Campbellian adj.

of, relating to, or characteristic of the writing that appeared in the magazines edited by John W. Campbell, esp. in featuring heroic characters in technologically advanced scenarios

SF Criticism

  • 1949 R. Boggs in Fantasy Annual 1948 6 page image Redd Boggs

    A story which followed Campbellian formula by taking space travel for granted and starting from there.

  • 1958 R. Bloch Fandora’s Box in Imagination Feb. 93/2 page image Robert Bloch

    It is a matter of solid scientific, Campbellian fact that a combination of high temperature and high humidity reduces the physical capacity of any individual; particularly his capacity for enjoyment. And if we don’t go to Conventions to enjoy them, why not save our money and swelter at home?

  • 1979 Letter in Science Fiction Review Nov. 33/1

    Modern (Campbellian) SF was written at a time when technology was thought to be able to do anything.

  • 1989 A. Budrys Books in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction July 29/1 page image Algis Budrys

    SF descended from Campbellian ‘modern’ SF—which is, still, what U.S. SF is in large part—could use practitioners well acquainted with descriptive-fiction techniques and technical standards.

  • 2001 G. Dozois in M. Swanwick Being Gardner Dozois 76 Gardner Dozois bibliography

    There was a sort of vague polemical point in the back of my mind here, to show that a significant impact can be made upon a society by someone even if they are not particularly competent and Heinleinian and Campbellian. A non-super-man. I suppose you could contrast this with my first story, ‘The Empty Man,’ where the character is a Campbellian superhero.

  • 2019 A. Sawyer Review in Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts (vol. 30, no. 3) 462

    What he does very well…is to suggest the importance of ‘Golden Age’ sf to its readers, why Campbellian sf appealed to them, and that we need to think of modern sf as a very different beast before we start arguing over histories.


Research requirements

antedating 1949

Earliest cite

in Fantasy Annual

Research History
Malcolm Farmer submitted a 1979 cite from a letter in Science Fiction Review.
Jeff Prucher submitted a 2001 cite from Gardner Dozois.

Jeff also has a cite for the form "neo-Campbellian" from IASFM, Mid-Dec 1991, 165/2; and a cite from Locus, Apr 2003 51/2.

Last modified 2021-08-03 16:41:59
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.