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 WAS CHANGED, EFFECTIVE THE 2014 AWARD YEAR. The Award is presented for the best first novel in the genre published in the November 1 to October 31 period of the the previous two years (thus a novel with a Nov. 1, 2015, through October 31, 2016, release date is a 2017 CCA35 candidate; while a novel with a Nov. 1, 2016, through October 31, 2017, release date will be a 2018 CCA36 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.
Agents and Publishers are 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 and Publishers are encouraged to send us four to six (4 to 6) copies of genre debut novels you represent which you believe meet eligibility criteria. Advance Review Copies are welcome.
Authors, if you believe your debut novel is eligible to be a candidate for the Compton Crook Award, by all means write to us at ComptonCrook AT BSFS DOT org. The nominating committee will consider your novel and write to you if your novel has been nominated as a candidate. Please make it easy for us to reach you by providing an email address you check regularly and/or a phone number.
When sending copies of candidate novels which are not digital-only, 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 provided). We are happy to accept a link to your digital publication if the link will remain live for the entire candidacy period. We will provide the link to BSFS members at BSFS HQ and via email when we receive an email request from an eligible voter. The earlier donated books and links are received (and the more copies received) the more reader exposure they will benefit from. We do have a few members who need audio books in order to participate in voting, so would welcome mp3 audio files when such are available.
The BSFS package shipping address is:
BSFS - Compton Crook Award Committee
905 W. 7th Street, #199
Frederick, MD 21701
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 midnight the Friday before the second Saturday in February. Finalists will be notified within 72 hours and offered an opportunity to provide additional copies of their candidate novel for the BSFS readers. PLEASE NOTE: Due to demands on our time in the spring, we cannot personally notify all the authors of candidate novels of their novels' standings. If your novel is a candidate and you have not, by the end of February, been contacted about being a finalist, you should check the finalist list on this website to make sure you have not missed our communication.
Final voting for the Award is closed at the end of April and within 48 hours the winner will be 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.