Sun
Dec 5 2010 4:14pm
Hugo Nominees: 1960

1960 Hugo Award trophyThe 1960 Hugo Awards were given in Pittcon, Pittsburgh, and they look comparatively normal. (You can visit the Hugo Nominees index to see the years that have been covered so far.) They have categories that are recognisably what the present categories grew out of, and they have nominees. The best novel Hugo was won by Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (post), a MilSF novel that remains both popular and controversial today. It’s in print, it’s in my library in both languages, it’s easily available, and has been since 1959. I think it’s practically the definition of a lasting Hugo winner even though some people hate it—it’s a book people are still reading and talking about fifty years later.

Also nominated for best novel was Gordon R. Dickson’s Dorsai!, which I have read. It’s in print, and it’s in my library in French. It’s also MilSF, with mercenaries on other planets, and I loved it when I was twelve.

I haven’t read Murray Leinster’s The Pirates of Zan, aka The Pirates of Ersatz. I haven’t read it because while Leinster wrote good solid SF he was never a favourite. I didn’t come across this when I was reading everything indiscriminately (but in alphabetical order). It may well be very good, I am entirely open to the possibility. It seems to be in print in various small press editions, implying that it is out of copyright and people are still interested in it. It isn’t in my library. Anyone else have any opinions?

I have read Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan, and this is one I loved when I was fourteen. It’s a Vonnegut tall tale, written in first-person-asshole style, and full of Tralfalmadorian aliens manipulating Earth history to rescue a lost alien from Titan. It’s the kind of thing that looks cool and sophisticated to teenagers and I don’t know whether it’s embarrassment at my own self or at the book that makes it unreadable to me now. It is in print from Gollancz, and in my library in English. I think it has therefore stood the test of time, whatever I personally feel about it.

Mark Phillips was a pseudonym for Randall Garrett and Laurence M. Janifer, and their novel That Sweet Little Old Lady, aka Brain Twister is the last thing on the 1960 ballot. I haven’t read it, or even heard of it. It seems to be in print in small press editions, it isn’t in my library. Again, does anyone else know it?

Looking at Wikipedia’s 1959 novels list there are several other books that seem to me that might have been on the shortlist. Eric Frank Russell’s Next of Kin (post). Andre Norton’s The Beast Master. Robert Bloch’s Psycho. Pohl and Kornbluth’s Wolfsbane. Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House.

I can’t speak for or against the ones I haven’t read, but I’d put Next of Kin above Dorsai or The Sirens of Titan. The Haunting of Hill House is undoubtedly a classic of its genre, but in 1960 the Hugos were pretty much awards for science fiction only. I think this is a year where you can argue a lot about whether these are the five best books, but where Starship Troopers would have won whatever the other four were.

Other Categories

SHORT FICTION

  • “Flowers for Algernon,” Daniel Keyes (F&SF Apr 1959)
  • “The Alley Man,” Philip José Farmer (F&SF Jun 1959)
  • “Cat and Mouse,” Ralph Williams (Astounding Jun 1959)
  • “The Man Who Lost the Sea,” Theodore Sturgeon (F&SF Oct 1959)
  • “The Pi Man,” Alfred Bester (F&SF Oct 1959)

Well, I absolutely can’t argue with the winner as “Flowers for Algernon” is one of the best novellas ever written, but what happened to having separate categories for short story and novelette?

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION

  • The Twilight Zone (TV series)
  • Men Into Space
  • “Murder and the Android”
  • The Turn of the Screw (TV)
  • The World, the Flesh and the Devil

PROFESSIONAL MAGAZINE

  • F&SF, Robert P. Mills
  • Amazing Stories, Cele Goldsmith
  • Astounding, John W. Campbell, Jr.
  • Fantastic Universe, Hans Stefan Santesson
  • Galaxy, H. L. Gold

PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

  • Ed Emshwiller
  • Virgil Finlay
  • Frank Kelly Freas
  • Mel Hunter
  • Wally Wood

FANZINE

  • Cry of the Nameless, F. M. & Elinor Busby, Burnett Toskey & Wally Weber
  • Fanac, Terry Carr & Ron Ellik
  • JD-Argassy, Lynn A. Hickman
  • Science-Fiction Times, James V. Taurasi, Sr., Ray Van Houten & Frank R. Prieto, Jr.
  • Yandro, Robert Coulson & Juanita Coulson

Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published two poetry collections and eight novels, most recently Lifelode. 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.

42 comments
Joe Romano
1. Drunes
Jo: Interesting comment about The Sirens of Titan. It was the second Vonnegut book I read (Player Piano was the first). I have fond memories of it, although I've never re-read it. I'm more fascinated that the Hugos were given out in Pittsburgh that year. I grew up there and could have attended had I only known.
David Levinson
2. DemetriosX
I think you summed up the novel field pretty well. I've basically read the same ones you have and don't see how it could have gone to anything else.

Same goes for short fiction. It is odd that they had a single category, when earlier years had made a distinction. I hope they get back to that soon. For shorter works, I'd probably go for the Davidson.

Basically the same field for pro and fan zines as last time. The artist field is also essentially the same, just swapping out van Dongen for Hunter. All worthy nominees, but I still want to know what was getting Wally Wood nominated. Was he doing interior illos for the mags?

You don't indicate a winner in the dramatic presentation category. Is that a formatting problem or was there no winner again?
Jo Walton
3. bluejo
Sorry. Formatting problem at my end, I must have forgotten to put it in bold -- Twilight Zone won.

And I wish they'd get back to more short fiction categories too, but it's just one category until 1967.
jon meltzer
4. jmeltzer
Time Out of Joint, Philip K. Dick's first major novel (IMHO), was also 1959 and may have missed the list because it was published as a thriller, not SF.  (Heinlein would still have won, though.)
Cheryl Blamey
5. cherie62
Here's a link to where you can download Brain Twister for free:

http://manybooks.net/titles/garrettgr2233222332-8.html

You can choose from a variety of formats at the Download
box on the right side of the page.
Raskolnikov
6. Raskolnikov
Heavily disagree with this year's best novel choice, Starship Troopers was a terrible novel. Put aside the issue of it as a right-wing fantasy, that it glorifies militarism, that its sexism is above and beyond even for Heinlein. That's true, but not fatal in itself, the bigger problem is that the book is compulsively bad. What exactly are it's redeeming characteristics supposed to be again? There's minimal action, almost no suspense invested with that after the first chapter, lots of strawman political concepts and characters, and a setting that's cardboard thin.

It's basically a coming of age story with zero characterization, the man Rico has nothing in the way of identifying elements or wider complexities of personality. He's purely an avatar for the author, a stand-in for Heinlein's endless lecturing and political philosophy. Which, frankly, involves incredibly poor arguments carried out for far too long, and ones that are declared to be correct just because they work. Which is to say, because the author says they do. Notwithstanding a lack of real world applicability (military types are naturally more honourable and less likely to abuse their power, don't you know) and the fact that it's the reverse of what Heinlein would declare as the Correct Ideals just years later, the book stands as is.

Time Out of Joint is an immensely superior book, and would have been the better pick. Alas, Dick's comparative obscurity at this point, and Heinlein's bizarre and unwarranted popularity. Haven't read the others.
David Goldfarb
7. David_Goldfarb
Baen Books published a collection of Leinster's fiction a few years back; I think it was called A Logic Named Joe, after the best-known story in it. It included the whole of The Pirates of Zan. I remember finding it reasonably enjoyable, but I don't remember much about the book itself.

I read Brain Twister (and its two sequels) back when I was working at "The Other Change of Hobbit". It has all the I-want-to-read-it-osity that Randall Garrett was capable of bringing to his fiction, but it was deliberately playing up to John Campbell's ideas about psi, and as a result isn't really worth much effort to seek out. I'm actually quite surprised to find out that it was a Hugo nominee.
Raskolnikov
8. Ye Olde Statistician
a right-wing fantasy,

How is a story about combatting a remorseless and inherently authoritarian species "right wing," unless you believe "right wing" is synonymous with individualism?

that it glorifies militarism,

How so? There is no more militarism than there was in the US in the 1940s. The Bug War is clearly an analog of WW2 with the Bugs as the Nazis/Imperial Japanese and the Skinnies as the Italians. The major battle scenes are derived from Iwo Jima, including the underground tunnel system.

Remarkably, a decade after the war, portrays favorably both German and Japanese recruits in a clearly diverse and multicultural service. The main character, with whom the reader is obviously supposed to identify, turns out to be Filipino - a favorite trick of Heinlein's for combatting racial and national chauvinism.

that its sexism is above and beyond evenfor Heinlein.

Chronocentrism running rampant. What is remarkable is that he portrayed smart and capable women in positions of authority and command. He may have been the first to portray women in combat roles. This is "sexism" only in the sense that first steps are not final steps.

military types are naturally more honourable and less likely to abuse their power, don't you know

The amusing thing is that Heinlein has one of the students make this claim, only to explicitly deny it in one of those "lecture" scenes. He also makes it clear that not every branch of the Federal Service is military. Furthermore, no one still serving in the military can exercise any power at all. Until the {Pearl Harbor} attack by the Bugs and the outbreak of war, most of those who entered Federal Service served their two years and left, having achieved eligibility.

Restricting the franchise to veterans would be like allowing George McGovern, Michael Dukakis, and my father to vote but not Bill Clinton, Karl Rove, or me.

He wrote the book in part as a rebuttal to a Kipling story "The Army of a Dream," which employed the same premise, but with the British caste system. Heinlein wanted to show a system in which a Filipino, a Japanese, a Turk, a Columbian, a black man, and others all had equal opportunity to achieve distinction and rank.
Clark Myers
9. ClarkEMyers
I think this is a year where you can argue a lot about whether these are the five best books, but where Starship Troopers would have won whatever the other four were.


I'm hoping that from 1965 on the discussion includes SFWA nominees and awards for I'm not quite persuaded that fan favorite and best are or by rights ought to be precisely equivalent - I'm not inclined to promote my own guilty pleasures up to the classic rank but I might vote such for the annual Hugo myself.

I'm interested in hindsight to consider how well a small not at all random sample has approximated what I think a true random sample or even a true census might have voted at the time. I take that question of did the self selected voters match the fannish universe - then or now - to be the general topic for this series?

I'm afraid the passage of time has made it impossible for me to evaluate some of the works fairly in terms of the Hugo - I flat can't evaluate only against other eligible writings but rather against some arbitrary standard they mostly don't reach. Vonnegutt I might rate high as a marvelously well crafted funny once - I remember it fondly with no desire to read it again. Off hand I'd say the Leinstar, Phillips and Dickson are well crafted to appeal to then current editors and fans endearing but lack enduring quality - there are stories in the Dorsai that I like very much but Genetic General isn't one of them. Again it's somewhat like hearing the jury will disregard after Perry Mason solves the case.

And of course for the one person who might not have formed an opinion and wants another review of the winner see e.g.:
http://www.navyreading.navy.mil/details.aspx?q=111
by some folks who share a little bit of background with Mr. Heinlein.
Emmet O'Brien
10. EmmetAOBrien
Raskolinikov@6:
He's purely an avatar for the author, a
stand-in for Heinlein's endless lecturing and political philosophy.
Which, frankly, involves incredibly poor arguments carried out for far
too long, and ones that are declared to be correct just because they
work. Which is to say, because the author says they do.

That's one way of reading it.

Another is that Heinlein intended Johnny Rico to be not notably bright, that he has swallowed this worldview whole, and his take on the world is expounded at such length precisely to illustrate the things wrong with the worldview.

The things supporting this reading inherently have to be subtle, because they're in the world but Johnny Rico cannot by definition notice them, but I believe they are there. Look at the number of professions that qualify one for the vote, for example, which our protagonist ignores because of being focused on the armed forces.

I hold that what we are seeing is a complex nuanced world through the eyes of a not-notably perceptive protagonist with huge biases and preconceptions, and that this is a large part of why it's still possible to argue over the book so much at this distance.
Jo Walton
11. bluejo
Clark: Yes, absolutely we are going to compare other awards once we have them.

It is my contention, without having examined every year in detail, that the Hugo nominators do a pretty good (but not perfect) job of identifying the five best books of the year, and that those five books give a pretty good snapshot of where SF was in that year to a later reader. I'm now examining every year in detail (I'm going to end with 2000) to see if I'm right. It's going to be a while before I come to any conclusions.

Meanwhile I'm generally finding the comment threads on these interesting and illuminating -- though I'd really rather not hash out round 17759 of the endless Starship Troopers argument.
Clark Myers
12. ClarkEMyers
Given the null hypothesis I couldn't refute it - especially as qualified with not perfect - but my own formulation would be a little different I think. I'm not sure what best means but I'm sure that in no case were the 5 nominees the 5 best.

To some extent that's purely an argument from large numbers. Given a postiori knowledge of the winner pick any other nominee haphazardly and substitute successively each of the other eligible books - that is published in the appropriate time and region, then two, then three and I'm pretty sure, again a postiori, that at least one and in most years many of the alternate sets would be more better.
Still the actual nominations if not the metaphysical best of all possible nominations do indeed I think give a good snapshot - perhaps that implies a lack of recognition for early work see e.g. Dick above - the Campbell and other awards might cover.

It might be interesting to compare Campbell's Analytical Laboratory with Hugo winners. Perhaps the World Con voters were an intermediate group and somewhat more inclined to critique as well as enjoy

Still I'd argue that folks like Mack Reynolds who were immensely popular in the Analytical Laboratory and almost forgotten today imply a distinction between lasting and popular value. That may or not say something about the value of best.
Raskolnikov
13. Gardner Dozois
"Flowers for Algernon" probably still wins, but "The Man Who Lost the Sea" is an amazing story, and I know many writers who were deeply influenced by it.
Raskolnikov
14. Gardner Dozois
As far as the argument over the novel category, people are still reading and arguing passionately about STARSHIP TROOPERS fifty years later, while almost all the others have been more or less forgotten, which is as valid a criterion for selecting worth as any else we have at this remove. Although far from my favorite Heinlein novel, STARSHIP TROOPERS probably did deserve its Hugo, against that field of contenders, anyway.
Raskolnikov
15. Teka Lynn
Can we take the Battle of Starship Troopers as read already? Pretty please?
j p
16. sps49
Just reading the title Flowers for Algernon makes me want to cry.

After all these years, too.
Raskolnikov
17. HelenS
He may have been the first to portray women in combat roles.

Er, Amazons? ;-)
Raskolnikov
18. Matt McIrvin
The Sirens of Titan was the book in which the Vonnegut voice appeared fully-formed (it's not quite there yet in Player Piano). It's intentionally absurd and parodic. Most core SF fans seem to hate it. I love it, it's one of my favorite books of all time, but it's a very different kind of book from what SF readers are usually looking for; even though it's a wild space adventure, it has more in common with Breakfast of Champions than with most SF.
Raskolnikov
19. Raskolnikov
Ye Olde:

"How is a story about combatting a remorseless and inherently authoritarian species 'right wing,' unless you believe 'right wing' is synonymous with individualism?"

There's the assumption that a communal species must be remorseless and authoritarian, for one thing, vaguely indicated in the text, unchallenged and unexamined by the characters and echoed by you the reader. What is actually described about the Bugs' society fits in about two pages, which means: 1. describing the whole point of the book as "about" resisting this form of authortiarianism seems pretty weak, that's not where the weight of the book's arguments lie. 2. the book virtually assumes that we'll accept the Bugs as evil as a given, with shoddy societal building posing the way for basic malevolence.

Beyond that, it's right-wing because it advocates policies that implemented in real life would enact a military dictatorship, because it's openly contemptuous of those who seek non-violent mechanisms, because it believes in a society established and run by the army, because the only time left-wing politics appear they are forcefully rejected. There's also the core argument of the book, which leads into the next point. I also have to say that the assumption of "only if right-wing means individualism" is pretty risible, given this book only endorses individualism in the sense of obedience, hierarchy, machismo and killing, not in the sense of any real noncomformity or independence of thought.

"There is no more militarisn than there was in the US in the 1940s... "

It does however change things insofar as an entire society is built out of an idealization of Marine training, that the vote is denied to those who haven't done military service (yes, or technically other kinds, but every analytical scene on the main philosophy of the system deals with it in terms of combat roles, and there's a complete lack of elaboration on alternatives).

The anti-racist argument here is also a red hearing, I never said that Heinlein was racist, instead that he was generally right wing, sexist and in favor of militarization, which often but not inherently goes along with racist positions. I'd say that arguing for Heinlein as an unambiguous anti-racist is rather problematic--he at least tried to be in places, but the underlying assumptions of his politics were always indifferent at best to actually existing non-white populations--but this claim doesn't really build on what I was saying, or what the core deficiency of this book is.

"Chronocentrism running rampant..."

Please give examples from the novel of females that appear who are are not so in the context of male sexual desire or as something to be protected. The whole basis of the experience is so blatantly soaked in testosterone that I honestly have no idea where you're coming from on this in seeing it in any way as an improvement to the typical war novel of the time. You could make the argument that sexism was widespread and should be understood in the context of the time, but I'd argue that 1. if true that still is argument against considering this book a revered ongoing classic, and 2. the assumption of women as existing for the sake of male consumption is far more blatant here than it is even in Dick, Clarke or Asimov in the same period. Of major authors I think only Van Vogt was worse, and few people try to pretend that he was actually making bold progressive statements at the time.

The arguments on the military as not being abusive is in fact part of the problem, that Heinlein establishes the framework of a government made by the military in the interests of the military, and then flat out assumes it would never be abused. Ironically the same book had one of its many diatribes against airy theories unconnected with empirical facts, yet here the whole history gets handwaived aside. It's taking a deeply problematic idea and then presenting it as virtually perfect with a straight face that makes the system so problematic, and the ideas so dated.
Raskolnikov
20. Raskolnikov
Emmett:

That's one way of reading it.
Another is that Heinlein intended Johnny Rico to be not notably bright, that he has swallowed this worldview whole, and his take on the world is expounded at such length precisely to illustrate the things wrong with the worldview.

This feels like false pattern recognition to me. Is it really the case that we're studying the text and perceive signs of enormous complexity that indicate a massively complex philosophical standpoint, or are we coming at this book from the standpoint of assuming Heinlein to be wonderful, seeing that the direct overt meaning of the book is really stupid, and hence concluding that there's something more profound going on? Where is the indications that the text is sophisticated enough to be read in this way? Heinlein is hardly Gene Wolfe, and he does not have a pattern of unreliable narrators, when they're in the wrong they tend to be shown up rather forcefully, re: "Coventry", Double Star.

The things supporting this reading inherently have to be subtle, because they're in the world but Johnny Rico cannot by definition notice them, but I believe they are there. Look at the number of professions that qualify one for the vote, for example, which our protagonist ignores because of being focused on the armed forces.
It's not just the protagonist that ignores them, though, the whole tenor of the political discussions and official education even prior to enlisting are oriented towards the army as the first and last basis for political society. You have to really squint and frankly extrapolate beyond what the text actually says to presume that the army is just one possibility like any other, that Service Guarantees Citizenship isn't generally intended to push out people who aren't physically or "emotionally" capable of taking it. Readers do this after the fact because they want to defend Heinlein from charges of fascism, not because the society gives any particular indication of being well formed. The Bugs do not a well developed political system insofar as the text relates, the Skinnies don't, and despite a lot more air time neither does humanity. I think this is a case where things are exactly as bad as they first appear, that Heinlein really does want to make a case for the ultimate moral efficacy of war, corporal punishment and violence.

I hold that what we are seeing is a complex nuanced world through the eyes of a not-notably perceptive protagonist with huge biases and preconceptions, and that this is a large part of why it's still possible to argue over the book so much at this distance.
In the absence of more detailed thought I have to see this as wishful thinking. Where is there the proof of this, or for the matter that this is the way that most of the pro-Heinlein readership interprets the text? Going by this thread alone, that doesn't seem to be the norm.

bluejo: Forgive me if I beat a horse skeleton further, but it does seem that the basic quality of the text isn't intuitively obvious. There seems a bit of a contradiction if the value of the piece is rendered by the fact that there's still discussion and debate decades latter---but at the same time one doesn't want to actually witness more of the discussion and debate.

Gardner:
As far as the argument over the novel category, people are still reading and arguing passionately about STARSHIP TROOPERS fifty years later, while almost all the others have been more or less forgotten, which is as valid a criterion for selecting worth as any else we have at this remove.
The mere fact of passionate controversy isn't great ground in itself, though, certainly? Shouldn't there be room to look beyond the terms of debate for a moment, and consider if the book is in itself well constructed as a novel and as a piece of science fiction--which doesn't seem to have been previously articulated here. Is the plot coherent, interesting, engaging? Is the characterization deep and representative? Does it make sense, does it show care and skill in the construction of an imagined future? What does it do that's unique for the genre, and what in that is particularly productive?
The notion that it's good in itself because it inspired violent antipathy is a rather odd one. Particularly since it's not even an inherent tendency within the book, the most virulent reaction comes because it is held up as a great classic of the genre.


Matt McIrivn: I'd disagree with you a little on that, since I think Player Piano stands up quite well as a genre classic in its own right. It's an ironic and darkly amusing take on contemporary life and the usual models for dystopian representation within it, I might even go so far as to defend it over Slaughterhouse Five, which was great but a little stiff at points.
Raskolnikov
21. Matt McIrvin
Player Piano's a fine novel, but the narrator's voice doesn't quite sound like Vonnegut's as it appeared in his later works, for better or for worse. With Sirens he found the style he'd stick with later on.
David Dyer-Bennet
22. dd-b
Roskolnikov@19: I can't think of one single example of a female character in the book who is what you say they all are. You seem to be reading your own prejudices, not Heinlein's book.

The most blatant counter-example is the pilot of the pickup boat who got them back to the ship even though they were late and made her miss the pre-computed ballistic trajectory. They're not protecting her, she's saving their bacon even after they miss the scheduled rendezvous. And there's really nothing sexualized about their relationship to her, either.

I can't make you like the book, and probably wouldn't if I cuold (some kind of magic? What are the side effects, other consequences, etc.?). And we really shouldn't let an emotional storm over this one book overwhelm this comments thread. But just for the record, I like it probably about 75% as much as you hate it.
Joe Romano
23. Drunes
Roskolnikov: I agree with Matt McIrvin about Player Piano. Of all Vonnegut's books, that one has always stood out as lacking the distictive, playful voice that was clearly Kurt Vonnegut. I've read most of his books and I think Vonnegut was still experimenting with his craft then.
Stefan Mitev
24. Bergmaniac
"Flowers for Algernon" is a masterpiece, and its reputation totally deserved. So I have no problems with it winning this year. But I just have to say that "The Man Who Lost The Sea" is just as good, if not better. Simply incredible story from start to finish, with one of the most moving endings I've ever come across.

I agree with Raskolnikov about Starship Troppers - I've never understood why this combination of pedestrian plot, main character with no personality to speak of, and tedious political lectures, got so popular.
Raskolnikov
25. Raskolnikov
Matt, Drunes:

I suppose I just take a different position on the tone as it developed in the latter form. I don't hate it, or even really dislike it, but I don't love it entirely. I guess if I had to generalize my reaction into a larger analysis I'd say that sometimes the playfulness makes Vonnegut a bit too clever for his own good. That really stood out for me in reading his collection Welcome to the Monkey House, where some stories clicked entirely and others fell just short. I seem to be in the minority on this one, however, and haven't read anything like all of his stuff so that could change.

dd-b:
"I can't think of a single female character in the book who is what you say that they all are."
I think this would be a more accurate statement if the sentence stopped eleven words in. Who in this text gets enough attention, development and focus to really count as a character, as opposed to a pretty face or appearing disappearing motivator for men? The sexism occurs in large part through the whole erosion of the female subject or the capacity for such. Pair that with the endless observations by characters on how women are the only things worth fighting for, and what we have is a text rather drenched in testosterone and generalized out into the entire worldbuilding. It's not sexualization per say in this book that I see, rather it's the patriarchal, pseudo-paternal viewpoint attached to the whole story. Female competence only occurs within that context, and to that degree comes across as even less than token.

General: Beyond the best novel category, certainly the pick for "Flowers for Algernon" has born the test of time. I haven't read the others (likely an ongoing tendency early in the Hugo cycle) but it's certainly good enough in its own right. Nice to see the Twilight Zone get the nod as well.
Rich Horton
26. ecbatan
Well, I read Starship Troopers when I was 15 or so, and I found it fascinating then. Its flaws are clear enough to me now, but it remains readable and at the very least worth arguing with. In 1959 I dare say I might have voted for it, and I can't dispute its award on the grounds of its, well, continuing significance.

I read The Sirens of Titan at about the same time, with considerable enjoyment, but would not have given it the award then, nor would I now.

The novel I would vote for now is Philip K. Dick's Time Out of Joint, which I think is his first "mature" novel -- I'm pretty sure it was his first hardcover, for one thing. And it seems to quite fully articulate his main obsessions. And it's pretty darn good, too.

As for "That Sweet Little Old Lady", I read it a few years ago, along with its sequels. (I was trying to read as much Janifer (or Larry M. Harris, as he was known then) as I could find, for perhaps obscure reasons.) It's a breezy enough read (and better than its sequels, I think), but it's a very very minor work, and actually quite silly. I was flabberghasted (i.e. surprised + aghast) to learn it had been shortlisted for the Hugo.

By the way, Randall Garrett and Larry M. Harris had another novel published in 1959, under those two names: a silly piece of alleged soft porn called Pagan Passions.

And speaking of minor and somewhat silly Astounding serials from 1959, that applies to "The Pirates of Ersatz" (published as The Pirates of Zan in book (Ace Double) form) as well. It is fun -- and it's not remotely Hugo-worthy. (The first issue of the Astounding serial has a rather famous cover painting -- one of the pirates is boarding a spaceship with a slide rule in his teeth.)

There was actually a much better SF novel that the ISFDB cites as having been published in 1959 that should have won the Hugo -- and did! That's A Canticle for Leibowitz, which won the 1961 Hugo.

That's actually a controversy of some long duration. On another group some detailed research was done a few years ago. Many sources cite 1959 as the publication date for Canticle, and apparently that is the copyright date, and apparently review copies and the like were available in 1959, but as best as anyone could find out, it wasn't officially "published", as in "available for sale", until February of 1960. So indeed it was properly eligible for the 1961 (not 1960) Hugo, which is sort of a shame, because if it had appeared in 1959 and won in 1960 then perhaps one of my OTHER favorite SF novels might have won its author a much-deserved Hugo: I'm speaking of Algis Budrys's Rogue Moon.

Besides the novels already mentioned, a lot of people seem to like George O. Smith's The Fourth "R", though I haven't read it myself.

Short fiction on next rock.
Rich Horton
27. ecbatan
As for the short fiction, I really can't argue seriously with the win for "Flowers for Algernon", a truly wonderful story. But I agree entirely with Bergmaniac -- "The Man Who Lost the Sea" is even better. (One of my favorite short stories of all time.)

"The Alley Man" and "The Pi Man" are also quite good (I prefer "The Pi Man" between those two). I don't recall the Williams story.

Other potential short fiction nominees include one famous story that I'm surprised wasn't nominated: "'All You Zombies ...'", by Heinlein. Also, Anderson's "A Man to My Wounding", Chan Davis's "Adrift on the Policy Level", Avram Davidson's "Dagon" and "Take Wooden Indians", Randall Garrett's "Despoilers of the Golden Empire" (written as by "David Gordon") (even if it's not really SF!), Cordwainer Smith's "Golden the Ship Was -- Oh! Oh! Oh!", J. G. Ballard's "The Sound Sweep" and "The Waiting Grounds", and Damon Knight's "What Rough Beast?".

Also, the ISFDB suggests that 1959 saw the first publication in English of Jorge Luis Borges's "The Lottery in Babylon".
Raskolnikov
28. Raskolnikov
ecbatan: Neat write-up on the whole controversy involved. I know you parentheid it, but I am curious on what you mean by Time out of Joint as Dick's first 'mature' novel. Found as I am of earlier works like Eye in the Sky and the World Jones made I wouldn't deny that Time out of Joint is a lot better, and the entry into more classic works. I guess I'm curious as to whether there was a specific element in the SFnal or plot elements that clicked for you.

More generally, on the what could have been side of things, if the 1960 Hugo had gone to Time out of Joint it wouldn't just have recognized an emerging talent and a significant novel but also one that's had a lot of influence. The Truman Show, the Matrix and Dark City are all indepted to this scenario of the past or present as a false reality made to deceive, and a whole host of subsequent science fiction stories in every media. There'd been strangeness and elaborate manipulations before (remember Van Vogt) but, and someone correct me if I'm wrong, this seems to be the first novel that's really putting through a breakdown of the known on such a dramatic level, that reality is so thoroughly manipulated and created by an outside agency.

I'll try to avoid just repeating 'they should have given the award to the leading Dick book of the year!' for the next twenty awards, although there would have been a lot of justice to that. A number of times the pick was the perfect one, in particular Brunner and Le Guin fully deserved their wins. And hey, in just a couple more cycles we'll see when Dick did get his day in the sun.
Rich Horton
29. ecbatan
@raskolnikov: When I wrote about Time Out of Joint on my livejournal, I said:

"What makes the book stand out is for one thing the way Dick uses the 50s setting to comment, as if from the future, on the 1950s (and to do so with an aspect of nostalgia that almost makes the book seem as if written in 1998), also the portrayal of the characters, and finally a certain charged feeling of strangeness -- very much a central feature of much of Dick's work -- that gives the idea of inhabiting an artificial world -- "word as thing" or "signifier as object" if you will -- real psychological immediacy."

I think what I thought made it most "mature" was the success of that "charged feeling of strangeness", though I suppose Dick was already working in that direction. And I do think it's simply better than Dick's earlier novels.

You're right about its influence on such things as The Truman Show and Dark City. For me, the first SF novel to directly show that influence might be Daniel F. Galouye's Simulacron-3 (from 1963, and the source material for the film The Thirteenth Floor), though Galouye's novel is perhaps more directly a descendant of Fred Pohl's "The Tunnel Under the World" (1955).

Back, if I dare, to Starship Troopers -- I was intrigued to note Ye Olde Statistician's statement that Heinlein wrote it in response to Kipling's "'The Army of a Dream'". When I read the Kipling story I immediately noted the correspondences with Starship Troopers, but I've never seen it acknowledged that it was a direct influence on the novel (though as Heinlein was by all accounts a lover of Kipling's work, it seems likely he read the story).
Raskolnikov
30. Raskolnikov
Hmm, that makes sense, thanks for clarifying. I wouldn't disagree with any of that and I definitely had a sense of dislocation in a good way when I reread the text. Perhaps the most interesting experience would be if someone had read it shortly after publication and then gone back to it in or after 1998. That seems to point to something interesting with science fiction as an approach rather than content, that it enables a certain framework for studying movements. So, the whole One Happy World dystopian future ultimately revealed is pretty thin stuff, not as well designed or engagingingly bonkers a future as Solar Lottery. But it works as a way of engaging with our own past, or pushing unfamiliarity at constructs that every other genre accepts as given.

Well, "The Lottery in Babylon" was better than "Flowers for Algernon", but my impression is that Borges was far off the radar of organized science fiction/fantasy fandom at that time, that the two wouldn't particular want to meet. Of the vaguely considerable options Keyes' work seems to handle high emotional stakes the best.
Rich Horton
31. ecbatan
Undoubtedly Borges at that time was well off the radar of most SF fans, and besides that, while translated stories are eligible in their first year of English publication, it's my sense that many voters would not be sure about that eligibility.

It is worth noting that F&SF editor Anthony Boucher was among the earliest translators of Borges. (His translation of "The Garden of Forking Paths" appeared in EQMM, and his translation of "Death and the Compass" was rejected by EQMM, and ended up in New Mexico Quarterly.)
Raskolnikov
32. wkwillis
I thought that a small, self selected, demonstratively commited group, working for the betterment of all mankind, was actually a Leninist ideal and not a Fascist ideal.
My problem with Heinlein's characters is that he used them to demonstrate his prejudices against the Merchant Marine. He had his characters attacked by some sailors on shore and then disparage their service.
As a deferred US sailor he was eligible to join the Merchant Marine. They had less stringent entrance requirements for physical health than the US navy. You could join the Merchant Marine with a pegleg, for instance. Heinlein would have been welcome.
It was, of course, also more dangerous to belong to the Merchant Marine than the US Navy. It was more dangerous in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and World War I. Merchant Marine was always more dangerous than the Navy, or even the Coast Guard, when we were fighting an enemy with a navy of their own.
Heinlein preferred to stay ashore.
Raskolnikov
33. Raskolnikov
wkwillis at 32:

Not to move in overly broad political generalizations, but the fact that the service was predominately defined as professional military and were focused on keeping this rotating system of power in charge indefinitely rather than overturning the status quo makes them more conservative in outlook. There are certainly positions on the extremes of both left and right that accepted the use of force to achieve power, but the difference lies in what they planned to do after that point, the Leninist failure to dismantle the state was a betrayal of their ideals whereas Heinlein's fictitious veterans establishing a new restrictive stability was a fulfillment of them. Plus the overt nationalism, push for a 'free market' and strong contempt for

You're probably right in the insight that there are some Bolshevik-esque elements in Heinlein's utopia. There's one consequence of the common pro-Starship Troopers argument that really there are lots of non-military opportunities that anyone could go with. If that's the case, there would need to be an enormous bureaucracy and range of federal jobs, in a fashion Heinlein would be horrified with and spent many of his books denouncing. To avoid that there has to be a sharp limitation in the number of people who can serve at any given point, which means that even everyone willing to make a commitment will have to struggle through, and those that aren't strong enough don't get the vote.

More directly, there's that scene where the instructor tells Rico that he's right in a particular argument (it was absolutely wrong to sacrifice soldiers' interests for the greater good) and tells him to go off and prove it mathematically over the weekend. The whole thing plays like a kind of parody of the Marxist dialectic, with an objective ethical and political framework that can be verified through pure logic (off-screen, of course).

I'd see these elements as more a symptom of poor worldbuilding and a lack of thinking through conclusions than a crypto appeal to Soviet norms. They are striking, however.
Raskolnikov
34. Mark Schaal
Doesn't the selection of Starship Troopers simply show that 1960 was a really weak year for sf novels? For example, Modesitt and Tepper each have at least a dozen novels with strong political themes that are better than Starship Troopers, and they don't even manage a Hugo nomination these days.
j p
35. sps49
wkwillis @32-

Where do you get the "more dangerous" statistics? Are you counting the entire military (which includes mostly non-combat support) versus the seagoing MM employees minus shipping company, agents, maintenance and repair support, etc.?

Merchant mariners also had/ have better pay, and were not drafted- they could choose to not go on a particular voyage or ship.

The pay inequity still exists- merchant sailors in early 90's Mogadishu made bank from gunshots, amount depending on whether the ship was hit, et. al. Compare this with US military combat pay, which is a much smaller amount per monthly period.

Raskolnikov @ various-

I don't feel you read the same Starship Troopers I did, because you are missing words in the book which might make your issues more precise.

The government is explicitly not a "military dictatorship", because political leadership careers can not be started until after the Federal Service career ends. Society wasn't established or run by the army (which is only one branch of the military) but by veterans.

I don't understand why you choose to define individualism in terms of military service- obedience and hierarchy are difficult to avoid in any military (and how would you advise replacing them?), killing is a combat probability, and machismo is by no means universal even among military elites. You have created a complaint that is inherently impossible to refute.

And you make incorrect blanket statements "(a right-wing fantasy, that it glorifies militarism, that its sexism is above and beyond") and then want them "put aside" without citing any examples.

I regret that much of your posting has become, for me, a lot of "blah blah blah I hate it". You didn't like it. We get it.
Raskolnikov
36. AL McGregor
I really loved "Flowers for Algernon" when I read it at age 13, and I daresay it would still make me cry. But "The Man Who Lost the Sea" is IMHO a much more moving and better-crafted story.

"Starship Troopers" turned me off forever to strawman arguments, and fiction where the politics are more important than the characters or plot. And it doesn't even have the saving grace of Lazarus Long's humour. I think Space Cadet handles much the same themes in a more interesting and nuanced way (even if it is a juvenile).

I also dislike the fact that Starship Troopers never seems to actually consider politics outside the American box.

And ST inspired the whole genre of MilSF, which I could have lived without.
Bob Blough
37. Bob
Well, I've read all the novels and I am in the "definately do not like" camp for Starship Troopers - but it is an important novel in SF to this day so the award is merited. Loved Sirens of Titan when I read it in high school. It would have been my choice at the time. Brain Twister and Dorsai are enjoyable while Pirates of Zan is just not good. I would have chosen Time Out of Joint as a real contender and one that hasn't been mentioned - Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank. Also very much liked Wolfsbane. It may not be successful, but it really tried to create true aliens instead of human beings dressed up as aliens

As far as short fiction, I agree with ecbatan's list but have to include a favorite Simak "A Death in the House" , Carol Emshwiller's "A Day at the Beach" and Damon Knight's "What Rough Beast".
I've read the Williams story and it is fairly standard for the time but nothing to seek out, now. Too bad there couldn't have been a tie in this category with Sturgeon and Keyes both winning!
john mullen
38. johntheirishmongol
Ras - I get you dont like ST, but if you feel that strongly about it, I would argue that it is just that kind of discussion that SF is all about and so even all these years later, it is still a powerful book.

I still think Dorsai is a very good novel but it feels more like a series of connected novelettes but that ST was clearly the better novel, and no doubt the well deserved winner.

I am one of the few people that Flowers leaves me cold. It's a little too manipulative to me.

I do agree that Alas, Babylon should have been one of the nominees. It's one of my favorite WW3 stories ever, and is very true to locale. I figure I lived about 5 miles from where it is centered.
Raskolnikov
39. Raskolnikov
sps49:

I don't feel you read the same Starship Troopers I did, because you are missing words in the book which might make your issues more precise.
It's a bit arrogant to assume this has to be the case, isn't it? That there isn't a different reaction to the novel but simply not reading it correctly. In any case, on with its points.

The government is explicitly not a "military dictatorship", because political leadership careers can not be started until after the Federal Service career ends. Society wasn't established or run by the army (which is only one branch of the military) but by veterans.
Here I'd run against my main argument with the novel. Yes, Heinlein wants to have his cake and eat it to--a society where the ruling elite is defined by all the characteristics of military service and a restrictive junta, but without the overt denial of freedoms and political corruption. Hence the notion that when veterans took charge they were as a group oriented to service and hence better than any other category of society, that they of course didn't entrench their power, that individuals who comprise the army and form the basis for the electorate of course would never hold undue influence while actually in the miitary.
The arguments supporting this condition are not well supported, and at several points show up in the form of 'because the author says so, now shut up'. All that doesn't change that the conditions Heinlein's utopia pushes against are precisely those norms that enable peace and democracy.

I don't understand why you choose to define individualism in terms of military service- obedience and hierarchy are difficult to avoid in any military (and how would you advise replacing them?), killing is a combat probability, and machismo is by no means universal even among military elites. You have created a complaint that is inherently impossible to refute.
My argument is that the military is basically incompatible with values of individualism, democracy and gender equality within it. Perhaps not in principle, but certainly in the form of WWII organization and slightly modified version that appears in this novel. One can of course say that the military is a necessary organizational evil, but that's not at all what Heinlein is saying--he writes it as a glorious and moral opportunity.

The main argument on how Heinlein misapplies understanding is his rather idiotic mandate of 'every individual in the army fights, down to cook'. The book isn't concerned with the actual necessary logistics and wider support of war, it's focused on glorifying military combat.


And you make incorrect blanket statements "(a right-wing fantasy, that it glorifies militarism, that its sexism is above and beyond") and then want them "put aside" without citing any examples.
I regret that much of your posting has become, for me, a lot of "blah blah blah I hate it". You didn't like it. We get it.
I've mentioned examples, in this post and previous, on how the book expresses sexism and a glorification of militarism. Your response here seems to be an assumption that there are no reasons for my attitude towards the novel. I feel that there are, you can of course engage with that or not, but having an honest debate means responding to opposing claims rather than abruptly deciding it's gotten too negative and washing one's hands of the issue.

johntheirishmongel:

Ras - I get you dont like ST, but if you feel that strongly about it, I would argue that it is just that kind of discussion that SF is all about and so even all these years later, it is still a powerful book.

No, see, this argument still doesn't really work. The reason there's stronger discussion about Starship Troopers than, say, They'd Rather Be Right is that 1. more people have read it and 2. there tends to be more vocal rejection of its premises. This is entirely connected with the ongoing popularity and support for the book. If I read Starship Troopers in total isolation from its context (Heinlein? Whose that?) I'd have thought it was a bad book with a simplistic and incorrect message. It wouldn't have given particular force beyond that, what makes me more impassioned about arguing against it is the way the novel is taken up as a classic, with people continually praising and seeking to emulate it. This is quite a bad thing and it has consequences in limiting the types of fiction that's going to be written now. It's common to lament the scifi ghetto as something imposed by snobbish literary tastes ("of course something that has aliens in it must be tawdry escapism"), and there is of course a lot to this. Yet we within the genre play a large role as well, by doing things like giving the highest SF award to a book as unsubtle, poorly constructed and wrongheaded as Starship Troopers (don't you know, a society where parents don't use corporal punishment can have no effective functioning at all)
And, fifty years after this event, sizable amounts of fans still feel the award pick was fully justified.

The fact that I and others argue forcefully against Starship Troopers is not proof of Heinlein's genius and lasting power. I see it as generated by the fact that Heinlein was a bad author, Starship Troopers his worst book, and that a large portion of the SF community refuses to move on past this point. Particularly with the benefit of hindsight now we should know better.

Put another way, the experience of arguing about and against Heinlein can be very engaging and useful, as drawing out all kinds of assumptions and politics. The experience of reading Heinlein? Not so much. Do you not remember how incredibly dull Starship Troopers was? Utopias as usually boring, and even on the level of utterly mindless adoration of violence the book falls flat because there isn't enough violence to mindlessly adore.
Raskolnikov
40. Denny Lien
ecbatan noted (re publication date of CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ) that:

"
On another group some detailed research was done a few years ago. Many sources cite 1959 as the publication date for Canticle, and apparently that is the copyright date, and apparently review copies and the like were available in 1959, but as best as anyone could find out, it wasn't officially "published", as in "available for sale", until February of 1960."

I suspect the reference is to research I did in 2005 on the Fictionmags group; my post at that time is copied below:

********
I couldn't stand the suspense, so I went down to the Annex and ordered
up the late 1959 and early 1960 issues of PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. Started
going through the "Weekly Record" listings. Got through November and
December of 1959 without sight of the Miller book, and moved into 1960.

My eye was caught by a multipage listing that was *not* in "Weekly
Record" format. Turned to the front of the section (which was
unpaginated, and bound in with the 25 January 1960 issue). Aha!

"Spring Book Index, 1960 --with dates of publication. Forthcoming
books, January through May, by author, title and illustrator..."

I'd forgotten this section used to exist in PW. (Like the WR, it was
later spun off into an independent publication, FORTHCOMING BOOKS,
which -- like the weekly WEEKLY RECORDS -- was virtually always
discarded by libraries that subscribed as soon as they became
"obsolete.") The explanation of the "Spring Book Issue" format
included the datum that tentative data as regards date or price was
marked with a (t).

Hands shaking, senses reeling, stomach churning (well, not really, but
give me my big dramatic moment, OK?), I thumbed through the Spring
Book Index to the letter M area.

And there it was:

Miller, Walter M., Jr. Canticle for Leibowitz. Feb. 22. Lippincott.
4.95

Not even a "t" in sight, so the date (as of late January) would have
been considered definite.

Jumped ahead to the Feb. 22 WEEKLY RECORD -- no Miller listing there.
Went to the Feb. 29 WEEKLY RECORD, and there it was: the catalog
record for the Miller book, including a date in this format:

1960

The headnotes for WEEKLY RECORD reads:

"The Weekly Record aims to be a complete and accurate record of
American book publication in the week just preceding the date of issue."

So:

No appearance of the title in PW, seemingly, previous to the Spring
Book Index, which came out with the 25 January 1960 issue. That SBI
says CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ was firmly set to be published on 22
February. The Weekly Record section for 29 February, which records
the publications of the preceding week, duely lists it.

And virtually all book reviews, in daily or weekly publications,
review the book in March or early April of 1960; the two or three
exceptions (Jan and Feb) presumably having gotten pre-publication
reviewers' copies.

Q.E.D. It came out in late February 1960, with an official and
probably a real publication date of 22 February.

Hard cheese for Algis Budrys, but in fact the winner of the Hugo for
best novel of 1960 was published in 1960 (shock, horror).
Raskolnikov
41. Denny Lien
I believe Wally Wood was doing some interior work for GALAXY at the time, yes, and certainly he was doing some paperback covers for the GALAXY NOVELS series. I don't think he did a lot of sf work, though, so his artist nominations do seem a bit unlikely unless there were enough comics fans nominating to give him an extra boost. (Another artist not associated with the sf mags who was doing some interior work for GALAXY at the time was Don Martin, if I recall correctly).
Raskolnikov
42. Lindsey Wilson
On the subject of "That Sweet Little Old Lady," Amazon appears to have free kindle versions of it (under the later title "Brain Twister") as well as its two sequels.

http://www.amazon.com/Brain-Twister-ebook/dp/B004TIJW8K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1313685121&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.com/The-Impossibles-ebook/dp/B004TIJPXC/ref=pd_sim_kinc_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

http://www.amazon.com/Supermind-ebook/dp/B004TIJALY/ref=pd_sim_kinc_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

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