Revisiting the Hugos

Hugo Nominees: 1998

The 1998 Hugo Awards were voted on by the members at BucConeer in Baltimore, and presented at that convention. The best novel award was won by Joe Haldeman’s Forever Peace, a book about the horrors of near future war solved by telepathic niceness. It’s a thematic sequel to The Forever War, not a direct sequel. This is by far my least favourite of Haldeman’s works. I’ve only read it once. Forever Peace is in print, and it’s in the library (the Grande Bibliotheque) in French and English.

There are four other nominees, I’ve read three of them, and I like one of them. (Why did I ever start doing this?)

Let’s start with the one I like, Walter Jon Williams City on Fire, a wonderful innovative book, sequel to Metropolitan. They’re smart science fiction books about a world where magic is real and powers technology. I’m planning to do a proper post about them soon — they’re not like anything else, and they’re on a really interesting border between SF and fantasy. City on Fire is about an election. This would have had my vote, had I been at Baltimore, but I expect it suffered in the voting from not being a standalone. It’s not in print, and it’s in the library in French only, thus reinforcing my perception that Walter Jon Williams is massively under-rated.

Next Robert Sawyer’s Frameshift, which again I haven’t read, again because I didn’t care for The Terminal Experiment. It sounds like a near future technothriller with genetic experiments and Nazi war criminals. I expect it’s great. It’s in print, and it’s in the library in French and English.

Michael Swanwick’s Jack Faust is a fantasy where Faust starts the Industrial Revolution early and everything goes to hell. It’s beautifully written, as with all Swanwick, but it’s negative about technology and the possibility of progress in a way that makes it hard for me to like. It’s a good book, and probably deserved nomination. (But really, 1998 nominators? My least favourite Haldeman and my least favourite Swanwick? What were you thinking?) It’s in print, and its in the library in English and French.

Then there’s Dan Simmons The Rise of Endymion. After two books I don’t like much, here’s a book I really hate. I really don’t like sequels that spoil the books that come before them, so this is a book I try not to think about. This is the book that gives all the answers left open by Hyperion, and they’re awful answers. I know there are people who really like this book — there must be, it was Hugo nominated and won the Locus SF Award — but it’s beyond me. It has beautiful prose, but what it’s saying, ugh. It’s in print and it’s in the library in English only.

So, five men, four American and one Canadian, one near future technothriller, one medium future horrors-of-war novel, one messianic space opera, and two things that could be described as hard fantasy, very different from each other.

Wasn’t there anything else they could have chosen? Or was I just really out of tune with what was being published that year?

SFWA gave their Nebula Award to Vonda McIntyre’s The Moon and the Sun, a historical fantasy about a mermaid at the court of the Sun King. I didn’t like that either. The only other eligible non-overlapping nominee is Kate Elliott’s excellent King’s Dragon, first in the Crown of Stars series.

The World Fantasy Award was given to The Physiognomy by Jeffrey Ford. Other nominees were: American Goliath, Harvey Jacobs, Dry Water, Eric S. Nylund, The Gift, Patrick O’Leary, Trader, Charles de Lint.

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award was given to Haldeman, with Greg Bear’s /Slant in second place and Paul Preuss’s Secret Passages third. /Slant would have made a fine Hugo nominee.

The Philip K. Dick Award went to The Troika, Stepan Chapman. The Special Citation was Acts of Conscience, William Barton. Other nominees were: Carlucci’s Heart, Richard Paul Russo, An Exchange of Hostages, Susan R. Matthews, Mother Grimm, Catherine Wells, Opalite Moon, Denise Vitola.

The Tiptree Award was won by Candas Jane Dorsey’s Black Wine, a book that would have been a terrific and thought provoking Hugo nominee, and Kelly Link’s short “Travels with the Snow Queen.” Eligible works on short list were: Cereus Blooms at Night, Shani Mootoo, The Dazzle of Day, Molly Gloss (post), Sacrifice of Fools, Ian McDonald, Signs of Life, M. John Harrison, Waking Beauty, Paul Witcover.

The Dazzle of Day is marvellous, how I wish it had been a Hugo nominee! I talked about Sacrifice of Fools last week, and again it would have been a really good nominee, if eligible.

The Locus Award for SF novel was won by Rise of Endymion. Other nominees not previously mentioned were: Antarctica, Kim Stanley Robinson, Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, Walter M. Miller, Jr., with Terry Bisson, Finity’s End, C. J. Cherryh (post), Diaspora, Greg Egan, Fool’s War, Sarah Zettel, Titan, Stephen Baxter, 3001: The Final Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke, The Reality Dysfunction, Peter F. Hamilton, God’s Fires, Patricia Anthony, Corrupting Dr. Nice, John Kessel (post), Destiny’s Road, Larry Niven, Eternity Road, Jack McDevitt, The Black Sun, Jack Williamson, The Family Tree, Sheri S. Tepper, Glimmering, Elizabeth Hand, The Fleet of Stars, Poul Anderson, Mississippi Blues, Kathleen Ann Goonan, The Calcutta Chromosome, Amitav Ghosh, Dreaming Metal, Melissa Scott, Tomorrow and Tomorrow, Charles Sheffield, Once a Hero, Elizabeth Moon, Einstein’s Bridge, John Cramer, Deception Well, Linda Nagata.

There are a lot of books here I like better than the actual nominees, and would have preferred to see nominated — in addition to the ones I’ve reviewed there’s the Goonan, the Hand, the Scott — but the one it seems a real injustice to ignore is Egan’s Diaspora, a really major work about the nature of consciousness and virtual life and space exploration.

The Locus Fantasy Award was won by Tim Powers Earthquake Weather, another book that would have made a fine Hugo nominee. Other nominees not yet mentioned: The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass, Stephen King, Assassin’s Quest, Robin Hobb, Freedom & Necessity, Steven Brust & Emma Bull, Winter Tides, James P. Blaylock, The Subtle Knife, Philip Pullman, Rose Daughter, Robin McKinley (post), Dogland, Will Shetterly, Lord of the Isles, David Drake, Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn, Robert Holdstock, Running with the Demon, Terry Brooks , The Mines of Behemoth, Michael Shea, My Soul to Keep, Tananarive Due, The Night Watch, Sean Stewart, The Stars Dispose, Michaela Roessner, The Blackgod, J. Gregory Keyes.

The Mythopoeic Award was given to A.S. Byatt’s The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye.

The Prometheus Award was won by Ken MacLeod’s The Stone Canal, which strikes me as exactly the sort of book that should be Hugo nominated.

And was there anything they all missed? George R.R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings (post) and J.R. Dunn’s chilling Days of Cain, but not a whole lot.

So, to sum up, 1998’s nominees don’t look anything like the best five books of the year to me, but this could just be my idiosyncratic reaction. How do they seem to you? I don’t remember spending all of 1998 gnashing my teeth.

Other Categories


  • “…Where Angels Fear to Tread”, Allen Steele (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 1997)
  • “Ecopoiesis”, Geoffrey A. Landis (Science Fiction Age May 1997)
  • “The Funeral March of the Marionettes”, Adam-Troy Castro (F&SF Jul 1997)
  • “Loose Ends”, Paul Levinson (Analog May 1997)
  • “Marrow”, Robert Reed (Science Fiction Age Jul 1997)


  • “We Will Drink a Fish Together…”, Bill Johnson (Asimov’s May 1997)
  • “Broken Symmetry”, Michael A. Burstein (Analog Feb 1997)
  • “Moon Six”, Stephen Baxter (Science Fiction Age Mar 1997)
  • “Three Hearings on the Existence of Snakes in the Human Bloodstream”, James Alan Gardner (Asimov’s Feb 1997)
  • “The Undiscovered”, William Sanders (Asimov’s Mar 1997)


  • “The 43 Antarean Dynasties”, Mike Resnick (Asimov’s Dec 1997)
  • “Beluthahatchie”, Andy Duncan (Asimov’s Mar 1997)
  • “The Hand You’re Dealt”, Robert J. Sawyer (Free Space)
  • “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s Jun 1997)
  • “No Planets Strike”, Gene Wolfe (F&SF Jan 1997)
  • “Standing Room Only”, Karen Joy Fowler (Asimov’s Aug 1997)


  • The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, John Clute & John Grant, eds. (Orbit; St. Martin’s)
  • Infinite Worlds: The Fantastic Visions of Science Fiction Art, Vincent Di Fate (Penguin Studio)
  • Reflections and Refractions: Thoughts on Science-Fiction, Science, and Other Matters, Robert Silverberg (Underwood Books)
  • Space Travel, Ben Bova with Anthony R. Lewis (Writer’s Digest Books)
  • Spectrum 4: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, Cathy Fenner & Arnie Fenner eds., with Jim Loehr (Underwood Books)


  • Contact (Warner Bros./South Side Amusement Company; Directed by Robert Zemeckis; Story by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan; screenplay by James V. Hart and Michael Goldenberg; Produced by Steve Starkey and Robert Zemeckis)
  • The Fifth Element (Columbia Pictures/Gaumont; Directed by Luc Besson; Story by Luc Besson; Screenplay by Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen; Produced by Patrice Ledoux)
  • Gattaca (Columbia Pictures Corporation/Jersey Films; Directed by Andrew M. Niccol, Written by Andrew M. Niccol, Produced by Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, & Stacey Sher)
  • Men in Black (MacDonald-Parkes/Columbia Pictures Corporation/Amblin Entertainment; Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld; Screenplay by Ed Solomon, Laurie MacDonald and Walter F. Parkes; Executive Producer: Steven Spielberg)
  • Starship Troopers (TriStar Pictures/Big Bug Pictures/Touchstone Pictures; Directed by Paul Verhoeven, Screenplay by Ed Neumeier; Produced by Jon Davison and Alan Marshall)

So, they had Gattaca on the list and they gave it to Contact?


  • Gardner Dozois (Asimov’s)
  • Scott Edelman (SF Age)
  • David G. Hartwell (Tor; Year’s Best SF)
  • Stanley Schmidt (Analog)
  • Gordon Van Gelder (F&SF)

If they’re going to list things edited, I think Gardner should have his Year’s Best listed too.


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


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


  • Mimosa, Nicki & Richard Lynch
  • Ansible, Dave Langford
  • Attitude, Michael Abbott, John Dallman & Pam Wells
  • File 770, Mike Glyer
  • Tangent, David Truesdale


  • David Langford
  • Bob Devney
  • Mike Glyer
  • Andy Hooper
  • Evelyn C. Leeper
  • Joseph T. Major


  • Joe Mayhew
  • Brad W. Foster
  • Ian Gunn
  • Teddy Harvia
  • Peggy Ranson


  • Mary Doria Russell
  • Raphael Carter
  • Andy Duncan
  • Richard Garfinkle
  • Susan R. Matthews

Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow, another book I can’t stand because the great revelation requires huge numbers of people to act completely unrealistically, had come out the previous year to much acclaim.

I talked about Carter and Garfinkle last week, both terrific nominees.

Andy Duncan was nominated on the basis of some excellent short work, and he has continued to produce excellent short work ever since, winning the World Fantasy Award and the Sturgeon Award. Great nominee.

Susan R. Matthews had a controversial and much discussed novel An Exchange of Hostages. She published another few novels but I haven’t seen anything from her recently.

On the whole a pretty good Campbell year. Other people who might have been eligible: Julie Czerneda, Stephen Dedman, David B. Coe, Ian MacLeod, James Alan Gardner, Candas Jane Dorsey.

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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