Revisiting the Hugos

Hugo Nominees: 1988

The 1988 Hugo Awards were presented in Nolacon II in New Orleans. The Best Novel award was won by David Brin’s The Uplift War, third of the Uplift Trilogy. The second book, Startide Rising, also won the Hugo, in 1984. This was another ambitious volume, expanding the scope of the previous series and opening up questions about the nature of humanity. An excellent Hugo winner. It’s in print, and in the Grande Bibliotheque (hereafter “the library”) in English only. It’s still part of the conversation of SF, and these books are widely regarded as Brin’s masterpieces.

There are four other nominees, and I’ve read three of them. I’m listing them in order of votes received.

George Alec Effinger’s When Gravity Fails (post) is a splendid book and a terrific nominee. It’s the story of a noir detective in an Islamic future, it’s about people changing their minds and their bodies. It’s a really good book, definitely Effinger’s masterpiece, and I think I’d have voted for it. It’s in print, and it’s in the library in French only.

Orson Scott Card’s Seventh Son is the first volume of the Chronicles of Alvin Maker. It’s a fantasy alternate early US and a fantasy retelling of the life of Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism. The folk magic is really well done. This is another good nominee, Card was doing something here that hadn’t really been done before, a fantasy America. It’s in print and it’s in the library in French and English.

I haven’t read Greg Bear’s The Forge of God, though I have read the sequel, Anvil of Stars, so I know what it’s about. Aliens attack the Earth and, unlike all the others books like this, they destroy it all but a handful of children who escape in a spaceship. I haven’t read it because I accidentally read the sequel first and thus got comprehensively spoiled. It’s in print and it’s in the library in English.

Gene Wolfe’s The Urth of the New Sun is a sequel to the four volume Book of the New Sun, and I didn’t like it as much. It seemed like an unnecessary addition to a series that already had a good ending. Having said that, it was beautifully written and full of clever ideas, as with all Wolfe, so it’s a perfectly reasonable nominee. It’s in print, and in the library in both languages.

So five American men, four science fiction and one fantasy, one space opera, one future of the third world, one far future, one near future alien invasion and one alternate history fantasy.

What else might they have chosen?

SFWA’s Nebula Award went to Pat Murphy’s The Falling Woman, an astonishingly brilliant but weird book that I’d have loved to have seen on the Hugo ballot. Non-overlapping nominees are Wolfe’s Soldier in the Mist and Avram Davidson’s Vergil in Averno.

Ken Grimwood’s Replay (post) won the World Fantasy Award, despite being SF, and would have been a splendid Hugo nominee. Nominees not previously mentioned: Ægypt, John Crowley, Misery, Stephen King, On Stranger Tides, Tim Powers, Swan Song, Robert R. McCammon, Weaveworld, Clive Barker.

The Campbell Memorial Award has no overlap at all, which is unusual. The winner was Connie Willis’s strange but wonderful Lincoln’s Dreams. (So this is the year the World Fantasy was won by SF and the Campbell was won by a fantasy… okay!) Second place was George Turner’s The Sea and the Summer, and third was Geoff Ryman’s The Unconquered Country.

The Philip K. Dick Award, as always, turns up some interesting and unusual things. The winner was Strange Toys, Patricia Geary, and the special citation was Memories, Mike McQuay. The finalists were Dark Seeker, K. W. Jeter, Dover Beach, Richard Bowker, Life During Wartime, Lucius Shepard, Mindplayers, Pat Cadigan.

Mindplayers struck me as one of the better things to come out of cyberpunk, and I’m surprised it didn’t get more attention at the time.

The Locus SF Award went to The Uplift War. Other nominees not previously mentioned were: The Annals of the Heechee, Frederik Pohl, Vacuum Flowers, Michael Swanwick, The Smoke Ring, Larry Niven, Great Sky River, Gregory Benford, 2061: Odyssey Three, Arthur C. Clarke, The Legacy of Heorot, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle & Steven Barnes, To Sail Beyond the Sunset, Robert A. Heinlein, Fool’s Run, Patricia A. McKillip, The Secret Ascension, Michael Bishop, The Tommyknockers, Stephen King, Dawn, Octavia E. Butler, Intervention, Julian May,  After Long Silence, Sheri S. Tepper, Code Blue — Emergency!, James White, Way of the Pilgrim, Gordon R. Dickson, Araminta Station, Jack Vance, Voice of the Whirlwind, Walter Jon Williams, The Awakeners, Sheri S. Tepper, Still River, Hal Clement, Rumors of Spring, Richard Grant, Liege-Killer, Christopher Hinz, In Conquest Born, C. S. Friedman, Little Heroes, Norman Spinrad, Watchmen, Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons, A Mask for the General, Lisa Goldstein.

Looking at this list, I’m cheered to see the Clarke, the Pohl and the Heinlein in it—thank goodness people had stopped nominating weak works by beloved masters. However I am disappointed that Butler’s Dawn didn’t get a Hugo nomination—it’s the first of the Xenogenesis books, one of Butler’s best, and the first thing of hers I read. And Code Blue — Emergency is White’s masterpiece and could have done with more recognition. Oh well.

The Locus Fantasy Award went to Seventh Son. Previously unmentioned nominees: Sign of Chaos, Roger Zelazny, The Witches of Wenshar, Barbara Hambly, The Grey Horse, R. A. MacAvoy, Guardians of the West, David Eddings, A Man Rides Through, Stephen R. Donaldson, Being a Green Mother, Piers Anthony, War for the Oaks, Emma Bull, Bones of the Moon, Jonathan Carroll, Swan Song, Robert R. McCammon, The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three, Stephen King, Land of Dreams, James P. Blaylock, Daughter of the Empire, Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurts, The Firebrand, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Never the Twain, Kirk Mitchell, Darkspell, Katharine Kerr, Equal Rites, Terry Pratchett.

On the First Novel list I see Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint (post), which again I’m surprised didn’t get more attention as it has become a classic.

The Mythopoeic Award went to Seventh Son.

So there are some books I’d really have liked to have seen on the Hugo ballot, especially the Butler, but this was a pretty good year, with the five nominees doing a fairly good job of being where the field was.

Other Categories

NOVELLA

  • “Eye for Eye”, Orson Scott Card (Asimov’s Mar 1987)
  • “The Blind Geometer”, Kim Stanley Robinson (Asimov’s Aug 1987)
  • “The Forest of Time”, Michael F. Flynn (Analog Jun 1987)
  • “Mother Goddess of the World”, Kim Stanley Robinson (Asimov’s Oct 1987)
  • “The Secret Sharer”, Robert Silverberg (Asimov’s Sep 1987)

Gardner Dozois Year’s Best anthologies started to be published in Britain this year, so I actually have most of the nominees in one useful place from now on, so I can check if I can’t remember something. I’d have voted for the Robinson with the Silverberg a close second.

NOVELETTE

  • “Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight”, Ursula K. Le Guin (Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences; F&SF Nov 1987)
  • “Dinosaurs”, Walter Jon Williams (Asimov’s Jun 1987)
  • “Dream Baby”, Bruce McAllister (In the Field of Fire; Asimov’s Oct 1987)
  • “Flowers of Edo”, Bruce Sterling (Asimov’s May 1987)
  • “Rachel in Love”, Pat Murphy (Asimov’s Apr 1987)

Amazingly excellent novelettes this year. I’d have had a very hard time deciding.

SHORT STORY

  • “Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers”, Lawrence Watt-Evans (Asimov’s Jul 1987)
  • “Angel”, Pat Cadigan (Asimov’s May 1987)
  • “Cassandra’s Photographs”, Lisa Goldstein (Asimov’s Aug 1987)
  • “The Faithful Companion at Forty”, Karen Joy Fowler (Asimov’s Jul 1987)
  • “Forever Yours, Anna”, Kate Wilhelm (Omni Jul 1987)
  • “Night of the Cooters”, Howard Waldrop (Omni Apr 1987)

NONFICTION BOOK

  • Michael Whelan’s Works of Wonder, Michael Whelan  Ballantine Del Rey)
  • Anatomy of Wonder, 3rd Edition, Neil Barron, ed. (R.R. Bowker)
  • The Battle of Brazil, Jack Matthews (Crown)
  • Imagination: The Art & Technique of David A. Cherry, David A. Cherry (Donning Starblaze)
  • Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror: 1986, Charles N. Brown & William G. Contento (Locus Press)

OTHER FORMS

  • Watchmen, Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons (DC/Warner)
  • Cvltvre Made Stvpid, Tom Weller (Houghton Mifflin)
  • The Essential Ellison, Harlan Ellison (Nemo Press)
  • “I, Robot: The Movie”, Harlan Ellison (Asimov’s Nov,Dec,mid-Dec 1987)
  • Wild Cards” series, George R. R. Martin, ed. (Bantam Spectra)

So, a new category, the first for some time, and one that wouldn’t last—though comparing apples to oranges didn’t seem to bother people in “non fiction.” But I don’t know what “Wild Cards” is doing here, it’s words-in-a-row fiction.

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION

  • The Princess Bride
  • Predator
  • Robocop
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: “Encounter at Farpoint”
  • The Witches of Eastwick

Finally, a movie winner worthy of having a Hugo.

Okay, so you know how The Princess Bride was a complete box office flop and then became an underground hit? I had read Spider Robinson’s anthology Best Of All Possible Worlds in which there was an excerpt from Goldman’s novel, the fight at the top of the cliffs of insanity. I’d been looking for the whole novel for years, but it hadn’t been published in the UK. When the film posters appeared in the Underground, I was so excited. I dragged fourteen people to see it on the opening night. We weren’t the only people there, but there certainly wasn’t a line. I saw it five times before it closed in London. Since I have grumped about it so much, I’ll admit that for 1988 only, I am glad we have a Dramatic Presentation category. And there’s nothing on the ballot embarrassingly bad.

PROFESSIONAL EDITOR

  • Gardner Dozois
  • Edward L. Ferman
  • David G. Hartwell
  • Stanley Schmidt
  • Brian Thomsen

Gardner mentioned in last week’s comments that he’d bought a lot of the stories and wasn’t unbiased talking about them. And it’s true, he bought a lot of the best stories of the year, and look, the voters recognised that.

PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

  • Michael Whelan
  • David A. Cherry
  • Bob Eggleton 
  • Tom Kidd
  • Don Maitz
  • J. K. Potter

SEMI-PROZINE

  • Locus, Charles N. Brown
  • Aboriginal SF, Charles C. Ryan
  • Interzone, Simon Ounsley & David Pringle
  • Science Fiction Chronicle, Andrew Porter
  • Thrust, D. Douglas Fratz

FANZINE

  • Texas SF Inquirer, Pat Mueller
  • File 770, Mike Glyer
  • FOSFAX, Timothy Lane
  • Lan’s Lantern, George “Lan” Laskowski
  • The Mad 3 Party, Leslie Turek

FAN WRITER

  • Mike Glyer
  • Arthur Hlavaty
  • Dave Langford
  • Guy H. Lillian III
  • Leslie Turek

FAN ARTIST

  • Brad W. Foster
  • Steve Fox
  • Teddy Harvia
  • Merle Insinga
  • Taral Wayne
  • Diana Gallagher Wu

JOHN W. CAMPBELL MEMORIAL AWARD (Not a Hugo)

  • Judith Moffett
  • Rebecca Ore
  • Martha Soukup
  • C. S. Friedman
  • Loren J. MacGregor

Interesting to note that with five novel nominees by men, four of the Campbell nominees are women.

Judith Moffett had written the brilliant short story “Surviving” and the “Quakers in Space” novel Pennterra. She shone like a supernova in 1988. I’ve read all her books, and I would happily read more if she’d write more, but I haven’t seen anything by her in the last decade. It’s hard to say if she was a good Campbell winner—she’s a good writer, and I’d absolutely have voted for her, but she hasn’t gone on to be a major writer.

I talked about Ore last week.

Martha Soukup had written some excellent short work, and she has continued to do so steadily, though I haven’t seen anything from her in a while—Wikipedia suggests that she has been writing plays.

C.S. Friedman had just published her first novel, In Conquest Born, a widescreen baroque space opera. She went on to write the True Night trilogy, and a number of other books on odd edges of SF and fantasy, all from DAW. She’s a significant minor writer and one of my husband’s favourites.

Loren MacGregor had published his excellent first novel, The Net, and never wrote anything else. I used to hang out with him on Usenet and he was a really nice guy, but some people just have one book and that’s that.

There are a lot of people who could have been nominated who in hindsight might have looked better—Emma Bull, Pat Cadigan, Mercedes Lackey, Ellen Kushner, Geoff Ryman… and Lois McMaster Bujold, who was nominated the year before and was still eligible.


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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