John Wood Campbell, Jr. (June 8, 1910 – July 11, 1971) was the editor from 1938 until his death in 1971 of the science fiction magazine Astounding Science Fiction, renamed Analog Science Fiction in 1960. During his editorship, he published the first stories of Robert A. Heinlein, A.E. van Vogt, L. Sprague de Camp and others, and strongly encouraged Isaac Asimov. He also edited the fantasy magazine Unknown (later Unknown Worlds) from 1939 to 1943.
Campbell was well known for the opinionated editorials in each issue of the magazine, where he would sometimes argue quite proposterous hypotheses, perhaps intended to spark off story ideas. An anthology of these editorials was published in 1966. He also suggested story ideas to writers more directly, and sometimes asked for stories to match cover paintings he had already bought.
Before he became an editor, Campbell had established himself as a noteworthy SF writer. In the early '30s he rivalled E. E. Smith with his Arcot, Morey, and Wade series of space opera novels. He then turned to writing more nuanced stories, such as "Twilight" and "Forgetfulness", under the penname 'Don A. Stuart' (taken from his then-wife's name, Dona Stuart). His best known short story is "Who Goes There?", about a group of Antarctic researchers who discover a crashed alien vessel, complete with a malevolent shape-changing occupant. This was filmed as The Thing From Another World (1951) and again as The Thing (1982). Isaac Asimov asked Campbell why he had essentially stopped writing fiction after he became the editor of Astounding. Campbell explained, "Isaac, when I write, I write only my own stories. As editor, I write the stories that a hundred people write."
In the 1950s, he developed a strong interest in some alternative theories: the 'Dean drive', a device that supposedly produced a thrust in violation of Newton's third law; and the 'Hieronymous machine', which could supposedly amplify psi powers. During his interest in this latter subject, he published many stories of telepathy and other abilities. It was during this time that Campbell also became interested in Dianetics, publishing L. Ron Hubbard's first articles and also writing editorials in support of Dianetics.
Between December 11, 1957 and June 13, 1958, Campbell acted as host to a weekly science fiction radio program named Exploring Tomorrow. The scripts were written by authors such as Gordon Dickson and Robert Silverberg. Transcripts of some programs are still available.
The John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel and John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer were set up in his honour.