Dec 12 2010 11:03am

Hugo Nominees: 1961

Hugo Awards trophy 1961The 1961 Hugo Awards were held in Seacon in Seattle. (For earlier posts in this series, see Index.) The categories are reasonably familiar and fairly sensible, they have nominees and all is good.

The Best Novel winner was Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle For Leibowitz (post). It’s a book about a post-apocalyptic order of monks who preserve knowledge of science through a new dark age and towards a new apocalypse. It’s certainly a classic and a book that has lasted—it’s in print from a major publisher, it’s in my library in French and English, and I frequently hear it mentioned in discussion. I think it’s a very worthy Hugo winner.

Harry Harrison’s Deathworld is the only one of the five I haven’t read. I’m not sure why I haven’t—I have read quite a bit of other Harrison and enjoyed most of it. It’s in print from small press Wildside. It seems to be an exciting adventure of planetary exploration. It’s in the library in French only.

Poul Anderson’s The High Crusade (post) has long been a favourite of mine. It has recently been republished by Baen in a fiftieth anniversary edition. It’s in the library in French and English.

Algis Budrys’s Rogue Moon is not in print, and not in the library either, so I have to conclude that it hasn’t stood the test of time. I remember it as a very pulpy adventure with people exploring an alien base on the moon—not as memorable as Who?

Theodore Sturgeon’s Venus Plus X is a thought-provoking novel about gender issues—it’s a tale of androgynes living in utopia, and if it had been published more recently it would have won a Tiptree Award. It’s a clever thought-provoking book that’s both weirdly ahead of its time and yet could not have been written in any other. It’s in print from Vintage, and in the library in English only.

Of the four I have read, I’d say we have three really memorable SF novels that have lasted. Do these five books show where the genre was in 1960? Yes, if the genre was half thought-provoking stories and half exciting romps on other planets—and that feels about right.

What else was there that year? Again using Wikipedia’s list I find a whole lot of things. There’s Philip K. Dick’s Dr. Futurity, Frederik Pohl’s Drunkard’s Walk, Peter Beagle’s A Fine and Private Place, L. Sprague de Camp’s The Glory That Was, Nikos Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ (published as mainstream), Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero (a much more serious book than The High Crusade), Judith Merril’s The Tomorrow People, John Wyndham’s The Trouble With Lichen, Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (YA fantasy wasn’t considered then, but it is now), and James H. Schmitz’s Agent of Vega.

It wouldn’t be hard to argue that one or two of those ought to be on the list in place of one or two of the others, but I think A Canticle for Leibowitz is the standout book of the year in any case. So were the voters at Seacon doing a good job of picking the five best books? Not a perfect job, but a pretty good job, yes, I think so.

Other Categories


  • “The Longest Voyage,” Poul Anderson (Analog Dec 1960)
  • “The Lost Kafoozalum,” Pauline Ashwell (Analog Oct 1960)
  • “Need,” Theodore Sturgeon (Beyond)
  • “Open to Me, My Sister,” Philip José Farmer (F&SF May 1960)

Poul Anderson and Theodore Sturgeon were having good years! And there’s Pauline Ashwell again too, I should seek out something of hers one of these days. Only one short fiction category again.


  • The Twilight Zone (TV series)
  • The Time Machine
  • Village of the Damned


  • Astounding/Analog, John W. Campbell, Jr.
  • Amazing Stories, Cele Goldsmith
  • F&SF, Robert P. Mills


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


  • Who Killed Science Fiction?, Earl Kemp
  • Discord, Redd Boggs
  • Fanac, Terry Carr & Ron Ellik
  • Habakkuk, Bill Donaho
  • Shangri L’Affaires, Bjo Trimble & John Trimble
  • 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.

1. liontime
I'm enjoying this series of articles. One nitpick this week. Either you or Wikipedia,s list is wrong as regards Poul Anderson's "Tau Zero". It was first published in 1970 by Doublday. I still own the Lancer Paperback reprint from 1971.
Jo Walton
2. bluejo
Liontime: Well, that's what I get for using Wikipedia. Sorry.
Ruthanna Emrys
3. R.Emrys
Venus Plus X is good, but the ending annoys me. One of my few problems with Sturgeon is that he assumes the prejudices of his time and place are universal--that most straight humans will always feel uncontrollable disgust and fear in response to gender and orientation variance. I can understand why he felt that way, and it makes me want to go back and reassure him, but it also makes me feel like he missed something important about his species.
4. James Davis Nicoll
In 1960, Bussard was aware of the issues for interstellar travel presented by the interstellar medium and he had proposed his famous (and as it turns out, unworkable ) ramjet but Anderson seems not to have encountered Bussard's work until later. As I recall, there's a note in the 1972 or 1974 edition of Orbit Unlimited that I have to the effect that when one of the characters travels from one ship to another during the long cruise to 82 Eridani, the reader must imagine the ships are surrounded by a vast protective field preventing the guy from getting cooked by running into hydrogen atoms at umpty percent the speed of light.

Orbit Unlimited's various parts date back as early as 1959 but since the book came out in 1961, if Anderson had been aware of the ISM issue he could have addressed it in the fix-up.

1: In short, proton-proton fusion is slow and very few of the hydrogen atoms would fuse in the time they were interacting with the ramjet. As I recall, Heppenheimer showed in the 1970s that a classic Bussard ramjet would be roughly a billion times more effective at radiating energy than it would be at generating it; it's a brake, not a means of propulsion.
john mullen
5. johntheirishmongol
I'm sorry you haven't read Deathworld. In many ways its Harrison's best work. I prefer it to Canticle for Leibowitz if I had been a voter that year. Not only is it an adventure story, but there's a lot of deep meaning in as aggression begets even more aggression. The squels weren't as good, but then again, they seldom are...I suspect you might find it at your local used bookstore.

I do like High Crusade, and it was one that spawned a whole sub-genre of scifi. It's funny, but I can remember when there was only one kind of scifi. Now there must be a dozen different categories and a ton more published material. I probably read 100 novels or more a year and that used to easily keep up, but now theres 10 times that in publication Of course, I believe Sturgeons Law definately applies here, that 90% of everything is crap.

BTW Jo, sorry if you felt I was berating you on the other post. Didn't mean to.
6. James Davis Nicoll
I know I have linked to it before but Who Killed Science Fiction can be found here:
Janet Kegg
7. jmk
I'm enjoying this series of posts a lot. It has covered the period when I was reading every SF book I could find, so there are remainders of many old friends. Dimly remembered, however, because I'm not much of a re-reader.

In my small box of yellowing old paperbacks I still have the copy (Bantam 1961) of Canticle that I bought 50 years ago (for 50 cents!) from the racks at my corner drugstore .
The info on the verso of the title page says it was first published by Lippincott in October 1959 and that there was a Catholic Digest edition in 1960.

I also have original paperbacks of Rogue Moon (1960 Fawcett) and The Tomorrow People (1960 Pyramid).

The cover teasor of the Budrys: "He suffered and was killed. And the next day he was reborn and ascended to the moon--and was seated on the right hand of death." On the front of the Merril: "He came back from Mars--with a secret too terrible to remember."
Joe Romano
8. Drunes
Rogue Moon was worthy of a Hugo nomination if not the actual prize, but it is definitely a product of its time. I didn't know Algis Budrys personally, but I know two people who did. From what I understand, he was great guy, always willing to give of his time to aspiring writers. If Hugos where given for that, I'm sure he would have won year after year.

Having said that, A Canticle for Leibowitz was a true winner -- one of the best science fiction books ever written. It is intelligent, optimistic, sad, and witty -- all at the same time. What a marvelous book!
Clark Myers
9. ClarkEMyers
For my money Rogue Moon is indeed memorable - and one I'll reread from time to time. I suspect AJ put more energy into his day job (and into his teaching in its manifold forms - hat tip #8 so true) than into his writing and most of his production including the reviews amounted to publishing what came easy to him.

Rogue Moon may not be what many people read SF for - in many ways the book is more character study than world building - though the McGuffin raises all the philosophical questions any book could stand - Rogue Moon lacks the SF pattern incluing, the super science is taken for granted though the Super Scientist is very well draw. Rogue Moon doesn't much need the skills of SF reading (no more than say Nevil Shute which often isn't SF for all the engineering included) - but perhaps the reader should be informed or perhaps deformed by some experiences. Likely the reader who couldn't stand some other writers - David Drake or Starship Troopers - wouldn't finish Rogue Moon. Chatting with AJ about Rogue Moon and some folks from Chicago I was amused at the author's comment that all the characters were drawn from life though he hadn't yet met all of them when he wrote Rogue Moon he recognized them when he did meet them.

Someplace around here I've already given my take on the Death World Trilogy - which was I think very much a Vietnam War influenced tale of the nature of history and human progress in the interaction of different cultures and technology. The first book is in some part an adventure story and learning much like the Leinstar/Jenkins Exploration Party but also a tale of cultural interaction - maybe The Ugly American? The second book could be seen as not only a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court with more lasting effects but equally tragic and the third book is a treatise on what it really takes to do well meaning nation building and what it costs. More pages and so demanding more time than some will give to extract the message but a very good sugar coating on the message just the same.
Rich Horton
10. ecbatan
I think you're misremembering Rogue Moon (or read it rather differently from me) -- it's not pulpy at all. I consider it Budrys' best novel, and one of the best in-genre novels not to have won a Hugo. (But I can't argue with the Hugo for Canticle, mind you.) As with much of Budrys' work, it's a story of obsession. Well written, powerful. Perhaps a bit overwrought in places. Its influence can be seen in later stories like James Patrick Kelly's "Think Like a Dinosaur" and Alastair Reynolds' "Diamond Dogs".

The shorter version of "Rogue Moon" (cut to novella length by Budrys for publication in F&SF) is in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume II.

I have not read Deathworld, and I probably should. But surely it's the example of "pulpy" adventure on this list!

The High Crusade is good fun, indeed. Venus Plus X is intriguing but it does read dated to me, and I share Remrys concerns with the ending.

None of the other potential nominees you mention overwhelm me -- probably the only one I'd push for nomination is A Fine and Private Place. I don't think Dr. Futurity is as good as other Dick novels from the early '60s. By and large I'd say the nominators and voters got it right.

More about the short fiction on next rock ...
Jo Walton
11. bluejo
Clark, Ecbatan: OK, you've convinced me. I should read Rogue Moon again, maybe I just didn't appreciate it when I was twelve.
René Walling
12. cybernetic_nomad
Tau Zero was expanded from a short story ("To Outlive Eternity") that first appeared in 1967. This is probably the source of the confusion.

I first read Deathworld during my golden age of SF (I must have been 11 or 12) and it's stayed with me since, though I do not own a copy, a situation I should correct. One thing that's great about it, is that on re-reading, I can see what I thought was great about it at the time, but I still enjoyed it when I was older for different reasons.

A Canticle for Leibowitz was the first book I got based on having heard it was a classic and a must read.
Rich Horton
13. ecbatan
Other potential Hugo nominees:
"Old Hundredth", by Brian W. Aldiss
"Something Bright", by Zenna Henderson
"The Lady Who Sailed the Soul", by Cordwainer Smith
"The Voices of Time", by J. G. Ballard

On balance I'd say the actual Hugo nominee list is pretty good, but any of those listed above could surely have been added. When I first read it I'd have eagerly endorsed the Hugo for "The Longest Voyage". While I still like it, on rereading it a couple of years ago it seemed diminished. "The Lost Kafoozalum" (sequel to "Unwillingly to Earth") is plenty of fun. I don't remember "Need" all that well, but I think it was pretty good. The Farmer has a good reputation, but I've never read it, and I don't usually like Farmer as much as others do. If I were to give a "Retro-Hugo" it would probably be to Smith's "Lady Who Sailed the Soul" or Ballard's "The Voices of Time" (that last one of my favorite early Ballard stories).
David Levinson
14. DemetriosX
I've read all of the novels except the Sturgeon. It's a pretty good list, though I think it probably went to the right book. johntheirishmongol and ClarkEMyers both seem to have gotten a lot more out of Deathworld than I ever did. For me it was mostly a fun adventure. Maybe I need to hunt down a copy and reread it. And add me to the list of those who think you should give Rogue Moon another try.

I can't really say anything about the short works, but I think you find a version of the Pauline Ashwell at Project Gutenberg. It might be a later expansion to a novel, I'm not sure.

I note that the dramatic presentation takes TV series as a body of work. That apparently changed, since a few years later this category largely amounted to "What was your favorite Star Trek episode?"

The artists are the usual suspects again. Hard to argue against any of them being on the list and any winner would be worthy. Hunter and Emshwiller seem to be less remembered than the other two, event though they both worked into the 70s. Maybe it's because they both changed their focus some, with Hunter going into technical and scientific illustration and Emshwiller actually moving into film.
David Goldfarb
15. David_Goldfarb
The main page for Tau Zero is correct that the book was published in 1970; for some reason it had a tag at the bottom saying the page should be included in the list of "1960 novels". I have now corrected that to "1970".

I agree that Rogue Moon is a very good book and worthy of Jo's re-reading.
16. Gardner Dozois
A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ deserved its Hugo, but you're seriously underestimating ROGUE MOON, a book almost as influential on later work as CANTICLE, if not more so.

For short stuff, Anderson's "The Longest Voyage," perhaps my favorite story by him, deserved its Hugo out of that list of finalists, although "Old Hundreth" and "The Lady Who Sailed THE SOUL" have their virtues too.
17. CarlosSkullsplitter
Let me add my voice to the chorus for Rogue Moon. There is something noir about it, which your twelve-year-old self may have read as pulpy. (And your current self might find it so too.) But it's an intricate and I think deep little book.
18. David G. Hartwell
A word or two on Harry Harrison--at that time, Harrison was very much an ambitious SF writer in the literary sense. He and Brian Aldiss were about to start the first critical journal of SF, and by four years later he was seen as one of the four people behind the New Wave in the UK: Aldiss, Ballard, Harrison, Moorcock. Deathworld is a good book and not a piece of pulp fiction, a harbinger of Harrison's best work to follow in the next few years.

And if you are interested, I knew Algis Budrys fairly well and he never got over losing the Hugo to Miller.
Darius Bacon
19. Darius
Budrys's own title for Rogue Moon was The Death Machine, a far better title for this book, with the distinction of sounding even pulpier. I don't remember it well -- I found it hard to get into but with a powerful ending.
20. Edward F. James
A Canticle for Leibowitz was a great book, but not a great novel; like A Case of Conscience it showed its origins as a novella rather too obviously. I did enjoy the Deathworld trilogy at the time (one day I shall re-read...), though fail to follow Clark E. Meyers' idea (above) that it is a "Vietnam War influenced tale": the first volume was published before America had committed more than a few hundred "advisors" to Vietnam, and long before Vietnam had impinged much on the public mind.
21. EJ (Edward James)
A Canticle for Leibowitz was a great book, but not a great novel; like A Case of Conscience it showed its origins as a novella rather too obviously. I did enjoy the Deathworld trilogy at the time (one day I shall re-read...), though fail to follow Clark E. Meyers' idea (above) that it is a "Vietnam War influenced tale": the first volume was published before America had committed more than a few hundred "advisors" to Vietnam, and long before Vietnam had impinged much on the public mind.
Rich Horton
22. ecbatan
Darius@19 : indeed, The Death Machine was Budrys' first choice for a title. (I think it did have at least one paperback edition under than title.) There is a nice thread in the wonderful book Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty First Century Studies (PITFCS), a fanzine for SF writers from (mostly) the early '60s, edited by Theodore Cogswell, in which Budrys and others (including Kingsley Amis) discuss Rogue Moon at length, including how Budrys cut it for the F&SF publication. Several other titles are suggested, including The Armiger and The Bend in the Driveway (or something, memory perhaps fails me).

PITFCS is truly a fascinating book. To hark back to the previous Hugo thread, it also includes some discussion of Starship Troopers. James Blish's opinion of the novel was not dissimilar to Raskolnikov's, by the way, and Blish (who objected to the novel in part because it was originally intended to by a Juvenile) promised to write a Juvenile novel of his own as a counter. The result was Mission to the Heart Stars, which in my opinion is one of Blish's worst novels (and he was an unusual writer with a really wide range of quality, from excellent all the way down to unpublishably bad) -- one might possibly endorse the ideas behind the Blish novel in place of those behind Starship Troopers, but the novel itself is dreadful.
Clark Myers
23. ClarkEMyers
#21 - You may well be correct, but by the same logic The Ugly American, a best seller in 1958, wasn't about Vietnam either.
Jo Walton
24. bluejo
Clark, Edward: I thought for years until I looked at dates that William Tenn's "The Liberation of Earth" was about Vietnam. The Korean war somehow fell out of history. It's weird how that happens.
25. James Davis Nicoll
Who ever said The Ugly American was about Vietnam, as opposed to a general pattern in US Cold War diplomacy in the underdeveloped world?
Michael Dolbear
26. miketor
DemetriosX@ 14

"The Lost Kafoozalum," Pauline Ashwell at Project Gutenberg

is indeed from the Analog Oct 1960 version

A magazine origin is usual for recent Gutenberg additions since magazines registered their own copyright which was seldom renewed.

Mike D, Little Egret in Walton-on-Thames
Clark Myers
27. ClarkEMyers
#25 - Well the authors did and the publisher did. Of course the book was intended to teach a general lesson and so to be generalized but likely not so much to sub-Saharan Africa. It seems to be generally accepted as largely but not entirely Vietnam - successes were mostly elsewhere - see e.g. Wikipedia under the book title of The Ugly American for general acceptance and the New York Times for examples frex this:

But very little distance separated Lansdale from the fictional "Colonel Edwin Hillandale" of "The Ugly American."
“This book was written as fiction; but it is based on fact,” the authors wrote in a prefatory note. “The things we write about have, in essence, happened.”

If in fact the identification of Hillandale with Landsdale is correct - and if not there was a vast right wing conspiracy including the authors putting it over - then Hillandale's actions took place in fictionalized Vietnam.

I for one would agree, and I think I said, certainly I intended to say that the Deathworld trilogy is properly generalized to a general consideration of cultural interaction involving high technology and high general ability with lower technology and less learning. By the end of the last book the protagonist has learned what he likely considers a painful lesson in cultural dynamics and the easier lesson that it pays to do the research. It's even been said that one great advantage of the Communists in Vietnam was American over-reach - Americans were trying to drag a 12th century culture to the 20th while the Communists were aiming only for the 19th. I think I see elements of this in the Deathworld Trilogy but of course it is a general theme in history and in speculative fiction from Connecticut Yankee to 1632-3-4-5-........
David Levinson
28. DemetriosX
miketor@26: That's actually threatening to turn into a rather unpleasant situation. Greg and Astrid Bear are contending that PG doesn't have the legal right to offer those works. Their argument is, I think, that when the magazine's copyright expired, the rights reverted to the author and thus none of it is actually public domain.
Bob Blough
29. Bob
Excellent as usual. Canticle is always in my top ten favorite SF novels of all time list. Just re-read it a few tears ago, (for the umpteenth time), and it was still as powerful. Rogue Moon I loved at 17 but in re-reading it this past year I was very disappointed. Seemed too pat for me. It is a psychological novel about four people with specific psycho-sexual problems that revolve around the investigation of an alien artifact found on the moon. Sounds great. But...somehow it felt contrived and dated to me this time. I'll try it again in 30 years and see what I think then. I think - like Starship Troopers - that it is an important novel. I just don't like it!
As far as the short fiction I have three others that could be considered - "Mariana" by Fritz Leiber and "The Day the Icicle Works Closed" by Frederick Pohl and "The Handler " by Avram Davidson.
30. Gardner Dozois
"The Handler" is by Damon Knight, not Avram Davidson.
Bob Blough
31. Bob
Thanks. That's what I get by typing too quickly!
32. Raskolnikov
A Canticle for Leibowitz has some problems as a novel and as a piece of worldbuilding, and I'll maintain that the final section is rather weak. Still, it did a lot of things, many of them quite well, and I think hindsight vindicates the Hugo voters on this one. It carried the notion of post-apocalyptic narratives to new forms with a lot of style and personal dedication. Across it shows a writer going out on a limb, and for my money not succeeding entirely, but still delivering a lot of worthwhile materials.

I won't argue for Dick as the worthier candidate in this particular instance, Dr. Futurity was really a pretty weak novel, and not even that innovative.

I'm woefully under-read on the other shortlist items that appeared, and these discussions make Rogue Moon sound quite interesting.
steve davidson
33. crotchetyoldfan
Rogue Moon is awesome, but then, all of those novels are on my shelf of books that have been read multiple times.

I love them all and don't know how I could possibly have selected one over the other if I were voting for Hugos in '61
34. Mark Pontin
Let me add my voice to the chorus: you need to take another look at ROGUE MOON.

In some ways, it's one of the quintessential SF novels. In other ways, a strange and deliberately artifical construction of various genres jammed together -- mid-20th century American hardboiled noir (the pulp aspect you remember); Campbellian "modern" SF; Neville Shute-type engineer fiction; philosophical SF; even a little bit of pseudo-Elizabethan tragedy.

Stressing that 'philosophical SF' part, I think ROGUE MOON is not only the first significant treatment of one of _the_ classic SF themes/inventions, but also Budrys hit on all the significant implications of that particular classic SF trope in human terms.
35. Mark Pontin
@ ecbatan, who wrote re. ROGUE MOON's other Budrys-proposed titles, that they included "The Armiger and The Bend in the Driveway (or something, memory perhaps fails me)."

HALT, PASSENGER is what you're trying to recall, I think (without getting out my own copy of PITFCCS). It was part of an inscription on a New England gravestone that Budrys saw (or read about), and he used used the full thing for his novel's epigraph:

"Halt, Passenger!
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, so shall you be.
Prepare for death, and follow me."
Rich Horton
36. ecbatan
Mark -- you're right that Halt, Passenger was one of Budrys' proposed title. But there was one about a bend too -- based on the driveway to the guy's house in the actual novel -- let me get my copy of PITFCS and check --

Ah, I see. The Bend of the Dogleg was an alternate title Kingsley Amis suggested for Rogue Moon.

Rich Horton
37. SF.Fangirl
I recently (about 5-7 years ago) read Rogue Moon and was greatly disappointed. I was very excited about the premise. I honestly don't recall that much about it now except that the 50s/60s sexism was too much for me to take. And that's saying alot because I can overlook a lot. The female characters were there simply to assist their man. And the two male characters engaged in a strange, pointless pissing contest.

I haven't read the other nominees except for Canticle for Liebowitz, but agree that it deserves the award simply because it held up so well. I do think I need to add Deathworld to my reading list. It sounds pretty good.

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