Sun
Mar 27 2011 9:46am
Hugo Nominees: 1976

1976 Hugo Awards trophy

The 1976 Hugo Awards were given at MidAmericon in Kansas City, Missouri. The best novel award was won by Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War (post). It’s an impressive  book and a worthy winner—it’s about a young man drafted under the “Elite Conscription Act” to go and fight aliens, who goes out to fight aliens and thanks to relativity keeps coming back to human society grown stranger and stranger. It’s in print, and it’s in the Grande Bibliotheque of Montreal (henceforward “the library”) in English and French.

There are four other nominees, and I’ve read all of them, but I’ve only re-read one of them at all recently, and they all strike me as rather weak.

Alfred Bester’s The Computer Connection (aka Extro) I remember as being very disappointing, without remembering much more about it. It isn’t in print, but it is in the library in English and French.

Roger Zelazny’s Doorways in the Sand (post) is a beautiful Zelazny novel with aliens and stereoisomers, minor work but still lovely. It’s not in print and it’s not in the library. It has always been hard to find—my anecdotal evidence for this is that I have a U.S. edition. Somebody should reprint it.

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s Inferno is about a science fiction writer escaping from Dante’s Hell with Mussolini as his guide. I mildly enjoyed it the first time I read it when I was fourteen, but I haven’t felt much urge to pick it up again since, nor have I read the recent sequel. It has a science fictional sensibility, but it’s definitely about the afterlife and therefore fantasy. It’s in print, and it’s in the library in English.

Robert Silverberg’s The Stochastic Man is a near future SF novel about prediction and the difference between prediction and actually seeing the future. I remember it being really powerful and a bit of a downer. It’s not in print, and it’s in the library in French only—this is also something somebody should reprint, and probably the best of the four.

Five books by men, four science fiction of the traditional set-in-the-future kind, and one fantasy of hell, all except the winner books by well-established writers.

What else might they have considered?

SFWA gave the Nebula to Haldeman. They were having one of their years where they had a very long nomination list, some of which wouldn’t be qualified for the Hugo.

Non-overlapping eligible nominees were Arthur Byron Cover’s Autumn Angels, Tanith Lee’s The Birthgrave, Ian Watson’s The Embedding (presumably on U.S. publication?), Vonda MacIntyre’s The Exile Waiting, Michael Bishop’s A Funeral For the Eyes of Fire, Barry N. Malzberg’s Guernica Night, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Heritage of Hastur (post), Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, Katherine Maclean’s Missing Man, and E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime, which I didn’t even know was SF.

I haven’t read all of these, but I’m sure most of them would have made fine Hugo nominees. These last two Nebula nominees are in a different category however. SFWA nominated Joanna Russ’s The Female Man and Samuel Delany’s Dhalgren, (post) which should both absolutely have been on the Hugo ballot too. It’s ridiculous that they were overlooked. They’d have been better nominees than anything on the list except The Forever War.

The World Fantasy Novel went to Richard Matheson’s Bid Time Return and also shortlisted Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot.

This was the year the Campbell Memorial Award went a little crazy and gave the award to Wilson Tucker’s Year of the Quiet Sun, a 1970 book, after saying no 1975 books were worthy of the award, and then shortlisted Bob Shaw’s Orbitsville and The Stochastic Man. Ouch. Orbitsville did win the BSFA award, which might have been some consolation.

The Locus Award went to Haldeman and shortlisted another book that really should have been on the Hugo ballot—John Brunner’s The Shockwave Rider. Also shortlisted and not mentioned so far in this post, Arthur C. Clarke’s Imperial Earth, (post), Roger Zelazny’s The Sign of the Unicorn, Jack Vance’s Showboat World, Ray Nelson’s Blake’s Progress, M.A. Foster’s The Warriors of Dawn, Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus! Cordwainer Smith’s Norstrilia might not have been eligible because it had already been published in two halves in magazines in the sixties.

Again using the ISFDB, is there anything of note that wasn’t nominated for anything? Yes! There’s one of my favourite books, Michael Coney’s Hello Summer, Goodbye (post) and there’s George Alec Effinger and Gardner Dozois’s Nightmare Blue.

So not doing so well this year really, a fairly weak shortlist and three absolutely vital SF novels missed. If the shortlist had been Russ, Delany, Brunner, Silverberg and Haldeman I think it would have done a much better job of showing where SF was that year.

I wonder what went wrong? I wonder if a lot of the previous year’s Worldcon members nominating in 1976 were Australian and had only had a chance to see books published there?

Other Categories.

NOVELLA

  • “Home Is the Hangman,” Roger Zelazny (Analog Nov 1975)
  • “ARM,” Larry Niven (Epoch)
  • “The Custodians,” Richard Cowper (F&SF Oct 1975)
  • “The Silent Eyes of Time,” Algis Budrys (F&SF Nov 1975)
  • “The Storms of Windhaven,” Lisa Tuttle & George R. R. Martin (Analog May 1975)

I’d have voted for the Cowper, I think, but these are all good, except the Budrys which I haven’t read or don’t remember.

NOVELETTE

  • “The Borderland of Sol,” Larry Niven (Analog Jan 1975)
  • “And Seven Times Never Kill Man,” George R. R. Martin (Analog Jul 1975)
  • “The New Atlantis,” Ursula K. Le Guin (The New Atlantis)
  • “San Diego Lightfoot Sue,” Tom Reamy (F&SF Aug 1975)
  • “Tinker,” Jerry Pournelle (Galaxy Jul 1975)

Martin was robbed, I adore that story, and “Borderland of Sol” is relatively ordinary.

SHORT STORY

  • “Catch That Zeppelin!,” Fritz Leiber (F&SF Mar 1975)
  • “Child of All Ages,” P. J. Plauger (Analog Mar 1975)
  • “Croatoan,” Harlan Ellison (F&SF May 1975)
  • “Doing Lennon,” Gregory Benford (Analog Apr 1975)
  • “Rogue Tomato,” Michael Bishop (New Dimensions 5)
  • “Sail the Tide of Mourning,” Richard Lupoff (New Dimensions 5)

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION

  • A Boy and His Dog
  • “The Capture” (Phil Foglio cartoon slide show)
  • Dark Star
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Rollerball

PROFESSIONAL EDITOR

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

PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

  • Frank Kelly Freas
  • George Barr
  • Vincent Di Fate
  • Steve Fabian
  • Rick Sternbach

FANZINE

  • Locus, Charles Brown & Dena Brown
  • Algol, Andrew Porter
  • Don-O-Saur, Don C. Thompson
  • Outworlds, Bill Bowers
  • Science Fiction Review, Richard E. Geis

FAN WRITER

  • Richard E. Geis
  • Charles Brown
  • Don D’Ammassa
  • Don C. Thompson
  • Susan Wood

FAN ARTIST

  • Tim Kirk
  • Grant Canfield
  • Phil Foglio
  • Bill Rotsler
  • Jim Shull

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER (not a Hugo)

  • Tom Reamy
  • Arsen Darnay
  • M. A. Foster
  • John Varley
  • Joan D. Vinge

Tom Reamy died young after producing one very good novel and enough stories for one collection—including a Nebula winning novelette, and numerous other Hugo and Nebula nominations for short work. I think he was a good choice and would have become a really major writer if he’d had the chance. We also have three other terrific nominees—M.A. Foster, John Varley and Joan Vinge have all produced really great work in the time since, and if they’re quite not household names I’d expect anyone reading this to know them. Only Arsen Darnay hasn’t imprinted himself on my consciousness—anybody know what happened to him?


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.

49 comments
john mullen
1. johntheirishmongol
I have to agree that Forever War was the right call. Looking at the list of everything you mentioned, it was pretty much the only call. I do like Inferno but most of the others to me are meh. Although it is the right choice, Forever War still isn't quite my cup of tea, because though the concept is excellent and the followthough is good, it's just depressing and I think the message was off target.

I think this was a much better year in the novellas, can't argue with the Zelazny but loved the Windhaven stories and ARM was good too.

Looking back at the dramatic presentations (I hate that title, they should have gone with something more inclusive), A Boy and His Dog is a pretty minor film that you never see. Rollerball was a better movie with a superb performance by James Caan, but the most quoted movie of all time may be Monty Python. It's very silly, very british and the ultimate fanboy movie, but it also was a trend setter, holds up remarkably well and should have been the winner.
Rich Horton
2. ecbatan
I pretty much agree with you on the question of the novels. The Brunner, Russ, and Delany all should have been on the shortlist ahead of the rather minor set of novels that were. I'd still give the award to Haldeman, even though I think The Forever War is just a bit on the slight side, seen in retrospect. I have issues, of very different kinds, with The Female Man and Dhalgren, but they are both interesting and important novels that advanced the conversation, as it were.

Speaking of slight, two of my favorite novels, two books I love, are among those you mentioned, even though each can be seen as in some sense slight: Hello Summer, Goodbye; and Doorways in the Sand. I enjoyed both those books more than any of the "major" books above.

It's interesting (to me in to no one else) that all the novels on the Hugo shortlist were serialized. (Albeit The Forever War in pieces -- a few separate novellas in Analog over a couple of years.) (The Analog serialization of The Computer Connection/Extro! (which I quite enjoy, by the way, though it's clearly lesser Bester than his great '50s novels) was "The Indian Giver", hence it had three titles.)

I'm not sure if Gardner will thank you for bringing up Nightmare Blue. (Though I actually rather enjoyed it.)

Other novels worth a mention, though not a Hugo nod:

Clara Reeve, by "Leonie Hargrave" (Thomas Disch) -- this is a gothic, so it may not be fantastical at all, and I haven't read it, but I have seen it praised

Dogsbody and Eight Days of Luke, by the late and very much lamented Diana Wynne Jones

Marune: Alastor 933, by Jack Vance

The Gray King, by Susan Cooper

Venus on the Half-Shell, by "Kilgore Trout" (Philip Jose Farmer)

and, from the mainstream, Dead Babies, by Martin Amis -- which is actually a novel I hate, and would fit somewhere close to where My Petition for More Space fits in your reading experience, Jo. But I like a lot of Martin Amis's work (and a lot of his work is SF, and he was for some time a regular SF reviewer for one of the UK papers). Dead Babies is set in the near future, so it certainly qualifies as SF.

I haven't read Ragtime, which was a major bestseller, but I didn't think it was SF. I assume it's there as some sort of alternate history, but I always thought (maybe I was wrong?) that it was a straight historical novel that maybe played a bit fast and loose with some real people as characters. E. L. Doctorow, by the way, is apparently a distant cousin of Cory.

I would also have called Calvino's Invisible Cities (which I like) a story collection, not a novel.

There are two first novels on the Nebula shortlist (shortlist? more of a longlist!) that I liked a lot: A Funeral For the Eyes of Fire and The Exile Waiting. As I recall, A Funeral For the Eyes of Fire was based on "Death and Designation Among the Asadi". The Exile Waiting, by the way, takes it title from a poem (a very nice poem) by Ursula K. Le Guin. (I thought Le Guin's collection of poetry (her first, there may have been more), Hard Words, which I seeked out, I believe, after learning about it by tracking down the source of the poem quoted in The Exile Waiting), was quite good.)

Both those first novels have "first novel problems", but also "first novel energy". (Bishop apparently decided to fix the problems with his novel, because he rewrote it extensively a few years later as Eyes of Fire.)

I'll get to the short fiction in a bit, but first a brief comment on the Campbell Award -- indeed, an excellent list. About Arsen Darnay: he published a number of very engaging stories in the mid-70s, mostly in Jim Baen's wonderfully energetic Galaxy (my favorite magazine at that time, partly I think because I was 15). Then his career more or less petered out. I suspect (purely speculating) this was a mixture of day job pressures and perhaps less than stellar sales. At any rate, he has a blog. There we learn that he is originally from Europe, that he is now in his 70s and a great-grandfather, and that he has published a few novels more recently, through the POD outlet Lulu.

--
Rich Horton
Rich Horton
3. ecbatan
In novella, while I quite enjoyed Zelazny's "Home is the Hangman", I think I agree with you that the Cowper would have been a better choice. For that matter the Budrys novella, "The Silent Eyes of Time", is first rate. Budrys was just then returning, in a slightly limited fashion, to the field after a few years absence. I like "ARM" a lot too, and the Tuttle/Martin story is fun. The Nebula shortlist adds a major Tiptree story, one of her oddly toned "post-revelation" works, "A Momentary Taste of Being". (I suppose all of Tiptree is oddly toned in some way, that's part of her specialness.)

"ARM" was one of a lot of pretty good stories from the much-derided Elwood/Silverberg anthology Epoch. Epoch may have also had a lot of bad stories, but the best of its TOC was very good. There was also a slight but enjoyable Vance novella in that anthology, "The Dogtown Tourist Agency".

Poul Anderson's story collection Homeward and Beyond included an excellent original novella, "The Peat Bog".

And the best novella of the year, ignored either because it was in an Elwood anthology or because that anthology, regardless of editor, just wasn't that much seen, was another utterly amazing story by Gene Wolfe: "Tracking Song". That would be my choice, at this remove, for the best novella of 1975. (Granted that I didn't see it until 1980 when Wolfe collected it in The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories.)

--
Rich Horton
Rich Horton
4. ecbatan
Novelette:

"The Borderland of Sol" is indeed somewhat minor Niven, and the Martin story would have been a better choice, but I think Le Guin's "The New Atlantis" was better still. The Nebula winner, Reamy's "San Diego Lightfoot Sue", is also excellent. It's probably my favorite Tom Reamy story.

The Nebula shortlist had some interesting additions: Barry Malzberg's interesting and odd "A Galaxy Called Rome" (which, expanded, was the shortlisted novel Galaxies), Craig Strete's "The Bleeding Man", Eleanor Arnason's 1974 story (probably first published in the US in 1975) "The Warlord of Saturn's Moons", a John Varley story I really like, "Retrograde Summer", and perhaps best of all, "Polly Charms the Sleeping Woman", by Avram Davidson.

I should expand on "Polly Charms the Sleeping Woman" by noting that it first appeared in F&SF but later in the same year was part of Davidson's The Enquiries of Doctor Eszterhazy, a wonderful book of which every story could probably have been shortlisted. For that matter, if Invisible Cities is sufficiently unified to be a novel for Nebula purpose, so is The Enquiries of Doctor Eszterhazy, and I say it could have been shortlisted in novel too.

Three novelettes from Epoch seem worthy of mention (one was on the Nebula shortlist):
"Blooded on Arachne", by Michael Bishop
"Cambridge, 1:58 AM", by Gregory Benford (which became Timescape)
and my favorite, certainly worthy shortlisting: George R. R. Martin's "... for a Single Yesterday".

Other good novelettes:
George Alec Effinger's American football story (Effinger was a sports nut, and wrote a number of good SF sports stories): "25 Crunch Split Right on Two".
John Varley's "The Black Hole Passes"
Joan and Vernor Vinge's "The Peddler's Apprentice" (related to Vernor's stories about bobbles, though probably not strictly speaking in the same future)

--
Rich Horton
Rob Munnelly
5. RobMRobM
I really enjoyed A Boy and His Dog. Based on a witty work by Harlan Ellison, acted with panache by a very young Don Johnson in the title role, with some strong character actors in supporting roles (including a really creepy bit by Jason Robards), it's a well-written, well done sci fi flick. It should be seen by more people.

Rob
steve davidson
6. crotchetyoldfan
Agreed - Dhalgren and Female Man should have been on the short list, and I'd have had major angst over picking either of those over Forever War - tho I have been back to Forever War for more re-reads than the other two (both of which have been read more than once).

I'd argue the contention that Inferno is a fantasy novel. One of the major threads in the story was Carpentier constantly applying an SF writers skepticism and world view to what he was witnessing in hell. We are left in the end still at least half-convinced that, as Carpentier speculates, hell is a construct and not the biblical hell. I think it was in some ways a self-critique by Niven and Pournelle, playing with the Clarkeian "any technology sufficiently advanced" trope and seeing how far they could stretch believability. I also get the sense in some ways that it was commentary on Farmer's Riverworld: everyone you've ever known is there.

Rob - agreed. More people should see that flick. I remember when it first came out how excited everyone was to be seeing a film based on an Ellison property that Ellison wasn't attacking and divorcing pre-release. It didn't quite have the impact that the story did, but it was pretty darned close. Tho I do wish that Kubrick had directed; Vic strikes me as very much a cypher of Alex (and Kubrick could have gotten away with a much better rape scene, lol).

Anyone interested in watching it can see it online
James Davis Nicoll
7. James Davis Nicoll
Only Arsen Darnay hasn’t imprinted himself on my consciousness—anybody know what happened to him?

Yes, and it's a happier story than the "whatever happened to Stephen "Tak Hallus" Robinette (1941 - 2003)". He's still alive and still writing (recent works include Ghulf Genes and In Search of Anna Mangna).

He has a blog at arsendarnay dot blogspot dot com.
James Davis Nicoll
8. James Davis Nicoll
These last two Nebula nominees are in a different category however. SFWA nominated Joanna Russ’s The Female Man and Samuel Delany’s Dhalgren, (post) which should both absolutely have been on the Hugo ballot too. It’s ridiculous that they were overlooked.

One of them is too New Wavey to be likely to appeal to Hugo voters and the other is too written by a woman; the Hugos are traditionally pretty weak on female nominees. I will admit I'd pay a bright shiny penny for outraged essays from e.g. alt.Lester del Rey, alt.Harlan Ellison or alt.Darrell Schweitzer from universes where either or both of The Female Man and/or Dhalgren won the Hugo.
James Davis Nicoll
9. Joelfinkle
> I'm not sure if Gardner will thank you for bringing up Nightmare Blue.

No, no he won't. I have a copy (I think I bought it from his booth at the last Chicon), and he signed it "I can't believe I'm signing this piece of $#!+" (but without deleting the expletive). While it's no worse than many a purple-prose potboiler, it's not Hugo-worth in any year.
James Davis Nicoll
10. James Davis Nicoll
I believe an account of the events leading to Dhalgren's publication may be found at Frederik Pohl's blog, with clarifications offered by such contributors as Lou Aronica and Samuel R. Delany.
James Davis Nicoll
11. Teka Lynn
"When It Changed" first appeared in Again, Dangerous Visions, so Harlan Ellison might have been just fine with The Female Man as a Hugo winner. Harlan being Harlan, though, who knows.
David Levinson
12. DemetriosX
I'm pretty much in agreement with what's been said so far about the novels. I very much like Doorways in the Sand as it was my first non-Amber Zelazny novel, but it only barely belongs on the short list and certainly isn't winner material. I will give Inferno a pass as science fiction, because I consider the original by Dante to be one of the very first science fiction stories. It stays very true to the world as it was known then, contains any number of "As you know, Bob Dante" digressions on topics from optics to embryology, and is well aware of the implications of a spherical world.

Novella: "ARM" is OK for an sfnal attempt at a locked room mystery, but not great. I've only read the Windhaven story as part of the novel, and didn't really care for it. The winner can be found in My Name is Legion, which is a collection/fix-up of 3 stories featuring the same protagonist. I can live with it winning.

Novelette: I only know the Niven. It's not his best work. He once pitched it to Filmation for the Star Trek animated series and I don't see that working at all.

Short story: The Leiber is not his best work. It's a fairly weak alternate history in the vein of "The Big Time". Perhaps the fans were welcoming him back from his depression following the death of his wife. "Croatoan" is deeply disturbing. "Doing Lennon" simply cannot be read in the same way, today. It's about a guy killing John Lennon and then having himself frozen in order to pass himself off as Lennon in the future. "Rogue Tomato" is a very strange PKD pastiche.

Dramatic presentation: A Boy and His Dog is fine the first time you see it, if you haven't read the story. Harlan wasn't happy about the final line of the movie, feeling it perverted the sense of the story. It's interesting that Phil Foglio has nominations here and in Fan Artist. Dark Star is a hoot and helped Carpenter and O'Bannon get a foothold in Hollywood. Without, we might not have had Alien or Blade Runner. MPatHG is tons of fun and is one of the most quotable movies ever, but it breaks down completely as a film with a story towards the end. My vote would probably have gone to Rollerball. It's a fairly intense film and a far cry from the recent remake.
jon meltzer
13. jmeltzer
Nothing yet about the Silverberg. I think it (and next year's nominee, Shadrach in the Furnace) are up to the standard of quality that Silverberg had during his anni mirabiles of the late 1960s and early 1970s, but I begin to sense weariness and depression here. That Silverberg soon would feel he had to take a few years off doesn't surprise me.
James Davis Nicoll
14. Rush-That-Speaks
Don't bother reading the sequel to Niven's Inferno. A classic case of second verse, same as the first, only not as good.
Rich Horton
15. ecbatan
And now I can comment on short story. I think "Catch That Zeppelin!" is charming but fairly minor -- still, a nice work. At the time, I really really liked "Doing Lennon", but I agree it's hard to read it the same way now. The rest of the Hugo nomination list is quite good, too. I do quite like the Ellison, a very intense story but somehow quieter than some of his work. And "Child of All Ages" is first rate, probably Plauger's best SF.

From the Nebula additions I particularly recommend Budrys's "A Scraping at the Bones" (yes, I am a big fan of Budrys, if anyone hasn't noticed). Also Benford's "White Creatures" -- he was really coming into his own as a writer. Craig Strete's "Time Deer", too.

Lots of Chicagoans on the list (I'm from Chicago to begin with myself) -- Budrys, Pohl, Phyllis Eisenstein (her "Attachment" was a Nebula nominee).

A couple more stories worth a mention -- Poul Anderson's "Wolfram", and an odd little piece Ted White published in Fantastic called "Solid Geometry", by Ian MacEwan. MacEwan published his story collection First Love, Last Rites in 1975 as well, which also included "Solid Geometry". He has gone on to become a major novelist, best known probably for Atonement (which I love). His work often skirts the edges of SF/Fantasy/Horror.

--
Rich Horton
René Walling
16. cybernetic_nomad
I agree the Forever War was the right choice. And for those interested in factoids, the Grande bibliothèque also has a bande dessinée (BD) adaptation of it in French that's quite close to the original.


@1. "...the dramatic presentations (I hate that title, they should have gone with something more inclusive)"

"Dramatic presentation" includes film, television, theatre, radio, audio recordings including, most recently, audiobooks. How could it be more inclusive? Inquiring minds want to know.
Michal Jakuszewski
17. Lfex
I am not a fan of The Forever War, but its victory was probably inevitable back then. Norstrilia should be a winner, IMHO, but, yes, it probably wasn't eligible. I am one of the minority who enjoyed Computer Connection, but I don't think it really was an award material. I also liked A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire, but the Dostoyevsky rip-off fragment was a little bit too blatant for my taste. Inferno was good, never mind the inferior sequel, but once again, probably not an award material. Haven't read The Shockwave Rider. So like it or not, The Forever War it is.


As for short fiction categories, I would go with Cowper, Martin and Plauger - very definitely. Unfortunately, none of my favorites won.
Michael Grosberg
18. Michael_GR
Bester's _The Computer Connection_ is only disappointing when you compare it to his two earlier novels. Not that it should have won the Hugo - it's not a "good book" in the usual sense - but it is so much fun! It's a totally demented book that I can only compare to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I've read it countless times and it always makes me laugh.
Joe Romano
19. Drunes
It's interesting that Shockwave Rider wasn't nominated. It is a very good book, especially because of its "computer content" and use of the concept of a computer worm. I'm somewhat surprised no comment has really focused on this book yet. But despite having written dozens of books and winning the Hugo for Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner seems to be falling into obscurity.

I can't quibble with A Boy and His Dog winning the dramatic presentation. It was one of the better winners in this category, but Rollarball was a much bigger and better movie with grander ideas and more universal themes. It probably should have won instead of A Boy and His Dog.
rick gregory
20. rickg
Shockwave Rider is a very good novel - worth reading certainly. People have mentioned A Boy and His Dog a couple of times and I thought I'd mention that for US readers it's available on Netflix Instant for streaming if you want to check it out. And I cannot believe Dhalgren didn't make the Hugo ballot. That's just... silly.
David Levinson
21. DemetriosX
cybernetic_nomad @16:

"Dramatic presentation" includes film, television, theatre, radio, audio recordings including, most recently, audiobooks. How could it be more inclusive? Inquiring minds want to know.

And in this year it also included a slide show! I haven't been able to find out what it was about, but I'm sure it was hilarious.
James Davis Nicoll
22. Boden
I'm actually reading The Forever War right now, and it is exceptional, especially given the context of history and current events. Having just watched the cocumentary, Restrepo, the frame I have for the book is quite powerful.

The larger set up, reads as straight military sci-fi, but Haldeman transcends this by creating a story that allows for historical perspective on a changing society. The extrapolations and storytelling involved deserved every award both then and now.

In some ways, I feel like I'm reading an alternate take on Cormac McCarthy's The Road -- Mandella walking a very different post apocalypse. The sadness and loss is palpable, and very striking in that context.

Just saying, if you haven't read the novel, it's a pretty good time to check it out.
Michael Walsh
23. MichaelWalsh
I seem to recall that Brunner essentially disowned the US 1st edition from Harper due to some very extensive editorial medling.

Anyone out there who can confirm - or correct - my 3 decade old memory?
john mullen
24. johntheirishmongol
@16 The problem I have with the term dramatic presentation is that too often voters expect drama. I had the same issue when I was a SAG voter. Comedy gets discounted unfairly. Best Media Presentation? I don't like that either since books are a media. (btw, comedy was not my specialty)
Steven Halter
25. stevenhalter
The Shockwave Rider certainly should have been on the ballot. It's very good and also one of the real beginings of cyberpunk.
It's really a shame that Doorways in the Sand is out of print.
Vicki Rosenzweig
26. vicki
Le Guin has published several poetry collections; I like a lot of her poetry, but I'm not an expert, or that widely read in modern poetry. I found it because I like her prose.
James Davis Nicoll
27. afterthefallofnight
Forever War is a really good book. It definitely deserved to be on the ballot. However, I would probably have voted for Shockwave Rider. In some ways it was a strikingly presient novel.

As an aside, I think it is silly to characterize Ragtime Science Fiction. But I also think is it is silly to consider characterize Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union as Science Fiction.
Bob Blough
28. Bob
As the "middle period" Silverberg fanatic I am, I really thought The Stochastic Man was one of the best of the year but I still think the award went to the most worthy novel of that year. Dhalgren and The Female Man I have such love/hate relationships with that I can't say they should have won - but they are immensely influential and so creatively amazing that they should have been nominated. I agree also with the Brunner - he wrote some wonderful work and this one was way ahead of its time. Ragtime was SF of the alternate history variety but now it's tropes have been accepted in mainstream fiction and so might not seem as science fictional today.

Ecbatan - Bishop's Funeral for the Eyes of Fire was not based on "Death and Designation Among the Asadi". That novel was Transfigurations of 1979 or so. I am a big fan of Bishops and was excited by his first novel. I also read the later Eyes of Fire just to compare. They are both worth reading. The other first novels An Exile Waiting by McIntyre and The Birthgrave by Tanith Lee should still be read. And I have to say that Autumn Angels by Arthur Byron Cover is a definite hoot.

As far as Novellas - "A Momentary Taste of Being" was in my mind the clear best. Very intense and very depressing but almost hallucinogenic in style. I think this was written before the field knew all about Alice Sheldon - although published after the fact. I agree with you about "Tracking Song" but also enjoyed another by Wolfe that year "Silouette". I am not a real Budrys fan and don't agree much with either Niven work. Enjoyed the Zelazny , but still think it is minor - much like Doorways in the Sand which is still very, very good. "The Custodians" would have been my second pick after Tiptree. Richard Cowper is another unfairly neglected writer. Also really like "The Storms of Windhaven"

Novelette: the best I think are "San Diego Lightfoot Sue" and "The New Atlantis" but also have to add one of Tom Reamy's other publications that year - "Under the Hollywood Sign". I'd put "Blooded on Arachne" in a close fourth place. Plus Varley had three great stories published this year - "The
Black Hole Passes', "In the Bowl" and "Retrograde Summer". That was
a thrilling time to see him flower as a writer.

Short Story is a harder choice for me. I just re-read Leiber's winner in Selected Stories and loved it again but the top five for me would probably be Plauger's "Child of All Ages" which is, I think, his only great story, "Sail the Tide of Mourning" by Richard Lupoff (put together with his "After the Dreamtime" and "With the Beftin Boomer Boys on Little Old New Alabama" from previous years became the unclassifiable and, I think, brilliant novel The Spacewar Blues - a favorite of mine from 1978) and two by Ellison (again it was a great period for him ) - "Croatoan" and "Shatterday" Last but not least "The Hero as Werewolf" by Gene Wolfe. Wolfe in these years could do almost no wrong!

Thanks for doing this series Jo, it reminds me of why I keep reading SF after all these years!
James Davis Nicoll
29. ofostlic
has a science fictional sensibility, but it’s definitely about the afterlife and therefore fantasy

Larry Niven, in one of his collections of miscellaneous writing, says that he and Pournelle decided Dante was writing SF -- that the
Divina Commedia was a more-or-less rigorous extrapolation from contemporary knowledge. I don't know how seriously they meant that.
Jo Walton
30. bluejo
Ofostlic: I remember the argument. It might hold for Dante, but it doesn't for them. And of course, whether it's SF or fantasy it isn't really strong enough to be on the ballot -- unlike last year's Mote.
Rich Horton
31. ecbatan
Bob -- thanks for the correction about Funeral vs Transfigurations.

I didn't realize "Silhouette" was from 1975 -- it's another great Wolfe novella, though I'd put "Tracking Song" ahead of it personally.
James Davis Nicoll
32. Gardner Dozois
It's clear that the most deserving book here was THE FOREVER WAR, although THE SHOCKWAVE RIDER is an important cyberpunk precursor, and amazingly prescient in some ways, and probably should have been on the ballot. Neither DHALGREN or THE FEMALE MAN were entirely successful for me, and I wouldn't have wanted to see either win, although they're well-known enough that an argument could certainly be made that they ought to have been on the ballot. Almost all of the other novels mentioned were weak or at least not strong enough for a Hugo. The best of them, although still minor for a Zelazny novel, was DOORWAYS IN THE SAND.

NIGHTMARE BLUE is entertaining in some ways, but it certainly didn't deserve to be on the Hugo ballot, nor would it have had a chance in hell of winning if by some miracle it made it there.

RAGTIME being nominated is just another example of SF people kissing up to respectable mainstream writers, who, of course, completely ignore the "honor."

In the short fiction categories, again most of the strongest stuff didn't make it on to the ballot. In novella, "Home Is the Hangman" is entertaining, but I think I would have gone for "The Silent Eyes of Time" or "A Momentary Taste of Being" (although it's extremely depressing). "The Peat Bog" is one of Anderson's best and least-known story, although it's a historical rather than SF.

In novelette, "The Borderland of Sol" is a weak winner. The clear winner for me here is Wolfe's "The Hero as Werewolf," one of my favorite Wolfe stories; I liked it better than "Tracking Song," which I liked, but always got the uneasy feeling from that I didn't really understand it (Michael Swanwick and I once sat down and spent about an hour trying to puzzle out what was really happening in "Tracking Song," and ultimately failed). "Retrograde Summer" is also good, and "Polly Charms the Sleeping Woman" may be the weakest story in THE ENQUIRIES OF DOCTOR ESZTERHAZY (one of the most delightful collections ever published), but that still makes it strong enough to make the ballot. I wouldn't have given it to "San Diego Lightfoot Sue," but it was strong enough to legitimately make the ballot, and I suspect that Tom Reamy would have won a Hugo within a few years if he'd stayed alive (his other story that year, "Under the Hollywood Sign," is a very grim story, by the way, almost as depressing as the Tiptree).

"Catch That Zeppelin!" is weak late Leiber, a nostalgia award. For me, the clear winner is Budry's "A Scraping at the Bones," a really nasty bit of Future Noir that's sharp as a scapel. I wasn't as crazy about "Child of All Ages" as some others, but agree that it's strong enough to deserve a place on the ballot. Most of the other stories, frankly, are either weak or intensely dated.

MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL is one of the great film comedies, immensely influential, and should have won.

I was at MidAmeriCon, in some ways the first "modern" worldcon, which introduced multi-track programming and (I think) the videotaping of panels. I have many fond memories of it.
James Davis Nicoll
33. Gardner Dozois
Oh, and for me, the clear winner in the Campbell is John Varley. Time has blurred how important and exciting his blossoming in short fiction was in the late '70s. Suddenly, here was this guy you'd never heard of doing all these great stories that did things with SF that nobody else was doing and that nobody had ever done before. Budrys referred to it as something like "a trumpet call, waking SF out of its doldrums." The only comparable concentrated burst of excellent stories was by Roger Zelazny in the late '60s.
James Davis Nicoll
34. M Bernstein
A small correction: the art for "The Capture", actually a combination slideshow and dramatic reading, was done by Phil Foglio, but the script was by Robert Asprin. I performed in it several times. It's comedy, about the passengers on a SF-themed cruise passing through the Bermuda Triangle and being picked up by aliens.

While I do like the Martin novellette, my choice would have been "San Diego Lightfoot Sue". And I note that the short story nominees were extremely good. I'd hazard a guess that Plauger won the Campbell in 1975 in part because "Child of All Ages", which I can still remember fondly, was published at the perfect time to influence the nominating and voting.
Rich Horton
35. ecbatan
Gardner, I think you're right that time has blurred how fresh Varley's work seemed at that time. I know he was the name I looked for most eagerly those days, in Galaxy and F&SF -- I gobbled every one of his stories with delight. They really were something new and special. He's had a strong career, but I think the case can be made -- I'd make it -- that it hasn't quite matched the promise of those early stories, in part because that's such a high bar for anyone to clear.

In 1975 I believe Plauger won because Varley hadn't quite yet published his really striking stuff, and as M. Bernstein notes, "Child of All Ages" appeared early enough for voters to have read it prior to the voting (indeed it was probably very fresh in the mind of voters). I would give two reasons Reamy won in 1976: 1) he really had published some fine stuff ("Twilla" the year before, as well as "San Diego Lightfoot Sue"), and 2) he was a well known and popular fan.

This is the first year I might plausibly have voted for the Hugos, though I don't think I did.

I agree that "Polly Charms" is not the best story in The Enquiries of Doctor Eszterhazy -- I think it got the Nebula nomination because of its F&SF appearance, which led more voters to see it.
James Davis Nicoll
36. Gardner Dozois
I think the fact that Varley switched from writing short fiction to writing novels played a part, just as it did with Zelazny. Frankly, he wasn't as good at it as he had been at the other; I remember being increasingly disappointed in his TITAN trilogy, until by the time he got to the last volume, I actively disliked it. Then he started his long relationship with writing for Hollywood, which ultimately soured and exhausted him, and which meant that he spilled most of his career momentum by effectively disappearing from sight for a decade, as far as the SF fans were concerned. By the time he finally came back, some of the luster was off the rose, the field had moved on (in large part due to Vsrley's own innovations), and this is why his reputation has blurred in retrospect. It really is hard to overestimate how important he was for a couple of years there, though, especially since the field as a whole was in a bleak low-energy slump after the War of the New Wave had worn everybody out. There were times when the freshness of Varley's work wase the only hopeful sign out there.

I think that Davidson was just getting his Eszterhazy mojo up to working speed with "Polly Charms," which was the first of the stories (in fact, I believe that Dr. Esterhazy was originally intended to be a one-shot character), and that he got it working better as he went along. THE ENQUIRES OF DOCTOR ESZTERHAZY, which was written in the course of only a few weeks, is one of the most impressive works of white-hot sustained imagination in the history of the field. The richness, depth, and subtlety of Secondary World construction there rivals Tolkien.
James Davis Nicoll
37. Doug M.
I'm not sure, but I think Tom Reamy is the only Campbell winner to have died (yet). He passed away in 1977, just a year or so after winning
the award: heart attack while sitting at his typewriter, dead at 32.

We can't know what Reamy would have done if he'd lived. But I suspect he would have been a major figure. Two reasons.

One, Reamy had been involved with SF for years as a fan and amateur publisher. Unlike, say, P.F. Plauger, it was a full-time job and a love affair. So he almost certainly would have continued writing and publishing.

Two, Reamy's total output consisted of one novel and one collection of short stories. However, that modest corpus collected a Nebula, three Nebula nominations, and a Hugo nomination. Some of these nominations came after he died, so sentiment may have been at work. Still, the quality was high. At least one of those stories ("Twilla") has stayed very clear in my memory -- it's a very creepy story -- and "San Diego Lightfoot Sue" has to be one of the best titles ever.

Reamy's writing style was still rather clunky, and the influences are very easy to spot -- a lot of Bradbury, a lot of Ellison, a dash of Cordwainer Smith. But he was visibly improving his craft, and the outlines of a major talent were already visible IMO. His death was a great loss to the field.

I think both his books have been OOP for a while, but if you like dark fantasy, he's still worth looking up.

Cambell Losers: This was a pretty strong field.

Varley we've already discussed. I think he might have deserved it more than Reamy but, you know, they were both really strong contenders. I can't say giving it to Reamy was a bad call.

Joan Vinge wrote ten novels and collected several awards, including two Hugos. She also wrote about a dozen movie adaptations; if you bought the book for "Ladyhawke", Willow", "Return to Oz", or "Lost In Space", that was her. She seems to have given up on SF in the last few years, but still, a pretty good run.

Arsen Darnay wrote five or six novels inthe '70s and then somewhat drifted away, though IIUC he's written stuff intermittently since. I'm told his stuff was okay to good.

M.A. Foster wrote several good books including the "Ler" trilogy, of which two are good-to-excellent, and the Morphodite trilogy, which was reprinted in an omnibus in 2006. AFAIK he hasn't had any SF published since the 1990s, but he does write an occasional column, "Eyeless in Gaza", for the Acme Comics website.

Overall a pretty good year for the Campbells.


Doug M.
Peter D. Tillman
38. PeteTillman
Re#33, Gardner, Varley:
"Suddenly, here was this guy you'd never heard of doing all these great
stories that did things with SF that nobody else was doing and that
nobody had ever done before."

A more-recent Varley-analog is Charlie Stross, when he hit his stride around the turn of the 21st century:
Stories like
*Antibodies (2000)
*A Colder War (2000)
*Jury Service (2002) with Cory Doctorow
*Rogue Farm (2003)
*The Rapture of the Nerds: Jury Duty and Appeals Court (2004) with Cory Doctorow
*Missile Gap (2005)
And of course the stories he fixed up into Accelerando (2005)... Wow. Varley-like impact, at least for me.

Incidentally, that's "Charles David George Stross", per ISFDB....
James Davis Nicoll
39. James Davis Nicoll
(Joan D. Vinge) seems to have given up on SF in the last few years, but still, a pretty good run.

Not so much given up as "was involved in a 2002 car wreck that left her with, in her words, "minor but debilitating brain damage". She also has fibromyalgia and I see from her Nov. 2008 "A letter to my readers" smashed her knee a few years ago.

The Nov. 2008 letter mentions that working on a bronze age novel, a Cat book and something titled Heaven Belt, which would include The Outcasts of Heaven Belt and the novella "Legacy," as well as a new novella called "Ammonite."

Fans of Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky may be interested to know that The Outcasts of Heaven Belt is set in Vernor Vinge's Zones of Thought setting; Joan D. Vinge's letter discusses this aspect of her book.
James Davis Nicoll
40. Gardner Dozois
Poor Joan. Sigh.

Yes, Stross was another example of the Zelazny Effect, suddenly coming to public awareness with a highly concentrated outburst of first-rate short fiction. Michael Swanwick too.
Rich Horton
41. ecbatan
True about Stross, except that he had been publishing fiction for perhaps a decade before he exploded.

Would Mark Clifton perhaps be an earlier example? Or Bester, in a somewhat different way? (In Bester's case, two major novels were part of the impact.)
James Davis Nicoll
42. James Davis Nicoll
You know, a The Complete Short Fiction of Joan D. Vinge would fit into two reasonable-sized volumes or one really big one.
James Davis Nicoll
43. Gardner Dozois
Yeah, Stross had been publishing the occasional story, mostly in INTERZONE and SPECTRUM, but few people took any notice of them. It wasn't until he started publishing in a major American market that he really took off.
James Davis Nicoll
44. Rob T.
For me, the most interesting thing about "Catch That Zeppelin!" is that it's actually one of a series of autobiographical or roman à clef fictions that includes the fine late novel Our Lady of Darkness as well as my favorite Leiber story ever, "The Button Molder". If the "this-may-be-our-last-chance-to-award-this-famous-but-elderly-writer" meme lay behind the awards for "Catch That Zeppelin!", maybe the voters should have waited just a few more years.
Alayne McGregor
45. alaynem
Doorways in the Sand was one of the first SF books I ever bought new in hardcover (I think the other one aroud the same time was Dies Irae by Zelazny and Dick). I loved it, reread it many times and still have it.

Zelazny did some interesting things with form in that book (each chapter is its own flashback) -- which actually end up relating to the whole point of the story. Ultimately it's not his best book because its theme isn't as profound as some of his others, but it's beautifully written. And I always loved the way the protagonist did his damndest to remain the eternal student -- and the way the university administration finally found to award him a degree. These days, I suspect, universities would rather just keep taking his money...
James Davis Nicoll
46. MagneyJ
Re: Dhalgren and The Female Man. For some odd reason, over a stretch running almost ten Nebulas, however, nominated at least one most years.
James Davis Nicoll
47. MagneyJ
Re: Dhalgren and The Female Man. For some odd reason, over a stretch
running almost ten years, Hugo nominators wouldn't pick an original mm pb unless it had been serialized in a prozine or was part of an established series. Nebulas, however, nominated at least one most years.
Joel Cunningham
48. jec81
if anyone is still reading this, i just finished "and seven times never kill man" and i can't help but fel i missed something huge. and yet there is no discussion of it anywhere online. i listened to the audio rather than read it, which might be part of the problem, but i had some trouble figuring out what happened at the end... can anyone explain?
James Davis Nicoll
49. Alan Heuer
Here is how I voted in 1976:

Best Novel
1. The Stochastic Man Robert Silverberg
2. The Computer Connection Alfred Bester
3. The Forever War Joe Haldeman
4. Doorways in the Sand Roger Zelazny
5. Inferno Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

Best Novella
1. "The Silent Eyes of Time" Algis Budrys
2. "Home Is the Hangman" Roger Zelazny
3. "The Custodians" Richard Cowper
4. "The Storms of Windhaven" George R.R. Martin & Lisa Tuttle
5. "Arm" Larry Niven

Best Novelette
1. "San Diego Lightfoot Sue" Tom Reamy
2. "The New Atlantis" Ursula K. Le Guin
3. "And Seven Times Never Kill Man" George R.R. Martin
4. "Tinker" Jerry Pournelle
5. "The Borderland of Sol" Larry Niven

Best Short Story
1. "Child of All Ages" P.J. Plauger
2. "Croatoan" Harlan Ellison
3. "Sail the Tide of Mourning" Richard A. Lupoff
4. "Doing Lennon" Gregory Benford
5. "Rogue Tomato" Michael Bishop
6. "Catch That Zeppelin!" Fritz Leiber

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