The Campbell goes to the best new writer whose first professional work of science fiction or fantasy was published within the two previous calendar years. It is technically not a Hugo Award, but the voting for it is tied with the Hugo, and its presented at the Hugo Award, so I’m including it in my discussion here. Plus, it’s an award which I have a very strong opinion about this year.
The Campbell Award should go to Stina Leicht.
I’m not going to pretend I’m the slightest bit unbiased in this. Stina Leicht is a friend. And I mean no disrespect to Misters Cho, Gladstone or Wendig, nor Ms. Lafferty, but I don’t know them. Their people can pitch for them.
So, why should you vote for Stina Leicht?
First of all, there’s the writing itself. If you haven’t read Of Blood and Honey or And Blue Skies from Pain, you really ought to put them on your short list. Near the top. She blends historical fiction (70s Northern Ireland) with Urban Fantasy to create something unique. If you have a preconceived notion of what “Urban Fantasy” is, these will shatter that.
Based on these books alone, she would deserve it.
But let’s look beyond just the writing. Because Stina is a person who engages in the community, with her fellow writers, as well as paying it forward to the people behind her. She’s been the coordinator for the ArmadilloCon Writer’s Workshop since 2008. That’s five years of work helping writers working to become professionals. Introducing them to professionals. Getting their work in front of editors when she can. She could be putting all her energies into just her own work, but she believes in helping, she believes in teaching.
She believes in treating those coming up behind as her peers. And that is something special. When you feel that your manuscript isn’t good enough, that some plot twist is completely broken, when you’re in a blind panic because you’re about to pitch to an agent who sent you a rejection letter a few hours ago: she’s someone who will give you an understanding ear and a few sage words.
Stina is a rare gift in the sci-fi and fantasy world. And from what I’ve read and heard of what she’s got forthcoming, she is going to keep amazing her readers. Mark my words: thirty years from now she’s going to be one of the grand dames of the genre, a name spoken with hushed awe.
But don’t take my word for it. Go read. And then vote.