Revisiting the Hugos

Hugo Nominees: 1997

The 1997 Hugo Awards were presented at LoneStarCon II, in San Antonio, Texas. The best novel winner was Kim Stanley Robinson’s Blue Mars, which I have not read because of issues with Red Mars, as previously mentioned. It’s the conclusion to Robinson’s trilogy about terraforming Mars. It’s in print and it’s in the Grande Bibliotheque (hereafter “the library”) in French and English.

There were four other nominees and I’ve read three of them.

Bruce Sterling’s Holy Fire is a near-future extrapolation about rejuvenation. I liked it but I had issues with it — having the hormones and body of a young person wouldn’t inherently give an old person the same fashion tastes as a young person. It was a book that got a lot of buzz at the time, but I haven’t heard much about it since — I think it has been eclipsed by Sterling’s later work. I have a soft spot for it because it was the first long thing of his I really liked. It’s in print, and it’s in the library in French and English.

Lois McMaster Bujold’s Memory (post) is planetary SF about growing up and facing responsibilities. It’s very much not a standalone book, it really needs the rest of the series to support it, and I think it may have suffered in the voting because of that. I think it’s an excellent nominee and I would have voted for it. It’s in print, and it’s in the library in French and English.

Elizabeth Moon’s Remnant Population is about a colony moved off their planet and one grandmother who decides to stay alone. I liked the idea of it, and the elderly female protagonist, more than I actually enjoyed the experience of reading it, but I’m glad it got a Hugo nomination — a very unusual book. It’s in print and in the library in English only.

I haven’t read Robert J. Sawyer’s Starplex because I didn’t enjoy The Terminal Experiment enough to want to seek out more of his work. This sounds much more my kind of thing though — the discovery of a series of wormholes opens up time and space to an Earth that might not be ready for it. It’s in print, and it’s in the library in English and French.

So, two women and three men, one Canadian and four Americans, all science fiction, two planetary SF, one space opera, one near future Earth and one medium future Mars. What else might they have chosen?

SFWA’s Nebula Awards were not covering calendar years at this point — it was won by Griffith’s excellent Slow River, which is a 1995 book. The only eligible non-overlapping nominee was Patricia McKillip’s Winter Rose.

The World Fantasy Awards were won by Rachel Pollack’s astonishingly weird Godmother Night. Other nominees: The 37th Mandala, Marc Laidlaw, The Bear Went Over the Mountain, William Kotzwinkle, Devil’s Tower, Mark Sumner, A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin, The Golden Key, Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson & Kate Elliott, Shadow of Ashland, Terence M. Green.

The Campbell Memorial Award was given to Paul McAuley’s Fairyland, with Blue Mars second and Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow third.

The Philip K. Dick Award went to The Time Ships, Stephen Baxter, though as it was a 1996 Hugo nominee I don’t understand how it was eligible. The special citation was At the City Limits of Fate, Michael Bishop. Other nominees: Reclamation, Sarah Zettel, The Shift, George Foy, The Transmigration of Souls, William Barton.

The Tiptree Award was given to The Sparrow — I demand a recount! At least it was a tie with Le Guin’s excellent short “Mountain Ways.” The long works on the short list were: A History Maker, Alasdair Gray, Leaning Towards Infinity, Sue Woolfe, Nadya: The Wolf Chronicles, Pat Murphy, The Pillow Friend, Lisa Tuttle.

The Locus SF Award was won by Blue Mars. Other nominees not mentioned already: Endymion, Dan Simmons, Cetaganda, Lois McMaster Bujold (post), Idoru, William Gibson, Inheritor, C. J. Cherryh (post), Night Lamp, Jack Vance, Exodus from the Long Sun, Gene Wolfe, Voyage, Stephen Baxter, Beggars Ride, Nancy Kress, Excession, Iain M. Banks, The Ringworld Throne, Larry Niven, Children of the Mind, Orson Scott Card, Otherland: City of Golden Shadow, Tad Williams, Dreamfall, Joan D. Vinge, Distress, Greg Egan, Pirates of the Universe, Terry Bisson, River of Dust, Alexander Jablokov, Night Sky Mine, Melissa Scott, The Other End of Time, Frederik Pohl, Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, Sheri S. Tepper, The Tranquillity Alternative, Allen Steele, Oaths and Miracles, Nancy Kress, Infinity’s Shore, David Brin.

Well, some good stuff there, but also some things I’m really glad are there and not on the Hugo list — Endymion, Ringworld Throne, Children of the Mind — this is a year when people sensibly didn’t nominate things in series where only the first one was great.

The Locus Fantasy Award was won by A Game of Thrones, which doesn’t surprise me one bit. Other nominees not yet mentioned: Lunatics, Bradley Denton, Blameless in Abaddon, James Morrow, Royal Assassin, Robin Hobb, A Crown of Swords, Robert Jordan, Feet of Clay, Terry Pratchett, The Wood Wife, Terri Windling (Tor), One for the Morning Glory, John Barnes, Walking the Labyrinth, Lisa Goldstein, Ancient Echoes, Robert Holdstock, Clouds End, Sean Stewart, The Golden Compass (UK title Northern Lights), Philip Pullman, Mother of Winter, Barbara Hambly, Fair Peril, Nancy Springer, Blood of the Fold, Terry Goodkind, Firebird, Mercedes Lackey, The Dragon and the Unicorn, A. A. Attanasio. Sea Without a Shore, Sean Russell.

The Wood Wife won the Mythopoeic Award.

So, was there anything they all missed?

There was Raphael Carter’s The Fortunate Fall (post) which really was one of the most exciting books of the year, or any year, and which should have made the Hugo ballot. And there was Candas Jane Dorsey’s beautiful Black Wine (post), which should have made the World Fantasy or Mythopoeic lists at least. There’s Jane Emerson’s City of Diamond (post). There’s Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere and Ian McDonald’s Sacrifice of Fools, one of his very best books.

On the whole, 1997’s nominees work. They’re a good set of books, they’re representative of where the field was, though I’d have really liked to see The Fortunate Fall and Sacrifice of Fools up there.

Other Categories

NOVELLA

  • “Blood of the Dragon”, George R. R. Martin (Asimov’s Jul 1996)
  • “Abandon in Place”, Jerry Oltion (F&SF Dec 1996)
  • “The Cost to Be Wise”, Maureen F. McHugh (Starlight 1)
  • “Gas Fish”, Mary Rosenblum (Asimov’s Feb 1996)
  • “Immersion”, Gregory Benford (Science Fiction Age Mar 1996)
  • “Time Travelers Never Die”, Jack McDevitt (Asimov’s May 1996)

My two favourites here, the Martin and the McHugh, are both sections of novels. I didn’t make it to Worldcon that year, but I remember being at a Unicon the weekend before and talking about how great these nominees were, which was probably the first time I noticed how much I liked novellas. And Starlight, what a great anthology!

NOVELETTE

  • “Bicycle Repairman”, Bruce Sterling (Intersections: The Sycamore Hill Anthology; Asimov’s Oct/Nov 1996)
  • “Age of Aquarius”, William Barton (Asimov’s May 1996)
  • “Beauty and the Opéra or The Phantom Beast”, Suzy McKee Charnas (Asimov’s Mar 1996)
  • “The Land of Nod”, Mike Resnick (Asimov’s Jun 1996)
  • “Mountain Ways”, Ursula K. Le Guin (Asimov’s Aug 1996)

SHORT STORY

  • “The Soul Selects Her Own Society: Invasion and Repulsion: A Chronological Reinterpretation of Two of Emily Dickinson’s Poems: A Wellsian Perspective”, Connie Willis (Asimov’s Apr 1996; War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches)
  • “The Dead”, Michael Swanwick (Starlight 1)
  • “Decency”, Robert Reed (Asimov’s Jun 1996)
  • “Gone”, John Crowley (F&SF Sep 1996)
  • “Un-Birthday Boy”, James White (Analog Feb 1996)

NONFICTION BOOK

  • Time & Chance: An Autobiography, L. Sprague de Camp (Donald M. Grant)
  • The Faces of Fantasy, Patti Perret (Tor)
  • Look at the Evidence, John Clute (Serconia Press)
  • The Silence of the Langford, David Langford (NESFA Press)
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, Diana Wynne Jones (Vista)

Here, another helping of comparing kumquats to parakeets! I’m amazed the DWJ didn’t win.

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION

  • Babylon 5: “Severed Dreams” (Warner Bros.; directed by David J. Eagle, written by J. Michael Straczynski, produced by John Copeland)
  • Independence Day (Centropolis Film Productions/20th Century Fox Film; directed by Roland Emmerich, written by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, produced by Dean Devlin)
  • Mars Attacks! (Warner Bros.; directed by Tim Burton, written by Jonathan Gems, produced by Tim Burton and Larry Franco)
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: “Trials and Tribble-ations” (Paramount; directed by Jonathan West, written by Ronald D. Moore & Rene Echevarria, story by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler & Robert Hewitt Wolfe, executive producers Ira Steven Behr & Rick Berman)
  • Star Trek: First Contact (Paramount Pictures; directed by Jonathan Frakes, story by Ronald D. Moore, Brannon Braga & Rick Berman, screenplay by Ronald D. Moore & Brannon Braga, produced by Rick Berman)

PROFESSIONAL EDITOR

  • Gardner Dozois
  • Scott Edelman
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Stanley Schmidt

PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

  • Bob Eggleton
  • Thomas Canty
  • David A. Cherry
  • Don Maitz
  • Michael Whelan

SEMIPROZINE

  • Locus, Charles N. Brown
  • Interzone, David Pringle
  • The New York Review of Science Fiction, Kathryn Cramer, Tad Dembinski, Ariel Haméon, David G. Hartwell & Kevin Maroney
  • Science Fiction Chronicle, Andrew I. Porter
  • Speculations, Kent Brewster

For those interested in SemiProzine as a category, the committee have just released their report on it, ahead of this year’s Worldcon.

FANZINE

  • Mimosa, Dick & Nicki Lynch
  • Ansible, Dave Langford
  • File 770, Mike Glyer
  • Nova Express, Lawrence Person
  • Tangent, Dave Truesdale

FAN WRITER

  • Dave Langford
  • Sharon Farber
  • Mike Glyer
  • Andy Hooper
  • Evelyn C. Leeper

FAN ARTIST

  • William Rotsler
  • Ian Gunn
  • Joe Mayhew
  • Peggy Ranson
  • Sherlock

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD (Not a Hugo)

  • Michael A. Burstein
  • Raphael Carter
  • Richard Garfinkle
  • Katya Reimann
  • Sharon Shinn

Burstein is a terrific winner — he was nominated on the strength of awesome short work, and he has continued to produce awesome short work ever since.

Raphael Carter’s first novel The Fortunate Fall had just come out to great acclaim, a great nominee. Carter hasn’t produced much since, unfortunately

Richard Garfinkle had also just written a first novel, the unusual Celestial Matters in which there are real crystal spheres and you can crash through them on your way to the moon. Another good nominee.

Katya Reimann is another first novelist, her Wind From a Foreign Sky had just come out. She has completed that trilogy but I haven’t seen anything recently.

Sharon Shinn is of course a major writer, as I said last week, and would have been another terrific winner.

So a pretty good Campbell slate. Other possible eligible candidates: Candas Jane Dorsey, Ian McDowell, Sarah Zettel, J. Gregory Keyes.


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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