Jan 9 2011 10:42am

Hugo Nominees: 1965

Photo by Michael BenvenisteThe Hugo Awards for 1965 were given at Loncon II, in London. (For previous posts in this series, see the index.) Unlike the previous British convention, they gave awards in the previously established categories—I don’t know how they managed with publication and eligibility issues. The novel winner was Fritz Leiber’s The Wanderer. It’s a disaster novel about a traveling planet that comes into the solar system to refuel and causes chaos. It’s in print as an ebook and was recently in print from Gollancz in the U.K. It’s in the library in English. I haven’t read it—I thought I had, but when I got it out of the library it was clear I had confused it with a different Leiber book. I’m now waiting for recommendations in comments as to whether I should read it or not. Right now, I have no opinion as to whether or not it was a good Hugo winner.

There are three other novel nominees, and making up for my lapse over the Leiber, I’ve read all of them.

Edgar Pangborn’s Davy is in print from Old Earth Books. It’s a story of a boy having an adventure in a post-apocalyptic world, and it’s more like Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Wild Shore than anything else. Like most of Pangborn it’s gentle and clever. I was lucky enough to discover Pangborn when I was a teenager, and I loved him. It’s in the library in English.

Cordwainer Smith’s The Planet Buyer is the first half of Norstrilia. It’s a classic, and it’s brilliant, and I can’t believe it didn’t win. It’s in print from NESFA and it’s in the library in both languages. Like most of Cordwainer Smith, it’s hard to describe. It’s beautifully written and weird, and it’s about genetically engineered animal people and longevity drugs and the only problem with it is that your eyes keep get wider and wider as you go, and it’s hard to read like that.

The last nominee is John Brunner’s The Whole Man, U.K. title Telepathist. It isn’t in print, it hasn’t been in print since 1990, it and maybe I am the only person who loves it. It was one of the first science fiction books I read (sometimes I love alphabetical order) and it’s about this guy who is a mutant telepath in the near future, and it doesn’t make him happy. I shall re-read it and do a proper post about it soon. It isn’t Brunner’s best, but it’s a very good book and it would have been a worthy Hugo winner. (Also, first time something nominated is by a friend of mine, though of course John wasn’t my friend in 1965, when I could barely talk.)

So, a near future telepath, a far future revolt over geriatric drugs and freedom, a post apocalyptic odyssey, and a disaster novel about a wandering planet—all solidly science fictional, all pretty good books, all worthy nominees. I’d have been happy with any of the three I’ve read as winners, and I’m reserving judgement on the Leiber.

What did they miss? Again using the not entirely reliable Wikipedia archive of 1964 novels, quite a lot.

One can only applaud Hugo nominees for not selecting Heinlein’s Farnham’s Freehold, and I think this demonstrates that people do not blindly nominate favourite writers no matter how bad the book. But Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Bloody Sun is a better novel than Sword of Aldones, which was nominated the year before. Previous winner Philip Dick had a bumper year, with Clans of the Alphane Moon, The Simulacra and Martian Time Slip, and none of them were noticed. Also ignored were Keith Laumer’s The Great Time Machine Hoax, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s Hard to Be a God, Jack Vance’s The Killing Machine and The Star King, Daniel Galouye’s Simulacron-3 (Counterfeit World) Samuel Delany’s The Towers of Toron, J.G. Ballard’s The Burning World and Brian Aldiss’a Greybeard. Greybeard in particular is a classic.

In YA fantasy, which wasn’t considered for Hugos then but certainly is now, there’s Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

In the face of all this, it’s hard to feel confident that the nominees were the four best novels of 1964. If we were going to select something to fill the empty fifth slot, we’d have a hard time choosing, I think.

Other Categories


  • “Soldier, Ask Not,” Gordon R. Dickson (Galaxy Oct 1964)
  • “Little Dog Gone,” Robert F. Young (Worlds of Tomorrow Feb 1964)
  • “Once a Cop,” Rick Raphael (Analog May 1964)

I’m surprised at such a short shortlist, but certainly the winner is a good story, and the Young is pretty good too.


  • Dr. Strangelove
  • Seven Faces of Dr. Lao

I’m actually not going to complain, for once, as I think Dr. Strangelove is actually a good movie and SF at the same time. I don’t think it’s worth having a category with so few possible entrants, but certainly in 1965 they gave it to a worthy winner.


  • Ballantine
  • Ace
  • Gollancz
  • Pyramid

I guess Gollancz got on there because it was a British worldcon. Dear old Gollancz with their yellow covers. I loved them when I was a teenager. Even now, a yellow spine on a hardback lifts my heart, the same as an orange spine on a paperback.


  • Analog, John W. Campbell, Jr.
  • F&SF, Avram Davidson
  • Galaxy, Frederik Pohl
  • If, Frederik Pohl

Talk about competing against yourself! Two nominations for Pohl for different magazines.


  • John Schoenherr
  • Ed Emshwiller
  • Frank Frazetta
  • Jack Gaughan


  • Yandro, Robert Coulson & Juanita Coulson
  • Double: Bill, Bill Bowers & Bill Mallardi
  • Zenith, Peter R. Weston

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 on January 18th, 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.

Jamie Todd Rubin
1. jamietr
I thought The Wander was an okay novel, certainly not Leiber's best, but I always thought it was a reaction, one way or another, to Immanuel Velikovsky's World's In Collision, a piece of pseudoscience from the previous decade.
David Levinson
2. DemetriosX
I love fritz Leiber and he ranks very high on my list of desert island authors, but The Wanderer is definitely not his best work. In fact, I've read it at least 3 times and the only thing I really remember is a scene where a young man compliments his girlfriend's breasts by comparing them to hot popovers and she warns him that if he compares her thighs to loaves of bread, he's going home frustrated. And I'm not even 100 % sure that's from this novel. OTOH, it's Leiber, so you ought to read it.

I've always felt that Cordwainer Smith was at his best in shorter forms, but damn he should have won something in his lifetime. Pangborn is slowly being forgotten and deserves a revival. The Brunner was a transitional novel for him, moving away from classic sci-fi and into the more mature things he's best known for. The Laumer wasn't eligible, because it was serialized in 1963. Both Greybeard and Martian Time Slip should have been on the ballot (though Martian Time Slip was an expansion of a 1963 publication, so again maybe not eligible). I don't know how I would have voted. Probably Smith, but maybe Pangborn. Tough call.

The very short list of short fiction is weird. Did they forget? hard to argue with the winner, though.

Dr. Strangelove is a classic and all, but I want to put in a good word for The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao. It's wonderful movie based on a Charles Finney short novel and features several wonderful performances by Tony Randal. Maybe I've ODd on Strangelove, but I'd be very tempted to vote for Dr. Lao. If nothing else, it's a little more timeless and less a slice of history.

Also, you might want to try using to look for alternates. It might take a tiny bit more effort, but it should be more complete and more correct.
3. LarryS
At the time, The Wanderer seemed fresh, exciting, and sexy, and it had cats. Wot wuzn't there to love about it at the time? My guess is that it has not held up as well as Smith or Pangborn, but my it smelled fresh and sexy at the time.
4. Manglar
Greybeard is my favourite Aldiss novel, a quiet and understated narration that echoes Jefferies's After London (1885). Ballard's The Burning World is also a really well-written and surreal book, one of the instances in which the marriage of SF and surrealism worked successfully, IMO. Both should have made the shortlist.
5. Michael Habif
I have read all but about ten of the hugo winners and Leiber's novel 'The Big Time' is the only winner I liked less than 'The Wanderer.' It is a DISASTER OF a novel and among the most dated I've read in the genre. Critics often complain now that writers try to make their novels to much like movies, but Leiber was trying to do just that with 'The Wanderer.' The book is essentially a novelization of B sci-fi movie from the early 1960s. I can't recommend enough that you avoid reading the Wanderer.
Paul Eisenberg
6. HelmHammerhand
Jo, just wanted to say I'm really enjoying this series of posts. Good internets stuff. Thanks.
Joe Romano
7. Drunes
Greybeard is a tremendous book. How do we hang on to "hope" when there is no future? This book definitely should have been nominated for a Hugo and probably should have won.

Also, I echo DemetriosX's thoughts on the Seven Faces of Dr. Lao. A wonderful fantasy movie, it seems to have been forgotten by genre fans.
David Levinson
8. DemetriosX
Seriously, if any of you haven't seen Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, track it down and watch it. An absolutely wonderful movie and, if like me you're of the generation that only sees Tony Randal as Felix Unger, you will very and pleasantly surprised.
9. Kevin Standlee
Regarding the short nominating lists: I don't know if had made it into the rules by 1965, but currently there are rules that can reduce the number of nominations in a category down to three if the fourth and fifth place nominees don't receive a specified minimum percentage of the total nominating ballots cast in a category. This has happened a couple of times in the past ten or fifteen years, but it's rare. The last time I remember it happening (and I may be wrong about this) was in 1995 in the short-lived Best Original Artwork category, where it was a clear sign of lack of interest in the category and of an excessively-broad category in the sense that the voters' preferences wouldn't converge on a short list. You can't administer a category where there are fifty nominees all with two or three votes each.
David Levinson
10. DemetriosX
Something else that jumped out at me. This is the second year in a row where the MacGuffin of one of the nominees involves an organic compound crucial for the functioning of civilization, but which grows only on one world and cannot be synthesized. Was this some idea that was being bandied about or reflected some aspect of what was going on at the time?
Jo Walton
11. bluejo
DemetriosX: Good question. (Post on Dune written and will be posted soon.) And while you were thinking about that, Rene mentioned that two of the nominees for 1965 have catgirls -- the Leiber and the Smith. I think odd things like that tend to make interesting patterns that aren't always a reflection of anything -- I certainly can't think of any 1960s organic shortages, or catgirl invasions either.
john mullen
12. johntheirishmongol
I know I have read The Wanderer but it doesn't stick out in my mind as being exceptional, just a fun read. But then, I suppose not every year you can expect a timeless everylasting novel. Take a look at some of the awful things that have won Pulitzer's.

The rest don't strike any chords with me except the John Brunner book, which i liked a lot. I used to have quite a few of his books but they have worn out and disappeared over the years.

Soldier, Ask Not is one of my fave Dickson stories. I just wish that he had ended the series when it was still about the Dorsai and not about the Others. I'm not much for anti-heroes.

As for the movies, Strangelove is good in parts but like most actor's who do multiple roles, it gets very annoying and egotistical. I was just a kid when Dr. Lao came out and it was a great movie for me then. I don't remember seeing it in the last 40 years though, so I don't know how well it holds up. I do know Tony Randall was a much better actor than most remember.

One last thing is that there is a long tradition of catpeople in scifi. Not so much about dogpeople. I wonder what that says about us, lol.
p l
13. p-l
With respect to Kim Stanley Robinson's Wild Shore, have you done any posts on his non-Mars novels? If you haven't, I'd love it if you would!
Jo Walton
14. bluejo
P-L: I have written about Pacific Edge and also about Years of Rice and Salt. They ought to be findable in the search box -- if I try and link here it'll think it's spam and not post.
15. JohnnyMac
#12 : "...there is a long tradition of catpeople in scifi. Not so much about dogpeople."

Well, there is D'Joan in Cordwainer Smith's story "The Dead Lady of Clown Town". The D in her name stands for dog and by her martyrdom she becomes a key figure in the history of the Instrumentality of Man.
Darius Bacon
16. Darius
The Wanderer bored me -- it felt like a Hollywood movie, as I remember it.
17. Rush-That-Speaks
I am so glad that Dr. Strangelove won over The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao , as I saw Lao for the first time oh three or four years ago and it has been *entirely eaten by the Orientalism fairy*. The racial politics are now actively nauseating.
Rich Horton
18. ecbatan
I love Fritz Leiber's work, and I've not been able to finish The Wanderer. I tried twice, and bogged down 40 or so pages in each time. I'm not sure if that's Leiber's fault or mine, but ... well, some of the posts above suggest maybe it is Leiber's fault.

Of the other nominees, the only thing I have against The Planet Buyer is that I've only read it as part of the whole novel, Norstrilia. Maybe it didn't work quite as well as half a book? I can't say.

I love Davy. I'm not sure it holds up as a novel -- it has structural issues -- but it's a lovely read. I have not read The Whole Man, despite my admiration for Brunner, partly because I am suspicious of it as too overtly ambitious -- a silly objection, I know, but I like his earlier space operas and such so much, I just haven't pushed to this one yet.

Of the other potential nominees mentioned, I'd go first for Martian Time Slip, which has long been one of my favorite Philip Dick novels. Neither Clans of the Alphane Moon nor The Simulacra (aka We Can Build You) seems as good to me. I haven't read Greybeard, and I should. I have a soft spot for Galouye's Simulacron-3, but I don't think I'd have given it the Hugo over the Smith or the Dick or the Pangborn.
Andrew Barton
19. MadLogician
I read The Whole Man something like 40 years ago and it's stuck in my mind ever since.
Rich Horton
20. ecbatan
Of the three short fiction nominees, the only one I've read is the winner, which I do think a very strong story, and a worthy Hugo winner.

Other potentinal nominees:

"Mary" aka "An Ancient Madness", by Damon Knight
"The Sea's Furthest End", by Damien Broderick
"Father of the Stars", by Frederik Pohl
"Man on Bridge", by Brian W. Aldiss
"Sea Wrack", by Edward Jesby (reprinted in F&SF in 2009 as part of their 60th anniversary celebration)
"The Dowry of the Angyar" aka "Semley's Necklace", by Ursula K. Le Guin
Two others by Le Guin: "The Word of Unbinding" and "The Rule of Names", our first introductions to Earthsea
"The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal" and "The Dead Lady of Clown Town", by Cordwainer Smith
"The Drowned Giant" and "The Terminal Beach", by J. G. Ballard
"The Graveyard Heart", by Roger Zelazny

Were I to construct a shortlist of 5, I think I'd keep the Dickson, and add one of the Smith stories, plus "The Terminal Beach", perhaps "Man on Bridge", perhaps "Semley's Necklace".
j p
21. sps49
DemetriosX @2-

Yes, you recall correctly- that is the roller coaster scene early on. Leiber's sex scenes went from clunky to- well, the one with Tigerishka later is better.

The book isn't terrible, Jo. It was an early look at a space!hippie culture still being hounded by the Man, and humanity's more likely place in galactic civilization, counterpointed by what UFO believers think the galaxy is like. The ramifications and people's reactions are explored well, and there are some scenes that I can still recall well.
Arthur D. Hlavaty
22. supergee
You are absolutely not the only person who loves The Whole Man. I fell in love with it when I read it, and it gave me the courage to hang on through the apparatus at the beginning of Stand on Zanzibar, which I wound up liking even more.
jon meltzer
23. jmeltzer
The Wanderer ... well it's an okay disaster novel for geeks, but as a Hugo winner and a book Leiber should be remembered for? Sorry, no. I think I'd have gone with "Davy" (or "Norstrilia", if Smith had managed to get the whole manuscript past his editor).

Unfortunately, Leiber's much better "A Spectre is Haunting Texas" didn't even get nominated in its year (1969).
Joe Romano
24. Drunes
Rush-That-Speaks: It's beeen a long time since I saw The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao and I was worried that it may be viewed poorly now, exactly because of what you found. Thanks for pointing that out. That's probably why few people watch it these days.
David Levinson
25. DemetriosX
I suppose it isn't surprising that Dr. Lao has been eaten by the Orientalism fairy. If nothing else, there is the fact that the title character is played by Tony Randall (and Peter Sellers was originally considered) instead of, say, Keye Luke. OTOH, while there is a fair bit of "ancient Chinese wisdom" and inscrutableness, a lot of it appears to be Dr. Lao playing to the expectations of the other characters. He speaks fairly normally to the boy, while his language to some of the older and not so nice characters borders on the Yoda-esque. In any case, I think the film is still worth a look if you haven't seen it.
Pamela Adams
26. PamAdams
Were it not for the whole 'four years old' thing, I would have voted for Davy. I'm still wracking my brains to understand why Cordwainer Smith never won.
Michael Walsh
27. MichaelWalsh
@#26 - Pam: My brain isn't working all that well today, what do you mean by "Were it not for the whole 'four years old' thing," ??

Pamela Adams
28. PamAdams
Sorry- I was jumping in and out of the comment screen. At one point, bluejo said (Also, first time something nominated is by a friend of mine, though of course John wasn’t my friend in 1965, when I could barely talk.)
I went off from that to say that I would have voted for Davy, except that I was four years old, and hadn't even gotten to The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, let alone any serious SF or Fantasy.
29. Gardner Dozois
I enjoyed THE WANDERER, but it's not Leiber's best book. My vote this year would definitely have gone to DAVY, which was a very important book to me at the time (and which has influenced a lot of subsequent work), although I also love Vance's THE STAR KINGS and THE KILLING MACHINE.

Was not as impressed as everyone else with the Dickson. Out of the stuff mentioned so far, my vote would have gone to Zelazny's "The Graveyard Heart" or Smith's "The Dead Lady of Clown Town," although Knight's "Mary" is a good story too. (As is "The Rule of Names.")
David Levinson
30. DemetriosX
BTW, I wanted to thank sps49@21 for confirming that the scene I remembered was indeed from The Wanderer. If it hadn't been, I'd have gone nuts trying to figure out where I read that.
James Goetsch
31. Jedikalos
This is fun in that you are beginning to enter the year when I first started self-consciously identifying as a sci-fi fan and reading it. Next year with Dune (when I was ten years old) is when my memories of all these books and stories start to kick in big time (also the year I starting reading sci fi magazines). Lots of fun to read: thanks.
32. DBratman
Considering its subject & theme, how does The Whole Man (which I haven't read) compare with Robert Silverberg's later Dying Inside? I don't mean to say "Which is better?" - despite awards, literature isn't always a contest - but how are they alike/different?
David Dyer-Bennet
33. dd-b
Organic substance crucial to civilization, that might be in short supply: Um, oil? Not that I can see any useful analogy between oil on Earth and the spice in Dune. Also oil rather fails the "can't be synthesized" test.

1964 (or even 1963; it's when the books were conceived and written that might influence their views) is a little early for people to be seriously worried about oil, too, so it might not fly as a reflection of real-world issues.
34. William Hyde
I like Fritz Leiber's work very much, I liked "The Wanderer" when I read it long ago, and the book has both scenes and ideas that have stayed with me for decades. It could have been written as a disaster novel/tragedy, but instead it's a romp with tragedy in the background, a difficult thing to do successfully. "Lucifer's Hammer" seemed to me to be very similar in structure, but with all the emphasis on the disaster (barring Niven's surfer).

All the same, I'd go with "Davy" or "Greybeard" for the Hugo, with all other candidates well back.
Cathy Mullican
35. nolly
_The Wanderer_ is dreadful. Yoi will hate it, and should not read it. It is the worst Hugo winner I have read yet.

Had I less self-control, I would have thrown my ipod out the car window halfway through it. Had I been reading it in hardcopy, I would definitely have trashed at at that point.

Male general, to the femal Colonel whose blouse he has ripped open: "I thought you were a lesbian."
Female Colonel, to the general who is almost raping her: "I am, but that's not all I am."
They proceed to have sex while choking each other while the bunker floods and then they drown. While choking each other and having sex.

That's the worst of it, but it's surrounded by badness, from the token Vietnamese treasure-hunter, to the annoying potheads who take far too long to die.

sps4@21 -- I think it was a Ferris wheel rather than a roller coaster, but I could be misremembering. I'm not going to check.
Bob Blough
36. Bob
Wow, I missed this post and it has been very interesting. The Wonderer seems to have created almost as much love and hate as Heinlein's Starship Troopers but not quite as vehement. I read The Wonderer at age 16 or so and loved it. Have not tried to re-read it since - so my 15 year old self immured in the mid "70 culture says take a go at it. It is definately part of the history of the field. Davy without a doubt should have won even at 16 when I read them both I knew that and a recent re-read confirms it. The Smith should have won when the whole novel came out (just as happened with Dune) but it didn't work this time. I loved The Whole Man and reread it recently as well. It didn't hold up as well, but I still think it is a great transition novel between his earler books and the towering books still to come. Martian Time Slip and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (which two of my referenses say was published in 1964 and one says in 1965!), Greybeard, and that completely gonzo novel The Nova Express by William S. Burroughs.
My top five : Davy, Greybeard, Martian Time Slip, (save the other Dick for next year) , The Planet Buyer, The Wonderer.
Bob Blough
37. Bob
The Short Fictions are missing so many good ones. Of the three nominated only the Dickson deserved to be there. ("Little Dog Gone" is good but not of hugo quality while the Rick Rapheal is a competant short that was common in Analog at the time. Others Ecbatan hasn't already noted that could have had a crack at the short list inclided: 'The Kraken" by Jack Vance (the novella version of The Blue World), "The Last Lonely Man" by John Brunner, "Four Brands of Impossible" by Noman Kagen, "Oh, to be a Blobel" by Philip K. Dick, and "When the Change Winds Blow" by Fritz Leiber. I guess my choices would have been the Dickson, Zelazny, both Smith's, "Dowry of the Angyar" and one of the Ballards and I have to add the Vance and "Sea Wrack" by Jesby. We obviously need three catagories of short fiction to get in the best of the short fiction being printed! Finally the 1968 convention sets that as a precident.
Jo Walton
38. bluejo
In case anyone was curious, thanks to the opinions expressed here I have taken The Wanderer back to the library unread.
39. Waltlaw
One vote for Laumer's The Great Time Machine Hoax. Great fun!
John Adams
40. JohnArkansawyer
bluejo @ 38: I'm sorry to see you took The Wanderer back unread. I agree that it's no A Spectre Is Haunting Texas (maybe his best book), but it's got a lot to recommend it: The old Southern racist and his black servants, the man who climbs to the mountaintop, the Black Dahlia killer, the UFO cultist who comes clean, the couple riding on the roller coaster, survival in the tops of skyscrapers, the Dutch scientist clinging to his machine, the drunk poet in the boat. So many wonderful moments throughout the book! It's better than Mother of Storms.

And there's Doc. He's the competent man Heinlein never quite managed to get as right as this. If we could bring Fritz Leiber back from the dead (more credible in his case than many others), I'd be curious to ask if he had Heinlein in mind when he wrote that character.

The book has its flaws, more apparent to me now than then, but the book has heart.

I'm curious how "Solider, Ask Not" varies from the novel-length version. It's my favorite of all the Dorsai novels, with the possible exception of Other. I do think "The Drowned Giant" and Cordwainer Smith's short stories would have been credible contenders, though.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment