Jay Lake.  David Levine.  Tim Pratt. 

Three authors.  One award:

The John W. Campbell (not a Hugo) award for best new author. 

Only one will win (unless Karin Lowachee or Chris Moriarty does).  Who will be champion?

The final announcement will be made over Labor Day, 2004, at the WorldCon in Boston. And until then...


At Wiscon, the sci-fi convention in Madison, WI, over Memorial Day, we had a taste of who might be victor.


foto courtesy of Janet Chui


In the words of David Levine...


     For me, it started when Ellen Klages came up to me at a party late Friday night, saying "come with me -- don't worry, you're under my protection." Always a bad sign. She dragged me across the hall to another party, where Jay and a few other people were already talking about the Smackdown. (Though Celia Marsh said in her blog that it was inspired by a chance remark she made to me, I don't remember it and I definitely didn't start it.) We spent some time talking about how to make it work, so that it would be a good show but no one would get hurt. Options considered included full-contact rock- paper-scissors and a triathlon of speed typing, origami, and interpretive dance.

     So we all had a good laugh and went to bed (eventually). The next day Jay stood up in the middle of the Tiptree auction and called me out. We yelled at each other for a while, and then auctioned off the right to sponsor the Smackdown (it went to Jay for $50). Jay pulled together the details from that point: time and place (1pm Sunday in front of the dealers' room), choice of weapons (those big foam pool noodles), basic structure (full-contact rock-paper- scissors... to the death!), and referee (the incredibly cute and vivacious Kat Beyer).

     I saw the flyer posted in the elevator, considered that Jay and Tim *each* weigh about twice what I do, and realized I was going to die. But it had been a good convention so far, so what the hell.

     I got back from lunch on Sunday right at 1:00, only to find a huge screaming crowd gathered in front of the dealers' room. Given a few moments to prepare, I did some stretches and then pulled off my shirt, to a most encouraging crowd reaction. Jay was wearing welders' goggles and his usual colorful Hawaiian shirt and knit hat (missing only the scuba fins to complete the ensemble); Tim was dressed comparatively normally.

     Each of us was issued a noodle and Kat (wearing a black-and-white- striped referee shirt) blew her whistle for the first round. I shouted "Rock!" and curled into a ball, but Jay and Tim just whaled on each other with the noodles. Kat called a penalty on Jay and made him do a ten-second interpretive dance on "The Left Hand of Darkness. "

     For the second round I figured we had abandoned rock-paper-scissors and just whaled on Jay and Tim, but Kat blew her whistle and declared that none of us were playing rock-paper-scissors. Jay protested that, as writers, we were all Paper, but Kat didn't buy it; she made us all give three seconds of adjectives as a penalty. We all shouted out one adjective each and then paused; it was hilarious.


     Round three: I shouted "Scissors!", folded my noodle in half, and began snapping it at Jay and Tim. For some reason this was both intimidating to the other combatants and popular with the crowd. I think it was Jennifer Pelland who started shouting "Levine! Levine! Levine!" and the whole crowd took it up. I was declared victor by acclaim. Jay and Tim kneeled before me and I knighted each of them with my noodle.

     It was all very silly. Be sure to listen to Tempest's play-by-play MP3 at http://www.fluidartist.com/Tempest/weblog/2004_05_01_archive.html and see her photos at http://ktempest.angeltowns.net/pics/wiscon04/index.html

     The winner was supposed to get his photo in Locus wearing the head from Ellen Klages' chicken costume (which she wore to the Tiptree auction), but it had to go right back to the shop so that didn't happen. I also believe that the rules of the game were that everyone at the convention has to vote for the winner, but I'm not sure everyone got that memo. I will leave it up to each member to vote their own conscience -- but remember: I WON.

     Several people asked me if I were planning to challenge Chris Moriarty and Karen Lowachee to a second-round Smackdown. I demurred, saying that the final decision rests with the Hugo voters.

     How do I feel about the whole thing? Sweaty.

Fotos by Aynjel Kaye and/or Celia Marsh, thanks to Jay!


Some comments by Jay:



Smackdown -- serious

     The original idea was Tim Pratt's, who challenged me to a duel at WorldCon.  When I figured out that Tim, David and I were all going to be at WisCon, I started thinking it would be funny to *have* a duel, with Nerf swords or something.  Tim and I discussed it, and he thought it was funny, so I pitched Ellen Klages on us staging a fight during the Tiptree Auction so that the sponsorship rights to the First Annual John W. Campbell Award Nominee Smackdown could be auctioned off.

     We then had to confirm it with David, who came up with the idea of making the smackdown full-contact Rochambo, or rock-paper-scissors.  (This presented an obvious problem since as writers we all naturally felt an affinity for paper.)  I recruited artist Kat Beyer to be our ref, and set about dealing with logistical details like weaponry, ref's whistle, point cards for the judges, etc.

     The staged argument at the auction went well.  It was pretty damned funny, actually.  We were hooting and hollering and capering, Ellen kicked me off the stage twice, when Kate Yule, David's S.O., decided she had to rescue him from me, Tim and Ellen. So then Heather Shaw, Tim's S.O., decided to rescue him.  Which left me in an odd state, so David Moles rescued me.

     Smackdown went down Sunday at 1 pm in front of the dealer's room.  We had maybe 75 people in attendance.  Kat empanelled Kate and Heather as judges -- which didn't seem fair to me -- then Celia Marsh as the third judge. Being as how Celia rarely misses an opportunity to bedevil me, the fix was obviously in.  After that, we were off to the races.




Fotos by Aynjel Kaye and/or Celia Marsh, thanks to Jay!




 Smackdown -- silly

     I was robbed.  The judging was rigged, the ref picked on me, and Levine's chest hair trumped my Hawaiian shirt bad.  Pratt and me, we could have taken him if all those WisCon women hadn't been hooting and hollering and waving dollar bills.  But geeze, lemme tell you, come WorldCon in Boston, we'll have a reckoning!  I'll make him up like a clown, tie him to a goat, and leave him in the T.  


More fotos (Thanks, Tempest!)




More fotos courtesy of Janet Chui:



Even More fotos... by Michelle Dupler
aka Karaoke Misha




And an article, also by Michelle Dupler
aka Karaoke Misha


     WisCon attendees witnessed the first Campbell Nominee Rock-Paper-Scissors Smackdown Sunday afternoon in front of the Dealer’s Room. Three of this year’s five Campbell Award nominees participated in the event to set forever to rest the question of who is studlier: Jay Lake, David Levine or Tim Pratt.


     The gauntlet was thrown down at Saturday’s Tiptree Auction and all three participants came ready to play. Jay Lake was the first to arrive, followed soon after by Tim Pratt, who took a few moments of zen to mentally prepare for the challenge. David Levine made a splashy entrance by arriving late and ripping off his tee shirt to the delight of the gathered crowd.


     The weapons of choice for the day were styrofoam noodles from the pool. Upon receiving his noodle, Tim whipped it around like Darth Maul and his double-edged light saber while Jay growled and struck menacing poses. David was unimpressed.


     During the first round of combat, the referee penalized Jay for committing a foul. His penalty was to perform 10 seconds of interpretative dance of “The Left Hand of Darkness,” which consisted of Jay leaping around and waving his left hand in the air. The judges were unimpressed, one of them saying “I didn’t see any darkness.”


     Round 2 started and the three combatants set to flogging each other with their noodles. At the end of the round, the judges called out that they had yet to see any rock, paper or scissors. Jay’s response was, “We’re writers—we’re all paper!”


     Apparently inspired by Jay’s revelation, in Round 3, David used his noodle like scissor blades to attack his opponents, exciting a roar from the crowd. For his creative use of his noodle, the judges awarded David 10 points each, giving him the win and proving that David Levine is indeed the studliest of the three. Jay and Tim conceded the win to David by bowing at his feet.




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