LAWRENCE — Irish author Ian McDonald’s “The Dervish House” will receive the Campbell Award for the best science fiction novel of the year, and Geoffrey A. Landis’ “The Sultan of the Clouds” will receive the Sturgeon Award for the best short science fiction of the year in a 6 p.m. ceremony tonight at the Ekdahl Dining Commons at the University of Kansas.
The Campbell Award will be presented to McDonald by Campbell Award judge Elizabeth Anne Hull. The Sturgeon Award will be presented to Landis by Noël Sturgeon, Theodore Sturgeon’s daughter and a member of the Sturgeon Award jury.
McDonald was born in Scotland in 1960 but moved to Northern Ireland when he was 5. He was turned on to science fiction by childhood television programs and began writing at the age of 9. He sold his first story at 22 and became a full-time writer in 1987. Much of his writing has focused on developing nations in Africa and South America, as well as India, and one commentator has suggested that his life in Northern Ireland led him to consider that country a Third World society. “The Dervish House” is set in Turkey five years after Turkey has been admitted to the European Union and offers, in the words of one reviewer, “a coalescence of order out of interacting possibilities.”
Landis came to science fiction through science. He was born in Detroit in 1955 but moved regularly throughout his childhood. He is a NASA scientist who earned his Ph.D. in physics from Brown University after undergraduate studies at M.I.T. in physics and electrical engineering. He has worked on several space missions, including Mars Pathfinder and the long-lived Mars Exploration Rovers. He began publishing science fiction in 1984 and attended the Clarion Writers’ Workshop in 1985, where he met his wife, writer Mary Turzillo. Landis has won two Hugo Awards and a Nebula Award for his short fiction. He is known as a writer of “hard science fiction,” and “The Sultan of the Clouds” describes a possible way of living on Venus – or rather, living in floating cities in the upper atmosphere of Venus.
This will be McDonald’s second trip to the Awards ceremony. His “Tendeleo’s Story” won the Sturgeon Award in 2001.
The Awards are presented by the KU Center for the Study of Science Fiction. The Campbell Award is selected from publishers’ nominations by a jury of seven writers and academics. The Sturgeon Award is selected from reviewers and editors’ nominations by a jury of five writers and academics.