John W. Campbell

American science fiction writer and editor

John Wood Campbell, Jr. (8 June 191011 July 1971) was an influential American science fiction editor and writer, known for his challenges to writers.


  • History does not always repeat itself. Sometimes it just yells, 'Can't you remember anything I told you?' and lets fly with a club.
    • Statement in Analog Science Fiction/Fact magazine (1965)
  • Immunity corrupts; absolute immunity corrupts absolutely.
    • Editorial in Analog Science Fiction/Fact magazine (1970)

About CampbellEdit

  • Of course, I never wrote the "important" story, the sequel about the first amplified human. Once I tried something similar. John Campbell's letter of rejection began: "Sorry — you can't write this story. Neither can anyone else."
  • In the so-called Golden Age of American science fiction, when the late John W. Campbell, editor extraordinary, gathered around him in a handful of months the greatest stable of science fiction talent ever seen, he would throw out challenges to his writers, like: "Write me a story about a man who will die in twenty-four hours unless he can answer this question: 'How do you know you’re sane?'"; and this one — surely one of the most provocative of all: "Write me a story about a creature that thinks as well as a man, but not like a man."

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