Revisiting the Hugos

Hugo Nominees: 1962

The 1962 Hugo Awards were given at Chicon II in Chicago. (There’ll be another Chicon in 2012, interestingly.) The Best Novel Hugo went to Robert A. Heinlein for Stranger in a Strange Land, Heinlein’s third Hugo. (Post.) Stranger in a Strange Land was certainly an amazing phenomenon, becoming popular way outside normal science fiction reading circles. Some say it was one of the precipitating influences on the counterculture of the sixties, it founded a religion and did a lot to popularise polyamory. It has never been out of print, it has been a bestseller for decades. It’s in my library. It’s my perception that the critical reputation of the book isn’t as high as it used to be, but I could be mistaken.

There were four other nominees, of which I’ve read two:

Daniel Galouye’s Dark Universe, which I have read. It’s a fun story of people living underground, originally to escape a nuclear disaster, but subsequently out of habit. It’s the story of one boy who wants more and finds a new world outside, one where having eyes is useful, as it hasn’t been down in the darkness. It wasn’t published as YA, but it reads as one now. It’s not in print. It’s in the library in French.

Clifford Simak’s Time is the Simplest Thing (The Fisherman) is a story about a man who has contacted telepathically aliens and is consequently on the run. I read this a very long time ago and don’t remember it well, I should read it again. It isn’t in print, but it is also in the library in French.

James White’s Second Ending. I couldn’t remember whether I’d read this or not—I’ve read some White and it’s a fairly bland title. It’s described as “the last man in a universe of robots” which I think I would remember. It isn’t in print, and it isn’t in the library.

Harry Harrison’s Planet of the Damned (A Sense of Obligation). I definitely haven’t read it, it isn’t in print or in the library. It seems to be about a man who must leave Earth and save a hellish planet called Dis.

Looking at these five, I’d say we have one enduring classic that I do not like very much, two minor fun novels I have read and enjoyed but which have not lasted well, and two minor novels I haven’t read and which also haven’t lasted well. So surely this couldn’t be the best possible shortlist out of what was available?

Turning again to Wikipedia’s list of books published in 1961 I see the following possibilities: Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Door Through Space, Arthur C. Clarke’s A Fall of Moondust (post), Stanislaw Lem’s Memoirs Found in a Bathtub, Return From the Stars, and Solaris, Lester Del Rey’s Moon of Mutiny, Kurt Vonnegut’s Mother Night, Poul Anderson’s Orbit Unlimited and Three Hearts and Three Lions, Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth (children’s fantasy wasn’t considered eligible then, but it is now), Theodore Sturgeon’s Some of Your Blood, and Harry Harrison’s The Stainless Steel Rat.

It’s very hard to look at that list and not think that at very least Solaris and A Fall of Moondust should have been on the Hugo ballot. I think the nominators dropped the ball here, I don’t think they picked the five best books that showed what the field was doing. As with the previous year, I think Stranger’s a good winner and might well have won against any competition available. But with all the benefit of hindsight, this strikes me as a disappointing shortlist.

Other categories


  • “Hothouse” series (collected as The Long Afternoon of Earth), Brian W. Aldiss (F&SF, Feb., Apr., July, Sep., and Dec. 1961)
  • “Lion Loose,” James H. Schmitz (Analog, Oct 1961)
  • “Monument,” Lloyd Biggle, Jr. (Analog, Jun 1961)
  • “Scylla’s Daughter,” Fritz Leiber (Fantastic, May 1961)
  • “Status Quo,” Mack Reynolds (Analog, Aug 1961)

This strikes me as a very good list of short fiction, much of which has lasted. I’d have given it to Biggle, but maybe the voters felt sorry they’d slighted Anderson as best new writer.


  • The Twilight Zone (TV series)
  • The Fabulous World of Jules Verne
  • Thriller (TV series)
  • The Two Worlds of Charlie Gordon
  • Village of the Damned

What was The Two Worlds of Charlie Gordon? Was it some kind of adaptation of Flowers For Algernon?


  • Analog, John W. Campbell, Jr.
  • Amazing Stories, Cele Goldsmith
  • F&SF, Robert P. Mills
  • Galaxy, H. L. Gold
  • Science Fantasy, John Carnell


  • Ed Emshwiller
  • Virgil Finlay
  • Mel Hunter
  • John Schoenherr
  • Alex Schomburg


  • Warhoon, Richard Bergeron
  • Amra, George Scithers
  • Axe, Larry Shaw & Noreen Shaw
  • Cry, F. M. & Elinor Busby & Wally Weber
  • Yandro, Robert Coulson & Juanita Coulson

Chicon II also gave three special awards

  • Special Award: Cele Goldsmith for editing Amazing and Fantastic
  • Special Award: Donald H. Tuck for The Handbook of Science Fiction and Fantasy
  • Special Award: Fritz Leiber and the Hoffman Electric Corp. for the use of science fiction in advertisements

The first of these seems particularly odd because Amazing, with Goldsmith as editor, was nominated for a Hugo and did not win. The other two are clearly things for which the Hugos did not have categories at the time—the last one still doesn’t. Having a Hugo for Best Ad seems like something from a Frederik Pohl story. I don’t know what those SF advertisements were, and a cursory Google search isn’t finding much. Anyone?

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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