Revisiting the Hugos

Hugo Nominees: 1975

The 1975 Hugo Awards were given at Aussiecon I, in Melbourne, the first time the Worldcon was in the Southern Hemisphere. The best novel award was won by Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed (post) a book that’s an acknowledged and beloved classic, one of the best books science fiction has ever produced. It’s in print and in the Grande Bibliotheque in English and French. Le Guin describes it as “an ambiguous utopia.” It’s the story of Shevek, a brilliant physicist discovering a new principle of physics which will make possible instantaneous communication, and it’s the story of two worlds, each other’s moon, one of them anarchist and one of them capitalist. What makes it brilliant is that neither of them is hell or paradise, and the book, which is not told in chronological order, is the story of Shevek moving between them.

There are four other nominees, of which I have read three.

I know I’ve read Poul Anderson’s Fire Time, but I can’t remember it at all. I shall remedy this as soon as possible. Sorry. I don’t think it’s in print, but it’s in the library in English.

I have not read and do not intend to read Philip K. Dick’s Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, but I’m sure it’s an worthy nominee that’s not to my taste and an excellent example of Dick’s work. I’m astonished to see that it won the Campbell Memorial Award for hard SF, as I’d never have guessed that Dick had written something eligible. Wow. It’s in print, and it’s in the library in French only.

Christopher Priest’s Inverted World is really weird. It’s about a boy growing up in a city that has to keep moving because time and space are so weird and it has to keep at one point in a curve—it’s on rails. Only it turns out that they only think this, and actually they’re in Africa. Or something. Great special effects but I didn’t understand the end. I’m not even sure if it’s SF, so it surprises me that this was a Hugo nominee. It won the BSFA Award. It’s in print. And for a change it’s in the library in French and Italian.

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye is a fun book about aliens, a first contact with a species limited to their own solar system who experience periodic collapses in civilization due to overpopulation. They’re great aliens, and while the humans are very much token characters to take you through the adventure, that’s a plus for a book like this. It’s in print and it’s in the library in English and French, it has less-good sequels, and it’s still part of the conversation of science fiction.

So, one woman and four men, an excellent winner, and certainly an interesting set of nominees.

What else could they have chosen?

The Dispossessed also won the Nebula and the Locus Awards, and very well deserved. Other Nebula nominees were Thomas M. Disch’s masterpiece 334, which should certainly also have been on the Hugo ballot, and T.J. Bass’s The Godwhale, which I remember as enjoyable biological SF. Other Locus nominees were D.G. Compton’s The Unsleeping Eye, aka The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe, which would have been a very good nominee, James White’s The Dream Millennium, Richard Cowper’s The Twilight of Briarius—I remember that, it’s a cosy catastrophe with aliens!—Edgar Pangborn’s The Company of Glory, Jack Vance’s The Domains of Koryphon, Patricia McKillip’s The Forgotten Beasts of Eld (which won the World Fantasy Award), Thomas Burnett Swann’s How Are the Mighty Fallen, John Brunner’s Total Eclipse, Barry Malzberg’s The Destruction of the Temple, Doris Pischeria’s Star Rider, Poul Anderson’s A Midsummer Tempest (which won the Mythopoeic Award), Evangeline Walton’s Prince of Annwn, Suzy McGee Charnas’s Walk to the End of the World, which I think would have made a great addition to the Hugo ballot, Alan Dean Foster’s Icerigger.

The first World Fantasy Award was given in 1975 went to McKillip’s The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. Other nominees were Anderson’s A Midsummer Tempest and H. Warner Munn’s Merlin’s Ring. The Anderson won the Mythopoeic Award, the only other nominee not previously mentioned was Watership Down (post).

With all of this, can there possibly be anything significant that none of the awards noticed?

Again using the somewhat unreliable ISFDB and looking at things that I think are remembered and might have deserved notice, there’s Brian Aldiss’s Barefoot in the Head, Stephen King’s Carrie, William Sleator’s House of Stairs, Lloyd Biggle Jr’s Monument.

On the whole, I think we could have had a better five nominees from these options, but the five we have are pretty good and the winner is wonderful.

Other Categories

NOVELLA

  • A Song for Lya,” George R.R. Martin (Analog Jun 1974)
  • “Assault on a City,” Jack Vance (Universe 4)
  • “Born with the Dead,” Robert Silverberg (F&SF Apr 1974)
  • “Riding the Torch,” Norman Spinrad (Threads of Time)
  • “Strangers,” Gardner Dozois (New Dimensions IV)

I like “A Song For Lya,” but I think I’d have voted for “Strangers.” “Born With the Dead” is also excellent.

NOVELETTE

  • “Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans: Latitude 38° 54’ N, Longitude 77° 00’ 13” W,” Harlan Ellison (F&SF Oct 1974)
  • “After the Dreamtime,” Richard Lupoff (New Dimensions IV)
  • “A Brother to Dragons, a Companion of Owls,” Kate Wilhelm (Orbit 14)
  • “Extreme Prejudice,” Jerry Pournelle (Analog Jul 1974)
  • “Midnight by the Morphy Watch,” Fritz Leiber (If Aug 1974)
  • “Nix Olympica,” William Walling (Analog Dec 1974)
  • “—That Thou Art Mindful of Him!”, Isaac Asimov (F&SF May 1974)

Good winner from a good field.

SHORT STORY

  • The Hole Man, Larry Niven (Analog Jan 1974)
  • “Cathadonian Odyssey,” Michael Bishop (F&SF Sep 1974)
  • “The Day Before the Revolution,” Ursula K. Le Guin (Galaxy Aug 1974)
  • “The Four-Hour Fugue,” Alfred Bester (Analog Jun 1974)
  • “Schwartz Between the Galaxies,” Robert Silverberg (Stellar #1)

I’d have definitely voted for Le Guin here, I love that story. But any of them would have been good winners—except I don’t remember the Bishop.

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION

  • Young Frankenstein
  • Flesh Gordon
  • Phantom of the Paradise
  • “The Questor Tapes”
  • Zardoz

If you don’t have more than five worthy things to go on a ballot, you don’t have a category. No award!

PROFESSIONAL EDITOR

  • Ben Bova
  • Jim Baen
  • Terry Carr
  • Edward L. Ferman
  • Robert Silverberg
  • Ted White

PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

  • Frank Kelly Freas
  • Steve Fabian
  • Tim Kirk
  • John Schoenherr
  • Rick Sternbach

AMATEUR MAGAZINE

  • The Alien Critic, Richard E. Geis
  • Algol, Andrew Porter
  • Locus, Charles Brown & Dena Brown
  • Outworlds, Bill Bowers & Joan Bowers
  • SF Commentary, Bruce Gillespie
  • Starling, Hank & Lesleigh Luttrell

FAN WRITER

  • Richard E. Geis
  • John Bangsund
  • Sandra Miesel
  • Don C. Thompson
  • Susan Wood

Geis was having a good year!

FAN ARTIST

  • Bill Rotsler
  • George Barr
  • Grant Canfield
  • Jim Shull

THE JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER (not a Hugo!)

  • P. J. Plauger
  • Alan Brennert
  • Suzy McKee Charnas
  • Felix C. Gotschalk
  • Brenda Pearce
  • John Varley

Oh dear. This is the one people were discussing last week and saying Plauger went on to write non fiction books about computers. Suzy McKee Charnas and John Varley have gone on to be major writers. Brennert has had a respectable career, winning a Nebula for a short story. I’m not familiar with Gorschalk or Pearce, anyone? I have to say that taken as a list of writers at the beginning of careers, this doesn’t hold up as well as some years.


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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