Results of the John W. Campbell Award in the year 1980.
Named one of science fiction’s 100 best books by noted genre editor David Pringle, Thomas M. Disch’s On Wings of Song is at once allegory, social satire, political fable, and brilliantly written science fiction of the ultimate out-of-body experience. In Disch’s dazzlingly imagined future America, Daniel Weinraub dreams of escaping the repressive midwest of the mid-twenty-first century through an electronic device with which the user takes flight into cyberspace when activated with a quasi-musical code called “The Symphonette.” Daniel’s adventures take him from Iowa’s God-fearing police state and its “correctional” labor camps for the sinful to Manhattan’s mean streets and “cyberspatial flight paths.”
When a light aircraft crashes in flames into the Thames at Shepperton, the young pilot who struggles to the surface minutes later seems to have come back from the dead. Within hours everything in the dormitory suburb is strangely transformed. Vultures invade the rooftops, luxuriant tropical vegetation overruns the quiet avenues, and the local inhabitants are propelled by the young man’s urgent visions through ecstatic sexual celebrations towards an apocalyptic climax.