Sun
Nov 14 2010 9:43am
Hugo Nominees: 1957

1957 Hugo Awards trophyAfter 1955 and 1956 lulled me into a false sense of complacency—with me thinking that I could see in the Hugo Awards of those years the beginnings of the award I know today—1957 took me by surprise. The Worldcon that year was in London, Loncon 1, the first overseas Worldcon. And British fans clearly decided to do something different with the Hugos. Something really different. Something indeed that makes no sense to me.

There were three categories for the Hugos of 1957, and none of them were fiction.

They were Best U.S. Magazine, Best British Magazine, and best Fan Magazine. I suppose this might reflect the prevailing view that magazines were where it was at, as well as British fans being unable to get hold of U.S. books easily—which was a problem until 1994. But it must also reflect a belief that it isn’t the stories that matter, it’s where you read them.

However, they did have nominees, so that’s a good sign for next week, when this is all going to get so much easier.

Best American Magazine: Astounding, John W. Campbell. (Anybody surprised?)

Nominees: F&SF, Anthony Boucher—the only magazine on the list still going under its original name.

Galaxy, H.L. Gold. Galaxy was also a great magazine.

Infinity, Larry T. Shaw. Not such a well-known magazine, at least now, but they published Clarke’s The Star the year before so they were doing something right.

Best British Magazine: New Worlds, John Carnell.

Nominees: Nebula, Peter Hamilton.

Britain had two science fiction magazines? Why didn’t I know this? Perhaps because it was before I was born.

Fan Magazine: Science Fiction Times, James V. Taurasi, Ray Van Houten & Frank R. Prieto Jr.

Nominees: Hyphen, Walt Willis and Chuck Harris—which was robbed, I tell you, those old Hyphens were golden.

Inside, Ron Smith.

Other categories they might have had

Well, they could have thought about novels, you know? Short fiction?

The International Fantasy Award went to The Lord of the Rings, presumably considered as one thing. The International Fantasy Award then expired, presumably considering that with the publication of The Lord of the Rings, fantasy was now over.

Again using Wikipedia’s listing of novels published in 1956, they might have considered:

Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and the Stars (post), John Christopher’s The Death of Grass (a cosy catastrophe), Frank Herbert’s The Dragon in the Sea (claustrophobic futuristic undersea adventure), Philip Dick’s The Man Who Japed and The World Jones Made (I don’t like Dick, but lots of people do), Isaac Asimov’s The Naked Sun (sequel to The Caves of Steel, one of Asimov’s best), A.E. Van Vogt’s The Players of Null A (aka The Pawns of Null A, book 2),  Frederik Pohl’s Slave Ship, Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination (aka Tiger, Tiger), C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces (a weird fantasy based on Cupid & Psyche).

Or in YA, which people then did not nominate for Hugos but people now do: C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle, Asimov’s Lucky Starr and the Big Sun of Mercury, Eleanor Cameron’s Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet, and Heinlein’s Time For the Stars (post).

I think out of all that, they might have been able to find something Hugo-worthy, don’t you? There were some great books published in 1956, even if it wasn’t quite as vintage a year as 1955. I think I’d have been torn between The City and the Stars and The Naked Sun, but The Stars My Destination is also terrific, and I’m very fond of Time for the Stars.

What an odd year. What a relief it will be to get to 1958, when, perhaps in reaction, they finally started doing things properly!


Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published eight novels, most recently Lifelode, and two poetry collections. She has a ninth novel coming out in January, 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.

16 comments
john mullen
1. johntheirishmongol
If I were voting from your list, I would have voted for Asimov's The Naked Sun. Those were the first that I remember of scifi mysteries and it holds up amazingly well even today. Although I still am very fond of AE Van Vogt and Alfred Bester's books of the same year.

You can never go wrong with Heinlein for YA category and Time for the Stars is one of his best juvie's. I have to say that at this point I was only a couple of years from starting to ready and the first books I got started on were Tom Swift...which seem to be totally forgotten now.
Vanamonde
2. Vanamonde
Saw this link on the TTA Press facebook page:

http://www.fiawol.org.uk/FanStuff/THEN%20Archive/1957Worldcon/LonWorld.htm

It's a collection of accounts written by people who atteneded this con.
Kate Nepveu
3. katenepveu
presumably considering that with the publication of The Lord of the Rings, fantasy was now over

I thought you would like to know that I literally laughed out loud.
Vanamonde
4. James Davis Nicoll
I suppose this might reflect the prevailing view that magazines were where it was at (...)

That was the prevailing wisdom at the time. See for example some of the comments in Earl Kemp's Who Killed Science Fiction, which dates from 1960.

http://efanzines.com/EK/eI29/

4) Should we look to the original paperback as a point of salvation?

YES: 24 replies.

NO: Sixteen replies.

and

4) There are no “points of salvation.” Paperback originals seldom pay well enough to justify themselves to the author: only if he also sells serial rights will he begin to approach a decent word rate. By and large, book editors are guilty of the same sins as magazine editors, plus some of their very own. Not that I’m against paperback originals, understand. They can form a very valuable supplement. I just don’t see all worthwhile science fiction moving to them.

and

4) “The original paperback as a point of salvation?” Well, economically it’s been a help to writers, but the standards of editing have been so low as to encourage writers to turn out crap for a fast sale. The trend does seem to be away from magazines and toward the paperback book, on the part of both readers and writers.

Paperbacks are seen as having great potential but clearly do not dominate the market the way they did later on.

Odd how the American New Company thing

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_News_Company

does not seem to have had a prominent place in SF writer's minds in 1960 .



1: Not related to MMPK but it caught my eye:

2): In my own opinion, the decay of science fiction is part and parcel of a general decay in English literature, traceable to the same—extremely many and complex—causes.

Oh, Poul. Always good for If Then DOOM.

2: Standard disclaimer: obviously any activity that makes money for its primary investor is moral, even if it leaves the market it was in a smoking wasteland. If you start agitating for interference in things like annihilating half the distribution for magazines overnight for the sake of a quick buck, you will very quickly find yourself in a place where nobody is allowed to harvest organs from otherwise useless grade-schoolers. Nobody wants that level of nanny-stateism.
Vanamonde
5. Doug M.
@James, I did notice that Bob Silverberg name-checked the ANC. In his backup comment, he also gave a good analysis why the collapse of the second-tier magazines encouraged many writers to give up on writing for the magazines altogether.

-- It is striking how many of those responses show a clear personality. Heinlein is brusque and dismissive, Asimov is owlish and thoughtful, Avram Davidson is whimsical, E.E. "Doc" Smith thinks they should get back to STORY, dammit!

FWIW, I have trouble imagining anything but _The Stars My Destination_ deserving the palm. But that's just me; I suspect that, had it come to an actual vote, fans would have plumped for the somewhat-less-hair-raising Asimov or Clarke books.


Doug M.
Vanamonde
6. Marcus Rowland
Nebula was a Scottish magazine, edited by Peter Hamilton (not the author, who was born a year after it folded),  in print from 1952 to 1959.
Rich Horton
7. ecbatan
The story I have heard -- though, having been -2 years old at the time, I can't vouch for it -- is that the reason no fiction categories were included was to protect the (British-administered) International Fantasy Award from competition. As you note, it was protected so well that it died immediately after!

I would certainly consider The Stars My Destination the proper Hugo winner for 1957, myself.

How about short fiction? Possible nominees, from a quick scan of the ISFB short fiction list for 1957: "Bodyguard" by "Christopher Grimm" (really Evelyn E. Smith), "Brightside Crossing" by Alan E. Nourse, "Horror Howce" by Margaret St. Clair, "Margin of Profit" by Poul Anderson, "Fair" by "Keith Woodcott" (really John Brunner), "Plus X" by Eric Frank Russell, "Stranger Station" by Damon Knight, "The Country of the Kind" by Damon Knight, "The Anything Box" by Zenna Henderson, "The Dead Past" by Isaac Asimov, "The Man Who Came Early" by Poul Anderson, "The Man Who Ate the World" by Frederik Pohl, "The Skills of Xanadu" by Theodore Sturgeon.

I have a feeling I've forgotten some. My five story nomination list would be "The Country of the Kind", "The Man Who Came Early", "The Dead Past", "Horror Howce", and maybe "Stranger Station" or "The Skills of Xanadu".

I'd pick "The Dead Past" or "The Man Who Came Early" as the winners (maybe the first is "Best Novella" and the second "Best Short Story"), though I think "The Country of the Kind" is right up there too.
Jo Walton
8. bluejo
Ecbatan: Thank you for those short fiction contenders. "The Anything Box" is a lovely memorable and lasting story and so is "The Man Who Came Early".
Vanamonde
9. glinda
I'd have voted for "The Anything Box", I think.

My father always subscribed to two of the magazines, though it wasn't always the same two, but I remember Astounding and Galaxy and F&SF (and yeah, was reading them by 1957, though I have no memory of which story was in which magazine and which year.) (For some reason I'd thought "The Game of Rat and Dragon" was from 1957, but it was actually first out in 1955.) (My two favorite authors in the F&SF genre are still Cordwainer Smith and Zenna Henderson...)
Bob Blough
10. Bob
Weird year, alright. You mentioned all the novels that had a chance. But in the short fiction category I would also include he prescient "And Now the News..." by Sturgeon and as novella the last collaberation of Kuttner and Moore - "Rite of Passage" and one of Asimov's most liked stories was also publshed - "The Last Answer".
Rich Horton
12. ecbatan
Bob -- good catch of "And Now the News ..." -- definitely one of the
best stories of 1956, and now I can't decide whether I'd vote for it or the Asimov or the Anderson.
Ian Gazzotti
13. Atrus
The lord of the rings *is* one thing. It was published in three volumes because of the cost of paper after the war, but it was never intended to be a trilogy or a book series in the contemporary meaning of the term (nor to inspire countless authors to do 3-book, or 13-book, sagas).
Rob Hansen
14. RobHansen
Coincidentally, I recently spent several weeks assembling a lot of material on this convention, as someone noted upstream. This being so, there's no reason to wonder why they chose to make only the awards they did since you can read their own explanation here (scroll down to page 4):

http://www.fiawol.org.uk/FanStuff/THEN%20Archive/1957Worldcon/57PR2.htm

There's also an account of the International Fantasy award luncheon at which Tolkien received thaat year's award for THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Interestingly, they used the same rockets for the Hugo in 1957 that had always been used for the IFAs. So while the bases were different, the actuial trophies were identical.
Rich Horton
15. ecbatan
Reading between the lines, I think the notion that they were protecting the International Fantasy Award still holds water.

The point about the problem with rectifying the books UK readers will have seen and those US readers will have seen is a fair one, though, one that remains a problem today.
Vanamonde
16. David G. Hartwell
Someone did in fact give International Fantasy Awards in 1956, to Frank Herbert's The Dragon in the Sea, tied with William Golding's Lord of the Flies. I have a copy of the Gollancz first UK edition of the Herbert, with a band around it announcing the awards. And Frank showed me a picture of him accepting the award. Best I can figure, the American meeting on the IFA did not take place, but the UK one did, and the Brits unilaterally gave the awards. And the US fans refused to record them (to this day).
Vanamonde
17. Denny Lien
Actually in 1957 Britain had at least five science fiction magazines (broadly defined): besides NEW WORLDS and NEBULA, there was SCIENCE FANTASY (nominally more fantasy, but certainly publishing plenty of sf as well -- I don't know what the ratio was in 1957, though) and AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION, which published several issues during 1957 before expiring. The fifth was PHANTOM, strictly supernatural horror and quite low-grade; the other four were all perfectly good to fine magazines (though AUTHENTIC's reputation may never have quite recovered from its 1951 start as the "mushroom publisher" novel series SCIENCE FICTION FORTNIGHTLY, purveyor of such wonders as MUSHROOM MEN FROM MARS.)

There may also have been some UK editions of US magazines (same contents, different ads) at the time, but even if so they presumably would not have been considered for awards.

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