Revisiting the Hugos

Hugo Nominees: 1964

The 1964 Hugo Awards were given in Pacificon II in Oakland, California. (For earlier posts in this series, see Index.) It’s lovely to think that I was born in the year when Way Station (post) (aka Here Gather the Stars) won the Best Novel Hugo. I didn’t know anything about it at the time, obviously, but it makes me happy now. Way Station is a gentle pastoral hard science fiction novel with aliens and ideas and a quiet man going for walks and thinking. It isn’t really like anything much else, and I applaud the Pacificon voters for selecting such an excellent book. It’s in print in a gorgeous hardcover from Old Earth Books, and it’s in my library.

We have four other nominees and I’ve read them all.

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut Jr is a better book than The Sirens of Titan, but I don’t see how it was eligible for the 1964 Hugo as it was first published in 1960. It’s almost a cosy catastrophe, it’s about the world ending because of a form of water that freezes at room temperature, but it’s a weird comedy. I loved it to bits when I was thirteen. It’s widely in print, but it’s not in the library.

“Dune World” by Frank Herbert, is the serialisation of the first chunk of Dune, I’m not sure how much. Dune itself won the next year, so let’s leave it for now. It’s in print, and in the library in French and English.

Glory Road by Robert A. Heinlein is one of my least favourite Heinlein. It’s a transdimensional romp, and it doesn’t work for me. I think it’s one of Heinlein’s weakest books—it’s as if he’s trying to do sword and sorcery but making it SF and not taking any joy in it. It’s in print in an Orb edition, and it’s in the library, so despite the fact that I don’t like it I have to admit it’s lasted well.

Witch World by Andre Norton is another case of fantasy thinly disguised as SF. A man from our world finds his way through a gate to another world where magic works. It’s much more fun than Glory Road, though very light and far from Norton’s best. Another female novel nominee, for anyone counting. (I think people knew Norton was a woman, despite the faintly male name?) It’s in print in an audio edition, and in the library.

Other books that strike me as possibilities (again, using Wikipedia’s not-entirely-reliable list of 1963 books): John Brunner’s The Stardroppers—a very minor novel but I like it; Walter Tevis’s The Man Who Fell to Earth; Pierre Boulle’s Planet of the Apes; H. Beam Piper’s Space Viking (post); Samuel R. Delany’s Captives of the Flame; Philip K. Dick The Gameplayers of Titan. In YA—which mostly wasn’t considered at the time but certainly is now, there’s Alan Garner’s The Moon of Gomrath; Robert Heinlein’s Podkayne of Mars; Joan Aiken’s The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and Arthur C. Clarke’s Dolphin Island.

Looking at these, it’s clearly a strong year, with all kinds of SF being written. I’d put the Piper above the Norton and the Heinlein, and certainly Dune being eligible twice (and thus taking two slots) is annoying. If I was making a list of “Jo’s favourite SF from the year she was born” it wouldn’t be this shortlist. But Way Station is an excellent winner, and the five nominees do give a good snapshot of what people liked at the time.

Other Categories

SHORT FICTION

  • “No Truce With Kings,” Poul Anderson (F&SF Jun 1963)
  • “Code Three,” Rick Raphael (Analog Feb 1963)
  • “A Rose for Ecclesiastes,” Roger Zelazny (F&SF Nov 1963) 
  • “Savage Pellucidar,” Edgar Rice Burroughs (Amazing Stories Nov 1963)

Now that’s an odd result. No Truce With Kings is a pretty good Anderson novella, but “A Rose For Ecclesiastes” is one of the best short pieces ever written. Depending on what you count as “New Wave,” is this the first New Wave nomination?

SF BOOK PUBLISHER

  • Ace
  • Ballantine
  • Doubleday
  • Pyramid

Interestingly, by 1964 we have enough publishers publishing SF that they could start a category. The Locus Awards still have this category, won annually for the last eleven thousand years by Tor, but the Hugos have given up on it. Well, I’d have given it to Ace in 1964 too. Think of those lovely Ace Doubles!

PROFESSIONAL MAGAZINE

  • Analog, John W. Campbell, Jr.
  • Amazing Stories, Cele Goldsmith
  • F&SF, Avram Davidson
  • Galaxy, Frederik Pohl
  • Science Fantasy, John Carnell

PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

  • Ed Emshwiller
  • Virgil Finlay
  • Frank Frazetta
  • Roy Krenkel
  • John Schoenherr

AMATEUR MAGAZINE

  • Amra, George Scithers
  • ERB-dom, Camille Cazedessus, Jr.
  • Starspinkle, Ron Ellik
  • Yandro, Robert Coulson & Juanita Coulson

Look what there isn’t! Not just no award, no dramatic presentation category at all! I expect the oracles told them that somebody was about to be born who would be pleased to hear it. Or maybe the genre films were all rubbish that year, like a lot of other years.


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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