Revisiting the Hugos

Hugo Nominees: 1984

The 1984 Hugo Awards were given at LACon II in Anaheim California. The Best Novel Hugo went to David Brin’s Startide Rising, the second of his Uplift series. This is an excellent winner, exactly the kind of book that ought to win the Hugo—imaginative, innovative, full of new ideas. The concept of “uplift” is wonderful, where each species raises others to sentience—and there’s a galaxy full of alien species who have done this for each other and are freaked out by the mystery of humans who managed it for themselves. Startide Rising is in print, and it’s in the Grande Bibliotheque (hereafter “the library”) in French and English. It’s a classic, and it’s definitely still part of the conversation of SF. As well as the Hugo it won the Nebula, and the Locus—it really was the standout book of the year.

There are four other nominees, and I’ve read all of them.

John Varley’s Millennium is an expansion of his wonderful novella “Air Raid,” about a world where people with time travel but a ruined future Earth are trying to rescue people from plane crashes. I really looked forward to the book and then found it a disappointing expansion. I much prefer “Air Raid” as a stand alone. It’s in print, and it’s in the library in French only.

Anne McCaffrey’s Moreta, Dragonlady of Pern is the last of the Pern books that I read. I don’t remember it all that well, but I do remember finding it repetitive. It’s in print and it’s in the library in French and English, so I suppose it has lasted.

I loved Isaac Asimov’s The Robots of Dawn, which was great especially after having not enjoyed Foundation’s Edge the year before. I haven’t re-read it for a long time, but I thought at the time that it was a fresh thoughtful addition to the Robots series. It’s in print and in the library in French only.

R.A. MacAvoy’s Tea With the Black Dragon (post) is delightful. It’s an unusual Hugo nominee for several reasons—it’s fantasy, it was a paperback original and it’s a first novel, but a terrific thing to see on the ballot. It’s in print, but it’s not in the library. It was also nominated for the Nebula, the World Fantasy Award, and the Philip K. Dick Award.

So, three men and two women, three additions to existing series, one fantasy, one science fantasy, two space operas, and one uncategorisable. Moreta seems weak, but this seems like a reasonable to good set of five.

What else might they have chosen?

SFWA’s Nebula also went to Startide Rising. Non-overlapping nominees are Gregory Benford’s Against Infinity, Gene Wolfe’s Citadel of the Autarch, Jack Vance’s Lyonesse and Norman Spinrad’s The Void Captain’s Tale. Any of the ones I’ve read would have been perfectly good Hugo nominees too, but not notably better than the ones we have.

The World Fantasy Award went to John M. Ford’s The Dragon Waiting (post). Other non-overlapping nominees are George R.R. Martin’s The Armageddon Rag, (post), Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, and Manuel Mujica Lainez’s The Wandering Unicorn.

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award went to Citadel of the Autarch, as somebody belatedly realised that those books are SF, or maybe it was an award for the whole series. I do think The Book of the New Sun as a whole thing should have won a Hugo, but I’m not sure any of the parts after The Shadow of the Torturer actually stand alone sufficiently to be considerable. Second place is John Calvin Batchelor’s The Birth of the People’s Republic of Antarctica, which I loathed, and third John Sladek’s Tik-Tok.

The Philip K. Dick Award went to Tim Powers The Anubis Gates (post). Finalists not mentioned yet are Zoe Fairbairns’s Benefits, M. John Harrison’s The Floating Gods and Barrington J. Bayley’s The Zen Gun.

The Brin won the Locus SF Award. Other nominees not previously mentioned: Helliconia Summer, Brian W. Aldiss, Thendara House (post), Marion Zimmer Bradley, Orion Shall Rise, Poul Anderson, The Nonborn King, Julian May, Superluminal, Vonda N. McIntyre, Welcome, Chaos, Kate Wilhelm, The Crucible of Time (post), John Brunner, Worlds Apart, Joe Haldeman, Valentine Pontifex, Robert Silverberg, Gods of Riverworld, Philip José Farmer, Forty Thousand in Gehenna, C.J. Cherryh,  A Matter for Men, David Gerrold, Wall Around a Star, Jack Williamson & Frederik Pohl, Golden Witchbreed, Mary Gentle, Broken Symmetries, Paul Preuss, Roderick at Random, John Sladek, There Is No Darkness, Joe Haldeman & Jack C. Haldeman II, Code of the Lifemaker, James P. Hogan, Transformer, M. A. Foster.

The Locus Fantasy Award, in a year with so much excellent fantasy, went to one of my least favourite books, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon. Nominees not previously mentioned: White Gold Wielder, Stephen R. Donaldson, Christine, Stephen King, The Dreamstone, C.J. Cherryh, Damiano, R. A. MacAvoy, Neveryóna, Samuel R. Delany, Dragon on a Pedestal, Piers Anthony, Hart’s Hope, Orson Scott Card, Cugel’s Saga, Jack Vance, The Sword of Winter, Marta Randall, Magician’s Gambit, David Eddings, The Tree of Swords and Jewels, C.J. Cherryh, On a Pale Horse, Piers Anthony, Floating Dragon, Peter Straub, The Neverending Story, Michael Ende, Anackire, Tanith Lee, Sung in Shadow, Tanith Lee, ‘Ware Hawk!, Andre Norton, The Silent Gondoliers, S. Morgenstern, The Sword Is Forged, Evangeline Walton.

The Mythopoeic Award went to Joy Chant’s When Voiha Wakes, another book I really like.

The Prometheus Award (Libertarian) went to J. Neil Schulman’s The Rainbow Cadenza.

And looking at the ISFDB to see if there’s anything they all overlooked I find Steven Brust’s Jhereg, (post) which should certainly have been on the World Fantasy list, and got him a Campbell nomination!

So out of all this there are The Dragon Waiting and The Anubis Gates, both of which I think the Hugo voters overlooked unfairly in favour of weak books by better known writers. And I’d have liked to see Crucible of Time get more attention too. But a good winner and a reasonable field—I think this is another year where I’m coming down on “meh, sort of” doing their job.

Other Categories.

NOVELLA

  • “Cascade Point,” Timothy Zahn (Analog Dec 1983)
  • “Hardfought,” Greg Bear (Asimov’s Feb 1983)
  • “Hurricane Claude,” Hilbert Schenck (F&SF Apr 1983)
  • “In the Face of My Enemy,” Joseph H. Delaney (Analog Apr 1983)
  • “Seeking,” David R. Palmer (Analog Feb 1983)

So did I suddenly stop reading novellas in 1983? Why are none of these familiar?

NOVELETTE

  • “Blood Music,” Greg Bear (Analog Jun 1983)
  • “Black Air,” Kim Stanley Robinson (F&SF Mar 1983)
  • “The Monkey Treatment,” George R. R. Martin (F&SF Jul 1983)
  • “The Sidon in the Mirror,” Connie Willis (Asimov’s Apr 1983)
  • “Slow Birds,” Ian Watson (F&SF Jun 1983)

These, on the other hand, are great. I think the best one won, but what a terrific set. “Black Air” was one of the first Robinsons I noticed.

SHORT STORY

  • “Speech Sounds,” Octavia E. Butler (Asimov’s mid-Dec 1983)
  • “The Geometry of Narrative,” Hilbert Schenck (Analog Aug 1983)
  • “The Peacemaker,” Gardner Dozois (Asimov’s Aug 1983)
  • “Servant of the People,” Frederik Pohl (Analog Feb 1983)
  • “Wong’s Lost and Found Emporium,” William F. Wu (Amazing Stories May 1983)

Yay, another great winner.

NONFICTION BOOK

  • The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Vol. 3, Donald H. Tuck (Advent)
  • Dream Makers, Volume II, Charles Platt (Berkley)
  • The Fantastic Art of Rowena, Rowena Morrill (Pocket)
  • The High Kings, Joy Chant (Bantam)
  • Staying Alive: A Writer’s Guide, Norman Spinrad (Donning)

It makes absolutely no sense to call The High Kings non-fiction—it’s a retelling of Celtic legends as if they were being told at the court of King Arthur. I like it, but it’s definitely fiction.

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION

  • Return of the Jedi
  • Brainstorm
  • The Right Stuff
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes
  • WarGames

PROFESSIONAL EDITOR

  • Shawna McCarthy
  • Terry Carr
  • Edward L. Ferman
  • David G. Hartwell
  • Stanley Schmidt

PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

  • Michael Whelan
  • Val Lakey Lindahn
  • Don Maitz
  • Rowena Morrill
  • Barclay Shaw

SEMI-PROZINE

  • Locus, Charles N. Brown
  • Fantasy Newsletter/Fantasy Review, Robert A. Collins
  • Science Fiction Chronicle, Andrew Porter
  • Science Fiction Review, Richard E. Geis
  • Whispers, Stuart David Schiff

Ah, the introduction of the “best Locus” category.

FANZINE

  • File 770, Mike Glyer
  • Ansible, Dave Langford
  • Holier Than Thou, Marty & Robbie Cantor
  • Izzard, Patrick Nielsen Hayden & Teresa Nielsen Hayden
  • The Philk Fee-Nom-Ee-Non, Paul J. Willett

Yay, PNH and TNH first Hugo nomination!

FAN WRITER

  • Mike Glyer
  • Richard E. Geis
  • Arthur Hlavaty
  • Dave Langford
  • Teresa Nielsen Hayden

FAN ARTIST

  • Alexis Gilliland
  • Brad W. Foster
  • Joan Hanke-Woods
  • William Rotsler
  • Stu Shiffman

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER (Not a Hugo)

R.A. MacAvoy won the Campbell, unsurprisingly, with her first novel having Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy nominations. She has gone on to have a quiet career writing fantasy novels at intervals. I like her work, but she hasn’t had any more success to match her first book.

Joseph H. Delaney, was nominated on the strength of some short stories. He continued to produce excellent short work through the eighties, and one novel.

Lisa Goldstein was nominated again, as noted last week she’d have been a fine winner.

Warren Norwood never impinged on my consciousness, but he seems to have had a first novel out in 1983 and followed it up with lots of other novels throught he eighties. A reasonable nominee even if he didn’t become a major writer.

Joel Rosenberg is a major writer, he’s been producing well thought of fantasy solidly from 1983 to now. An excellent nominee.

Sheri Tepper is another excellent nominee. She’s probably the standout from this group as far as later career goes—she hadn’t produced much before her nomination, but since then she has gone on to be a major serious writer.


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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