Revisiting the Hugos

Hugo Nominees: 1970

The 1970 Worldcon was Heicon 70, in Heidelburg, Germany, the first time it was in a non-Anglophone country. The Hugo Awards could be assumed to have more international voters than normal. The novel winner was Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (post) an absolutely wonderful book, an undoubted classic, and one of the best books ever to have won the Hugo. This was also the first book by a woman to win, and so it’s very appropriate that it’s this book, with its exploration of gender ambiguities. It’s in print, it’s still widely read and discussed, and it’s in the library in both languages. (The French title is La main gauche de la nuit, which gives me quite a different image.)

There are four other nominees of which I’ve read only two.

Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five is probably his best book, certainly his best known one. It’s about a time traveller and the firebombing of Dresden, and Vonnegut makes all the weird stuff point in the same direction for once so that it makes sense as SF. It’s also pretty thoroughly in print and in the library in both languages.

Robert Silverberg’s Up the Line is a smart funny book about time travel. It doesn’t seem to be in print, which is a pity because I don’t own a copy and I’d like to read it again. It’s in the library in French only.

I haven’t read Piers Anthony’s Macroscope because I’ve not enjoyed other things of Anthony’s I’ve read. It’s in print from Mundania, a small press. It’s not in the library.

I haven’t read Norman Spinrad’s Bug Jack Barron because I’ve never got around to it. I sometimes enjoy Spinrad but I think he’s best at short lengths. Bug Jack Barron is in print, and in the library in both languages.

So, four out of five in print, pretty good. What did they miss?

The Nebulas have all of these except Macroscope, and add Zelazny’s Isle of the Dead, which I like a lot, and Brunner’s The Jagged Orbit. Either of these would have been a fine Hugo nominee. Oh, and they gave the Nebula to Le Guin, of course. I almost didn’t say so, because it’s so obvious.

The BSFA Award was instituted this year, voted on by fans at Eastercon, for books published in the U.K. It gave its first award to Stand on Zanzibar, which was published in 1968. Oh well.

The Ditmar Award for best Australian novel went to Lee Harding’s Dancing Gerontius, and their international award to Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics, which does make it seem like a truly international award, even though that meant they didn’t give it to The Left Hand of Darkness.

The Seiun also began in 1970, but their international award is for fiction translated into Japanese that year, which makes it sufficiently out of step with everything else as not to be much use for comparison.

Was there anything everyone missed? Not really. They could have looked at Fritz Leiber’s A Spectre is Haunting Texas, Brian Aldiss’s Barefoot in the Head, Philip K. Dick’s Galactic Pot Healer, Vernor Vinge’s Grimm’s World, Frederik Pohl’s The Age of the Pussyfoot, Daphne Du Maurier’s The House on the Strand (post) but really, there was no need.

Other Categories


  • “Ship of Shadows,” Fritz Leiber (F&SF Jul 1969)
  • “A Boy and His Dog,” Harlan Ellison (The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World)
  • “Dramatic Mission,” Anne McCaffrey (Analog Jun 1969)
  • “To Jorslem,” Robert Silverberg (Galaxy Feb 1969)
  • “We All Die Naked,” James Blish (Three for Tomorrow)

Well first, I’d have voted for “A Boy and His Dog,” and second, what happened to the novelette category? Did they forget?


  • “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones,” Samuel R. Delany (World’s Best Science Fiction: 1969 1968; New Worlds Dec 1968)
  • “Deeper than the Darkness,” Gregory Benford (F&SF Apr 1969) 
  • “Not Long Before the End,” Larry Niven (F&SF Apr 1969) 
  • “Passengers,” Robert Silverberg (Orbit 4 1968)
  • “Winter’s King,” Ursula K. Le Guin (Orbit 5)

I’d have given it to the Delany too. It seems to have had extended eligibility because of non-U.S. first publication, despite New Worlds being nominated for magazine Hugos, indicating that people were reading it, and this con being in Europe.


  • “News coverage of Apollo XI”
  • The Bed-Sitting Room
  • The Illustrated Man
  • “The Immortal”
  • Marooned

Well, that’s an interesting interpretation of a dramatic presentation, but it’s hard to argue with. It would have been cool if this had started a trend, so that every year there was NASA TV and science programs up there with all the sci-fi.


  • F&SF, Edward L. Ferman
  • Amazing Stories, Ted White
  • Analog, John W. Campbell, Jr.
  • Galaxy, Frederik Pohl & Ejler Jakobsson
  • New Worlds, Michael Moorcock


  • Frank Kelly Freas
  • Vaughn Bodé
  • Leo & Diane Dillon
  • Jack Gaughan
  • Eddie Jones
  • Jeff Jones


  • Science Fiction Review, Richard E. Geis
  • Beabohema, Frank Lunney
  • Locus, Charles Brown
  • Riverside Quarterly, Leland Sapiro
  • Speculation, Peter R. Weston


  • Wilson (Bob) Tucker
  • Piers Anthony
  • Charles Brown
  • Richard Delap
  • Richard E. Geis


  • Tim Kirk
  • Alicia Austin
  • George Barr
  • Steve Fabian
  • Bill Rotsler  

Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published two poetry collections and nine novels, most recently 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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