Feb 13 2011 10:39am

Hugo Nominees: 1970

Hugo Awards trophy 1970The 1970 Worldcon was Heicon 70, in Heidelburg, Germany, the first time it was in a non-Anglophone country. The Hugo Awards could be assumed to have more international voters than normal. The novel winner was Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (post) an absolutely wonderful book, an undoubted classic, and one of the best books ever to have won the Hugo. This was also the first book by a woman to win, and so it’s very appropriate that it’s this book, with its exploration of gender ambiguities. It’s in print, it’s still widely read and discussed, and it’s in the library in both languages. (The French title is La main gauche de la nuit, which gives me quite a different image.)

There are four other nominees of which I’ve read only two.

Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five is probably his best book, certainly his best known one. It’s about a time traveller and the firebombing of Dresden, and Vonnegut makes all the weird stuff point in the same direction for once so that it makes sense as SF. It’s also pretty thoroughly in print and in the library in both languages.

Robert Silverberg’s Up the Line is a smart funny book about time travel. It doesn’t seem to be in print, which is a pity because I don’t own a copy and I’d like to read it again. It’s in the library in French only.

I haven’t read Piers Anthony’s Macroscope because I’ve not enjoyed other things of Anthony’s I’ve read. It’s in print from Mundania, a small press. It’s not in the library.

I haven’t read Norman Spinrad’s Bug Jack Barron because I’ve never got around to it. I sometimes enjoy Spinrad but I think he’s best at short lengths. Bug Jack Barron is in print, and in the library in both languages.

So, four out of five in print, pretty good. What did they miss?

The Nebulas have all of these except Macroscope, and add Zelazny’s Isle of the Dead, which I like a lot, and Brunner’s The Jagged Orbit. Either of these would have been a fine Hugo nominee. Oh, and they gave the Nebula to Le Guin, of course. I almost didn’t say so, because it’s so obvious.

The BSFA Award was instituted this year, voted on by fans at Eastercon, for books published in the U.K. It gave its first award to Stand on Zanzibar, which was published in 1968. Oh well.

The Ditmar Award for best Australian novel went to Lee Harding’s Dancing Gerontius, and their international award to Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics, which does make it seem like a truly international award, even though that meant they didn’t give it to The Left Hand of Darkness.

The Seiun also began in 1970, but their international award is for fiction translated into Japanese that year, which makes it sufficiently out of step with everything else as not to be much use for comparison.

Was there anything everyone missed? Not really. They could have looked at Fritz Leiber’s A Spectre is Haunting Texas, Brian Aldiss’s Barefoot in the Head, Philip K. Dick’s Galactic Pot Healer, Vernor Vinge’s Grimm’s World, Frederik Pohl’s The Age of the Pussyfoot, Daphne Du Maurier’s The House on the Strand (post) but really, there was no need.

Other Categories


  • “Ship of Shadows,” Fritz Leiber (F&SF Jul 1969)
  • “A Boy and His Dog,” Harlan Ellison (The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World)
  • “Dramatic Mission,” Anne McCaffrey (Analog Jun 1969)
  • “To Jorslem,” Robert Silverberg (Galaxy Feb 1969)
  • “We All Die Naked,” James Blish (Three for Tomorrow)

Well first, I’d have voted for “A Boy and His Dog,” and second, what happened to the novelette category? Did they forget?


  • “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones,” Samuel R. Delany (World’s Best Science Fiction: 1969 1968; New Worlds Dec 1968)
  • “Deeper than the Darkness,” Gregory Benford (F&SF Apr 1969) 
  • “Not Long Before the End,” Larry Niven (F&SF Apr 1969) 
  • “Passengers,” Robert Silverberg (Orbit 4 1968)
  • “Winter’s King,” Ursula K. Le Guin (Orbit 5)

I’d have given it to the Delany too. It seems to have had extended eligibility because of non-U.S. first publication, despite New Worlds being nominated for magazine Hugos, indicating that people were reading it, and this con being in Europe.


  • “News coverage of Apollo XI”
  • The Bed-Sitting Room
  • The Illustrated Man
  • “The Immortal”
  • Marooned

Well, that’s an interesting interpretation of a dramatic presentation, but it’s hard to argue with. It would have been cool if this had started a trend, so that every year there was NASA TV and science programs up there with all the sci-fi.


  • F&SF, Edward L. Ferman
  • Amazing Stories, Ted White
  • Analog, John W. Campbell, Jr.
  • Galaxy, Frederik Pohl & Ejler Jakobsson
  • New Worlds, Michael Moorcock


  • Frank Kelly Freas
  • Vaughn Bodé
  • Leo & Diane Dillon
  • Jack Gaughan
  • Eddie Jones
  • Jeff Jones


  • Science Fiction Review, Richard E. Geis
  • Beabohema, Frank Lunney
  • Locus, Charles Brown
  • Riverside Quarterly, Leland Sapiro
  • Speculation, Peter R. Weston


  • Wilson (Bob) Tucker
  • Piers Anthony
  • Charles Brown
  • Richard Delap
  • Richard E. Geis


  • Tim Kirk
  • Alicia Austin
  • George Barr
  • Steve Fabian
  • Bill Rotsler  

Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published two poetry collections and nine novels, most recently Among Others, and if you liked this post you will like it. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here regularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.

Martin Wisse
2. Martin_Wisse
An excellent year for the novel Hugo, of which I've read the same three as you, (reviews: Up the Line, Slaughterhouse Five and The Left Hand of Darkness). Bug Jack Barron is in my bookcase and supposedly Spinrad's best novel; also one of the few science fiction novels to have had questions asked about it in Parliament, if I remember correctly. Considering everything else Anthony ever wrote, Macroscope is the odd book out and in an ideal world would've been replaced by one of your alternative suggestions.
Ken Walton
3. carandol
I think the Dramatic Presentation choice is really an award for Best Real-World Event that Closely Resembles Science Fiction.

As for La main gauche de la nuit, it's obviously a dark swashbucking fantasy involving musketeers and vampires.
Christopher Key
4. Artanian
This is the earliest year with multiple nominees where I've at least attempted to read all the nominees, and it's a case where I just don't 'get' the winner for whatever reason. I've tried to read Left Hand of Darkness a few times, and never made it through it, mainly because I'm just bored, not very far into it. So I certainly wouldn't have voted for it. I guess one of these days I should just push through it and finish it, but somehow I doubt it's going to change my opinion of it. Fiction that was written to send a "message" just really isn't my thing, and Left Hand of Darkness undoubtedly falls into that category. I much prefer fiction written to entertain.

Macroscope I don't remember well, I was probably in early high school when I read it, I do recall thinking that it wasn't at all like the rest of the Piers Anthony I'd read.

In high school, I'd probably have voted for the Spinrad, avoiding voting for anything remotely related to something I might have had to read for class, but in retrospect I'd probably vote for the Vonnegut. But I actually enjoyed the not-nominated Lieber more than any of them - it's in my library in a falling apart paperback edition I've reread many times.
Jo Walton
5. bluejo
Artanian: I absolutely disagree with your comment about tLHoD being written to "send a message". Goodness knows there are books like that, and Le Guin has even written some, but this isn't one at all. If you've heard of it as a feminist SF classic, I can see being put off, but it's a lively story of an alien planet, and I'd advise you to push through the first chapter or so that introduces the world and get to where the story starts. I think you're being put off by the reputation and not giving it a fair chance.
john mullen
6. johntheirishmongol
Left Hand of Darkness was not what I would normally pick up but I heard so much about it that I had to read it. I thought it was a remarkable book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it was because it approached the sexuality of the book with some reserve and didn't just throw it in your face.

None of the other books must have been that great, because I know I read a couple of them but I don't remember them at all except the Vonneget book and I have never liked any of his stuff.

There was a huge dearth of scifi films at this time, and Marooned was pretty bad, so the NASA thing was a good pick.

All in all, this wasn't a great year for scifi.
Stefan Mitev
7. Bergmaniac
I definitely agree that The Left Hand of Darkness is not a message first type of work. I think its reputation is misleading, there's so much more there than gender politics speculation, in fact the other things are the main reason I love it so much. The atmosphere, the main characters and the way their relationship develop, the deceptively simple yet so beautiful writing style of Le Guin. In terms of ideas there's also a lot more than just gender related stuff, for example the contrast between our obssessed with progress society and the stability of the Karhyde ones, which is steeped in tradition.

It's kind of a shame that Sundance, Silverberg's best short story of the year (better than Passengers IMO) and maybe best of his career, wasn't even nominated. IIRC he withdrew it from the Nebula ballot because he thought Passengers was more accessible and had a better chance to win, even though he thought Sundance was better. He and was right, which got him the Nebula. Both stories are really good, but Sundance is just so impressive technically, with the constant switch of PoV techniques, the unreliable narrator and all that and at the same time really powerful emotionally.
Christopher Key
8. Artanian
Jo, I've definitely made it more than one chapter in, but probably not more than 4 or 5 chapters in, and it just doesn't come close to capturing my interest. But then again, I've been pretty much unable to read anything Leguin wrote, not any of Earthsea, nor any of the other books related to Left Hand. The style and dialogue just seem stilted and doesn't flow well. I just grabbed my copy off the shelf of Left Hand, and here's an example sentence fairly early in the book, that I think is representative of why I have trouble reading it.

"He sat back so that the firelight lay ruddy on his knees and his fine, strong, small hands and on the silver tankard he held, but left his face in shadow: a dark face always shadowed by the thick
lowgrowing hair, and heavy brows and lashes, and by a somber blandness of expression."
Ugh. I mean, ugh. And flipping through, it seems like it's just full of awful sentences like this. Were there no editors then, or was Leguin too big to be edited?

So you're right, I'm probably assuming that it's 'message' fiction, because of the way it's described, and otherwise I just don't get how someone makes it through prose like this. If it's not, it certainly seems to take itself way too seriously.
René Walling
9. cybernetic_nomad
Artanian, I have to disagree with you.

"He sat back so that the firelight lay ruddy on his knees and his fine, strong, small hands and on the silver tankard he held, but left his face in shadow: a dark face always shadowed by the thick lowgrowing hair, and heavy brows and lashes, and by a somber blandness of expression."
Wow. I mean, wow. One sentence and I can totally picture not only what the character looks like, but what impression those seeing him sitting there have. I think it's just a great sentence.
Michael Habif
10. Michael Habif
You forgot to mention Philip K. Dick's 'Ubik'
David Levinson
11. DemetriosX
For once, I've read all the novel nominees. It's hard to argue with the winner; it's a genuine classic and explores some interesting things reasonably well, though it has its occasional missteps, too. Up the Line is fine, serviceable Silverberg, but he's capable of much better. It isn't bad, by any stretch of the imagination, it just isn't his best work. I'm a heretic: I'm rather indifferent to Slaughterhouse-Five. I think Vonnegut has written much better work. Or maybe I'm put off by all the hype. Macroscope blew my mind when I was 13 and set off several weeks of playing sprouts during lunch at middle school. By modern sensibilities, it's probably a little too hippie, freaky-deaky. Bug Jack Barron is an excellent novel. Oddly, it is both a little dated and, at the same time, tremendously prophetic. Jack Barron's show could easily be on television today and even some of the politics fit in the modern landscape. I think this is what would get my vote, but mostly because I think Spinrad has never quite gotten the attention and respect he deserves.

Novella: There's a lot to be said for "A Boy and His Dog" and it did get the Nebula. I've been trying to figure out what "Ship of Shadows" is about, since I have a terrible head for titles of shorter works (possibly because I tend to swallow them whole) and I can't place the story. "Dramatic Mission" is part of the "Ship who..." series, which has never really appealed to me.

Short Story: Given eligibility, the winner is clearly the best. "Not Long Before the End" is the first of Niven's stories that is set in what would become the Magic Goes Away universe. It's fun (and I named my first D&D character Belhap), but that's about all. "Winter's King" was written before LHoD and fits rather poorly in the continuity of the novel.

Dramatic Presentation: An interesting choice. Was this Cronkite and Heinlein? The Bed-Sitting Room is an absurdist film by Spike Milligan, based on a play by Spike Milligan. It owes a lot to Samuel Becket's Endgame. I wonder if it would have even made the ballot if the con had been in the US. The Illustrated Man is generally acknowledged to be bad. The Immortal was probably the pilot film for the short-lived TV series. It was very loosely based on the novel by James Gunn. Marooned is hard to judge. I saw it in the theater, but I was only 7 and I was bored to tears (which was not the case with 2001, which I had seen the year before). Unfortunately, the movie was hacked to bits for redistribution (as Space Travelers) and it is very hard to find in it's original form. It is the only movie ever to win an Oscar (for visual effects) and be lampooned by MST3K.

Other stuff: Eddie Jones makes the first of 2 appearances in the artist category. He did a lot of book covers in the UK. Maybe a reflection of the Eurpean venue. We also get the first appearance for Charles Brown and Locus.
Michael Habif
12. Raskolnikov
Buck Jack Baron is very interesting, effective and far more willing to engage with race issues than about any other SF of the time. It deserves to be on the ballot but not to win, even if it weren't up agaisnt Le Guin. The problem is the plot, all the great themes, vivid characterization and great sociological details loose their way a bit in the flow of events, which depends on conincidence and a very stupid villain that's repreatedly described as brilliant.

I'll side with the camp that thinks Vonnegut has done things a lot better than Slaughterhouse Five.

Left Hand of Darkness all the way. This is probably in the top five 'way to go genre awards voters', an enduring classic. The Dispossessed is much, much better, though.

Haven't read the Silverberg under consideation here, but I've never been very impressed with him.
Jeremy Glick
13. jjglick
Jo: Up the Line is just about to be reprinted by Subterranean, alongside two other time travel novels. You can preorder it here. A post from the Subterranean blog about it landed in my RSS reader immediately above this post.
David Levinson
14. DemetriosX
Came to say exactly the same thing as jjglick@13. The book from Sub Press will be called Times Three and will include Hawksbill Station, Up the Line, and Project Pendulum. Not a bad collection.
Michael Habif
15. Cool Bev
I was quite a fan of Macroscope in my high school years. I was pretty upset when Anthony went all juvenile sex and puns. I liked him better when he was about adult sex and astrological symbolism.

Seriously, the thing I liked best about Macroscope was the scematic symbolism of the characters - one each for earth, air, fire, water. One each for male-active, male-passive, female-active, female-passive. One each for the evangelists - lion, bull, eagle, human. Impressively mathematical.
Michael Habif
16. Dr Hoo
Macroscope is Anthony's best work and the only one I have kept in my library. It is not much like his later work. Not really a Hugo "style" novel though, and I agree with tLHoD winning. Oddly, I still haven't read Slaughterhouse 5, probably because it was deemed acceptable literature in High School which meant I associated it with the other crap they made us read.
Rich Horton
17. ecbatan
Well, as almost everybody here agrees, The Left Hand of Darkness was the obvious and correct choice as the winner. I loved it on first reading, and on rereading. And I think the prose is excellent, quite frankly, truly lovely at times.

Of the other nominees, I've not read Bug Jack Barron, and I probably won't -- which is not to say it might not be quite fine, it's just never seemed interesting to me. Same with Macroscope, in a very different way. I did enjoy Slaughterhouse Five, but I don't rank it with Left Hand, certainly. I haven't read Up the Line, though I have a copy, and I do think I'll get around to it sometime. I also haven't read, of the Nebula nominees, Isle of the Dead, nor The Jagged Orbit.

So, I really haven't read much of the significant 1969 SF novels! I'm still confident that Left Hand was the right choice. I will say that I would definitely have nominated A Specter is Haunting Texas, perhaps my favorite of Leiber's novels. But it wouldn't have got my first-place vote.

Both Specter and Left Hand, by the way, had hardcover editions from Walker, which for a few years at that time had a line of SF hardcovers, when such things were rarish. (I believe, however, that the actual first edition of Le Guin's book was the Ace paperback, one of the classic first set of Ace Specials.)

There is actually quite a list of additional SF novels of note from 1969. First I'll mention John Sladek's Mechasm, brilliant satire, although it was actually first published in the UK in 1968, under his preferred title of The Reproductive System. (Likewise, A Specter is Haunting Texas was serialized in Galaxy, probably in a shorter form, in 1968.)

I'll also mention some books from the mainstream. Most notable, to me, is Vladimir Nabokov's Ada. I am also a fan of Kingsley Amis's The Green Man, something of a horror story. And according to the ISFDB, Herman Hesse's Magister Ludi (The Glass Bead Game) was published in the US in translation that year.

And from the genre:

Novel versions of a couple of award winning novellas: Michael Moorcock's Behold the Man, and Robert Silverberg's Nightwings. (His novella nominee from this year, "To Jorslem", is also part of that novel.)

Another Moorcock book, not a masterpiece but plenty of fun: The Ice Schooner.

A Lafferty novel that I don't much like, but others do: Fourth Mansions.

Every UK teenaged boy's favorite Jack Vance title, Servants of the Wankh. (Also its sequel, The Dirdir.)

Two wonderful Avram Davidson fantasies: The Island Under the Earth and The Phoenix and the Mirror.

And as Michael Habif mentions, Philip K. Dick's Ubik, one of his major novels. (Much more significant than Galactic Pot Healer.)

I suppose my ideal five novel shortlist would have been The Left Hand of Darkness, A Specter is Haunting Texas, Ada, The Green Man, and Ubik. With Le Guin still winning.

Rich Horton
Michael Habif
18. Art wyatt
I can assure you that Bug Jack Baron is both great and something you probably won't like.

Also after reading it it's impossible not to be amazed at how much Warren Ellis took from it for Transmetropolitan.
Rob Munnelly
19. RobMRobM
I really liked Anthony in his Macroscope/Omnivore hard SF period, and I miss it. I found Macroscope in a free books pile at our Town dup and re-read it last year. I really liked it as a teenage and I liked i again on re-read.

Macroscope is pretty much as hard SF as one can get, with a whole bunch of big ideas well executed - a program to breed geniuses that didn't quite turn out as expected; the capabilities of geniuses of the highest caliber; politics of multinational space exploration; an alien artifact that provides pretty much any knowledge about how to do anything but is fatal to particular types of users; the extent individuals are willing to sacrifce themselves for the greater good; a mindblowing trip through space using the alien technologies; and the above-discussed weaving in of astrological concepts. Definitely some dated aspects re racial issues that sound off 40 years later. But it's an enjoyable read. Not as great as the very best SF but well worth a nomination. In particular, I like the dynamics among the three most unusual graduates of the genius program - Brad, Ivo and Schon and their decisionmaking in the face of serious circumstances.

Re the other bo0ks, Left Hand of Darkness is great but never resonated with my heart.

Michael Habif
20. James Davis Nicoll
It's odd; The Age of the Pussyfoot was a favorite of mine (I have not read it recently so can't say if that's changed] and yet while I don't begrudge Pohl his various Hugos, I don't think it would have occurred to me to vote that particular book for a Best Novel.

1: No, not even that one.
Rich Horton
21. ecbatan
The short fiction.

Obviously the Hugo had not yet settled on a fixed set of three short fiction categories -- as I noted earlier they moved in that direction in fits and starts, though I think it was not long until that was standardized. At any rate, this year's "Short Story" winner was a novelette by today's standards. Be that as it may ...

In novella, I have to say that I really do enjoy Fritz Leiber's "Ship of Shadows". It's not that well remembered these days, at least not relative to the rest of Leiber's work, but I do think it's worthwhile. That said, "A Boy and His Dog" is obviously more influential (though I think Ellison grossly overstates the case when he accuses Cormac McCarthy of "ripping off" his story in writing The Road), and more viscerally effective. I still think I like "Ship of Shadows" better, but I certainly do also like "A Boy and His Dog", and can't argue with its Nebula win. The other Hugo nominess seem much lesser than those two stories to me. The Nebulas also nominated a good but not great Charles Harness story, "Probable Cause".

Of the other potential novella nominees from 1969, I can only cite three of particular interest: T. J. Bass's "Half Past Human", which I have only read as part of the later novel; James Tiptree, Jr.'s "Your Haploid Heart"; and Larry Niven's "The Organleggers", better known by now as "Death by Ecstasy". I think the latter story good enough to have deserved a spot on the shortlist, but not good enough to displace either the Ellison or the Leiber story for their awards.

Novelette is a richer category. Delany's "Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones" won the Nebula for Novelette, to go along with its Best Short Story Hugo. Two other short story nominees were really novelettes: Gregory Benford's "Deeper Than the Darkness" (which was a Nebula nominee) and Ursula K. Le Guin's "Winter's King". The other Nebula nominees for Best Novelette were Norman Spinrad's "The Big Flash" and another Le Guin story, "Nine Lives".

Of those, it's hard to argue with Delany's story as the best -- it's wonderful. But so too is "Winter's King" -- which is a sequel of sorts to The Left Hand of Darkness. I think it's a great story, and it has one of several tremendous last lines in Le Guin's fiction. And perhaps even better is Le Guin's "Nine Lives", one of my favorite SF stories, also with a great climactic line (though it occurs a half page or so before the end of the story). I think on balance I'd vote for "Nine Lives" as the Best Novelette of 1969, though "Time Considered ..." is certainly a fine choice too.

There were some other quite wonderful novelettes, though. One appeared in a publication few in the genre (probably few outside it, truth be told) saw -- Peter Beagle's "Farrell and Lila the Werewolf", from the first issue of a little magazine called Guabi. I think it became better known when Terry Carr reprinted it a couple of years later in his anthology New Worlds of Fantasy, under the now standard shorter title "Lila the Werewolf".

A few more fine novelettes: Sonya Dorman's Roxie Rimidon story "Bye Bye Banana Bird", Philip Jose Farmer's "Down in the Black Gang", James Tiptree, Jr.'s "Beam Us Home", and Kate Wilhelm's "Somerset Dreams".

Short story, now. The Nebula shortlist include the two true short stories from the Hugo list, and three more strong stories, so: Silverberg's "Passengers", Niven's "Not Long Before the End", plus Tiptree's "The Last Flight of Dr. Ain", Ellison's "Shattered Like a Glass Goblin", and Theodore Sturgeon's "The Man Who Learned Loving" (called "Brownshoe" on its first publication in the men's magazine Adam).

That's a good list. "Passengers" is first rate, and a worthy winner. I really really enjoy "Not Long Before the End". The Sturgeon and Ellison stories a nice work. But for me, the clear best short story of the year was "The Last Flight of Dr. Ain", by James Tiptree, Jr., just stunning and perfectly oblique in its telling.

There were several other very fine short stories that year: another Tiptree piece, "The Snows are Melted, the Snows are Gone"; another Niven piece, "Get a Horse!" (the first of his "time travel fantasies"); another Silverberg story (already noted by Bergmaniac), "Sundance"; and the Brian Aldiss story that became the source material for the movie AI: "Super Toys Last All Summer Long".

Rich Horton
Alayne McGregor
23. alaynem
@Artanian: I find that quote from TLHoD flows quite well; it's got a good rhythm and the picture it invokes is really vivid. Perhaps you're bouncing off the book because you don't like a style that includes a lot of dependent clauses? There's nothing wrong with that: there are authors whom I simply cannot read because their style irritates me so much.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
24. tnh
What an amazing time that was. I felt like I was rich.
Nancy Lebovitz
25. NancyLebovitz
I liked Macroscope a lot when I was a kid-- one aspect which hasn't been mentioned in the thread that there's an interstellar information gift economy (for a while, information can be sent ftl, but matter can't be), and as I recall, it was quite well worked out.

Unfortunately, the suck fairy visited my copy and I noticed that the relationship between the brilliant male main character and the beautiful woman who just wasn't smart enough was kind of creepy. I still might reread it to see how it looks on another pass, especially since I thought the section where the action was related to astrology was the weakest thing in the book (the descriptions of the signs of the Zodiac were very lively, though), and perhaps I missed something.

I've heard that Anthony compared the sales from Macroscope (poor) to those from A Spell for Chameleon (excellent) and shaped his career accordingly.
steve davidson
26. crotchetyoldfan
Read Bug Jack Barron. It's good, it flows and it's one of those novels that provided an accurate picture of where we are today.
Paul Weimer
27. PrinceJvstin
I have read BJB, and agree that it is utterly prescient, and oddly dated, both at the same time.
David Levinson
28. DemetriosX
It's easy to criticize Anthony's output since the first Xanth book (which wasn't all that bad - the suck is more of a cumulative effect - and may have kicked off the humorous fantasy trend of the 80s), but if you look at his bibliography, he has continued to write other things, some of which aren't all that bad. Yes, Xanth has had a slight negative effect on his writing skills, but authors also have to pay the bills.

Sometimes I picture it thus: He's busy working on something semi-serious when his wife informs him that the roof is leaking or the car is making a funny noise. He sighs, grabs a random sample from the pun file, making sure that fan contributed puns fall within a certain range, moves them around until he gets something that could be mistaken for a quest, throws in a cross-species romance and some reference to women's undergarments, and a few weeks later they can afford the new roof or car plus a vacation. Then he can go back to the other thing.

But his gender relations have always been a bit disturbing, as NancyLebovitz@25 notes for Macroscope.
Rob Munnelly
29. RobMRobM
@25 and 28 - agree on the gender stuff; similar to the racial stuff I mentioned above.

Anthony is a strange guy. He is extraordinarily prolific and almost compulsively readable. I read nearly all of his early works before I went into 20 years of SFF deep sleep when I hit RL hard in my late 20s. Macroscope; the Omnimore (Man and Manta) series; Battle Circle; Cluster; and, of course, Xanth, the first three or so of which I liked before the puns accumulated into sludge for me. (He has another half-dozen series that he wrote while I was in the wilderness and I have not read.) The first two are similar - quite sci fi, quite build on hard science that must have taken a good amount of time to research and write. The rest after that are more fantasy and depend far more on creativity and one or two good concepts (auras and inter-body travel in Cluster; stone age battle competitions in Battle Circle) that can be cranked out in much shorter order. I liked him best in his early years when he mixed his strengths in readability and creativity with more research and more thought. His award nominations reflect that pattern, I suspect.

Del C
30. del
What impression would French readers have got from "La main gauche des ténèbres," which is Google Translate's effort (and props to it for not just googling the French edition of Le Guin's novel)? 
Jo Walton
31. bluejo
Del: "Main gauche" in French just means "left hand", it doesn't mean what "main gauche" means in English, it's a term we borrowed and twisted. To me that title sounds as if the Night has a sword and a knife, to a Francophone it sounds much like the English title.
Bob Blough
32. Bob
"Passengers" is one of the best SF short stories ever written along with "Sundance" as well - two knocks out of the park in one year for Silverberg. But because the Hugo's cut out Short Story we had a brilliant Delany novelette beat them both. It's sad when two great peices of fiction are overlooked because the hugo admin changed the rules. Anyway, great year for reading SF - terrific novels and short fiction. Couldn't agree more with "Ship of Shadows" and The Left hand of Darkness. Loved "Dramatic Mission" and "To Jorslem", and "Death by Ecstasy" by Larry Niven as well. Novelettes and short fiction would include "Nine Lives by Leguin, "The Big Flash" by Spinrad and "The Last Flight of Dr. Ain" by Tiptree. And another short by Silverbergg - "After the Myths Went Home"

My nominees for novel would have beem The Left Hand of Darkness, The Glass Bead Game, Ubik, Nightwings, Slaughterhouse Five, The Jagged Orbit, The Isle of the Dead and Bug Jack Barron. I have to re-read A Spectre is Haunting Texas and Macroscope to see if they should be on my list as well. Some read better when you are older and some read better when you are young. Re-reading can be a scary pastime. Always interesting to hear everyone's view.
Bob Blough
33. Bob
Fourth Mansions by Lafferty is up for awards next year - 1971. And I still love it although I agree that Lafferty was better at short fiction. There are three or fourof his novels I really like - The Reefs of Space, Past Master, Fourth Mansions, and The Devil is Dead.
Joe Romano
34. Drunes
After falling away from science fiction in the early 1970s, a paperback edition of The Left Hand of Darkness brought me back... so I have a great fondness for this book. Being a Hugo winner was one of the things that drew me to it.

And I have to agree with others about Slaughterhouse Five. While very good, it's not Vonnegut's best book. I think that distinction goes to Mother Night.
Chuk Goodin
35. Chuk
All this time I thought when you said "It's in the library", you meant your own personal library.

Also count me in with the people who generally don't like Anthony but liked Macroscope. I would have to say TLHoD is probably a 'better' book -- more original and has more to say -- but I preferred Up the Line. I am biased in favour of time travel, though.
Jo Walton
36. bluejo
Chuk: I don't have a personal library, I just have bookshelves. 10 sets of bookshelves with seven shelves each, admittedly, not counting the built-in shelves, but that's not a library.
John Adams
37. JohnArkansawyer
I'll have to reread The Left Hand of Darkness, which I recall liking a whole lot, to be sure, but my vote would have gone to A Spectre Is Haunting Texas. It was a great year for LeGuin, but look at the competition! I'd've also (I hope!) gone with "Ship of Shadows" over "A Boy and His Dog".
Michael Habif
38. Kirsten Schwartz
At 20, I couldn't make my way through Left Hand, although I loved Le Guin; her Wizard helped me make it through adolescence. I tried it again a few years later when someone told me to push through, and after the first half of the book, could not put it down. I just reread it--will make my first-year UCBerkeley students read it this fall--and felt the same: the first half is important set-up, but the second half is pure entertainment. I love snowscape scenes (Kavalier and Clay, Vinge's Snow Queen); this was the book where I found that out. Le Guin's prose takes some getting used to--I don't always like it, but it does have a deep structure of parallel elements I find enjoyable at a deep level.

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