electronics package, including Atomic fuel-injection system, digital distributor, and capacitive-discharge ignition. I'm setting it up to be able to digitally control not only the fuel and spark, but also the timing. This afternoon, I hope to give it a try... *fingers crossed*

This makes me SO HAPPY: Pizza in Space video. Ad astra, little pizza slice!

Today's moment of nostalgia: Pac-Man as existential horror story, by the online comic, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

And I leave you with this, me wearing my new scooter helmet (full description of safety mods to come):


Have a great weekend!

Best,
Chris

The Campbell Conference is a wrap - what a great time! Despite a million challenges, everyone able to attend seemed to enjoy the event, many were inspired by the various talks, the receptions were a blast, and awards were dispensed. Who won what? Check out the press release on the CSSF News page! Congratulations to all the winners - this was an incredibly good year. Depending on your reading tastes, your favorite book or short story for 2012 might turn out to be any of the finalists, so the jurors recommend that you read all the works on both the Sturgeon short-list and the Campbell short-list.

How about a quick bit of Astro-Porn? Check it out: Great shot of the International Space Station skittering across the surface of the Moon (I lie... nice shot of the ISS and the Moon, though):


Click the image to see the Spaceweather page. Thanks to Jeremy Tolbert for the tip!

Okay, now I'm off to the Intensive Institute on Science Fiction. Good day!

Best,
Chris

Click the image to see Keith Stokes' photo-essay of the event.
*An extra Campbell Conference treat at the Spencer Research Library this Friday*

A special selection of materials from the Spencer science fiction collection will be on display in their Johnson room from 9:00am - 4:45pm this Friday, June 14. Anyone who is interested is welcome to stop by and see these rare items.

And, if you ask about the SF display at the front desk when you enter the building, Special Collections Librarian Elspeth Healey will come out and personally tour you around the items, so don't miss this great opportunity! 

Best,
Chris

The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction's summer program is in its second week of workshops (both long and short-form), and this Friday through Sunday we host our annual Campbell Conference. A quick overview of events:

  • Best-selling SF author Kevin J. Anderson kicks off the Conference on Friday afternoon with a talk about dreaming big and making unrealistic expectations pay off.
  • On Friday evening, the Awards Ceremony and Banquet honors the winners of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and brand-new "Lifeboat to the Stars" Award, followed by a reception.
  • Saturday morning's round-table discussion theme is "To the Stars," where we will explore SF's long relationship with off-planet travel, its promises, and the future of the human race as a galactic species. We will also discuss the important steps along the path to the stars.
  • During lunch break on Saturday, get your books signed by this year's guest authors and editors at a mass autographing session. The bookstore has volumes for everyone on hand.
  • On Saturday afternoon, hear readings from Kevin J. Anderson, Andy Duncan, and James Gunn.
  • Saturday evening sees a special screening of the new Kevin Willmott film, Destination: Planet Negro!, followed by a Q&A with the director and cinematographer Matthew Jacobson. Afterward is another reception.
  • Sunday morning is an informal "meet the authors and editors" session, followed by an informal reception off-campus sponsored by Kansas City in 2016, a bid for the 74th Worldcon.

Due to a family emergency, Robert J. Sawyer is unable to attend this year's Campbell Conference.

To learn more about our events and guests, visit the Conference page: http://www.sfcenter.ku.edu/campbell-conference.htm

And please help spread the word!

Best,
Chris

Not much serious here, just some stuff to enhance your day!

First up, "El Martillo de Thor se queda Pendejo." While taking a little break from grading final projects, I stumbled across this insane video about a cultural phenomenon I was not aware of, but now must learn EVERYTHING about. Whoah. You gotta respect Mjölnir, else it tries to launch you into space. Seriously, though, what kind of festivals do they celebrate south of the border?


(Okay, I'd go watch this. Wearing eye protection. And a helmet. And body armor.)

Next, OMG am I charmed half-to-death by "Star Trek: The Middle School Musical":



Finally, if you're local, here are a few upcoming area SF events you don't want to miss:

Spectrum Fantastic Art Live, the most amazing SF art show anywhere, THIS weekend. In its second year.

ConQuesT, the Kansas City SF convention, on Memorial Day weekend.

And of course in a month is the Campbell Conference. Newly confirmed guest authors include Kevin J. Anderson and Robert J. Sawyer, plus we'll host a screening of Destination Planet Negro, among other things:



This year's theme is "To the Stars," an SFnal play on the Kansas state motto. June 13-16.

Okay, I'm either diving back into grading or else going out to the garage to install the fuel pump for the Hot Rod Newport's new fuel-injection rig... decisions, decisions....

Best,
Chris
Learn how to write SF that sells. Using the short-story form, we help writers master the elements that create great stories. Since 1985.

Less than three weeks left to apply to be part of this year's Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop at the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction...

Science Fiction Grand Master James Gunn - who founded the Center for the Study of SF at the University of Kansas and taught the workshop from 1985 to 2010 - joins this summer's SF Writing Workshop for Week One of the Workshop.

More good news: Andy Duncan once again serves as guest author for Week Two of the Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop. Welcome back, Jim and Andy! Author and CSSF Director Christopher McKitterick, who served as guest author from 1996 to 2010, has led the Workshop since 2011.

For 2013, the Workshop meets from June 2 - 14, followed by the Campbell Awards and Conference, from June 13 - 16, which in turn is followed by the two-week Intensive Institute on the Teaching of Science Fiction (short stories this summer).

Gunn joins us for the first week of the Workshop, for lunches throughout, and for the Conference; Andy joins us for the second week plus the Conference; and our Campbell Award- and Sturgeon Award-winning authors are usually on hand for the last day or two of the Workshop to share their expertise. During the last day or two of the second week, we also expect to have both our Campbell Award and Sturgeon Award-winning authors plus Kij Johnson and other Campbell Conference-attending authors and editors on hand talking about the business of writing.

Bonus: Attendees receive free admission to the Campbell Conference!

The Workshop is a fantastic experience, intended especially for writers who have just begun to publish or who need that final bit of insight or skill to become a published author. We work with all brands of speculative fiction, including horror, fantasy, magical realism, slipstream, speculative philosophy, all genres of science fiction, and so on, and it's a wonderful way to bond with fellow writers in a friendly and dedicated atmosphere. Plus we go out to dinner every night at a different restaurant in downtown Lawrence, watch lots of (both admirable and awful) SF film, and write our brains out.

Since 2011, it's also available for KU graduate credit as ENGL757. If you're a grad student who needs summer credit to accelerate that graduation date, perfect! Most attendees, however, simply enroll as a professional workshop rather than for credit.

Interested? This is a great opportunity to gain insights from some of the most-respected authors in the field. We are still open for applications through May 20, but sooner is better as we usually fill early. See the website for details, and drop me a note right away so I can reserve you a spot.

Know a writer who might be interested? Please pass this on. And teachers, please spread the word to interested students.

Thanks!
Chris
Tags:

For immediate release
Also available in .doc or .pdf version

Earlier this year, Frederik Pohl announced his intentions to step down from his long-time service to the Award.
New Sturgeon Award juror Andy Duncan talks about being honored with the Award by Pohl:
One of the highlights of my life was being handed my Sturgeon Award trophy by Frederik Pohl, at the 2002 ceremony, as he's been one of my heroes since I was a kid. His stories, novels, and nonfiction, and the magazines and anthologies he has edited, have not only shaped the field of science fiction for me and everyone else, but have shaped my conception of what it means to be a professional writer. On the Sturgeon jury, in particular, his firsthand knowledge of the science-fiction short story is simply irreplaceable; the jury will have a Fred-shaped hole in it forever.


Pohl presents the Sturgeon Award to Duncan.

Chris McKitterick recalls how Pohl changed his life:
I first came to the University of Kansas to take James Gunn's SF Writing Workshop in the summer of 1992, and was both astounded and incredibly pleased to discover that we had the opportunity to work with not only Gunn but another master of the art - completely to ourselves! - Frederik Pohl. I first read his work in the form of Gateway, which still holds a central place in my heart and deeply influenced how I write. That workshop truly changed my life. I felt that I must do my absolute best to become a real SF writer so I could retroactively deserve such access and professional attention. Fred returned to the Workshop and Campbell Conference just about every year for the following two decades, sharing his time, intelligence, and gentle wisdom with other summer-program attendees. Fred is one of the reasons I fell in love with the Center. No one can be Fred, but he inspires us to be our absolute best.
James Gunn shares an excerpt of his essay, "Fred and Me," from the Gateways collection:


Pohl at the 2002 Campbell Conference.

Fred told me once, "Conventions never end; they just adjourn to another venue." That’s the way it was for Fred and me. We met at a convention, the World Science Fiction Convention of 1952, held in the old Morrison Hotel in Chicago. It was my first convention, my first meeting with SF writers and editors, and even readers, of any kind, and it was a wonderful beginning.

I’d been writing science fiction since the spring of 1948 and having my stories published since the fall of 1949. During those two years I kept writing, among other things a novella, "Breaking Point," that I adapted from a three-act play I wrote as an Investigation and Conference project. I sent it to Horace Gold, editor of Galaxy, and one day I got a telephone call from this clipped New York voice saying he liked "Breaking Point," but it was too long and would I let Ted Sturgeon cut it down.

Horace also suggested my name to Fred Pohl, who was running a literary agency called Dirk Wylie and, I later discovered, was close to Horace, and Fred became my agent. He was a good agent, and he sold a lot of stories for me—some to Horace (though not "Breaking Point," which he sold to Lester del Rey at the new Space Science Fiction), some to John Campbell, some to lesser markets, and one wondrous sale to Argosy—and a couple of novels.
When Orson Scott Card got too busy to organize the Sturgeon Award decision process, I asked Fred if we could do it. Together we recruited Judy Merril and later, after her resignation the year before her death, we got Kij Johnson, a previous winner, as a replacement. I haven’t even mentioned Fred’s distinguished service as president of the Science Fiction Writers of America (or the irony of his having criticized its value in earlier days), or as president of World SF, or his many invitations to speak as a futurist, or his lecturing on science fiction in Europe for the US Information Agency (he paved the way for my three later trips), or his Grand Master Award from SFWA, or his awards from other groups such as the Science Fiction Research Association, or the trends his stories and novels have anticipated. You can look it up.

We’ve all grown old together, Fred and me and science fiction, too. Conventions are not what they used to be (neither is the future). I wasn’t there at the beginning of the conventions, as Fred was, or of the Futurians, who were banned from the first World Convention but got their revenge by taking over a good part of science fiction in their day. But we’ve seen a lot of it—Fred for more than seventy years, me for only sixty. Maybe the next convention will convene in an alternate universe.
We will truly miss Fred's contributions to the Center and the Award.

For immediate release
Also available in .doc or .pdf version

Elizabeth Bear and Andy Duncan have accepted appointment to the jury for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short SF of the year. They replace Frederik Pohl, who retired from the jury after having served for many years, almost since the Award's inception.


Elizabeth Bear
photo by Kyle Cassidy

Elizabeth Bear was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. She is the John W. Campbell New Writer, Hugo, Locus, and Spectrum Award-winning author of more than a dozen novels and nearly a hundred short stories, including her 2008 Sturgeon Award-winning story, "Tideline." Her work has been nominated numerous times for these and other awards. Bear's hobbies include rock climbing and cooking. Bear lives in Massachusetts, but may frequently be found in Wisconsin, the home of her partner, fantasist Scott Lynch.

Andy Duncan won the Sturgeon Award for his 2001 Asimov's novella "The Chief Designer." His first collection, Beluthahatchie and Other Stories, won a World Fantasy Award, as did his SciFi.com story, "The Pottawatomie Giant." Duncan has been nominated six times for the Nebula Award, twice for the Stoker, three times for the World Fantasy Award, twice for the Shirley Jackson Award, and twice for the Hugo Award. Duncan has been a juror for the Philip K. Dick, Shirley Jackson, and Bram Stoker awards, and has taught at Clarion, Clarion West, and the SF Writing Workshop at the University of Kansas. Recent books include The Pottawatomie Giant & Other Stories, his second short-fiction collection; Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic, an anthology co-edited with F. Brett Cox; The Night Cache, a stand-alone novella; and Alabama Curiosities, an offbeat travel guide. A tenure-track faculty member in the English department at Frostburg State University in Maryland, Duncan also teaches a weekly seminar on 21st-century science fiction and fantasy in the Honors College of the University of Alabama.


Andy Duncan
photo by Al Bogdan



The Sturgeon Award for the best short science fiction of the year is one of the major annual awards for science fiction. It was established in 1987 by James Gunn, Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at KU, and the heirs of Theodore Sturgeon, including his widow Jayne Sturgeon and Sturgeon's children, as an appropriate memorial to one of the great short-story writers in a field distinguished by its short fiction.

Sturgeon, born in 1918, was closely identified with the Golden Age of science fiction, 1939-1950, and is often mentioned as one of the four writers who helped establish that age. The others were Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and A. E. van Vogt; all four had their first SF stories published in 1939. In addition to fiction (his best-known novel is the classic, More than Human), Sturgeon also wrote book reviews, poetry, screenplays, radio plays, and television plays, including two classic teleplays for the original Star Trek. He was a popular lecturer and teacher, and was a regular visiting writer at the Intensive Institute on the Teaching of Science Fiction. Sturgeon died in 1985.

His books, manuscripts, and papers have been deposited at the University of Kansas, as he wished. See this page for news and information about the 2011 acquisition, valued at over $600,000.

For its first eight years (1987-1994), the Sturgeon Award was selected by a committee of short-fiction experts headed by Orson Scott Card. Beginning in 1995, the Sturgeon Award became a juried award, with winners selected by a committee composed of James Gunn, Frederik Pohl, and Judith Merril. After the 1996 Award, Judith Merril resigned and was replaced by Kij Johnson, the 1994 Sturgeon winner; in 2005, George Zebrowski joined the jury. Since 1999, one of Sturgeon's children has also participated in this process, usually Nöel Sturgeon.

The current jury consists of Elizabeth Bear, Andy Duncan, James Gunn, Kij Johnson, George Zebrowski, and Nöel Sturgeon, Trustee of the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Estate.

Eligible stories are those published in English during the previous calendar year. Nominations come from a wide variety of science-fiction reviewers and serious readers as well as from the editors who publish short fiction. Nominations are collected during the winter by Chris McKitterick, who produces a list of finalists based on nominators' rankings. The jury then reads all of the finalists and debates their merits during the spring until they arrive at a consensus decision in May. The winning author is usually contacted in May and invited to attend the Campbell Conference; the winner often attends the last day or two of the SF Writers Workshop, as well.

The Sturgeon Award is presented during the Campbell Conference Awards Banquet at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, as the focal point of a weekend of discussions about the writing, illustration, publishing, teaching, and criticism of science fiction.

Press release also available on the CSSF News page here.

Best,
Chris

We all have the time, suggests Cory Doctorow.

(By the way, we now have the hard drive containing the videos of his talk from last week, and I'll be editing and posting it soon.)

While he was here, we talked about how he finds time to write while whirling around the world more days than he's at home. Yet he gets more written than most people (besides Asimov, but who could?).

This is a big issue for me. At the start of this semester, with one of my courses now an online course, I thought I would make Mondays and possibly part of Tuesdays my "Writing-Only Days" (I even put those into my Google Calendar). I have a novel well under way and outlined, and I'm enthusiastic about writing it. Wow, I was going to get this sucker done before finals were in!

Not so fast.

I discovered that a new course requires a lot of focus. Not only is it a new course, but it's an online course, which requires TONS of regular interaction. Plus spring is when I do most of the reading for the Campbell Award; I was responsible for planning, promoting, organizing, and participating in the Doctorow talk; I've had to write a couple short pieces that have actual due dates; I'm planning talks at WorldCon, the Eaton Conference, and ConQuest; we're working on the upcoming Sturgeon Award Anthology; I have a million duties as CSSF Director; I have two other courses that require regular attention and classtime; and even I occasionally need a break from the keyboard. Heck, I'd even like to have a personal life - when the snow blanketed town, I really wanted to work on the Chevelle! But those days required EXTRA teaching time to make up online for missing in-class time.

Goodbye, "Writing-Only Days." I deleted those from my calendar a couple of weeks ago. That was discouraging and a little depressing.

I've just been unable to find the big blocks of time that I feel I need to get writing done. Momentum, focus, all that. I've always written that way, sometimes planning so well in advance that I can write entire short stories, novel chapters, and even the occasional novella in one sitting! Not so anymore.

Well, Doctorow says that we can train ourselves otherwise. He always tries to write at least a couple hundred words a day; other days he writes more, some days less. The point is that he writes whenever he finds the time, and gets done as much as he can. A few hundred words a day equals a novel a year. When I asked how he maintains momentum with such short, separated bursts, he answered, "With practice."

Later, as if to demonstrate, I witnessed this in action: While he was sitting in my office at work between events, he pulled out his laptop and wrote part of an article that was due soon. Just like that, during a 15-minute lull. What a role-model!

Fellow Lawrence spec-fic author Kij Johnson has been forced to use this same writing process since starting her career in academia, and now she writes first thing every morning before anything else. She has a novel due soon, and must continue to publish or order to make tenure, so she had just enough outside pressure to help her create a new habit.

These are two very different authors, each with very different writing, but it works for them both, with practice.

Time to start practicing.



I know that the hardest part for me is going to be letting go of checking in with my students first thing each morning, because there will always be emergencies to deal with, and there goes my focus. I need to start putting my writing career first: I have yet to encounter an emergency that was more important for an hour or two than my writing career as a whole. I can check in later.

(This is a challenge; it's hard just to write that publicly. But it's not as difficult as seeing another week go by during which my writing adds up to only some more notes.)

Tomorrow I start this! I'll report back from time to time to keep myself honest and to let y'all know how it's going. I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks he needs big blocks of time to write... and then ends up not writing nearly as much as he needs or wants to. I hope to serve as yet another good example of creating good writing (or whatever your art is) habits!

Chris
Center for the Study of Science Fiction press release on the News page here.

Science-fiction author, journalist, technology activist, and Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow presents this year's Richard W. Gunn Memorial Lecture:

"The Coming War on General Purpose Computing:
Every single political issue will end up rehashing the stupid Internet copyright fight."

When:
Thursday, February 28, 2013
7:30pm - 9:30pm

Where:
Alderson Auditorium
University of Kansas Student Union
Lawrence, KS 66045

Cost:
Free! Seating is limited, so arrive early to ensure a spot.

Jayhawk Ink bookstore will have copies of several of Doctorow's books available to purchase in Alderson Auditorium (as well as the bookstore on Level 2) and get signed by the author after the talk.

This is Doctorow's third visit to KU: first in 1999 when his story "Craphound" (his first published story) was a finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and next in 2009 when his novel Little Brother won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

Don't miss hearing one of the most interesting thinkers of our time talk about some of our most-relevant issues! Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction and the KU Department of English.

Bio:
Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist, and technology activist. He is the co-editor of the popular weblog Boing Boing, and a contributor to The Guardian, the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Wired, and many other newspapers, magazines, and websites. He was formerly Director of European Affairs for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit civil-liberties group that defends freedom in technology law, policy, standards, and treaties. He holds an honorary doctorate in computer science from the Open University (UK), where he is a Visiting Senior Lecturer; in 2007, he served as the Fulbright Chair at the Annenberg Center for Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California.

Doctorow's novels have been translated into dozens of languages and are published by Tor Books and simultaneously released on the Internet under Creative Commons licenses that encourage their re-use and sharing, a move that increases his sales by enlisting his readers to help promote his work. His work has won the Locus, Sunburst, Ontario Library White Pine, Prometheus, Indienet, and John W. Campbell Memorial awards, and been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon Memorial (for "Craphound"), and British Science Fiction Awards. His latest young-adult novel is Pirate Cinema, a story of mashup guerillas who declare war on the entertainment industry. His latest novel for adults is Rapture of the Nerds, written with Charles Stross and published in 2012. His New York Times Bestseller Little Brother was published in 2008. A sequel, Homeland, was just published. His latest short story collection is With a Little Help, available in paperback, ebook, audiobook and limited edition hardcover. In 2011, Tachyon Books published a collection of his essays, called Context: Further Selected Essays on Productivity, Creativity, Parenting, and Politics in the 21st Century (with an introduction by Tim O'Reilly) and IDW published a collection of graphic stories inspired by his short fiction called Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now. The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow, a PM Press Outspoken Authors chapbook, was also published in 2011.

He co-founded the open-source peer-to-peer software company OpenCola, sold to OpenText, Inc in 2003, and presently serves on the boards and advisory boards of the Participatory Culture Foundation, the Clarion Foundation, The Glenn Gould Foundation, and the Chabot Space & Science Center's SpaceTime project.

In 2007, Entertainment Weekly called him, "The William Gibson of his generation." He was also named one of Forbes Magazine's 2007/8/9/10 Web Celebrities, and one of the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders for 2007.
Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in London.

The Lecture Series:
The Gunn Lecture, endowed by Dr. Richard W. Gunn, James Gunn's brother, has featured several science-fiction scholars. Although it has also sponsored speakers on Shakespeare and Ralph Ellison, it often brings distinguished science-fiction scholars to the campus beginning with scholar Fredric Jameson, William A. Lane Professor at Duke University; and continuing with Bill Brown, Edgar Carson Waller Professor at the University of Chicago; China Miéville, British author of what has become known as the New Weird; and Nöel Sturgeon, Theodore Sturgeon's daughter and trustee of his literary estate, Professor of Critical Cultures, Gender, and Race Studies at Washington State University, and juror on the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. The Center also recently co-sponsored a visit from Michael Chabon, prize-winning author and editor.

Promotional materials:
KU Calendar news item here.
SFWA news item here.
Facebook event page here.
Google+ event page here.
Yelp event page here.

Press release on the CSSF News page here.

Posters in .pdf format (other formats on the News page):

Feel free to use these images and posters on your websites, share them around, remix them to help promote the talk, and so forth!

If you are unfamiliar with Doctorow's work and would like to get acquainted with it, here's a short reader (from the CSSF "Science, Technology, & Society" course) - all available free online:

Short story, “I, Robot.”
Short-short story, “Printcrime.”
Chapter 4 from the Campbell Award-winning novel, Little Brother.
    Want to read more Doctorow stories? Novels? See the recommended reading, below.
Essay, “I Can't Let You Do That, Dave: What it means to design our computers and devices to disobey us.”
Essay, “Disorganised but effective: The most profound social revolutions in human history have arisen whenever a technology comes along that lowers transaction costs for everyone.”
Essay, “Internet copyright law has to have public support if it's going to work.”
Essay, “A Vocabulary for Speaking about the Future.”

Want to read more Doctorow articles and essays? Here's some more recommended reading to become familiar with his work:

Please help get the word out, and I hope to see you there!

Best,
Chris
Tags:

Author, journalist, technology activist, and Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow presents this year's Richard W. Gunn Memorial Lecture:

"The Coming War on General Purpose Computing:
Every single political issue will end up rehashing the stupid Internet copyright fight."

For immediate release (.doc version here)

When:
Thursday, February 28, 2013
7:30pm - 9:30pm

Where:
Alderson Auditorium
University of Kansas Student Union
Lawrence, KS 66045

Cost:
Free! Seating is limited, so arrive early to ensure a spot.

Jayhawk Ink bookstore will have copies of several of Doctorow's books available to purchase in Alderson Auditorium (as well as the bookstore on Level 2) and get signed by the author after the talk.

This is Doctorow's third visit to KU: first in 1999 when his story "Craphound" (his first published story) was a finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and next in 2009 when his novel Little Brother won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

Don't miss hearing one of the most interesting thinkers of our time talk about some of our most-relevant issues!


Bio:

Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist, and technology activist. He is the co-editor of the popular weblog Boing Boing, and a contributor to The Guardian, the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Wired, and many other newspapers, magazines, and websites. He was formerly Director of European Affairs for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit civil-liberties group that defends freedom in technology law, policy, standards, and treaties. He holds an honorary doctorate in computer science from the Open University (UK), where he is a Visiting Senior Lecturer; in 2007, he served as the Fulbright Chair at the Annenberg Center for Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California.

Doctorow's novels have been translated into dozens of languages and are published by Tor Books and simultaneously released on the Internet under Creative Commons licenses that encourage their re-use and sharing, a move that increases his sales by enlisting his readers to help promote his work. His work has won the Locus, Sunburst, Ontario Library White Pine, Prometheus, Indienet, and John W. Campbell Memorial awards, and been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon Memorial (for "Craphound"), and British Science Fiction Awards. His latest young-adult novel is Pirate Cinema, a story of mashup guerillas who declare war on the entertainment industry. His latest novel for adults is Rapture of the Nerds, written with Charles Stross and published in 2012. His New York Times Bestseller Little Brother was published in 2008. A sequel, Homeland, was just published. His latest short story collection is With a Little Help, available in paperback, ebook, audiobook and limited edition hardcover. In 2011, Tachyon Books published a collection of his essays, called Context: Further Selected Essays on Productivity, Creativity, Parenting, and Politics in the 21st Century (with an introduction by Tim O'Reilly) and IDW published a collection of comic books inspired by his short fiction called Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now. The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow, a PM Press Outspoken Authors chapbook, was also published in 2011.

He co-founded the open source peer-to-peer software company OpenCola, sold to OpenText, Inc in 2003, and presently serves on the boards and advisory boards of the Participatory Culture Foundation, the Clarion Foundation, The Glenn Gould Foundation, and the Chabot Space & Science Center's SpaceTime project.

In 2007, Entertainment Weekly called him, "The William Gibson of his generation." He was also named one of Forbes Magazine's 2007/8/9/10 Web Celebrities, and one of the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders for 2007.

Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in London.


The Lecture Series:

The Gunn Lecture, endowed by Dr. Richard W. Gunn, James Gunn's brother, has featured several science-fiction scholars. Although it has also sponsored speakers on Shakespeare and Ralph Ellison, it often brings distinguished science-fiction scholars to the campus beginning with scholar Fredric Jameson, William A. Lane Professor at Duke University; and continuing with Bill Brown, Edgar Carson Waller Professor at the University of Chicago; China Miéville, British author of what has become known as the New Weird; and Nöel Sturgeon, Theodore Sturgeon's daughter and trustee of his literary estate, Professor of Critical Cultures, Gender, and Race Studies at Washington State University, and juror on the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. The Center also recently co-sponsored a visit from Michael Chabon, prize-winning author and editor.

KU Calendar news item here.

Facebook Event page here.

This just in:

A Connecticut high-school astronomy teacher has uncovered a dazzling view of a satellite galaxy to the Milky Way while exploring the "hidden treasures" of the Hubble Space Telescope. Here's where he started, the original Hubble shot:


Click the image to see the Space.com article.


The photo shows an intriguing star nursery dotted with dark dust lanes in the Large Magellanic Cloud - an irregular companion galaxy to our Milky Way Galaxy - about 200,000 light-years from Earth. As the Milky Way’s gravity gently tugs on its neighbor’s gas clouds, they collapse to form new stars. In turn, these light up the gas clouds in a kaleidoscope of colors.

Josh Lake, a high school astronomy teacher at Pomfret School in Pomfret, Conn., as part of the "Hubble Hidden Treasures" contest that challenged space fans to find unseen images from the observatory. Lake won first prize in the Hubble photo contest with an image of the LHA 120-N11 (N11) region of the Large Magellanic Cloud. Hubble officials combined Lake's image with more observations of the N11 region in blue, green and near-infrared light wavelengths to create this new image:


Click the image to see the Space.com article.


From NASA: "In the center of this image, a dark finger of dust blots out much of the light. While nebulae are mostly made of hydrogen, the simplest and most plentiful element in the universe, dust clouds are home to heavier and more complex elements, which go on to form rocky planets like the Earth."

Look at all those baby stars! Just wanted to start everyone's week off with some pretty.

Now I'm off to take a look at the scholarship hall KU Housing suggests we use for this summer's CSSF Speculative Fiction Writing Workshops (short-fiction workshop here, novel workshop here) - we're taking applications now, so if you or someone you know is interested, it's time to apply!

Chris
Tags:
If you love science fiction and fantasy of any length, now's your chance to make your favorite works known! For the next few days (through the end of November), Locus Online is operating a survey of the best SF/F of the past 112 years on their website.

List what you consider the best novels in two separate categories - SF and fantasy - and combined SF/F in the novella, novelette, and short-story length. (Lots of horror in there, too; you pick where you think it best fits.) The 20th century gets 10 ranked positions for each category, and 21st century fiction gets five; I assume this heavier weight-per-year (100 gets 10 slots, 12 gets 5 slots) is because we better remember recent work?

Anyhow, GO DO IT! Here are a ton of resources to refresh your memory (I certainly needed them):

  • The Center for the Study of Science Fiction's Basic Science Fiction Library: Mostly lists novels, but also contains some short fiction. This list is ordered by author, spanning all time. Includes publication dates and even links where we could find them! If you see any glaring omissions, please let me know and we'll consult about adding those works.

  • The John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best SF novel winners list: Goes back to 1972 novels (that is, the first Campbell Award-winning novel in 1973 was for a novel published in 1972).

  • The John W. Campbell Memorial Award finalist list: Goes back to 2003. I recommend looking through the finalist lists of the major awards, because what you might consider the best works don't always win! True for me, anyway.

  • Locus put together this fantastic list of 20th century SF/F novels: They mix SF and fantasy, so you'll have to decide on some of these where a novel belongs. How did they get on this list? "The lists include, first, every title that's won a Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Locus, British Fantasy, British SF, Campbell, Sturgeon, Clarke, International Fantasy, Shirley Jackson, or Bram Stoker award [except for first novels categories]. Second, every title that has been a nominee or runner-up for any two of these awards is included. Third, for 20th century novels, every title included in four or more reference works or polls, such as David Pringle's Science Fiction: 100 Best Novels, Neil Barron's Anatomy of Wonder, NPR's recent poll, and some 50 other works and polls compiled as part of the sfadb.com project, is included. For 21st century novels, since relatively few such references are recent enough to cover that period, the bar is lowered to inclusion in any one such work. The bars are set so that the number of titles added to the lists from such references is about the same as the number of titles included due to award standings."

  • The Locus list of 21st century SF/F novels: See above notes for details.

  • NPR's crowd-sourced Your Picks: Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books of all time.

  • The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short SF: Goes back to 1986 stories of all length shorter than the novel (that is, the first Sturgeon Award-winner in 1987 was for a short work published in 1986).

  • The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award finalist list: Goes back to 2003.

  • The Locus list of 20th century short SF/F. How did they get on this list? "For short fiction, the supplement to awards data is the number of anthology and collection reprints a story has accumulated, based on data compiled in the Locus Index to Science Fiction by William Contento. For 20th century stories, the bar is more than 8; for 21st century stories, the bar is more than 2, though the Index is not complete through 2010 and some recent titles have been added based on manual inspection of various year's-best anthologies. Again, the bars are set so that the final lists are roughly divided between titles via award references and titles via reprint references. For works not on the short fiction lists, there are word-count guidelines on the 20th century short fiction page."

  • The Locus list of 21st century short SF/F: See above for details. Also note that the letters in the publication-date info for suggestions of which category to use: ss is for short story, nvt is for novelette, nva is for novella.

  • The Nebula Award for best SF/F of the year list: This is Wikipedia's novel list, but also links to all the other lengths. (The official SFWA Nebula Award site only goes back to 2000.)

  • Hugo Award for best SF/F of the year list: Links to all the winners, of all lengths, and finalists, too.

Whew, that there's a lot of reading references! I hope you find it useful not just for voting on the Locus survey, but for future reading, too.

Best,
Chris
mckitterick: (meteor)
( Sep. 27th, 2012 01:34 pm)
Sad news from James Gunn about his wife, Jane:

Jane died last night at Brandon Woods. She had several hospitalizations in the last month or so, for dehydration, since she wasn't eating or drinking much, and went into hospice care a couple of weeks ago. She had been nonresponsive for the past few days, but they kept her comfortable, and we had a CD player beside her bed playing Frank Sinatra and [their son] Kevin's music. At her request, she is being cremated and will be inurned, in a small private occasion later, in Lawrence's Pioneer Cemetery, where many KU faculty and family are inurned. Jim

Here is her obituary.

My first memory of Jane was meeting her in 1993 at Jim's retirement party, in a stone castle in Lawrence, KS. She was vivacious - probably aided by champagne - and lovely, with creamy, unlined skin. I saw her often through the years since, when I visited their home. It will be strange to see Jim there, knowing that Jane will no longer answer the door.

Best,
Chris
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