Mar 20 2011 10:12am

Hugo Nominees: 1975

1975 Hugo Award trophy

The 1975 Hugo Awards were given at Aussiecon I, in Melbourne, the first time the Worldcon was in the Southern Hemisphere. The best novel award was won by Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed (post) a book that’s an acknowledged and beloved classic, one of the best books science fiction has ever produced. It’s in print and in the Grande Bibliotheque in English and French. Le Guin describes it as “an ambiguous utopia.” It’s the story of Shevek, a brilliant physicist discovering a new principle of physics which will make possible instantaneous communication, and it’s the story of two worlds, each other’s moon, one of them anarchist and one of them capitalist. What makes it brilliant is that neither of them is hell or paradise, and the book, which is not told in chronological order, is the story of Shevek moving between them.

There are four other nominees, of which I have read three.

I know I’ve read Poul Anderson’s Fire Time, but I can’t remember it at all. I shall remedy this as soon as possible. Sorry. I don’t think it’s in print, but it’s in the library in English.

I have not read and do not intend to read Philip K. Dick’s Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, but I’m sure it’s an worthy nominee that’s not to my taste and an excellent example of Dick’s work. I’m astonished to see that it won the Campbell Memorial Award for hard SF, as I’d never have guessed that Dick had written something eligible. Wow. It’s in print, and it’s in the library in French only.

Christopher Priest’s Inverted World is really weird. It’s about a boy growing up in a city that has to keep moving because time and space are so weird and it has to keep at one point in a curve—it’s on rails. Only it turns out that they only think this, and actually they’re in Africa. Or something. Great special effects but I didn’t understand the end. I’m not even sure if it’s SF, so it surprises me that this was a Hugo nominee. It won the BSFA Award. It’s in print. And for a change it’s in the library in French and Italian.

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye is a fun book about aliens, a first contact with a species limited to their own solar system who experience periodic collapses in civilization due to overpopulation. They’re great aliens, and while the humans are very much token characters to take you through the adventure, that’s a plus for a book like this. It’s in print and it’s in the library in English and French, it has less-good sequels, and it’s still part of the conversation of science fiction.

So, one woman and four men, an excellent winner, and certainly an interesting set of nominees.

What else could they have chosen?

The Dispossessed also won the Nebula and the Locus Awards, and very well deserved. Other Nebula nominees were Thomas M. Disch’s masterpiece 334, which should certainly also have been on the Hugo ballot, and T.J. Bass’s The Godwhale, which I remember as enjoyable biological SF. Other Locus nominees were D.G. Compton’s The Unsleeping Eye, aka The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe, which would have been a very good nominee, James White’s The Dream Millennium, Richard Cowper’s The Twilight of Briarius—I remember that, it’s a cosy catastrophe with aliens!—Edgar Pangborn’s The Company of Glory, Jack Vance’s The Domains of Koryphon, Patricia McKillip’s The Forgotten Beasts of Eld (which won the World Fantasy Award), Thomas Burnett Swann’s How Are the Mighty Fallen, John Brunner’s Total Eclipse, Barry Malzberg’s The Destruction of the Temple, Doris Pischeria’s Star Rider, Poul Anderson’s A Midsummer Tempest (which won the Mythopoeic Award), Evangeline Walton’s Prince of Annwn, Suzy McGee Charnas’s Walk to the End of the World, which I think would have made a great addition to the Hugo ballot, Alan Dean Foster’s Icerigger.

The first World Fantasy Award was given in 1975 went to McKillip’s The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. Other nominees were Anderson’s A Midsummer Tempest and H. Warner Munn’s Merlin’s Ring. The Anderson won the Mythopoeic Award, the only other nominee not previously mentioned was Watership Down (post).

With all of this, can there possibly be anything significant that none of the awards noticed?

Again using the somewhat unreliable ISFDB and looking at things that I think are remembered and might have deserved notice, there’s Brian Aldiss’s Barefoot in the Head, Stephen King’s Carrie, William Sleator’s House of Stairs, Lloyd Biggle Jr’s Monument.

On the whole, I think we could have had a better five nominees from these options, but the five we have are pretty good and the winner is wonderful.

Other Categories


  • A Song for Lya,” George R.R. Martin (Analog Jun 1974)
  • “Assault on a City,” Jack Vance (Universe 4)
  • “Born with the Dead,” Robert Silverberg (F&SF Apr 1974)
  • “Riding the Torch,” Norman Spinrad (Threads of Time)
  • “Strangers,” Gardner Dozois (New Dimensions IV)

I like “A Song For Lya,” but I think I’d have voted for “Strangers.” “Born With the Dead” is also excellent.


  • “Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans: Latitude 38° 54’ N, Longitude 77° 00’ 13” W,” Harlan Ellison (F&SF Oct 1974)
  • “After the Dreamtime,” Richard Lupoff (New Dimensions IV)
  • “A Brother to Dragons, a Companion of Owls,” Kate Wilhelm (Orbit 14)
  • “Extreme Prejudice,” Jerry Pournelle (Analog Jul 1974)
  • “Midnight by the Morphy Watch,” Fritz Leiber (If Aug 1974)
  • “Nix Olympica,” William Walling (Analog Dec 1974)
  • “—That Thou Art Mindful of Him!”, Isaac Asimov (F&SF May 1974)

Good winner from a good field.


  • The Hole Man, Larry Niven (Analog Jan 1974)
  • “Cathadonian Odyssey,” Michael Bishop (F&SF Sep 1974)
  • “The Day Before the Revolution,” Ursula K. Le Guin (Galaxy Aug 1974)
  • “The Four-Hour Fugue,” Alfred Bester (Analog Jun 1974)
  • “Schwartz Between the Galaxies,” Robert Silverberg (Stellar #1)

I’d have definitely voted for Le Guin here, I love that story. But any of them would have been good winners—except I don’t remember the Bishop.


  • Young Frankenstein
  • Flesh Gordon
  • Phantom of the Paradise
  • “The Questor Tapes”
  • Zardoz

If you don’t have more than five worthy things to go on a ballot, you don’t have a category. No award!


  • Ben Bova
  • Jim Baen
  • Terry Carr
  • Edward L. Ferman
  • Robert Silverberg
  • Ted White


  • Frank Kelly Freas
  • Steve Fabian
  • Tim Kirk
  • John Schoenherr
  • Rick Sternbach


  • The Alien Critic, Richard E. Geis
  • Algol, Andrew Porter
  • Locus, Charles Brown & Dena Brown
  • Outworlds, Bill Bowers & Joan Bowers
  • SF Commentary, Bruce Gillespie
  • Starling, Hank & Lesleigh Luttrell


  • Richard E. Geis
  • John Bangsund
  • Sandra Miesel
  • Don C. Thompson
  • Susan Wood

Geis was having a good year!


  • Bill Rotsler
  • George Barr
  • Grant Canfield
  • Jim Shull


  • P. J. Plauger
  • Alan Brennert
  • Suzy McKee Charnas
  • Felix C. Gotschalk
  • Brenda Pearce
  • John Varley

Oh dear. This is the one people were discussing last week and saying Plauger went on to write non fiction books about computers. Suzy McKee Charnas and John Varley have gone on to be major writers. Brennert has had a respectable career, winning a Nebula for a short story. I’m not familiar with Gorschalk or Pearce, anyone? I have to say that taken as a list of writers at the beginning of careers, this doesn’t hold up as well as some years.

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.

Rich Horton
1. ecbatan
This is one year where the choice for Best Novel is clearly correct, and endorsed by history -- I can't see any debate. I certainly loved The Dispossessed then, and upon rereading.

I will say that I loved The Inverted World, indeed a very weird book, but in a very useful way. And I think it's clearly SF.

I remember enjoying Fire Time, though I haven't reread it and I read it about when it came out, so some 35 years ago. I think it's about a world the ecology of which is impacted by huge fires.

The Campbell Award, by the way, isn't for Hard SF (that's one reason the first winner, Malzberg's Beyond Apollo, was so controversial -- people thought it ought to be for Hard SF, in memory of Campbell, but it wasn't). Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said is indeed not Hard SF, but it's quite good. It's not, however, a book I would recommend to someone who doesn't like Dick as a means of converting them.

I also really loved The Mote in God's Eye. Too bad about the sequel.

A couple of quick comments on the Campbell Award for new writers. Felix C. Gotschalk had a brief but noticeable career in the '70s mostly writing some very weird stories about a strange society in the middling near future. One novel, one of the curious second series of Ace Specials: Growing Up in Tier 3000 (1975). Then he mostly disappeared. He died in 2002, aged 73, so his first story, from 1974, appeared when he was 45.

I don't remember Brenda Pearce well at all. Her nomination was due to one story, in the April 1974 Analog. She only published three stories and one 1977 novel.

One reason Alan Brennert, a first rate writer, hasn't published more in the field is that he went on to do television work (presumably for lots of money). But I think what he has done is very fine.

Clearly Charnas is a major writer, and I think based on her work prior to the award, she was the most deserving to win. That said, as previously discussed, Varley's career is the most significant eventually. And also as previously discussed, P. J. Plauger, the actual winner, had done some fine work, and went on do some more nice stuff, but not a lot, because of his main career in Computer Science.

I personally might have nominated Cynthia Bunn, whose first two (of only five or so total) stories appeared in 1974, of which one was outstanding -- more about that when I write about the short fiction. Also Arsen Darnay, who did some stuff I remember with affection in Galaxy, starting in 1974.

And finally, the major writer who could have been nominated, based on his first three Callahan's Place stories, in Analog in 1973 and 1974, as well as another couple of stories, was Spider Robinson.

Rich Horton
john mullen
2. johntheirishmongol
I totally disagree with you for this year. I didn't like The Dispossessed when it came out, didn't think it was good and wouldn't have voted for it. Fire Time was pretty good and I have a copy around still. Flow My Tears was an excellent read, then and now. I don't even remember the Christopher Priest book, though for some reason I do remember the cover on it.

I would have voted for The Mote in Gods Eye, which was Niven at his very best. Wonderful characters, great story, great read and it is one of those books that you can grab out and reread at any time and still enjoy.

I did read the GRRM story, but none of the others, so it's hard to say it was the best, but I certainly enjoyed it. I had been out of short fiction for some time by this point.

On the Dramatic Presentation, if you want to disqualify Young Frankenstein as not being SF enough to be eligible for the award, thats ok, but not to think it's worthy is just wrong. It is one of the 5 funniest movies ever made and perfectly concieved and cast. Good comedy is so much harder to do than drama and it seldom gets the credit it deserves.

I do have a complaint about Flesh Gordon being a nominee since it is bad cartoon porn and is a ridiculous nominee.

When you talk about new writer category, it is always a guessing game as to who will go on to have major careers. It's like a best new artist grammy, the nominees are usually pretty good but who is the one hit wonder and who has staying power. It's impossible to tell then and easy to spot in the distance.
David Levinson
3. DemetriosX
A solid winner, though it's not quite my cup of tea. I'm not a real big fan of stories that are that far out of chronological order. Interestingly, two of the other nominees seem to have at least taken inspiration from earlier works. I would say that Fire Time owes a lot to Hal Clement's Cycle of Fire, and I seem to recall a much earlier story involving a city on rails (maybe by Bradbury), which admittedly went in a very different direction than the Christopher Priest. I also would have sworn that Mote was N&P's second collaboration.

I don't have much to say about the short fiction categories. I might have voted for the Kate Wilhelm over Harlan, though. All are fairly strong fields.

Dramatic presentation is a disaster. Young Frankenstein may be Mel Brooks' finest work, no argument with it being on the ballot. Flesh Gordon???? The only reason it wasn't flat out porn is that the sex scenes were confiscated and destroyed by law enforcement. Other than that it's bad camp. Phantom of the Paradise is cheesey and overdone and expects me to accept the man who wrote "Rainy Days and Mondays," "Juat an Old-fashioned Love Song" and "The Rainbow Connection" as the devil. "The Questor Tapes" is probably the best of Roddenberry's failed pilots. In fact, it was picked up and episodes had been ordered, before Roddenberry's arguments with the studio got it canceled. Word is, somebody is working on reviving it now. Zardoz is, well, indescribable. A film that starts with Sean Connery in a diaper and goes downhill from there.

Two new names in the artist category this year. Steve Fabian did most of the D&D art in the early 80s, so there's a sizable number of people in their 30s and 40s for whom he is very important. And Rick Sternbach was one of the primary contributors to the look and feel of Star Trek:TNG, DS9 and Voyager.

Oh, and Ecbatan @1: Spider Robinson won the Campbell the year before, so he was unlikely to be nominated again.
steve davidson
4. crotchetyoldfan
Brunner's Total Eclipse is an excellent mix of mystery and exoarchaeology. The story involves a research team investigating the collapse and extinction of a sentient, non-humanoid species that was coming close to the ability to span the stars.
The reasons for their collapse are perhaps more telling now than they were when Brunner wrote the story.

Much as I love the Le Guin, I'd probably have voted for Mote; the aliens were true to Campbellian edict, the action was fast-paced, Niven and Pournelle hacked both of their universes (known space and the co-dominium) to great collaborative effect and there were enough twists and unexpected moments to keep it interesting all the way through.
James Davis Nicoll
5. James Davis Nicoll
Fire Time is set in the same universe as Star Fox, on a world in a binary system. The habitable planet orbits a regular main sequence star but the other star in the system is a bit more massive and has already become a red giant, which means it's a lot brighter (although not per unit area) than its companion star. Every thousand years or so the two stars approach periastron and the red giant adds enough energy to the habitable planet to trigger civilization-ending climate changes.
James Davis Nicoll
6. James Davis Nicoll
The best novel award was won by Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed (post) a book that’s an acknowledged and beloved classic, one of the best books science fiction has ever produced.

As I recall, it angried up the blood of Gregory Benford and Charles Platt; it's one of the Le Guin books (along with Left Hand of Darkness and Eye of the Heron) they want off SF's lawn in the essay "The Pompous Rose."

In that case we would reply that it is
misleading and dishonest to couch such vague
promises in such seemingly concrete terms,
depicting make-believe as if it _could actually
happen_. Le Guin's societies are anything but
realistic, in that they deny all the harder
lessons of history...

Speaking of angry reactions to books, I think whichever magazine it was that had Spider Robinson's review of the Charnas may have burst into flames.
Stefan Mitev
7. Bergmaniac
"The Dispossessed" is really great, one of my favourite novels, so this is one of those rare years I think the Hugo voters were riht about the best novel.

I am not a fan of "Mote", it looked really dated to me when i read a few years ago. The human characters are too forgettable/cliche even for 1974 (and probably even for 1950 too) and the writing style is just mediocre. Sure, it has some very good ideas, and the plot is gripping for most of its lenght, but the ideas aren't nearly exceptional enough to make it great IMO.

I really like both "Born with the Dead" and "A Song for Lya" among the novellas, two really moving works, probably would've given the edge to Silverberg's. Wolfe's "Forlesen" should've been at least nominated too, it's an excellent work.
Ross Presser
8. rpresser
Plauger didn't disappear from SF forever. He was quiet in the 80s, but had 2 stories in Analog in the 90s and one in 2003. And the world of CSCI would have been much poorer without his nonfiction contributions.
James Enge
9. JamesEnge
I have theoretical objections to The Dispossessed; it's far from my favorite Le Guin novel. Her notion that a workable anarchy could be based on custom rather than law misconceives the nature of law. Before written legal codes, all law was custom--and the result was not an anarchist utopia. Written law creates a freer environment because the basic rules of society are not the province of some closed group that interprets/enforces them, and because the rules are subject to revision and repeal.

As a story set (partly) in that improbable world, and as a harrowing portrait of a gross plutocracy (the other big "am" in the utopia), it's a towering work.
James Davis Nicoll
10. joelfinkle
I don't remember where I heard this, but "Mote" was written to be Star Trek, as a hard-SF (or rather a pair of them) would write it. It kind of works that way. If that is the case, then "The Gripping Hand" is "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier". Bleah.
Rich Horton
11. ecbatan
A few more novels worth a look:

Stanislaw Lem's The Cyberiad (granted, perhaps it's better considered as a story collection)

Poul Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest

Jean Mark Gawron's An Apology for Rain (his first novel, much much better than his execrable second novel, Algorithm, though I still wouldn't really give it a Hugo nomination. Also the occasion for Theodore Sturgeon (in his Galaxy review) to do the opposite of what Silverberg famously did with Tiptree: not having seen a picture of the (dare I say?) ineluctably masculine Gawron, Sturgeon assumed he was in fact a she, and noted characteristics in the novel that, he said, could only have come from a woman writer.)

Michael Shea's Vancean A Quest for Simbilis

from the mainstream, John Hersey's My Petition for More Space

also from the mainstream, and a very highly praised novel that I have second or third on my TBR pile: Edward Whittemore's Quin's Shanghai Circus

Barrington Bayley's Soul of the Robot

and perhaps my personal choice as novel I'd most like to have seen nominated that wasn't: M. John Harrison's The Centauri Device

We also see the Nebulas continuing to have problems with dates: 334 is a 1973 novel, as is The Unsleeping Eye. (Though in the latter case, to be fair, the first US publication was 1974, which is what counts for the Nebula.) This continues to this day -- this year's shortlist for Best Novella, supposedly for stories from 2010, includes one (Paolo Bacigalupi's The Alchemist) that wasn't published (officially) until 2011.

Rich Horton
Rich Horton
12. ecbatan
This is a particularly important year for me personally, as it was the first year I saw (and bought) a science fiction magazine. Indeed, that first magazine was the August 1974 Analog, cover by John Schoenherr for Gordon Dickson's "Enter a Pilgrim". The next day I bought the August issues of Galaxy and F&SF. A watershed day, indeed.

The novella shortlist is excellent, and it also really includes almost all the plausible nominees. I have no huge problem with the award going to "A Song for Lya", though I think right now I'd choose "Strangers" (and probably would have back then). Silvberberg's "Born With the Dead", which won the Nebula, is also outstanding, and a worthy winner. (Indeed I'd place it with "Strangers" at the top of the list, with the Martin just behind.) The Vance novella, "Assault on a City", is one of his last short pieces, and quite enjoyable.

The Nebula shortlist includes the Silverberg and the Martin and one other story, Michael Bishop's " On the Street of the Serpents or, The Assassination of Chairman Mao, as Effected by the Author in Seville, Spain, in the Spring of 1992, a Year of No Certain Historicity".

Four other novellas seem worth a mention: Norman Spinrad's "Riding the Torch", Joan D. Vinge's "Tin Soldier", Kate Wilhelm's "Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang", and Charles Harness's first story in years, "The Araqnid Window".

Finally, there is one story that I think is a novella, at about 19,000 words by my estimate, but which is listed as a novelette in the ISFDB and the Locus Awards, and which is anyway one of the great, and unfairly neglected, 1974 stories: "Forlesen", by Gene Wolfe. In whichever category you put it, it should have been a major award contender and perhaps won.

There is a huge list of outstanding novelettes. The Ellison story is pretty solid, but of that list of nominees my clearcut choice for the best is one of my favorite Fritz Leiber stories, "Midnight by the Morphy Watch". I also remember really enjoying Pournelle's "Extreme Prejudice" -- I eventually went off Pournelle but he was a very entertaining writer early in his career.

The Nebula went to Gordon Eklund and Gregory Benford's "If the Stars are Gods", a nice story but not one I'd give the award to in retrospect. Another nominee was Tom Reamy's exceptional horror story "Twilla", his first professional publication (though he was already a very well known fan).

Other strong novelettes, in my mind:

"And Keep Us From Our Castles", by Cynthia Bunn

"A Full Member of the Club", by Bob Shaw

"Her Smoke Rose Up Forever", by James Tiptree, Jr.

"The Night Wind", by Edgar Pangborn

"The Rubber Bend", an immensely entertaining Holmesian story by Gene Wolfe

"If This is Winnetka, You Must be Judy", by F. M. Busby

"The Seventeen Virgins", a latish Cugel story by Jack Vance

"The Pre-Persons", by Philip K. Dick

"Picnic on Nearside", by John Varley, his first good story, in that first issue of F&SF I bought (August 1974) (more or less simultaneously Vertex published "Scoreboard", an awful Varley story that to my knowledge has not been reprinted)

The Cynthia Bunn story, "And Keep Us From Our Castles", wowed me when I first read it, in that very same August 1974 Analog that I bought in wonder from the newsstand at Alton Drugs in Naperville, IL. I still think it's a strong story -- about a harsh future method of punishment. Bunn, later known as Cynthia Morgan (I'm not sure if "Bunn" is a pseudonym or if her marital status changed) only ended up publishing about 5 stories, but I think she was a talent.

In retrospect I'd suggest that Shaw and Tiptree certainly could have been on the shortlists, maybe Pangborn too, and that the award should have gone to either Leiber or Tiptree, unless we call "Forlesen" a novelette, in which case it should have won.

As for short story, my personal favorite was "Cathadonian Odyssey", by Michael Bishop, which was in the second issue of F&SF I bought, and which knocked me flat on reading. The Niven story is certainly enjoyable, but I prefer the Bishop, and also Silverberg's amazingly moving "Schwartz Between the Galaxies", which was in a sense his farewell to the field. I have to say I've never really liked Le Guin's "The Day Before the Revolution" all that much (even though it was in the first issue of Galaxy I read!) -- it's beautifully written, but seems too static for me. I like another 1974 Le Guin story, "The Author of the Acacia Seeds, and other extracts from the Journal of the Association Therolinguistics", rather better.

But far and away my favorite Le Guin story from 1974, and in my opinion clearly the best Short Story of 1974 (though I'd have guessed it was a novelette!) is "The Stars Below", one of my three or four favorite Le Guin stories ever. I'll be honest -- I don't get why "The Day Before the Revolution" would be on shortlists ahead of "The Stars Below". But it appeared on the Locus list of Best Short Stories, and it's listed in the ISFDB as a short story, so I'll go with that. (I checked my copy of The Wind's Twelve Quarters, and my best estimate of the length is 7600 words, which is close enough to the border for me to accept the short story categorization.)

Other good short stories:

Larry Niven, "A Kind of Murder" and "Night on Mispec Moor"

Bob Shaw, "A Little Night Flying"

Raccoona Sheldon's "Angel Fix" (Alice Sheldon had just revealed that she was the person behind "James Tiptree, Jr.", and one response to that was to initiate a new pseudonym, "Raccoona Sheldon")

Alan Brennert, "Touchplate"

two decent stories by Craig Strete, who became controversial later when accused of plagiarism (though as best I can determine that accusation was perhaps overblown). That said, these stories weren't bad: "Time Deer" and "The Bleeding Man"

Roger Zelazny, "The Engine at Heartspring's Center"

Eleanor Arnason, "The Warlord of Saturn's Moons"

At any rate, in final sum, and accepting the ISFDB story categories, I come up with an "ideal" Rich Horton list of 1974 short fiction awards as follows:

Novella: "Strangers" by Gardner Dozois ("Born with the Dead" just behind)
Novelette: "Forlesen" by Gene Wolfe ("Midnight by the Morphy Watch" and "Her Smoke Rose Up Forever" just behind)
Short Story: "The Stars Below" by Ursula K. Le Guin ("Cathadonian Odyssey" and "Schwartz Between the Galaxies" just behind)

I think 1974 was an exceptional year, at longer and shorter lengths.

Rich Horton
James Davis Nicoll
13. RobinM
Did you mean Flash Gordon that goofy movie with Brian Blessed and Timothy Dalton in it? I thought Flesh Gordon was a porno movie which I thankfully have never seen. R.
Christopher Key
14. Artanian
I certainly wouldn't have voted for the Le Guin, she's unreadable to me. But I've read three of the other four, and I'd have had no problems voting for either Mote or Flow My Tears. Both are excellent books I first read as a teenager in the mid-80s, and both I've reread several times. I suspect my teenage self would have voted for Mote, currently I'd probably lean towards Flow My Tears.

As for the Anderson, I vaguely remember it, I had it pegged in my mind as one of the Polesotechnic League novels, but looking, it doesn't actually appear to be one. I suspect it's probably aged like most of the rest of the Anderson from around then, which means that it'll be a timepiece that shows its era, and it'll drive the feminists nuts. I don't own it, but Baen's been reissuing the old Anderson stuff at a pretty fair clip, so it might come out again sooner or later.

By the way I have a question, when you say that a book is 'in the library', what library do you mean? Your personal one?
Steve Taylor
15. teapot7
> expects me to accept the man who wrote "Rainy Days and Mondays,"
> "Juat an Old-fashioned Love Song" and "The Rainbow Connection" as
> the devil.

Works for me.
Jo Walton
16. bluejo
Artanian: As I said the first time I mentioned it in the post, the Grande Bibliotheque of Montreal.

I was judging whether books had lasted simply by whether they were in print, and somebody suggested that whether they were still in libraries was also a good measure. I can't check every library in the world, but the Grande Bibliotheque, which is my personal public library as well as serving the rest of the province, is simple for me to search online and provides a consistent standard.

Rich: My Petition for More Space would make my least enjoyed novels of all time list. I shuddered when I saw the title.
Rich Horton
17. ecbatan
One thing I ought to mention for Short Story is a collection by Angela Carter, Fireworks, a very nice set of short stories, among her most overtly fantastical work. "The Executioner's Beautiful Daughter" is one good one that comes to mind, though most of the book is very worthwhile.
Rich Horton
18. ecbatan
Jo: I'm not really strongly recommending My Petition for More Space, though I don't think I hated it like you did. It seemed worth mentioning as an overtly SFnal novel published in the mainstream by a well-known writer, that's all.

I do recall getting it out of the library precisely because a) Hersey was famous; and b) it was clearly SF. I wanted to read SF that was "approved" by the judges of Literature, I suppose.
Benjamin Safford
19. benjamins
The Disposessed is probably my favorite book. I have considerable philosophical problems with the anarchist society of Anarres--but I totally believe it as I'm reading it, which is one of my favorite things about this book and about Le Guin's writing in general.
David Betz
20. RDBetz
The dramatic presentation nominees are always so bizarre. I LOVED Zardoz, but only because it was so hilariously idiotic (well, that and boobies. I was just out of high school back then). That it should be up for any kind of award, ever, makes no sense at all.
Vicki Rosenzweig
21. vicki
Some of the criticisms of The Dispossessed strike me as evidence of critics not having read carefully: in particular, part of the point of that book is that it doesn't take written laws for people to be constrained by what other people think, or tell them to do. There's the discussion of people being sent to the Asylum, and the observation that yes, in theory a person can refuse a job posting, but in practice by the time Shevek is an adult nobody does.

It's also relatively unusual in being a science fiction novel about a scientist. Not an engineer, a theoretical physicist who is fascinated by Einstein (his culture's physics having gone in very different directions). And the book includes examples, and discussion, of the way people with seniority can insist on putting their names on younger colleague's work.
john mullen
22. johntheirishmongol
@13...It was Flesh Gordon...Flash Gordon was 1980..I doublechecked in IMDB.

@20 Zardoz is horrible. It was recently on one of the movie channels and I turned it on and it was even worse than I remembered. Even the punchline was badly timed.
James Davis Nicoll
23. Gardner Dozois
I have no difficulty at all with THE DISPOSSESED winning, although I don't like it as much as THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS. It's pretty clear that the only two real contenders were THE DISPOSSESED and THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE, and although MOTE is an entertaining adventure, I think DISPOSSESED has more gravitas, and will probably hold up longer as a genre landmark. FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID has both the strengths and weaknesses of Phil Dick, and probably ranks somewhere in his top six or seven, but if you don't like Dick's work, you won't like it either. None of the other novels are real contenders. The Vance, the Pangborn, the Swann, and both Andersons are all minor work for their authors.

In novella, the Martin is more entertaining and accesable, the Silverberg more artistically ambious and intellectually serious, although a bit aloof. On balance, I give it to Silverberg by a whisker. A strong year for novellas, if I do say so myself.

I like the rest of Rich's list better than any of the actual winners, and even most of the finalists. Probably would have given it to "Her Smoke Rose Up Forever," although "The Day Before the Revolution" was strong too, as was "Midnight by the Morphy Watch." In novelette, a hard choice between Le Guin's "The Stars Below" and one of Gene Wolfe's strangest stories (which is really saying something), "Forlesen." Since I workshopped "Forlesen" at a Milford Conference (the same one where "The Fifth Head of Cerberus" was in the workshop another day), I'll give it to it by a whisker.

"The Night Wind" and "The Seventeen Virgins" are good, but not in the same class. "The Pre-Persons" was a controversial work at the time. Never liked Craig Street's work.

As I recall, "Raccoona Sheldon" started publishing stories BEFORE "Tiptree's" identity was revealed, because I can remember critics talking about how strongly and evidently she had been influenced by Tiptree, to the point of doing an "imitation" of "him." Raccoona was her attempt to create a female personna for herself, since everyone thought that she was a man. She later told me that she was thinking of creating another pseudonym for herself, "Slyvester Mule," Slyvester because she loved trees and Mule because she too was sterile, but she never did it.

As Rich said, Alan Brenneret has subsequently done a lot of television work, and a few print stories, including one "The Third Sex," that I ran in one of my Year's Bests. Felix Gotschalk was a quirky presence in the field for a number of years before fading away; I wasn't even aware that he'd died.
James Davis Nicoll
24. Marc Laidlaw
I kicked off the Wikipedia entry for Felix Gotschalk. He set a brilliant example in his day, but wrote only one novel and I don't believe his short fiction has ever been collected.
Rob Munnelly
25. RobMRobM
I read Song for Lya last week (reading Martin's Dreamsongs Vol 1) and is my favorite of his so far, even more than Sandkings. I could see where the story was likely to be going from very early on but execution of the ideas was truly excellent. Really well done.

Flesh Gordon for Dramatic Presentation? You've got to me kidding me. Sometimes I think Jo's dissing of this category to be excessive, but in this case she didn't go far enough.


P.s. Just started Among Others today!!!!! Good so far, Jo.
James Davis Nicoll
26. afterthefallofnight
I read the Dispossessed and Holland's Floating Worlds within months of one another. I liked both stories but the Dispossed was by far my favorite. I did not find the societies protrayed in these stories to be fully convincing, but I did find both stories to be quite thought provoking.

I also really liked Mote. I spent a lot more time thinking about The Dispossed so I would give it my vote but Mote was a cracking fun read.

Watership Down was a sleeper hit for me. As I recall, it took recommendations from multiple friends before I picked it up. In a million years I would not have guessed that I would so thoroughly enjoy a story about bunnies.

And... um... er... Well, I might as well admit that I *really* liked The Alien Critic by Geis.
James Davis Nicoll
27. David Scholes
I've long been an admirer of Ursula Le Guin.

In the absence of the likes of Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke there are some who consider her the greatest living science fiction writer.

I've been reading sf foe over 50 years now and thought it was high time to give something back to the genre:

James Davis Nicoll
28. Michael S. Schiffer
Jo: while you can't check every library in the world, will let you search the collections of a subset thereof that numbers in the quintuple digits.

(Granted, it may be too late in the series to switch over, but it may still be of interest for future reference.)
James Davis Nicoll
29. Gardner Dozois
Poor Felix. His death didn't get talked about much in the field; I wasn't even aware of it, and I keep track of the year's deaths for the obituary section of the Best. I was in a circulating chain-letter with him and Gene Wolfe and George Martin and R.A. Lafferty for a number of years, and he was a quirky and interesting character. His "technospeak" was an interesting innovation at the time, perhaps an early attempt at inventing cyberpunk, but after you read a few stories in that mode, they began to sound too similar to each other, perhaps why his work never had more impact on the field.

"The Warlord of Saturn's Moons" was Eleanor Arnason's first story. "The Engine at Heartspring's Center" is good Zelazny, although not absolutely first-rate. And yes, "Picnic on Nearside" was the first Varley story most of us noticed, at a time when what he was doing was unlike what anybody else in the field was doing.

Ironically, since you would vote "No Award," this year's ballot for Dramatic Presentation contains the first movie I've actually liked since this started, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, a comic masterpiece of sorts, and certainly eligable if fantasy is eligable for the Hugo and Nebula. Up until now, the Dramatic Presentation category has largely been a waste of time, and it's not surprising that the Nebulas dropped it along about here somewhere. At this point, media SF was not really a large or important part of the field, something you certainly couldn't say a few years later.

I too really enjoyed WATERSHIP DOWN, talking rabbits or no, but I thought we'd considered it the year before.
James Davis Nicoll
30. Doug M.
Not much to add here, except that "The Hole Man" is pretty minor Niven. One has the impression it was a body-of-work award: "Wait, Niven has been writing awesome short stories for almost a decade now! Hasn't he won a Hugo yet?"

Also, "A Song for Lya" is kind of... light. "I lost my beautiful but fragile woman. I will find another woman and try to go on somehow." Hum.

1975 was a funny, transitional sort of year. A lot of major award winners were about to go dark. Not necessarily a bad thing, as some excellent new voices were coming online.

Doug M.
James Davis Nicoll
31. Doug M.
Young Frankenstein: I'd disagree with the "can't find five" idea. There's always "no award", which has been done a couple of times (i.e, 1977, when it beat "Carrie", "Logan's Run", and "The Man Who Fell to Earth".)

And then there are years when there are just one or two plausible nominees-- but they're really impressive films that truly deserve an award. Would it have been fair to punish "Alien" -- like it or hate it, one of the most influential SF films of all time -- just because it came out the same year as "The Black Hole" and "Star Trek - the Motion Picture"? 1986 had only two worthy nominees -- but they were "Back to the Future" and "Brazil". Baby, bathwater.

Perhaps there were years -- 1995 comes to mind -- when they probably should have shut down this category because, really. "Interview with the Vampire"? "The Mask"?

But OTOH, that would have denied the 1988 Hugo to "Princess Bride", just because it came out the same year as "Witches of Eastwick". And is that really a world you'd want to live in?

Doug M.
Steve Taylor
32. teapot7
> when they probably should have shut down this category because,
> really. "Interview with the Vampire"? "The Mask"?

I remember dreading "Interview with the Vampire" - I was going through an Anne Rice fanboy stage (totally cured now) and I couldn't handle the thought of Tom Cruise in that role. And yet I thought it was actually pretty decent. And Cruise was fine too. Not massively award winning material, but thoroughly enjoyable.

A couple of years ago I managed to find the sequel, Queen of the Damned on video. I'd been interested in this purely because it was filmed in Melbourne and I wanted to play spot the local locations.

Sadly Melbourne was playing the role of "generic first world city in a country with a favourable exchange rate with the American dollar" (a role normally played by Vancouver - maybe they were busy that day). Considered on its own terms, not as a Melbourne travelogue it was achingly dull, devoid of script, acting, pacing or drama.
Michael Walsh
33. MichaelWalsh
At:# 11:
"this year's shortlist for Best Novella, supposedly for stories from 2010, includes one (Paolo Bacigalupi's The Alchemist) that wasn't published (officially) until 2011."

Looks like SFWA is using "published" to mean not neccessarily Dead Tree format, since the story was "published" as an audiobook in 2010, with the Dead Tree version this year.
James Davis Nicoll
34. Damien RS
James Enge:
"Her notion that a workable anarchy could be based on custom rather than law misconceives the nature of law. Before written legal codes, all law was custom--and the result was not an anarchist utopia. Written law creates a freer environment because the basic rules of society are not the province of some closed group that interprets/enforces them, and because the rules are subject to revision and repeal."

IIRC, your objections are in fact major parts of the problems with Anarres as shown within the book. It's not an anarchist *utopia* and its order-through-social-norms leads to much rigidity, that Shevek escapes from, to the differently flawed world.
James Davis Nicoll
35. Kvon
I' ve gone through love/hate/love cycles with The Dispossessed, which to me means a book has made me think about it in a critical way, and is robust enough to stand up to multiple readings. While all I've retained from Mote is a tendency to refer (in my head) to the gripping hand.
Rich Horton
36. ecbatan
Well, I admit I'm torn about whether or not an audio version (only) should be eligible for a fiction award in any given year. (Especially if it trumps future eligibility of the print version.) I think too much of the impact of an audio version is an effect of the performance.

So, actually, for me audio versions would be eligible as Dramatic Presentation, but the story eligibility would wait for print publication. (Mind you I have no problem with individual voters assessing a story that they have heard, not read.) If SFWA has different rules, that's fine, I guess.

That's different, to my mind, than making podcasts eligible for fanzine awards, say ... which I think is just fine.

(SFWA has had goofy issues with date of publication for years, of course. Not just the notorious (now defunct) rolling eligibility, but such things as the 1971 story "A Meeting With Medusa" winning the 1972 Nebula, the 1972 (or maybe 1973) novel 334 getting nominated for the 1974 award (as noted above in this thread).)
Jo Walton
37. bluejo
Ecbatan: And in 1976, which I'm just working on now, they have 1974 and 1973 novels, and a nomination list as long as your arm. There'd be no doing anything like this series with the Nebulas, they're not consistent enough.
walter tingle
38. wjtingle
Oy, you're going to get emails/letters/phone-calls from either Kate Wilhelm or Jane Lindskold, or both. "Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls" wasn't written by Wilhelm. Great book, though.

Jack Tingle
Rich Horton
39. ecbatan
However, the novelette "Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls" was indeed written by Kate Wilhelm.

After all, they were both quoting Job 30:29, in the Authorized Version (i.e. King James). (Job of course is also the source for the famous title, "The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth", written by someone rather close (later in his life) to Jane Lindskold.)
j p
40. sps49
I disliked The Dispossessed, because it was complex (I was young then) and I felt it was trying to force it's perspective on me.

I very much liked Mote, and not just for the tension. It contains the implied question for the reader "If humanity had the power to eliminate this race and it was your call, what would you do?" With the information given in this novel and even the sequel, I would say Yes.
David Levinson
41. DemetriosX
@39, 39: Actually, Kate Wilhelm's title includes two indefinite articles (A brother, A companion) while Jane Lindskold's does not. Totally different.
James Davis Nicoll
42. Gardner Dozois
The titles of both will be changed to SEX KINGS OF MARS on reissue anyway, so it doesn't matter.
Bob Blough
43. Bob
This was another banner year for novellas - but "A Song For Lya" is not the best (awfully good, mind you) but both "Born With the Dead" by Silverberg and "Strangers" by Gardner Dozois are two of the best novellas the genre has seen. Just as good as the Martin though is "Riding the Torch" which is undeservedly forgotten and a wonderful story - as is "On the Street of the Serpents" by Michael Bishop and then Wilhelms' "Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang" (although the novel - still in the future - turned out to be even better). At the time I really liked "The Marathon Photograph" by Clifford Simak and "The Araqnid Window" by Charles Harness, as well. But those two haven't held up as well, in my opinion.
I don't agree with the novelette winner either - I tend to really like Ellison of this period but I find this one good but not terrific. I liked his "Catman" of that year better. My favorites are "After the Dream Time" by Richard Lupoff , "Forlesen" by Wolfe, "Twilla" by Tom Reamy, "Tin Soldier" by Joan D. Vinge and, "The Women Men Don't See" by Tiptree (just a bit ahead of "Her Smoke Rose Up Forever") and "Picnic on Nearside" by John Varley. Now that I look through all the lists and "Best Of..." anthologies, this was a great year for novelettes - just most of them weren't nomnated for the Hugo. Not that uncommon in my experience.
As far as the short story, I have to disagree with Gardner about "The Engine at Heartsprings Center" by Zelazny. I think it is one of his best. The LeGuin is classic and a terrific winner but I'm not sure that I don't like "The Author of the Acacia Seeds..." by her a bit better. "Schwartz Between the Galaxies" and "Capricorn Games" both by Robert Silverberg , "Cathadonian Odyssey" , "Mountains of Sunset, Mountains of Dawn" by Vonda McIntyre, and "The Four Hour Fugue" probably complete my list of the best that year.
The Dispossessed is a very worthy winner - thought provoking and memorable. Perhaps I am the only person who actively hated The Mote in God's Eye. Still do - even after re-reading it to see what I missed the first time (and then reading the sequel as well - just to be sure!). An SF novel is more than good aliens - especially at that length. I did really like 334 (if that counts for this year,), Flow my Tears..., The Godwhale by TJ Bass (although I should reread that one), The Unsleeping Eye by Compton, Walk to the End of the World by Suzy McKee Charnas, The Inverted World (that I believe is SF) and Total Eclipse by Brunner (it is totally depressing but still one of my favorite books by him) and Ecbatan - I have to agree with you about The Centauri Device.
I think this year was another great one for SF. It holds many good memories for me with some works that are (or should be) classics.
Bob Blough
44. Bob
Oh by the way - I really liked Felix C. Gottschalk's stories - most of them I remember from Silverberg's "New Dimensions" series. I especially liked one called "The Interview" as I recall - but I don't quite remember which number in the series it was in. Some small SF publisher should publish a book of his stories. They are quirky and interesting but Gardner is right about them all melding together in your brain. Still he was enough ahead of his time that he shouldn't be forgotten.
James Davis Nicoll
45. Alan Heuer
Here is how I voted in 1975:

Best Novel
1. The Dispossessed Ursula K. Le Guin
2. The Inverted World Christopher Priest
3. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said Philip K. Dick
4. The Mote in God's Eye Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
5. Fire Time Poul Anderson

Best Novella
1. "Born with the Dead" Robert Silverberg
2. "A Song for Lya" George R.R. Martin
3. "Strangers" Gardner Dozois
4. "Assault on a City" Jack Vance
5. "Riding the Torch" Norman Spinrad

Best Novelette
1. "A Brother to Dragons, a Companion of Owls" Kate Wilhelm
2. "After the Dreamtime" Richard A. Lupoff
3. "-That Thou Art Mindful of Him!" Isaac Asimov
4. "Nix Olympica" William Walling
5. "Extreme Prejudice" Jerry Pournelle
6. "Midnight by the Morphy Watch" Fritz Leiber
7. "Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans..." Harlan Ellison

Best Short Story
1. "Schwartz Between the Galaxies" Robert Silverberg
2. "The Day Before the Revolution" Ursula K. Le Guin
3. "Cathadonian Odyssey" Michael Bishop
4. "The Hole Man" Larry Niven
5. "The Four-Hour Fugue" Alfred Bester

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