Science Fiction Coordinator John Wood Campbell
John Campbell is an American writer, better known as an editor. Possessing his vision and uncompromising, Campbell guided the young authors into an unusual for fiction channel, moving farther away from stupid adventures and battered plots to science, social and social problems.
He demanded a lot from the authors, because of which scandals often occurred and writers left; but you can immediately name a dozen famous names and be surprised to find out that it was Campbell who first saw them and made it possible to publish them. As the Science Fiction Encyclopedia rightly notes:
More than any other person, he helped shape modern science fiction.
Briefly about the writer
John Wood Campbell, Jr. (born June 8, 1910, died July 11, 1971) has been a writer and editor of the journal Astounding Science Fiction (which we have already mentioned more than once in past materials and which has become the starting point for dozens of eminent writers) since the end of 1937 until his death, and is one of the figures of the Golden Age of Fiction.
Campbell wrote both under his own name and under the pseudonyms Don Stewart, Karl Van Kampen and Arthur McCann. One of his most famous works, the story “Who are you?” Was filmed three times – the most famous version of John Carpenter is “Something” with Kurt Russell in the title role. I noticed and published dozens, which later became famous, of science fiction authors and, in fact, gave science fiction its current form.
American writer, editor of one of the most respected science fiction magazines – Astounding Science Fiction.
Childhood and youth
John Campbell was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1910. His father was an electrical engineer. His mother, Dorothy (nee Streern), had a twin sister who often stayed in their house and did not like John. As Campbell later recalled, in early childhood he could not distinguish between them and was often discouraged by aggression from a woman whom he considered his mother.
In 1928, he entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – the main technical educational institution in the United States.
There he made friends with the young mathematician Norbert Wiener (who coined the term “cybernetics”).
However, two years later he was expelled from the institute for poor performance in the German language. I had to study at Duke University, where he graduated in 1932 and received a bachelor’s degree in nuclear physics.
Creative activity and the path to fame
Campbell began writing science fiction at the age of 18, barely entering university. He sold his first six stories to Amazing Stories, along with his novel Islands in Space. In 1934, he first took the pseudonym Don Stewart for himself, under which he began to write stories of a slightly different sense, rather than under his “native” name – as Campbell he wrote fairly standard adventure stories; like Stuart, Van Kampen and McCann, he paid more attention to social issues and the impact of technology on the future of mankind.
In the 30s, Campbell was a prolific and successful writer under all his pseudonyms. During this period, three significant works can be noted: the stories “Twilight” (November 1934) and “Night” (October 1935) and the story “Who are you?” (August 1938). The latter is noteworthy in that it was Campbell’s last major work, since it was released in the era of his editorial activity, which almost completely replaced the writers.
In September 1937, F. Orlin Tremaine invited him to the post of assistant editor of science fiction magazine Astounding Stories, and in May 1938 he became a full-fledged independent editor and changed the name of the journal to Astounding Science Fiction. The change of name Campbell made clear the chosen course of the magazine and what works of what genre he wants to see in it.
Under Campbell’s leadership, this publication has become a true “talent incubator”, in which such popular American authors as Clifford Saymak, L. Sprag de Kamp, Lester del Rey, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Theodore Sturgeon, Alfred Vanjon were born Vogt, L. Ron Hubbard, Jack Williamson, and later – Fritz Leiber, Henry Kuttner, Katherine Moore, William Tenn, Paul Anderson.
Campbell married Don Stewart in 1931. The couple divorced in 1949, and John married Margaret (Peg) Winter in 1950, with whom he was married until his death.
The last years of life and death
In 1939, Campbell founded another science fiction magazine, Unknown, but four years later it closed. This magazine was dedicated to fantasy stories and made a significant contribution to the development of this genre. Campbell remained editor of Astounding Science Fiction until his death. Between December 11, 1957 and June 13, 1958, he hosted a weekly science-fiction radio program called Study Tomorrow.
John died July 11, 1971 from heart failure.