Lock In a Finalist for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel

In 2006 I won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer; now I’m a finalist for the other John W. Campbell Award — the one they give out for the best science fiction novel of the year. This is exciting because it’s the first time a work of mine has been nominated for the award. It’s always nice to have firsts!

And it’s a crowded, quality field. The other finalists, listed alphabetically by author:

Nina Allan: The Race (Newcon Press)
James L. Cambias: A Darkling Sea (Tor)
William Gibson: The Peripheral (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Daryl Gregory: Afterparty (Tor)
Dave Hutchinson: Europe In Autumn (Solaris)
Simon Ings: Wolves (Gollancz)
Cixin Liu (Ken Liu, translator): The Three-Body Problem (Tor)
Emily St. John Mandel: Station Eleven (Knopf)
Will McIntosh: Defenders (Orbit)
Claire North: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (Redhook)
Laline Paull: The Bees (Ecco)
Adam Roberts: Bête (Gollancz)
John Scalzi: Lock In: A Novel of the Near Future (Tor)
Andy Weir: The Martian (Broadway Books)
Jeff VanderMeer: Area X (Book 1 of The Southern Reach Trilogy) (FSG Originals)
Peter Watts: Echopraxia (Tor)

That’s a hell of a reading list.

Congratulations to all the finalists! There’s not a one of you I won’t be delighted to lose to.

52 Comments on “Lock In a Finalist for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel”

  1. Well, that’s a pretty good list. I will nonetheless complain that Monica Byrne, Ann Leckie, and Michel Faber’s books aren’t on there, and that Andy Weir’s fantastic The Martian was published in 2012 so how is it eligible, but, hey. The books on this list that I’ve read were all really good, and I’ve heard really good things about the handful on the list I haven’t read (Watts, Roberts, Cambias, Allan).

  2. Wow, that’s a heck of a lot of good company. Congratulations!

  3. Oddly enough, the Gibson and the VanderMeer are the only ones I’ve read so far. But you’re on my to-read list.

  4. congrats!
    I also look forward to posts like this so I can figure out what to read next. (the ARCs are good for that, too; even if I can’t get those books yet, I can ask the Google about the authors.)

  5. Congrats, John. I’m not sure if the error is yours or the Campbell awards, but the first book in Jeff VanderMeer’s book is titled Annihilation, not Area X. The latter is the title of the entire trilogy published as a single volume.

  6. great list,John. Best of luck–but I gotta be pulling for Gibson! As to THE MARTIAN eligibility, these are the jury judged Campbell Awards, and they have there own eligibilty requirements. Clearly, they aren’t “counting” the earlier self-pub. (which I think was 2011)

  7. Congratulations, and wow, what competition!

    On the other hand, every time I see an awards nom list that makes sense, this year, it makes me that much sadder about the Hugos. And, to be honest, more annoyed.

  8. Sean:

    The errors is theirs.


    Totally understand.

    (Boots Ginjer into moderation FOREVER)

    (Not really)


    This and the other finalist/nominee lists do a lot of to mitigate the damage this year, I think. Good and diverse work is being noted and appreciated all across the genre — it’s just a matter of people looking around and seeing it. The Nebs, Campbells and Locus are well-regarded awards, and this year they look just a little bit better. Certainly I’m pleased Lock In has done well with these other awards, and I’m especially pleased about the Campbell because it’s my first finalist appearance there. It’s neat!

    Which is to say you shouldn’t be annoyed with the Hugo ballot — be what you feel, and vote accordingly (if you intend to vote). But also celebrate the other lists. There’s good stuff there, independent of anything going on with the Hugos.

  9. Congrats on the nom, but man that is some competition! It includes all of my favorite books from last year. I’m really glad to see Claire North on there. Not enough people seem to know how awesome “The First 15 Lives of Harry August” is!

  10. So, I take it, no Sad Puppies here?

    And, Congratulations! Of the list I’ve only read Lock In (I am usually about a year-two behind on new sci fi), but if other books stack up, it will have been a heck of a year.

  11. Those of you going to worldcon… Wouldnt you like too see a nomination list that long? Alot of books for $40…. Show you are for the people and expand the nominee list.

    Waits for writers to tell me Im cheap and Im trying to take money from them that they use to feed their family….

  12. Congrats John, but Peter Watts needs more recognition, I have to pull for Echopraxia!

  13. I haven’t read “Lock In” yet, but it must be pretty good to end up on the same list as Echopraxia. A bit more compelling than this years H**** :).

  14. What, nothing from Castalia on the shortlist? Fewer than seven John C. Wright works? Looks like SOMEBODY has an agenda….

    (The agenda is to recognize good fiction)

  15. How did I miss the Gibson book?! o_O To the library!

    I’m presuming (and will be Very Annoyed otherwise) that, should “Three-Body Problem” win any awards, both Messrs. Liu get a trophy.

  16. Guess, the Hugo voting packet isn’t a right, isn’t guaranteed, and isn’t something one should ever take for granted. It’s a kind thing that many publishers do for the Hugo voters, but they’re not required to do anything of the sort.

  17. Well, looks like this SJW needs to stock up on veggie burgers and sweet potato fries and get myself ready for a long summer of good reading and eats.

  18. Congrats. And I’m very glad to see Darkling Sea there – very surprised it didn’t win more love elsewhere, because it’s an excellent book.

  19. mngwa:

    I’m a big fan of James Cambias. His new book Corsair came out just last week!

    Gully Foyle:

    I’m a big fan of Peter Watts as well!

  20. The eligibility is just… strange. The website says: “Eligible novels are those published in English during the previous calendar year.” And last year 3rd place went to a self-published novel, Linda Nagata’s The Red: First Light. So it’s not like self-published novels aren’t eligible in the year they are published. I literally don’t get it.

  21. Despite the puppy slates, the Hugos have ended up with 40% women on the best novel nominee list. Whereas this group of nominees appears to be only 25% women (I didn’t verify any genders, just went by stereotypical gender name usage).

    That’s disappointing, for a juried award.

  22. In retrospect, my earlier “Nice slate” comment landed squarely in the failure mode of clever, and I apologize. This is a well-deserved nomination and I’m really glad to see Lock In in such good company.

  23. Good slate. I am, though slightly unsettled by the inclusion of Claire North, mostly because I’m afraid it might encourage her to even greater efforts. She’s under 30, she’s published 16 books under 3 different names (at least 6 of which are just fucking great), AND she works full time as a lighting designer for theatrical productions in Great Britain. Does this woman never sleep?

    She makes me feel incredibly unaccomplished.

    P.S. Her latest Claire North book (released in the last couple of months) is, I think, even better than Harry August.

  24. Alright, John. This is fracking awesome for you. And I congratulate you, because it is a really well-deserved nomination. I really liked the mystery/detective aspect, even though it had no spaceships or little green superwomen. The pacing was very good, and the “message” had just enough emphasis to make you think without taking you out of the story. It had some nice echoes of past greats in the mystery genre.

    I am also surprised not to see Ancillary Sword on there. I thought the exploration of identity was really superb, and I am a Space Opera Junkie (TM).

    Just so you know, every time Lock In gets nominated, my expectations for The End of All Things kicks up a notch. So, you know, no pressure :) NO PRESSURE!

  25. Montsamu

    Maybe since self-publishing the way things are going now (as opposed to vanity publishing) is kinda new, they are not being too strict about it. I could see that as reasonable.

    A few years down the road, I’d like them to have stricter guidelines on it, but for such a new phenomenon . . .

  26. Exalted company you’re in there Sir. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you. Thought Andy Wier and William Gibson’s novels were super awesome reads and just downloaded Peter Watts’ story based on the excitement up thread.

    I love William Gibson’s works but always feel I need to come up (or down) for air after reading them and so, thinking about how easy it is to chat here, it started me wondering how Mr. Gibson presents in public; approachable, ivory tower, or…? He’s up there with our esteemed host in people I would love to meet over a refreshing beverage should the opportunity every present. So, um, yea, right. Er, good luck John?

    I’ll just be moving on now…

  27. Congratulations! I have read two of the others as well as ours, and all three were excellent; and from the comments, it sounds like the rest can be safely put on my reading list.

  28. Congrats, and yeah, quite a list! I count at least 7 I’ve read or plan to read.

  29. In 2006 I won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer; now I’m a finalist for the other John W. Campbell Award…

    …Best Old Writer?

  30. I read their website as saying that the full Southern Reach Trilogy is nominated rather than just the first novella. But you may have secret knowledge as a nominee.

  31. I really loved Lock In and would always be glad for you to receive an award for your writing,
    but if I had to decide the winner for this one I’d vote for Andy Weir’s The Martian.
    Didn’t believe it’d be possible to write such an enthralling story in this kind of setting (one man, lonely planet).

  32. Montsamu:

    I don’t know if you are analyzing the situation correctly re: Linda Nagata’s book from 2013 vs Andy Weir’s book from 2011 in terms of equal eligibility. Nagata put her book out as a paperback as well as an ebook, and it could be that the rules count it as “publishing” only if a physical book is published, which would put Weir’s in 2014. Alternatively, she also formed her own imprint as an LLC to put out her book, so that might count under some clause as “small press” rather than “self-published,” even if the imprint has a stable of one author. Or perhaps the committee itself simply has considerable flexibility in deciding what is eligible, and wanted to include Weir’s book.

    I think it’s important to note that The Martian is certainly one of the biggest sf novels this year, with major crossover success, and it has no other major nominations, presumably because of its ineligibility. I think it’s nice and good for sf as a whole that at least one award has the flexibility to include it.

    John Scalzi:

    Congratulations! It looks like a fine list to be included in. Probably my favorite list of all the awards I’ve seen. Personally, I’m very pleased to see Simon Ings there, even though I’ve not read that particular book. He’s got some great books that I think are under-appreciated, or at least I don’t seem to come across much buzz about him when he puts out something new.

  33. Tough competition there!

    Echopraxia is awesome, adding to the squee.

    I’m reading the Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta at the moment and am blown away by it – it’s a slim novel but captivating in its worldbuilding. Would recommend it heartily. And it will be a Campbell nominee for me next year (or rather, she will be)

    Harry August is waiting to be read, and not read the new WG yet.

  34. I have to agree with Ariane, Lock In was great, but Weir knocked my socks off with The Martian.

    Did anyone else think that the narrator’s voice sounded very Scalzi-ish? Same sort of informal, wise-crack style.

  35. Only four women? This list is very disappointing in it’s lack of diversity. When will we ever have gender parity in awards?

  36. Loved the hell out of the Area X trilogy and Lock In, and really enjoyed the Martian and Echopraxia. Afterparty, the Bees, Station Eleven, and the Three Body Problem are already on my to-read list. Aside from the Gibson, any other contenders that people would strongly recommend?

  37. Like others I’m baffled by the exclusion of Ancilliary Sword but there’s some amazing stuff in the list, though I can’t decide whether I love or loathe Echopraxia, and The Martian really doesn’t work for me.

    This may be because I’ve been doing a lot of retro reading in which one man, lonely planet, was the staple diet.

    On the other hand George Clooney would do a great job in the movie, and maybe they could cast Sandra Bullock as one of the crew members who accidentally left him behind…

  38. As much as I enjoyed Lock In, if I were choosing a winner, I’d also give the prize to The Martian, as some others have said. I quite simply fell in love with that book.

  39. @PIXLAW:

    “Its sobering to think that by the time he was my age Beethoven had been dead for 7 years.” Tom Leher

  40. “On the other hand George Clooney would do a great job in the movie, and maybe they could cast Sandra Bullock as one of the crew members who accidentally left him behind…”

    Too late – they’ve already cast Matt Damon.

    And, in a frankly inexplicable casting decision, Wikipedia tells me:
    Chiwetel Ejiofor as Venkat Kapoor.

  41. @Host, congratulations.

    From their website:

    This year’s list of finalists is longer than usual partly in response to controversy over other, non-juried awards, and partly because 2014 offered so many fine SF novels.

    Now that’s a burn.

    Personally, I found Echopraxia incredibly weak, both in terms of characterization and plotting, and shouldn’t be on there. (Watts has even hinted himself that he found it a difficult book to finish and wasn’t happy with the result).

    I’m going to do that thing, and suggest that personally I’ve read a couple of other 2015 novels that I find better than some on the list: Lagoon and The Mechanical being the ones I’m happy to tout in public. There are others, but they’re nowhere near mainstream enough to count.

    @ Those stating they’re disappointed in only a 25% woman writer coverage: if you can’t replace a nomination with a better written (more engaging / plotted etc) alternative, then you’re not being helpful. (Cue Sad Puppy Quota Police alarms).

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