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Photography by Heather Haynes

The Winner of the 32nd Compton Crook Award, is:

Fire With Fire by Charles E. Gannon

published by Baen Books, Released March 13, 2013

The 2015 Compton Crook 33 Award Finalists are (in alphabetical order, by author):

  • A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias, published by TOR Books
  • Salvage by Alexandra Duncan, published by Greenwillow Press
  • Copper Magic by Julia Mary Gibson, published by TOR Books
  • Memory of Water: A Novel by Emmi It?ranta, published by Harper Voyager
  • The Bees by Laline Paulln, published by Ecco Press
  • Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell, published by TOR Books
  • Darkwalker: A Nicholas Lenoir novel by E. L. Tettensor, published by ROC (Penguin Group)

Current Year Compton Crook Award Candidates
2015 Compton Crook Award 32 Ballot
Candidate Eligibility Requirements
Reading and Rating Compton Crook Award Candidate Novels
All of the Compton Crook Award Winners

The members of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, Inc. (BSFS) created the Compton Crook Award in 1982 to honor the best first novel of the year written by an individual author (collaborations are not eligible) in the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror genre. Since its inception, the award has been presented at Balticon ? the four-day annual Maryland regional science fiction convention produced by BSFS, currently held on Memorial Day weekend in the Baltimore, MD area.

The Award was named in memory of Towson State College Professor of Natural Sciences Compton Crook, who wrote under the name Stephen Tall, and who died in 1981. Professor Crook was active for many years in the Baltimore Science Fiction Society and was a staunch champion of new works in the fields eligible for the award. The first Compton Crook Award was presented in 1983 for Donald Kingsbury's debut novel Courtship Right, a work published in 1982.

PLEASE NOTE: THE ELIGIBILITY DETERMINATION YEAR HAS CHANGED. The Award is presented for the best first novel in the genre published in the 1 December to 30 November period of the the previous two years (for instance, a novel with a 10 Dec. 2012 release date is a 2014 CCA candidate; while a novel with a 10 Dec. 2013 release date is a 2015 CCA candidate.)

The award includes a framed award document and, for the novel's author, a check for $1,000 and an invitation to be the Compton Crook Guest at Balticon for two years. (This includes transportation and lodging at the Balticon host hotel for the author and her/his spouse/significant other/companion.) The first year the Compton Crook Guest is presented the award and the second year they are asked to present the new winner's award. For both Guest years, the author is offered opportunities to participate in Balticon events and program panels, present readings, and participate in autograph sessions alongside the Balticon Guest of Honor.

The Committee puts a lot of time and energy into finding novels which are eligible Compton Crook Award candidates. Due to budget constraints, we can only purchase one copy of each book we find. We encourage publishers, author's agents or authors to donate additional books (3 to 6 copies) as that gives our members more opportunites to read and vote. In addition, it helps us to bring into consideration any novels our research might have missed. See Candidate Eligibility Requirements for eligibility information.

Publishers encouraged to send us notice of any debut science fiction, fantasy or horror novels you are releasing or have released which you would like considered for the current award year.

Agents are encouraged to contact us about or and/or send us copies of genre debut novels you represent which you believe meet eligibility criteria.

Authors, if you believe your debut novel is eligible to be a candidate for the Compton Crook Award, by all means send a few copies to us! Please include a cover letter with your mailing address, phone number and email address. Make it easy for us to reach you if your novel becomes a finalist, please!

When sending copies of candidate novels, at least one copy must be a print copy. We recognize that providing multiple print copies represents more expense both for product and shipping, therefore we will accept additional copies in pdf or epub format on CDs (Nook, and/or Kindle formats may also be included on the CDs, as long as there is a pdf and/or epub version). In addition, this year we are trying something new: we have purchased some inexpensive e-readers for the Compton Crook readers to borrow and read candidate books on, so we would be happy to accept download links for up to two pdf or epub copies of each candidate book, which we will use to install the books on our electronic readers. The earlier donated books and links are received, the more reader exposure they will benefit from.

The BSFS package shipping address is:

BSFS - Compton Crook Award Committee

PMB 311

4725 Dorsey Hall Drive Suite A

Ellicott City MD 21042

All Compton Crook Award book donation packages should include a memo or letter which:

  • indicates that the novel is intended for Compton Crook Award consideration;
  • provides both email and telephone contact information for the author and/or publicist; and
  • states that the novel meets requirements as listed in the Candidate Eligibility Requirements.

Preliminary voting is closed on February 28th. Finalists are notified in early March. Voting for the Award is closed in mid-April and the winner is notified and extended a formal invitation to be our Guest at Balticon. One copy of each donated book is retained in the BSFS library and additional copies will be offered at the BSFS Books for Kids fund-raising auction at Balticon, to Baltimore City School libraries, and at the Baltimore Book Festival in September.

***Please buy books through the links on BSFS pages!***

Compton Crook Award Eligibility Requirements

1. This must be the author's first commercially available solo (collaborations are not eligible) science fiction, fantasy or horror novel under her/his legal name or any pseudonym. (By "commercially available" we mean available for purchase from one or more internet or brick-and-mortar sellers. This includes direct author-to-reader sales.)

2. PLEASE NOTE: THE ELIGIBILITY DETERMINATION YEAR HAS CHANGED. The novel must have been released for publication in the 1 December to 30 November period of the the previous two years (for instance, a novel with a 10 Dec. 2012 release date is a 2014 CCA candidate; while a novel with a 10 Dec. 2013 release date is a 2015 CCA candidate.) (If release date is a later year than copyright, we will consider candidacy based on author's explanation of the date difference.)

3. The novel must be available as a print publication.

4. No title is eligible if the author has previously won any award from any Australian, Canadian, UK, British Commonwealth, former British Commonwealth or US organization for any English language novel.

5. The members of BSFS as a committee of the whole decide on the best (after reading all the new novels).

6. There is no rule #6.

A Note About Digital-only Publications:

We are often asked why we do not accept digital-only publications as Compton Crook Award Candidates.

The answer is:

LOGISTICS and MAN HOURS. Each Compton Crook Award Candidate novel listed represents a minimum of two hours of research, letter-writing, verifications, database maintenance, trips to the PO Box, etc. Ninety per cent of that work is done by two people.

We simply do not have the time or manpower a broadening of our candidate base would require. Give us three more researchers who each have two to six hours available every week and we'll talk!

Reading and Rating Compton Crook Award Candidate Novels

Members of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, Inc. (BSFS), Balticon, and visitors to the BSFS clubhouse are eligible to participate in preliminary voting for the Compton Crook Award.

Books should be evaluated as compared to other first novels read that year, as opposed to against all novels the evaluator has ever read.

Once preliminary voting has closed and finalists have been announced, only BSFS members are eligible to vote on finalist novels. Finalists are notified in February. Voting for the Award is closed in April and the winner is notified and extended a formal invitation to be our Guest at Balticon.

BSFS members may revise their original rating of a novel when evaluating the novel as compared to the other finalists.

We suggest that readers take into consideration the following when evaluating a novel for the Compton Crook Award:

Excellence in writing:

  • Originality of plot, worldbuilding and characters
  • Engaging world-building and characterization
  • Narrative drive

Did this novel:

  • provide an overall engrossing and satisfying reading experience?
  • spark your imagination and intellect?
  • provide a new or different take on a universe, space travel, humanity, technology, fantasy concept, the future, or the present?
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