Good news from the people at Analog magazine – the Campbell Award for New Writers is going to be renamed the Astounding Award. http://file770.com/campbell-name-removed-from-award/
A swift (in the end) change and a clever new name that connects the future of the award with its past.
The story is well covered elsewhere, so I’m off to look at the inevitable grumbling. And where better to find said grumbling than Brad Torgersen. In the wake of Jeannette Ng’s speech at the Hugo Awards, Brad declared:
“I was one of the very last Campbell Award nominees who actually respected the Campbell legacy. I was proud to hold a Hard SF flame aloft, in the woke murk of the (then new) decade.”Brad Torgersen, Facebook 23 August
For Brad this was a matter of ‘erasure’, which is weird the more I think about it. Campbell doesn’t cease to exist when his name isn’t attached to an award. The same rhetoric was used when the World Fantasy Award dropped the weird H.P.Lovecraft bust as its award trophy. We were told that Lovecraft was being erased. Several years later and there doesn’t seem to be any drop-off in discussion about H.P.Lovecraft. Far from being erased, work about or inspired by Lovecraft is as prevalent as ever — what had already changed was HOW people talked about and looked at his ‘legacy’.
John W Campbell isn’t being erased either. Frankly, if the only way you’d ever know that he ever existed was that an award had ‘Campbell’ attached to it then he would have already been erased. The award may as well have been named after a can of soup. Actual erasure is when people avoid the actual history of a person. A big part of this name change was the OPPOSITE of erasure and specifically Alec Nevala-Lee’s historical work Astounding that actually looked at Campbell’s legacy.
Brad has added a comment to his earlier post as a reaction to the news:
“This was inevitable. After they trashed the World Fantasy Award (hating on Lovecraft) it was only a matter of time before they came for Campbell. No old white dead men shall survive the Great Wokeness of these sorry, silly decades. Heinlein was right. It’s the Crazy Years.”
Now Brad says some silly things but even he isn’t so poor at structuring thought to really think that Campbell now just vanishes in a puff of wokeness. In fact, looking over Brad’s own posts about Campbell it’s also clear that all he presents about Campbell is a very vague idea. It’s about ‘legacy’ and traditions and hand-waving around something. It’s very much not about the man himself. Campbell simply is a marker.
For Brad having Campbell’s name on an award was no more and no less than a territorial mark. The removal of the mark is an affront because it is a loss of territory. The only question is who does he think this imaginary territory belongs to?