Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Grandfather Campbell

Well, it's official. There is no "grandfather" clause, or if there is, it'll be for next year's committee to work out.

As the result of an eleventh hour change in the guidelines for the Campbell Award, I went from being in my first year of eligibility for the award to being in my second. The principle change is this: In years previous, a qualifying "professional" publication was one which had a print run of at least 10,000 copies; now, "professional" publication means any work sold for more than a "nominal" amount and published. In 2003, I sold a story to Lou Anders for his anthology Live Without a Net, which had an initial print run of 8,000 copies. In 2004, then, I wasn't eligible to be nominated for the Campbell. Last year, though, I sold stories to Asimov's and Jeanne Cavelos' The Many Faces of Van Helsing (among others), both of which had print runs or circulations in excess of 10,000 copies. So, in 2005 I was in the pool of eligible writers, and a sufficient number of WorldCon attendees included my name on their ballots that I made the final list of nominees. As of last week, I assumed that I would be in my first year of eligibility, and that folks would be able to nominate me again next year (assuming, god forbid, that the unthinkable didn't happen at the award ceremony in Glasgow).

Under this new interpretation, though, the sale to Live Without a Net did count as a qualifying publication, so while I'm still on the ballot, its in my second and last year of eligibility. As near as I can tell, the same thing just happened to David Moles and K.J. Bishop, both of whom were in their "first" year before the voting guidelines changed, but due to "professional" publication in 2003 under the new guidelines are also in their second years.

Given that the award is administered by the Hugo committee, but sponsored by Dell Magazines, there's some confusion (at least on my part) about whom is the ultimate arbiter in all of this, and to whom (if anyone) an appeal might be made. I've no objection in the least to the change in guidelines for the Campbell, quite the opposite; the 10,000 print run requirement meant that many worthy first novelists weren't eligible for the Campbell, especially considering how few first novels have print runs that large. At the same time, though, it would seem only fair that there be a transitional period as the old guidelines are supplanted by the new. Accepting nominations "under both the old and new eligibility criteria" is certainly a good first step; ensuring that all writers still have the same two year period of eligibility as their predecessors is a necessary second step. By all rights, anyone not elibigle in 2004 under the old guidelines should be eligible again in 2006--in other words, a "grandfather" clause.

The official word from the 2005 Hugo committee as to whether David, K.J., or I (or any other potential nominees who are in the same boat, of which I'm sure there are many) might be eligible again next year is that this is a question best answered by the 2006 Hugo committee. I suppose we'll see in another year how this plays out. There's always the chance, though, that one of us won't have to worry about it.

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