Sam J. Miller’s Blackfish City was announced as winner of the 2019 John W. Campbell Memorial Award during the Campbell Conference Awards Banquet, held June 28-30, 2019 at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas.
Blackfish City is set in a post-apocalyptic city constructed in the Arctic Circle, a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, complete with geothermal heating and sustainable energy. The city’s denizens have become accustomed to a roughshod new way of living, however, the city is starting to fray along the edges crime and corruption have set in, the contradictions of incredible wealth alongside direst poverty are spawning unrest, and a new disease called the breaks is ravaging the population. When a strange new visitor arrives a woman riding an orca, with a polar bear at her side the city is entranced. The orcamancer, as she’s known, very subtly brings together four people each living on the periphery to stage unprecedented acts of resistance. By banding together to save their city before it crumbles under the weight of its own decay, they will learn shocking truths about themselves. Blackfish City is a remarkably urgent and ultimately very hopeful novel about political corruption, organized crime, technology run amok, the consequences of climate change, gender identity, and the unifying power of human connection.
The Campbell Award is one of the top annual awards for science fiction, and its finalist lists have been called the “gold standard” in science fiction. Harry Harrison and Brian Aldiss established the award to honor the late editor of Astounding Science Fiction magazine and continue his efforts to encourage writers to produce their best work. Many consider Campbell, who edited the magazine from 1937 until his death in 1971, the father of modern Science Fiction.