Revisiting the Hugos

Hugo Nominees: 1960

The 1960 Hugo Awards were given in Pittcon, Pittsburgh, and they look comparatively normal. (You can visit the Hugo Nominees index to see the years that have been covered so far.) They have categories that are recognisably what the present categories grew out of, and they have nominees. The best novel Hugo was won by Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (post), a MilSF novel that remains both popular and controversial today. It’s in print, it’s in my library in both languages, it’s easily available, and has been since 1959. I think it’s practically the definition of a lasting Hugo winner even though some people hate it—it’s a book people are still reading and talking about fifty years later.

Also nominated for best novel was Gordon R. Dickson’s Dorsai!, which I have read. It’s in print, and it’s in my library in French. It’s also MilSF, with mercenaries on other planets, and I loved it when I was twelve.

I haven’t read Murray Leinster’s The Pirates of Zan, aka The Pirates of Ersatz. I haven’t read it because while Leinster wrote good solid SF he was never a favourite. I didn’t come across this when I was reading everything indiscriminately (but in alphabetical order). It may well be very good, I am entirely open to the possibility. It seems to be in print in various small press editions, implying that it is out of copyright and people are still interested in it. It isn’t in my library. Anyone else have any opinions?

I have read Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan, and this is one I loved when I was fourteen. It’s a Vonnegut tall tale, written in first-person-asshole style, and full of Tralfalmadorian aliens manipulating Earth history to rescue a lost alien from Titan. It’s the kind of thing that looks cool and sophisticated to teenagers and I don’t know whether it’s embarrassment at my own self or at the book that makes it unreadable to me now. It is in print from Gollancz, and in my library in English. I think it has therefore stood the test of time, whatever I personally feel about it.

Mark Phillips was a pseudonym for Randall Garrett and Laurence M. Janifer, and their novel That Sweet Little Old Lady, aka Brain Twister is the last thing on the 1960 ballot. I haven’t read it, or even heard of it. It seems to be in print in small press editions, it isn’t in my library. Again, does anyone else know it?

Looking at Wikipedia’s 1959 novels list there are several other books that seem to me that might have been on the shortlist. Eric Frank Russell’s Next of Kin (post). Andre Norton’s The Beast Master. Robert Bloch’s Psycho. Pohl and Kornbluth’s Wolfsbane. Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House.

I can’t speak for or against the ones I haven’t read, but I’d put Next of Kin above Dorsai or The Sirens of Titan. The Haunting of Hill House is undoubtedly a classic of its genre, but in 1960 the Hugos were pretty much awards for science fiction only. I think this is a year where you can argue a lot about whether these are the five best books, but where Starship Troopers would have won whatever the other four were.

Other Categories


  • “Flowers for Algernon,” Daniel Keyes (F&SF Apr 1959)
  • “The Alley Man,” Philip José Farmer (F&SF Jun 1959)
  • “Cat and Mouse,” Ralph Williams (Astounding Jun 1959)
  • “The Man Who Lost the Sea,” Theodore Sturgeon (F&SF Oct 1959)
  • “The Pi Man,” Alfred Bester (F&SF Oct 1959)

Well, I absolutely can’t argue with the winner as “Flowers for Algernon” is one of the best novellas ever written, but what happened to having separate categories for short story and novelette?


  • The Twilight Zone (TV series)
  • Men Into Space
  • “Murder and the Android”
  • The Turn of the Screw (TV)
  • The World, the Flesh and the Devil


  • F&SF, Robert P. Mills
  • Amazing Stories, Cele Goldsmith
  • Astounding, John W. Campbell, Jr.
  • Fantastic Universe, Hans Stefan Santesson
  • Galaxy, H. L. Gold


  • Ed Emshwiller
  • Virgil Finlay
  • Frank Kelly Freas
  • Mel Hunter
  • Wally Wood


  • Cry of the Nameless, F. M. & Elinor Busby, Burnett Toskey & Wally Weber
  • Fanac, Terry Carr & Ron Ellik
  • JD-Argassy, Lynn A. Hickman
  • Science-Fiction Times, James V. Taurasi, Sr., Ray Van Houten & Frank R. Prieto, Jr.
  • Yandro, Robert Coulson & Juanita Coulson

Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published two poetry collections and eight novels, most recently Lifelode. She has a ninth novel coming out in January, Among Others, and if you liked this post you will like it. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here regularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.


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