John W. Campbell, Jr.
One of the most important people in the history of science fiction was John W. Campbell, Jr. (1910-1971). Campbell was the editor of Astounding Science Fiction from 1937 to 1971, and through this editorship influenced many of the most famous writers in what is considered the Golden Age of Science Fiction.
Campbell published Lester del Rey‘s first story in 1938 and, in 1939 alone, published an early story of Isaac Asimov‘s (“Trends”), A.E. van Vogt‘s first story (“Black Destroyer”), Robert Heinlein‘s first story (“Life-Line,” famously published on his first attempt), and Theodore Sturgeon‘s first story (“Ether Breather”).
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction wrote, of Campbell, “More than any other individual, he helped to shape modern sci-fi.” Asimov said that Campbell was “the most powerful force in science fiction ever, and for the first ten years of his editorship he dominated the field completely.”
Campbell has two awards named in his honor: “The John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel” and the “John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.” He was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1996.