Apr 10 2011 10:10am

Hugo Nominees: 1978

1978 Hugo Award trophyThe 1978 Hugo Awards were held at the legendary Iguanacon II, in Phoenix Arizona. The best novel award was won by Frederik Pohl’s Gateway (post) which is a big dumb object story, a psychological mystery, and a really excellent story about people trying to get rich by getting into alien ships with uncontrollable navigation systems. It’s a terrific Hugo winner, a real classic. Everyone loved it; it won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Locus, and the Nebula as well as the Hugo. It’s in print, and it’s in the Grande Bibliotheque of Montreal (henceforth “the library”) in English only.

There are four other nominees, and I have read three of them—and I’ve written about two of them, making this the year with the most books I’ve written about so far.

Let’s start with the one I haven’t read, Gordon Dickson’s Time Storm. Fantastic Fiction says it’s about a man who sets off accompanied by a leopard and a nearly autistic woman to find his wife who was swept off by a time storm. If that was the blurb on the back of the book, then that explains why I haven’t read it. Can it really be as awful as it sounds? If I were a huge Dickson fan I’d have read it despite the unpromising description, but I only mildly like the books of his I have read. It’s in print from Baen, but it’s not in the library.

George R.R. Martin’s first novel Dying of the Light (post) is beautifully written romantic space opera with complex culture clashes on a wandering planet at the edge of the galaxy. I love it. I am nevertheless surprised it was nominated for the Hugo—it’s the kind of book I tend to see on the list of things nobody noticed and think “But I love that!” It is in print and in the library in French and English. (But to be fair I think that’s less because it’s an enduring classic than because Martin subsequently became a bestseller and brought his backlist back into print. This book was hard to find for a very long time.) I think it would have got my vote over Gateway in 1978 (I was thirteen) but I recognise Gateway as a more significant novel now.

Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Forbidden Tower (post) surprised me even more. It’s a book from the middle of the Darkover series, and it’s not actually a good book by objective standards. It’s about four telepaths, one from Earth and three from Darkover, settling into a polyamorous marriage and dealing with issues. I mean I certainly kind of like it, but it really doesn’t strike me Hugo worthy material. Maybe in 1978 it seemed better, more original? I didn’t read it until about ten years after. It’s in print from Daw, and it’s in the library in both languages.

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s Lucifer’s Hammer is a survivalist story about a large meteor hitting the Earth and people coping in the aftermath. I read it in 1978 or soon after, and I didn’t think much of it—I remember very simplistic characters and bestseller-style point-of-view switching, always a turn off for me. Amazon thinks it’s in print but Del Rey doesn’t, so I can’t tell. It’s in the library in English only, so I guess I could re-read it and see how well it has lasted.

So this is the weirdest nominee list for a long time. The winner is wonderful, but the rest of them are all surprising. And two of the ones I’ve read—Lucifer’s Hammer and The Forbidden Tower are comfortable books of a kind that don’t really belong on this list. What else might they have picked?

SFWA’s Nebula nominees don’t overlap at all, except for Gateway, which won. They have four other nominees and I haven’t read any of them. They are Terry Carr’s Cirque, Gregory Benford’s In the Ocean of Night, David Gerrold’s Moonstar Odyssey, and Richard A. Lupoff’s Sword of the Demon.

The World Fantasy Awards have no overlap. It was won by Fritz Leiber’s Our Lady of Darkness, which I think should have been a Hugo nominee. Other nominees were Stephen Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and Charles L. Grant’s The Hour of the Oxrun Dead.

Gateway won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, second place was Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic, and third was Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly. Now as you know if you’ve been reading these posts I don’t like Dick at all, but I still think it’s ridiculous that this wasn’t on the Hugo ballot. This is a major book.

The Locus Awards separated out SF and Fantasy this year for the first time. Nominees for SF not previously mentioned were: John Varley’s The Ophiuchi Hotline (post) which certainly should have been a Hugo nominee, Michaelmas, Algis Budrys The Dosadi Experiment, Frank Herbert, Dragonsinger, Anne McCaffrey, Hunter of Worlds, C. J. Cherryh. Mirkheim, Poul Anderson, The Dark Design, Philip José Farmer, A Heritage of Stars, Clifford D. Simak, Midnight at the Well of Souls, Jack L. Chalker, Inherit the Stars, James P. Hogan, All My Sins Remembered, Joe Haldeman, The Martian Inca, Ian Watson, A Little Knowledge, Michael Bishop, If the Stars Are Gods, Gregory Benford & Gordon Eklund.

Nominees for Fantasy not previously mentioned: The Silmarillion, J. R. R. Tolkien, first book I ever bought in hardcover, The Shining, Stephen King (Doubleday) The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks, Heir of Sea and Fire, Patricia A. McKillip, The Book of Merlyn, T. H. White, A Spell for Chameleon, Piers Anthony, The Grey Mane of Morning, Joy Chant Cry Silver Bells, Thomas Burnett Swann, Trey of Swords, Andre Norton, Queens Walk in the Dusk, Thomas Burnett Swann, Silver on the Tree, Susan Cooper.

The BSFA Award went to Ian Watson’s The Jonah Kit,

Any great books overlooked by all the awards? Using the ISFDB again, there’s Diana Wynne Jones’s Charmed Life, Octavia Butler’s Mind of My Mind (post), Edward Whittemore’s The Sinai Tapestry, M.A. Foster’s The Gameplayers of Zan (post) and Barrington Bayley’s The Great Wheel.

I think The Ophiuchi Hotline and A Scanner Darkly should definitely have been on the shortlist, and maybe Our Lady of Darkness and Mind of My Mind. The Ophiuchi Hotline and A Scanner Darkly are both important boundary defining science fiction books of the kind that the Hugo ought to be recognising, and usually does.


  • “Stardance,” Spider Robinson & Jeanne Robinson (Analog Mar 1977)
  • “Aztecs,” Vonda N. McIntyre (2076: The American Tricentennial)
  • “In the Hall of the Martian Kings,” John Varley (F&SF Feb 1977)
  • “A Snark in the Night,” Gregory Benford (F&SF Aug 1977)
  • “The Wonderful Secret,” Keith Laumer (Analog Sep,Oct 1977)

I’d have given it to the Varley. It seems they were a sentimental lot at Iguanacon II, and “Stardance” certainly has its charms.


  • “Eyes of Amber,” Joan D. Vinge (Analog Jun 1977)
  • “Ender’s Game,” Orson Scott Card (Analog Aug 1977)
  • “The Ninth Symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven and Other Lost Songs,” Carter Scholz (Universe 7)
  • “Prismatica,” Samuel R. Delany (F&SF Oct 1977)
  • “The Screwfly Solution,” Raccoona Sheldon (Analog Jun 1977)

I’d definitely have voted for Tiptree, whatever she wants to call herself.


  • “Jeffty Is Five,” Harlan Ellison (F&SF Jul 1977)
  • “Air Raid,” Herb Boehm (Asimov’s Spring 1977)
  • “Dog Day Evening,” Spider Robinson (Analog Oct 1977)
  • “Lauralyn,” Randall Garrett (Analog Apr 1977)
  • “Time-Sharing Angel,” James Tiptree, Jr. (F&SF Oct 1977)

This is the year of “John Varley was robbed.” Wow, “Air Raid,” one of the best and most memorable short stories of all time, and it didn’t win? Ellison was the GoH, so that might have had some influence? Or maybe nobody had started reading Asimov’s yet? But I remember getting hold of that issue and wondering who this Herb Boehm was and why I hadn’t seen anything of his before. (That would have been a year or so afterwards though. SF magazines were slow crossing the Atlantic in those days.)


  • Star Wars
  • “Blood! The Life and Times of Jack the Ripper” (recording)
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • The Hobbit
  • Wizards

I suppose I would have voted for Star Wars above no award. Just about.


  • George Scithers
  • Jim Baen
  • Ben Bova
  • Terry Carr
  • Edward L. Ferman

No, they had started reading Asimov’s. Inexplicable.


  • Rick Sternbach
  • Vincent Di Fate
  • Steve Fabian
  • Frank Kelly Freas
  • Michael Whelan


  • Locus, Charles Brown & Dena Brown
  • Don-O-Saur, Don C. Thompson
  • Janus, Janice Bogstad & Jeanne Gomoll
  • Maya, Rob Jackson
  • Science Fiction Review, Richard E. Geis


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


  • Phil Foglio
  • Grant Canfield
  • Alexis Gilliland
  • Jeanne Gomoll
  • Jim Shull


  • Orson Scott Card
  • Jack L. Chalker
  • Stephen R. Donaldson
  • Elizabeth A. Lynn
  • Bruce Sterling

Well, no losers there, a well selected list of early-career major writers. Card is an excellent winner, and I’d definitely have voted for him on the basis of work so far. All of the others have continued to write—with some gaps in Lynn’s case—and to produce talked-about books. Sterling is perhaps the standout, but it wasn’t until the eighties that he would begin to produce his really notable work. Donaldson won in 1979.

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.

Doug M.
1. Doug M.
Orson Scott Card was just 27 when he won the Campbell. Backthen, a lot of under-30 writers were winning it. Not so common these days.

I don't much care for Card, myself. I find his stuff unreadable, and the man himself sets my teeth on edge. (IME, anyone who self-identifies using the words "ornery" or "curmudgeon" is going to be annoying at best, and probably an idiot.) Furthermore, the fact that he beat Bruce Sterling makes my head hurt.

That said, I can't fault the voters on this one. Card won largely on the strength of "Ender's Game" (the novella version) -- but Ender's Game is one hell of a story. Even seen in retrospect, recognizing its deep and massive flaws, and knowing that it showcases themes that Card would return to at tedious length (tormented children, the nobility and importance of suffering) it still packs a punch. In 1977 it must have blown their wheels off.

Card went on to have a major career: four Hugos, two Nebulas, two Locuses and a World Fantasy award. And in terms of sheer raw output, I think he's probably the all-time Campbell winner. Card has written forty-two SF and fantasy books and seven anthologies. That's not counting the anthologies he's edited (about 30 or so), nor the nonfiction and non-SF (another dozen or so, not counting plays and poetry, nor his weekly column).

In terms of SF and fantasy books, he's neck-and-neck with C.J. Cherryh. But add in all his other stuff, and he leaves her far behind. The man's sheer output is awesome. And since Card is only 60 orso, there's probably more to come -- he's still going strong.

Further. While I don't like Card, obviously a lot of people do. He hasn't had a big hit in years, nor won any awards for a while, but his SF seems to be pretty steady reliable midlist. And while he hasn't been deeply influential on other writers, I think he's been important in another way: he's one of the few "gateway" writers still out there. People are still catching a case of SF from reading "Ender's Game". And I feel very strongly that there aren't enough gateway writers and gateway works.

Losers: Bruce Sterling. What are you doing in this paragraph?

Okay, in fairness to the voters, in 1978 Sterling's corpus was pretty modest -- a few short stories (IMS his first sale was to "Last Dangerous Visions") and one novel, _Involution Ocean_. In retrospect Involution Ocean is obviously the journeyman work of a big big talent, but this may not have been so obvious at the time.

Still... Sterling has gone on to write a dozen novels, all good to excellent, five story collections, and a couple of SF-relevant nonfiction books. That's a much smaller corpus than Card's, but it's still respectable - and if you flense out the stuff that's mediocre or worse, you cut Card's output by about 80%, while Sterling's is barely dented. He's been an energetic and high-profile essayist, columnist, and editor. He's the co-founder of cyberpunk and the "bright green" movement. And he's won two Hugos, a Clarke and a Campbell Best Novel, while collecting a whopping 10 Hugo and 9 Nebula nominations. And in terms of sheer influence, Sterling is probably the most important figure to have yet made the Campbell shortlist. (The only one who comes close is Pournelle. Very different sort of influence, mind.)

Jack L. Chalker we've already discussed. Stephen R. Donaldson would get his next year.

Elizabeth A. Lynn would go on to an interesting career. In the next few years after missing the Campbell, she'd write six novels and two short story collections, mostly fantasy. Then she would get hit by a truly horrible case of writers block, which would prevent her from writing anything at all for the next decade or so. Since 1995 she's recovered enough to write two more novels.

Overall, another good year for the Campbells.

Doug M.
Rich Horton
2. ecbatan
Jo, there is one really major novel from 1977 that doesn't show up on your lists, unless I'm just blanking. It certainly should have been a nominee, and I might almost vote for it to win, though I think Gateway a major and significant book and I can't really argue with it.

This is A Dream of Wessex (American title: The Perfect Lover), by Christopher Priest, a wonderful book.

Both major award shortlists are just odd, aren't they? Gateway is of course an excellent winner. And I quite like Martin's hyper-romantic Dying of the Light (aka "After the Festival" in its Analog serialization) -- it's a first novel and shows it, but it's still quite good. Lucifer's Hammer was something of a bestseller (I was working in a Waldenbooks then, and we put it in dumps in the front of the store -- indeed, I made sure to claim a few for the SF section, reasoning that some SF readers would only look back there!) -- perhaps that influenced nominators. The Forbidden Tower? -- eh. As for Time Storm, I haven't read the whole novel, but I have read a couple of excerpts. I was never interested in reading the whole thing, but the concept of time storms was at least somewhat interesting.

As for the Nebula shortlist -- Cirque is a short, rather slight, but quite interesting book. In the Ocean of Night is the first of Benford's long "Galactic Center" series (before it became at all clear that the Galactic Center would become involved) -- it's pretty good. Sword of the Demon I haven't read, but I have heard good things about it. As for Moonstar Odyssey -- is there any book on a relatively recent major shortlist, by a fairly well known author, that is quite so comprehensively forgotten? I don't remember it at all, not in the slightest. If someone told me David Gerrold had written such a book, I'd have doubted them.

In my nitpicking way, I'll note that a few may remember Our Lady of Darkness as "The Pale Brown Thing" in its F&SF serialization.

A few more novels worth a look:
Diana Wynne Jones's Drowned Ammet
Tanith Lee's Drinking Sapphire Wine
Cherry Wilder's The Luck of Brin's Five
Joanna Russ's We Who Are About to ...

And while the Campbell shortlist seems pretty solid, several quite major eligible authors were left off:
Mary Gentle (who published her first novel, but then published nothing more for several years)
James P. Hogan (Inherit the Stars was his first novel)
Charles Sheffield (with several quite enjoyable stories first published in 1977)

I also remember some praise for Janet Morris's High Couch of Silistra, but some controversy too -- I never read it. But she wouldn't have been a shock to see on the Campbell ballot.

Hogan and Sheffield would end up on the 1979 ballot.

Rich Horton
David Levinson
3. DemetriosX
I've read all of the novel nominees with the exception of the MZB. I'm not all that thrilled with any of them. I just have problems with Gateway, for all that most people seem to love it. I think it's the strong Freudian aspects of it; I have problems with Freud.

Dying of the Light is just too depressing for me. I read it once and my primary reaction was to want to grab the author and tell him there are other fish in the sea and to get over her already.

Lucifer's Hammer is decent enough, but does have a its problems. It did, however, forever change the face of SF publishing. Niven and Pournelle had to work very hard to convince anyone that a SF book that big could ever sell and recoup the advance. At the time, 300 pages was a very long book and they changed the paradigm.

Time Storm is better than its blurb. I first read it serialzed in Asimov's. Essentially, the world has gone wonky and there are storm cells where moving from one to another takes you to a different time (or maybe timeline). I don't recall the woman as autistic, merely mute.

I think I'd have wanted Our Lady of Darkness to be on the ballot. It's a damn creepy story and so very different from the splatterpunk movement that was just about to begin.

Not much to say about the short fiction. I've never liked Ender's Game in any format. I'm also in agreement with Doug M. about Card's work in general. I liked the first couple of Alvin Maker stories, but that's about it.

"Jeffty is Five" is now a very different story than it used to be when you consider that the model for Jeffty was Walter Koenig's son. I'm not sure it's possible to read the story the same way since his death.

Dramatic Presentation: I guess I can live with Star Wars if I focus on what it was as a stand-alone film. It certainly was a breath of fresh air in movie making at the time. Like Lucifer's Hammer, it changed the paradigm for its field.

Blood! was a double album of Fritz Leiber reading 2 of his Jack the Ripper stories and Harlan reading "The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World", which was inspired by one of the Leiber stories.

I've never been all that fond of Close Encounters. Somehow, it just misses for me.

The Hobbit is that awful Rankin-Bass cartoon. It's a musical, for crying out loud. Horrible, horrible. It has no business being on this list.

Wizards is certainly flawed in the ways that most Bakshi films are. Still, I might have picked it over Star Wars, if only for the "They killed Fritz!" rant and the ending.

And Michael Whelan makes his first appearance on the professional artist list. Also, people must have been reading Asimov's (which was a quarterly at that point, IIRC), since George Scithers won the editor's award.
john mullen
4. johntheirishmongol
I have read Time Storm. I enjoyed it a lot but I wouldn't call it outstanding. I just find Dickson very readable and fun.

I'm sorry you don't like Lucifer's Hammer because it's a pretty good story, well put together and enjoyable and I think it is entirely worthy of the Hugo nod. I am pretty sure it was a best seller, and at the time, although scifi was coming out of the closet, it still had the non-coolness factor and any book that the general public found accessable was a very good thing for the genre.

Gateway may have been the best book, but I still don't care for the protagonist that much and books that spend too much time in the characters heads because of "issues" just annoy me. The setup and the design were outstanding though.

The other books I have read as well. I don't like Dying of the Light as much as you do. But then again, at that time, romance wasn't big on my agenda.

I have tried to read Bradley a couple of times, and simply never enjoyed them that much.

If I were to add any books to the nomination list, my favorite of the ones you listed was The Dosadi Experiment. I think it is a fabulous write, and it's on my regular reread list. I wish that Herbert had done more with that universe.

Overall, especially compared to the previous year, this year is spectacularly better.

When Star Wars came out, I was working full time, taking classes, rehearsing for a play and was paying no attention to the world around me so I didn't even know it was coming out. I was 24 and my mom, even though she hated scifi, grabbed me and took me to go see it. It is not the best movie ever made, but in a lot of ways, it is the most influential movie. Although FX had been around and been improving, no one ever put it together before, like Lucas did.

Because of this, it was the start of making fandom cool. I would argue it was a watershed year for scifi.
Rich Horton
5. ecbatan
Short fiction ...

A curious year for novella. I can't find any to add to the list. I don't remember Laumer's "The Wonderful Secret" at all -- I thought this was already "post-stroke", when he just couldn't write any more. (The Laumer stories I do remember from this period are dire.) "Stardance" is OK, but not special. I'd give the award to either "Aztecs" or "In the Hall of the Martian Kings". (Which is not an Eight Worlds story, by the way.) The Nebula shortlist, by the way, was as short as you can get -- just "Aztecs" and "Stardance".

There isn't even a Gene Wolfe novella from 1977 -- but no worries, he'll be back in 1978!

A few novelettes to add to consideration. Two excellent ones appeared on the Nebula shortlist:
"A Rite of Spring", by Fritz Leiber
"Particle Theory", by Edward Bryant

"The Screwfly Solution" won the Nebula, and it was a very worthy winner, but I just love "A Rite of Spring", and would not have objected had it won an award. The Carter Scholz story is also very good, and also appears on the Nebula shortlist. (The other Nebula shortlisted novelette is "The Stone House", by Martin.)

Other strong novelettes:
"Equinoctial", by John Varley
"Black as the Pit, from Pole to Pole", by Howard Waldrop and Steven Utley
"Manatee Gal Are You Coming Out Tonight?", one of the best Jack Limekiller stories from Avram Davidson

In short story, I had no idea the model for Jeffty was Walter Koenig's son. I did think "Jeffty is Five" quite good. "Air Raid" is better, though. I think a lot of people had no idea that "Herb Boehm" was John Varley, but that shouldn't have mattered. After all, it got enough attention to make the shortlist.

There was another good Avram Davidson story: "Hark! Was That the Squeal of an Angry Thoat?". And also a magnificent Gene Wolfe story, "The Marvelous Brass Chessplaying Automaton".

As for artist, I remember Rick Sternbach's work with great affection, and I think he deserved his Hugo.

Rich Horton
Rob Munnelly
6. RobMRobM
I'll second JohnTIM's comment above expressing love for Herbert's Dosadi Experiment. Really enjoyed it, even more than its predecessor, Whipping Star. Builds strongly on the theme introduced in Dune of harsh conditions causing greatness among the survivors. In the case of Dosadi, almost unimaginably harsh.

Yes, I strongly recall Lucifer's Hammer as a big best seller in its day. Not only did I and my brothers read it, I have a vague memory my mother did as well.

Jo Walton
7. bluejo
Rich: I tried to re-read A Dream of Wessex last year and found that the suck fairy had been at it. I never liked the end, but now I didn't like any of it. Also, major novel? Priest's a major writer, but his early novels seen to be forgotten these days.
Phoenix Falls
8. PhoenixFalls
FWIW, both The Forbidden Tower and Time Storm were formative genre books for this reader at least. . . The Forbidden Tower was my first encounter with polyamory and Time Storm was my first encounter with alternate realities and weird semi-mystical (okay, wholly mystical) problem-solving.

But I recognize that for most genre readers these weren't the first. . . well, anything, so even though I can't look at them objectively I recognize that they don't seem to blow anybody else's mind. . .

And the girl in Time Storm isn't autistic -- she's semi-catatonic from PTSD (it's a post-apocalyptic novel, really) and then gets better off-screen when the book jumps forward in time. But if I'm being totally honest, the book won me over purely with the tragic!cat. The tragic!ape gets me too. . . :D
Doug M.
9. James Davis Nicoll
Orson Scott Card was just 27 when he won the Campbell. Backthen, a lot of under-30 writers were winning it. Not so common these days.

While barriers of translation and such pretty much guarantee that the voters for the Campbell won't have heard of them until they are no longer eligible, I noticed that some of the authors Nick Mamatas' Haikasoru has been importing are young by the standards of North American SF: Ogawa was 28 when The Next Continent was first published.

1: I was bit surprised not to see more local talent nominated the year the Worldcon was in Japan.

2: Which people should run out and buy, damn it!

And while he hasn't been deeply influential on other writers,

While you've left ample quibble room with "deeply", Card has a track record of teaching/mentoring younger writers.
David Levinson
10. DemetriosX
ecbatan @5:

I had no idea the model for Jeffty was Walter Koenig's son.

So Harlan claimed in Shatterday, at least. He had a story idea that needed a young boy and, not having any kids of his own, he used the son of a friend as a model.
The Laumer was definitely post-stroke. But this is the first part of The Ultimax Man, which is what he was working on when he had the stroke. So, this is essentially pre-stroke work, though maybe some of the polishing was done after.
Doug M.
11. James Davis Nicoll
I have tried to read Bradley a couple of times, and simply never enjoyed them that much.

Perhaps it's because the Comyn are a bunch of mindless jerks who’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.
Doug M.
12. James Davis Nicoll
I don't know if it was intended this way but Mirkheim turned out to be the book that put the pennies on the eyes of the Polesotechnic setting. In fact, both major periods of the Technic setting were winding down (The last Flandry book anyone needs to read is A Knight of Ghost and Shadows (1874), which should have been the climax of the series but tragically was followed by the rather unnecessary A Stone in Heaven. An attempt at Flandry: the Next Generation was offered in 1985's The Game of Empire but it doesn't seem to have caught the attention of the readers).

The mood shift in the Polesotechnic League setting, going from fairly upbeat (in an Andersonian sense) to relentlessly grim around the time of 1973's "Lodestar") was a bit jarring, at least to me.
Doug M.
13. James Davis Nicoll
(The last Flandry book anyone needs to read is A Knight of Ghost and Shadows (1874),

1: Head > Desk
2: Goto 1

Doug M.
14. Bruce A.
"the legendary Iguanacon II" That's one adjective to describe it. To the best of my knowledge, Iguanacon is the only Worldcon that's been used as the setting for a porn story. ("Philly" by Michael K. Smith, who is actually a pretty good writer and not just by porn standards; I've always wondered if I'd recognize his real name.)

Martin's Dying of the Light impressed me with its great visuals (graphic adaptation, anyone?), but there's one scene in it where a previously established fact is... well, "forgotten" is a polite way to put it. It was like being on a wonderful sightseeing trip and having a tire blow out, careening across the road, end up sideways in a shallow ditch, spending the next hour wrestling with jacks and tire irons and a heavy & grimy spare tire, and spending the rest of the trip sweaty and dirty and annoyed.
James Enge
15. JamesEnge
@4 DemetriosX: "Blood! was a double album of Fritz Leiber reading 2 of his Jack the Ripper stories and Harlan reading 'The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World', which was inspired by one of the Leiber stories."

I think you mean Robert Bloch, here. There was a Fritz Leiber recording in the same series, but he read "Gonna Roll the Bones" and an F&G story ("In the Witch's Tent" if I'm remembering right).

And (shout-out to ectaban) I'm one of those who always thinks of Our Lady of Darkness as "The Pale Brown Thing" ... despite the fact that the book-title is far superior.
Michal Jakuszewski
16. Lfex
I am not a big fan of Pohl, so Gateway is rather blah to me. Between the nominated novels I would certainly chose Dying of the Light, but I agree it was rather weak list of nominees.

As for the books which were not nominated, it would be absolutely great if The Silmarillion had won, but it just isn't kind of book which is likely to win a Hugo (or any other award, with the possible exception of Mythopoeic, come to think of this). Barring that, I think my favorite novel of the year was M. A Foster's The Gameplayers of Zan. Lord Foul's Bane also appeared that year and would certainly make my list, if I was nominating back then. I would also add The Silmarillion, just for the hell of it, Dying of the Light, which I still like a lot, and The Dosadi Experiment.

As for the short fiction, I agree "The Screwfly Solution" and "Air Raid" should be winners. In novella category i would probably go with Benford.
David Goldfarb
17. David_Goldfarb
Yes, Asimov's was quarterly at this point: in fact 1977 was its debut year. "Air Raid" was published in the very first issue. (The byline was "Herb Boehm" because Varley had another story in that same issue.)

If I recall correctly, Asimov's was quarterly for its first two years, then bimonthly in 1979, then went monthly in 1980. Okay, no: the ISFDB says bimonthly in its second year and monthly in 1979, and in fact by only its fifth year went to every four weeks.
David Levinson
18. DemetriosX
JamesEnge @15: D'oh! Of course I meant Bloch. To the best of my knowledge, Leiber never wrote a Ripper story, but Bloch returned to him several times. I must have had Leiber on the brain from Our Lady of Darkness.
Rich Horton
19. ecbatan
Well, I haven't read A Dream of Wessex in some years, but I did like it a great deal. I wouldn't deny that Priest's early novels are somewhat forgotten, but even his later novels have not been well treated, if what happened to The Separation is and indication. (The Prestige, buoyed by the movie, is an exception.) To be sure, maybe Priest would have declined the award ...

As for The Dosadi Experiment, I never read it, even though it was serialized in Galaxy and I was a subscriber. I'm not sure why I didn't read it then, but a number of years later I read Whipping Star, and that put paid to the idea of ever reading Dosadi, because Whipping Star is one of the worst SF novels I've ever read. (Warriors of Day bad. Mission to the Heart Stars bad. Rainbow Mars bad. Almost, though not quite, Algorithm bad.)

Rich Horton
Doug M.
20. Gardner Dozois
GATEWAY is the clear winner, and the most historically important book in retrospect, but THE DYING OF THE LIGHT deserved its place on the ballot. They're probably the two best of the books that actually made it on. The Dickson is weak Dickson, and the Bradley is, shall we say, not to my taste, and the Niven/Pournelle is a flashy disaster novel without much heart. Leiber's OUR LADY OF DARKNESS, one of his best, should have been on the ballot, and so probably should have A SCANNER DARKLY, although it's one of the most depressing books I've ever read, and perhaps THE OPHIUICHI HOTLINE, the best of Varley's early novels (I hated the TITAN trilogy he'd go on to after this). THE SHINING is certainly still read and still remembered, although whether it should have been on the Hugo ballot is arguable. Most of the rest of the possibilities are minor.

Novella should have been "In the Hall of the Martian Kings," one of the first of the "New Mars" stories, dealing with the Mars revealed by the Mariner probes, and doing so very effectively too. Nothing else in that category really rivals it.

Novelette, I think, belongs to Tiptree/Sheldon's "The Screwfly Solution," one of her strongest stories ever, although I'm also very fond of "Manatee Gal," perhaps the best of Davidson's wonderful Jack Limekiller stories (think "Screwfly Solution" is the more significant story, though), and Bryant's "Particle Theory" is a strong story too. A case could certainly be made for "Ender's Game," and everything that's been said here about it being a gateway drug for SF is true, although I think that really applies more to the novel verson than to the novelette version; talking to Clarion students over the years about what got them started reading SF, student after student citied the novel version of ENDER'S GAME--you could almost count on it turning up. I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned Bishop's "The House of Compassionate Sharers," which, as I recall, showed up in all of that year's Best of the Year anthologies. I'd also mention Jack Vance's "The Bagful of Dreams," perhaps the best of his later Cugel the Clever stories. This category is overall much stronger than novella.

Short story is very weak. Probably this should have gone to "Air Raid," which didn't even make the ballot, although, since this was a story I solicited from Varley and convinced George to buy in my position at the time as Associate Editor of Asimov's, I'm prejudiced. Wasn't that 1976, though, not 1978? If "Air Raid" is in 1976, then this was a weak year indeed in short story, although, unnoticed by just about everybody in the field except for me, it did feature the publication of William Gibson's very first story, "Fragments of a Hologram Rose," in UNEARTH.

No way that STAR WARS, a movie landmark, doesn't win in this category, especially as the rest of the candidates are very weak.

Rick Sternbach is almost forgotten these days, but he briefly dominated the field in the couple of years he was active before moving on to work on STAR TREK, and deserved his Hugo. (In the interests of Full Disclosure, I should say that he was a friend and once painted a painting on my kitchen table, so I may be prejudiced.

Card certainly deserved his win at the time, based on the evidence available then, although I think that Bruce Sterling would subsequently outstrip him in sheer ability. Sterling didn't deserve it based on the work visible in 1978, though, and Card did.
Doug M.
21. Susan Loyal
I'm caught in a moment of nostalgia. In 1977 I was an adult working a job, with discretionary income (although not a lot), out of college, not yet in graduate school. I can actually remember which of these books I read when they come out, rather than years after. What I chose to read was based on what I saw in bookstores. I knew no one else who read science fiction and fantasy, so no input from others, and that year I didn't see any issues of F&SF, although I'd subscribed when I was in college. So no reviews, either. Of those listed, I read:

Gateway, The Forbidden Tower, Lucifer's Hammer, The Ophiuchi Hotline, In the Ocean of Night, Dragonsinger, The Book of Merlyn, Charmed Life, The Perfect Lover. I picked up The Silmarillion and put it back down. I tried to read Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and gave up. I wanted to read Our Lady of Darkness, but I lived alone and was afraid that I wouldn't be able to sleep afterwards, so I didn't.

If you had asked me what I thought was the best book of the year (I'd only vaguely heard of the Hugos, so it wasn't a question I asked myself), I'd have said The Ophiuchi Hotline or Charmed Life.

However, I liked Gateway, although it didn't make as much impression on me as Man Plus. I liked Lucifer's Hammer quite a lot. It was the first time I'd encountered the "big space object whacks Earth and you can't rely on Stouffer's frozen meals anymore so what now?" plot. I was working as an administrative assistant, and I was charmed by the idea that organizational skills went on being useful. I read it more than once, and then never again. I liked The Forbidden Tower, which I also read more than once. Both its structure and its prose are awkward, but it attempts discussion of how a mature person goes about setting aside convictions that hamper effective action. Oddly, when I did find someone who also read SF&F to talk to, MZB was the only point where our tastes overlapped. (While the Comyn would certainly be first up against the wall come the revolution, their charm lies mostly in offering very clear rules of the your-grandmother-did-it-this-way-and-as-long-as-you-live-in-my-house-you-will-too variety. So the plot almost always replicates the process of individuation: 1) leave the house; 2) deconstruct grandmother's reasons to see if conditions have changed, 3) change the world. In other words, it's an effective YA plot.)
Doug M.
22. JohnnyMac
A minor note on "Our Lady of Darkness" (one of Leiber's best, IMHO): it is set in San Francisco and one of the key locations is a sinister hill called Corona Heights. When I read the story I was living near San Francisco, had never heard of Corona Heights and assumed that Leiber had invented it. A decade or so later, I was in a service station idly studying a large map of the Bay Area mounted on the wall while I waited for my car. I was both surprised and a little chilled to discover on the map "Corona Heights" clearly marked.

It was rather as if I had been driving down a freeway in New England and seen a sign reading: "Innsmouth Exit-3 Miles".
Steven Halter
23. stevenhalter
Gordon Dickson’s Time Storm is really much better than that blurb. Time storms sweep across the planet. Sunday (the leopard) and the girl have been effected by the time storms that sweep across the planet. Marc (the main character) is trying to figure out the storms--their cause and origin.
It's quite a good read.
Doug M.
24. JohnnyMac
@12 James Davis Nicoll, I strongly agree with your assessement of Anderson's "...mood relentlessly grim..." at about this time. Look at his short story "The Pugilist" (1973). Don't read it if you have firearms or sharp knives at hand.

Why the dominate tone in his fiction shifted this way, I don't know. Perhaps it was his native Norse gloom mestastasizing in reaction to the general 1970s craziness. Combined with his increasingly didactic libertarianism, it makes a lot of his later work less enjoyable to me.

That said, I still think he was a damn good writer and his books take up a lot of space on my shelves.
Michael Walsh
25. MichaelWalsh
"the legendary Iguanacon II"

For all sorts of values of "legendary" ....
Karen Lofstrom
26. DPZora
I would have voted for Gameplayers for best novel. M. A. Foster is unjustly overlooked.
Doug M.
27. HelenS
I thought Jeffty Is Five was wonderful, and I'm not much on Ellison in general. It's certainly one of the short stories I've read that's stuck in my head longest (though I haven't read Air Raid, so can't compare).
David Levinson
28. DemetriosX
Gardner @20: Umm, "Air Raid" was on the ballot, both Hugo and Nebula for that matter. Maybe you bought it in 76? It ran in the first IASFM in Spring of 77, so given lead times I would guess so.
Rich Horton
29. ecbatan
I'm pretty sure that issue (which I eagerly snatched from the newsstand shelves!) appeared in late 1976 actually. Traditionally for the Hugo and Nebula issue date trumps appearance date for eligibility purposes.
p l
30. p-l
Jo: You've probably answered this a couple of times here, but I can't find it at the moment. Why do you hate Philip K. Dick?
Rich Horton
31. ecbatan
You know, back to the subject of Orson Scott Card, sure, he's written some poor stuff, and some very annoying stuff, and I won't attempt to defend his political views (but I won't judge his fiction based on that either, except to the extent it distorts the fiction) ... but for me, anyone who has written two stories as good as "Gloriously Bright" (the "good parts" version of Xenocide that was published in Analog -- no Ender, no Jane (thank goodness, how I hate Jane) -- just the interesting stuff); and "The Originist" (simply the best Foundation story of all time); -- anyone who has written those two stories deserves to be remembered.
René Walling
32. cybernetic_nomad
@Doug M.

"Orson Scott Card was just 27 when he won the Campbell. Backthen, a lot of under-30 writers were winning it. Not so common these days."

I realize I pretty late on this but this is simply not true. If you plot the average age of the nominees over the history of the Campbells, you'll see it's pretty flat.

The only years the average was lower than 30 are 1974 (lowest ever), 1978, 1981, 1986, 1992, and 2002. Highest ever average is 1982 with 51 years.

Disclaimer: I did not find all nominees' ages, it can be hard to track down info on those that subsequently disappeared (I did find complete data for the two outliers, so those numbers are accurate.

Additionally, comparing the ages for nominees of the Best Novel and Best Short Story Hugos, one can see it's also fairly flat, though the Short Story Nominees seem to have increased slightly in the last decade or so, this may not be statistically significant. The Campbell nominees are, on average, clearly younger than the Hugo nominees.
Doug M.
33. James Davis Nicoll
Rick Sternbach is almost forgotten these days,(...)

Really? If so, this makes me sad.
Doug M.
34. Doug M.
Nomad, I said "a lot of under-30 writers were winning it", not "being nominated for it".

Ages of the first 10 winners, counting forward: 40 (Pournelle), 26, 22 (Tuttle), 31, 31, 35, 27 (Card), 32, 38, 27 (Sucharitkul). Four out of 10 under 30, average age 30.9.

I then said that under-30 writers winning the Campbell was "not so common these days". True? Let's check.

Last ten winners, counting backwards: McGuire (32), Durham (40), Kowal (39), Novik (34), Scalzi (37), Bear (34), Jay Lake (40), Wen Spencer (40), Jo Walton (37), Kristine Smith (35?). Not a single winner under 30, average age 36.8.

Nobody under 30 has won a Campbell since Cory Doctorow (age 29, 2000).

Doug M.
Doug M.
35. Andrew McK
Nothing to add on this year, which seems generally weaker than those immediately before and after. Just wanted to say thanks to Jo for her writing. There's a lot of good stuff on this site but Jo is a major reason I keep coming back with a sense of anticipation. Thanks Jo.
Jo Walton
36. bluejo
p-l: I just find the kind of stories and the kind of characters he likes to write about unpleasant. I wrote about this in the year The Man in the High Castle won the Hugo if you want more detail.
René Walling
37. cybernetic_nomad
@Doug: the curve still plots flat to me. There may be a slight upwards trend in age but I thought more data points were needed, which is why I used the average age of nominees.
Doug M.
38. James Davis Nicoll
I am simultaneously certain there was and unable to find a detailed discussion of Campbell Award winners ages wrt time somewhere on line.
Doug M.
39. Doug M.
The curve of winners is not flat at all. The average age of winners rose slightly between the 1970s and the 1990s, then soared upwards after 2000.

Between 1970 and 2000, there were eleven winners under 30. There hasn't been a single one in the last ten years. It's of course possible this could be from random fluctuations; but N=42, which is big enough to make it pretty unlikely -- p
Doug M.
40. Doug M.
It doesn't like the "less than" symbol? Huh.

Pee, that symbol, zero point oh five.

If you're right that the average age of /nominees/ has barely risen, then that's actually stranger. Winners getting older makes a certain amount of sense, and we can al can think of several possible explanations. Nominees staying the same age while winners get older? Hum.

Doug M.
Doug M.
41. etranger
Doug: Well, since there are two groups you're comparing within that n of 42, you are actually performing a 2 sample t test. Actually performing such a test (with the two populations as the winners before 2001 and those after and using as the null hypothesis that the means are equal) I got p as .46, definitely not statistically significant. I was able to find ages for all the winners except for one, by the way. There are, to be sure, plenty of younger winners early on, but there are also some much older ones (a couple 50 or above). So, possibly there just used to be more variability in the winners.
Rich Horton
42. ecbatan
I thought it would be interesting to see how the Campbell winners break down as to what length of work led to their nomination and award. I.e., were they short fiction writers or novelists?

I assumed that short fiction writers would predominate early and novelists more recently, but that's not really true. Maybe very slightly -- the first five winners (over four years because of one tie) had written only short fiction, and something like 4 of the last five were primarily novelists, but over time it spreads out very evenly.

Indeed, by my count, 19 Campbell winners won almost certainly because of their short fiction, and 19 won almost certainly because of their novels. Only 1 seems truly ambiguous to me -- Judith Moffett, who had published a novel, Pennterra, but also some really first rate short fiction. Elizabeth Bear might be an arguable case -- she was nominated on the basis of short fiction, as her first novels only appeared about the time of the voting, but they did appear early enough that they might have influenced the voters, if not the nominators.
Doug M.
43. Alan Heuer
Here is how I voted in 1978:

Best Novel
1. Dying of the Light George R.R. Martin
2. The Forbidden Tower Marion Zimmer Bradley
3. Gateway Frederik Pohl
4. Lucifer's Hammer Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
5. Time Storm Gordon R. Dickson

Best Novella
1. "A Snark in the Night" Gregory Benford
2. "Aztecs" Vonda N. McIntyre
3. "In the Hall of the Martian Kings" John Varley
4. "Stardance" Jeanne Robinson & Spider Robinson
5. "The Wonderful Secret" Keith Laumer

Best Novelette
1. "The Screwfly Solution" Raccoona Sheldon (aka: James Tiptree, Jr.)
2. "The Ninth Symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven and Other Lost Songs" Carter Scholz
3. "Eyes of Amber" Joan D. Vinge
4. "Ender's Game" Orson Scott Card
5. "Prismatica" Samuel R. Delany

Best Short Story
1. "Time-Sharing Angel" James Tiptree, Jr.
2. "Jeffty Is Five" Harlan Ellison
3. "Air Raid" Herb Boehm (aka: John Varley)
4. "Lauralyn" Randall Garrett
5. "Dog Day Evening" Spider Robinson

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