Sun
Apr 17 2011 9:38am

Hugo Nominees: 1979

1979 Hugo Awards trophy

The 1979 Hugo Awards were awarded at Seacon in Brighton, and that was another legendary convention because I’ve been hearing legends about it since I got into fandom ten years later. I was fourteen in the summer of 1979, but it’s technically the first Worldcon I could have gone to. I did know it was happening. I saw an article about it in the Times the day it started. Despite not really knowing what a science fiction convention was I spent the whole day with a railway timetable and various adults trying to arrange it. Robert Silverberg was going to be there, I kept saying. Arthur C. Clarke was going to be there! But destiny and common sense were against me.

The best novel Hugo went to Vonda McIntyre’s Dreamsnake, a book I loved when I read it a year or two later but which I haven’t re-read in a while. It’s science fiction with a fantastic feel, a quest across a post apocalyptic wasteland with healing snakes. It won the Nebula and Locus Award too. It’s not in print, and it’s in the Bibliotheque et Archives Nationale du Quebec (hearafter “the library”) in French only. It’s a good book but it hasn’t lasted well—I think it must have really spoken to the zeitgeist at the time.

There are four other nominees and I’ve read all of them. Interestingly for a British Worldcon, no British writers, and several books not published in the U.K. in time for nominators to have seen them.

Tom Reamy’s Blind Voices is a Bradburyesque story that edges on horror, about a carnival with real magic and mysterious secrets. It’s beautifully written, and was also nominated for the Nebula. I’m sorry to see that it’s not in print and it’s not in the library. Reamy’s career was cut short by his untimely death—this was his first novel, and if he’d lived and gone on writing he might have been better remembered. U.K. edition 1979.

C.J. Cherryh’s The Faded Sun: Kesrith is the first of the Faded Sun trilogy. It’s about aliens and being alone among aliens and realising you’re the alien one, and it’s claustrophobic and depressing even for Cherryh, and I love Cherryh. It’s in print from DAW in an omnibus with the two sequels, but it’s not in the library. I’d say it has lasted as a minor work from a major writer. It was also nominated for a Nebula. No U.K. edition until the eighties. It’s the only nominee that wouldn’t have been available to British voters, and I wonder if it suffered by that?

James Tiptree Jr’s Up the Walls of the World is Tiptree’s slightly disappointing first novel—disappointing in comparison to how wonderful her shorter work was. It’s science fiction with telepaths and telepathic aliens. It’s not in print, and it’s in the library in French only. It’s not the first thing one thinks of when talking about Tiptree, in fact it’s fairly far down the list. But like Dreamsnake, it was also in print in the U.K.

Anne McCaffrey’s The White Dragon is the third of her trilogy of stories about Lessa and the Dragonriders of Pern. It’s in print and it’s in the library in English only. It’s unusual for a book in a continuing series to be nominated, even a popular series like this one. I’d say this is the weakest of the books on the list and the first one I’d throw out of the balloon. (U.K. edition 1979.)

So, four women and one man, two science fiction, two science fantasy and one dark fantasy. They’re all books worth reading. But what else might they have nominated?

SFWA’s Nebulas had considerable overlap—McIntyre, Reamy and Cherryh. Their other two nominees were Gore Vidal’s Kalki, which I haven’t read, and Gardner Dozois’s excellent Strangers, which should definitely have been on the a Hugo list.

The World Fantasy Awards were won by Michael Moorcock’s Gloriana. Other nominees were Les Daniels The Black Castle, Tanith Lee’s Night’s Master, Charles L. Grant’s The Sound of Midnight, and Stephen King’s The Stand. I’d have been surprised if any of these had made the Hugo ballot.

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award was also won by Gloriana, which astonishes me, as it is out and out fantasy—literary experimental fantasy, but not SF by any stretch of the imagination. (This is a very weird award.) I haven’t heard of either of the honourable mentions, Paddy Chayefsky’s Altered States or Donald R. Benson’s ...And having writ....

The Locus awards have a long list. Nominees not previously mentioned are: Ben Bova’s Colony, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Stormqueen!, Gordon R. Dickson’s The Far Call, Poul Anderson’s The Avatar, Roger Zelazny’s The Courts of Chaos, Gregory Benford’s The Stars in Shroud, Joan Vinge’s The Outcasts of Heaven Belt, Charles Sheffield’s Sight of Proteus, Marta Randall’s Journey, Katherine Kurtz’s Saint Camber, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Hotel Transylvania, Marvin Kaye and Parke Godwin’s The Masters of Solitude, and Elizabeth Lynn’s A Different Light. A lot of good stuff here, and several books that could well have deserved a Hugo nomination  but nothing that makes me feel it was an injustice.

The BSFA award went to A Scanner Darkly, which was a 1977 book in the U.S., highlighting the difference between U.S. and U.K. publication schedules.

Is there anything all of these missed? Robin McKinley’s Beauty (post), Suzy McKee Charnas’s Motherlines, Octavia Butler’s Survivor (post), Richaed Cowper’s The Road to Corlay and Hal Clement’s Through the Eye of a Needle.

Out of all these books I could find five I like more and are more significant and have lasted better, but I think the five we have do represent the totality pretty well.

Other Categories

NOVELLA

  • “The Persistence of Vision,” John Varley (F&SF Mar 1978)
  • “Enemies of the System,” Brian W. Aldiss (F&SF Jun 1978)
  • “Fireship,” Joan D. Vinge (Analog Dec 1978)
  • “Seven American Nights,” Gene Wolfe (Orbit 20)
  • “The Watched,” Christopher Priest (F&SF Apr 1978)

Thank goodness Varley did eventually win one! Very good set of stories here.

NOVELETTE

  • “Hunter’s Moon,” Poul Anderson (Analog Nov 1978)
  • “The Barbie Murders,” John Varley (Asimov’s Jan/Feb 1978)
  • “Devil You Don’t Know,” Dean Ing (Analog Jan 1978)
  • “The Man Who Had No Idea,” Thomas M. Disch (F&SF Oct 1978)
  • “Mikal’s Songbird,” Orson Scott Card (Analog May 1978)

I’d have definitely voted for the Card here, with the Varley a hair behind.

SHORT STORY

  • “Cassandra,” C. J. Cherryh (F&SF Oct 1978)
  • “Count the Clock that Tells the Time,” Harlan Ellison (Omni Dec 1978)
  • “Stone,” Edward Bryant (F&SF Feb 1978)
  • “The Very Slow Time Machine,” Ian Watson (Anticipations)
  • “View From a Height,” Joan D. Vinge (Analog Jun 1978)

I don’t remember the Cherryh. I’d have voted for the Watson, a story that has stayed with me for a long time.

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION

  • Superman: The Movie
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (radio series)
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • Watership Down

Seriously? Good grief. I would have voted for Hitchhikers, and then very emphatically for No Award.

PROFESSIONAL EDITOR

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

I’d have voted for Baen. Words can not express how much Destinies meant to me in 1979.

PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

  • Vincent Di Fate
  • Steve Fabian
  • David Hardy
  • Boris Vallejo
  • Michael Whelan

FANZINE

  • Science Fiction Review, Richard E. Geis
  • Janus, Janice Bogstad & Jeanne Gomoll
  • Maya, Rob Jackson
  • Mota, Terry Hughes
  • Twll-Ddu, Dave Langford

Ugol’s Law suggests that I am not the only person reading this who can pronounce the name of Langford’s fanzine. It means “Black hole,” by the way.

FAN WRITER

  • Bob Shaw
  • Richard E. Geis
  • Leroy Kettle
  • Dave Langford
  • D. West

FAN ARTIST

  • Bill Rotsler
  • Jim Barker
  • Harry Bell
  • Alexis Gilliland
  • Stu Shiffman

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

  • Stephen R. Donaldson
  • Cynthia Felice
  • James P. Hogan
  • Barry B. Longyear
  • Elizabeth A. Lynn
  • Charles Sheffield

A good year for the Campbells—all of them have gone on to have careers in the field and I know who they are. I think Donaldson was the obvious winner but there’s not a dud there, any one of them would have made a good solid winner.


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.

43 comments
Rich Horton
1. ecbatan
I agree about Dreamsnake, it's not a novel that has really lasted all that well, though it was decent work. Strangers surely deserved to be on the list.

For some reason -- I can't remember what it was -- Tiptree withdrew Up the Walls of the World from the ballot. (She may have felt it not her best work?)

I agree that none of the additional novels on the other award lists cry out as having been unjustly overlooked. A couple potential nominees I might add:

Space War Blues, by Richard Lupoff (the long awaited novel version of his Again, Dangerous Visions story "With the Bentfin Boomer Boys on Little Old New Alabama")

The Book of the Dun Cow, by Walter Wangerin

Perhaps more interesting are a few YA novels:

A Swiftly Tilting Planet, by Madeleine L'Engle (one of the sequels to A Wrinkle in Time, but not as good)

Very Far Away From Anywhere Else, by Ursula K. Le Guin (I remember liking it quite a bit, but I don't remember much else about it -- it's not very long (maybe novella length) and it might not really be SF or Fantasy)

and finally a very interesting novel that actually probably did deserve a place on the award shortlists: The Ennead, by Jan Mark

As for the Campbells, it's kind of hard to argue with the award to Donaldson based on his career to that date, and even perhaps since, but I'm not a fan. I'd have given it to Lynn at the time, and probably to Sheffield for his career.

And yes, absolutely a Hugo for Baen would have been just. I loved his Galaxy, and I loved Destinies.

--
Rich Horton
Rich Horton
2. ecbatan
In the novella category, "The Persistence of Vision" is a famous story, a significant story, a story a lot of people love. And it's good that Varley finally got his award. But -- I really dislike it.

The obvious best novella of the year was Gene Wolfe's "Seven American Nights". (I told you Wolfe would be back!) But really!

Other potential nominees, neither of which really thrill me: Wolfe's "The Doctor of Death Island" (the gimmick of the title seems a bit forced), and Michael Bishop's "Old Folks at Home".

There's also Larry Niven's The Magic Goes Away, which was a separate illustrated book from Ace (and indeed came third on the Locus Art Book list), but which was novella length. However, it may have been the same text as the 1976 story from Odyssey magazine.

In novelette, this is one of the first years I remember being disappointed by the winner as it was announced -- I was thrilled to see Anderson's "Hunter's Moon" when it appeared, then quite let down by the story. Not one of his best, at all. I'd have probably given it to "The Barbie Murders", though I was impressed with "Mikal's Songbird" too. (Card again mining his favorite subject, abused brilliant children.)

C. L. Grant's "A Glow of Candles, a Unicorn's Eye" won the Nebula -- but I don't remember the story. I did like Dean Ing's "Devil You Don't Know" quite a lot. Others to mention:
James Tiptree's "We Who Stole the Dream"
Hilbert Schenk's "The Morphology of the Kirkham Wreck" (Schenck had published a couple of stories and poems in F&SF in the '50s, but returned in the late '70s and into the '80s with a number of nice stories, mostly on sea-related subjects)
Spider Robinson's "Antinomy"

In Short Story, I agree with Jo: I'd have given the award to Ian Watson's "The Very Slow Time Machine". Edward Bryant's "Stone" won the Nebula -- I don't remember it well, but I think it was good.

One other short story to mention is from the wonderful John Crowley. It's an excellent story, but I really like it because it has two separate titles, each taken from the same poem, one of the greatest poems of all time, Wallace Stevens's "Sunday Morning". (And I shall soon enough be drinking coffee, in my pajamas if not a peignoir ...) Anyway, the story is "Her Bounty to the Dead", originally called "Where Spirits Gat Them Home".

--
Rich Horton
john mullen
3. johntheirishmongol
Wow, this was pretty much a lost year for me. I did read The White Dragon, which I enjoyed. I think I read Dreamsnake, but I don't remember it at all. If there was any book in the genre that stands out from this year, I certainly don't remember it.

I am surprised you didn't comment that 3 of the 5 nominees were women. I certainly don't remember any other year before this that it happened.

I have to ask, what is it you look for in dramatic presentation? Are you expecting it to be also a nominee for Best Picture? I think Superman is a very nice movie, well made, well performed and took the story, updated it without ruining the original story and was a pretty good success. I think it's a solid winner.

As for the Campbell, I think you can make an argument for Hogan over Donaldson, but maybe not at the time.
Ken Walton
4. carandol
It's probably worth pointing out that Dreamsnake is available as an ebook from Book View Cafe: http://www.bookviewcafe.com/index.php/Dreamsnake
Doug M.
5. Doug M.
Apropos of Reamy: of 42 Campbell winners since 1970, 40 are still alive. (I'm pretty sure Pournelle, now in his 80s, is the oldest.) The other two are Reamy and David Feintuch. About a dozen or so Campbell nominees have died, but AFAICT 1979 is the only year to have lost more than one of its nominated class (Hogan and Sheffield).

Anyway. The 1979 winner was, yes, Stephen R. Donaldson, then aged 32. Donaldson won this purely on the strength of the Thomas Covenant books, a fantasy trilogy with an unusually unheroic protagonist. I can remember being deeply impressed by these books at the age of 16 or so. I haven't dared to reread them in years.

According to legend, Donaldson wrote all three books, and then dragged them around to a dozen publishers before finally convincing Del Rey to roll the dice. They published them with gorgeous, eye-catching covers by Darrell Sweet, and the result was a runaway surprise success.

Not without reason. The Thomas Covenant books don't seem to have aged well, and certainly there's plenty to mock in them. They're overwrought, they're derivative, and as for the writing, there used to be whole sites devoted to Donaldson's... creative... use of adjectives. But there's also a real freshness and energy there. However those books read today, in 1979 they grabbed the attention, hard. Even thirty years later, they're still in print, and people are still reacting to them. (Lord Foul's Bane, for instance, gave rise to what must be the strangest spinoff of any fantasy novel ever, the memorable Fantasy Bedtime Hour. No, I can't explain. Go look it up.)

Having said that, I have to acknowledge that Donaldson never quite hit that note again. He'd go on to write a sequel trilogy, The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant; most of a sequel to the sequel, the Final Chronicles; the Gap Cycle, a five-novel SF series; two other novels and two collections, plus some non-SF detective novels. But he'd never again enjoy the commercial success and, yes, critical acclaim that he got with that first trilogy. Donaldson joins Pournelle and Plauger in the surprisingly small category of "Campbell winners who never went on to win any other awards".

Losers: Elizabeth A. Lynn joins that odd and varied group, the two-time Campbell losers. Barry Longyear would get his Campbell next year.

Cynthia Felice would write about ten books, but she seems to be best known for her two collaborations with Connie Willis (Light Raid and Water Witch). She seems to have left writing SF.

James P. Hogan... well. His early stuff was good, perfectly fine old-fashioned upper midlist SF.

Then the Brain Eater got him. Through the eighties and nineties, Hogan would move steadily from "strong independent thinker" through "interesting eccentric" to "tedious crank" and finally "nuts". By 2000 or so, Hogan was espousing Velikovskian catastrophism, Intelligent Design over evolution, the spread of AIDS by drugs instead of the HIV virus, and Holocaust denial.

He never did win any awards, probably because the totalitarian establishment can't tolerate free-thinking heretics, but he enjoyed a steady modest low-grade success; apparently there are a certain number of SF readers who like Intelligent Design, Holocaust denial, and what have you. Baen was bringing out collections of his essays as recently as the mid-2000s. Hogan died in 2010, aged 69.

Charles Sheffield, with 20-20 hindsight, would have been the good pick this year. He would go on to wrte 28 SF books (plus several non-SF, including two gorgeous collections of space photographs), and would win a Hugo, a Nebula, and a Campbell Best Novel award. He would also have a very respectable career as a scientist, writing many papers and serving as head of the American Astronomical Union. Finally, he'd be a busy columnist, fan, reviewer, and would serve as President of SFWA.

Sheffield would have been the good pick, but given what was on the table at the time, Donaldson was certainly a reasonable choice. And at least we avoided picking Hogan! That would have just been embarrassing.

Sheffield died of a brain tumor in 2002, aged 67 -- R.I.P.


Doug M.
David Levinson
6. DemetriosX
Very little of the print material this year is really familiar to me. I know I've read Dreamsnake, but for the life of me, I couldn't tell you anything about it. The White Dragon is pretty much where Pern came out of the closet and truly became SF, but it certainly isn't good enough to have won. Looking at the Kalki nomination in the Nebulas and thinking about the Ragtime nomination a couple of years earlier, it almost seems to me as though there was an effort to annex some major mainstream authors as a way of de-ghettoizing the genre. It all feels a bit off.

The only title in the shorter fiction that really stands out for me is The Barbie Murders, which totally blew my 15-year old mind when it appeared in Asimov's.

Dramatic Presentation: I suppose H2G2 didn't win, because it was most likely unknown outside the UK at that point. Everything else is just crap. Superman is silly, Body Snatchers has a number of terrible performances by otherwise decent actors, the less said about Bakshi's Lord of the Rings the better, and while Watership Down is rather faithful to the book, I don't see it as SF or fantasy and it has probably traumatized a couple of generations of kids by this point. (Oh, a cartoon about rabbits. Here kids watch this while I go do something else. Yeesh.)

We have 2 new artists on the ballot. David Hardy was largely doing British covers in those days, though he soon branched out to North America. These days , he mostly does astronomical art, but still does the occasional cover, too. I was really surprised that this was Boris Vallejo's first nomination. Somehow I thought he'd been around longer, since his art was second only to Frazetta on stoner vans.

Campbells: I'm largely in agreement with DougM @5. I've never heard of Cynthia Felice and she hasn't written anything in nearly 20 years, otherwise not a bad list. It's hard to remember what a bombshell Donaldson was at the time. Sure there were derivative aspects, but nothing compared to something like Sword of Shannara, for example. Also, Doug, while Pournelle is almost certainly the oldest Campbell winner, he isn't quite 80 yet; he was born in 1933.
Doug M.
7. James Davis Nicoll
(Hogan) never did win any awards

Not true! He won the Prometheus Best Novel Award twice: once for Voyage from Yesteryear and once for The Multiplex Man.
Doug M.
8. James Davis Nicoll
The Locus awards have a long list. Nominees not previously mentioned are:

Ben Bova’s Colony,


Sequel to Millennium and interesting because it presents the case that L5 colonies cannot isolate their inhabitants from events on Earth no matter how much those inhabitants might wish it so.

Gordon R. Dickson’s The Far Call

A somewhat dour novel about a manned mission to Mars, heavily influenced by experiences on Skylab.

Poul Anderson’s The Avatar

No. Just no. It's interesting to learn via Joseph T. Major from Sandra Miesel's review of Avatar that there's an Irish word that means "prostitute posing as a legitimate musician" but I probably could have learned that some other way. Nice touch using a 2:3 tide locked world as a setting and the bit with life on a neutron star but otherwise not good. I don't think it's been reprinted in decades.


Gregory Benford’s The Stars in Shroud

Features as its protagonists a man whose father was "a truly rare specimen; one of the last pure Americans, born of the descendents of the few who had survived the Riot Wars." Later we learn that this set overlaps with Causasian.

Reworking of an early Benford and the antagonists are at times reminiscent of the antagonists from Anderson's The Star Fox. The world is dominated by the worst kind of Mongol, the ones from Japan. Page 51 of the Berkley MMPK:

"It was Tonji, his Mongol mask in place." Tonji is from Nippon. It's possible that what the author really meant is that East Asians all look similar. Or that Tonji had skinned a Mongol and was using his face as a mask but I think this last is unlikely.

(I first read it in Galaxy, I think).


Joan Vinge’s The Outcasts of Heaven Belt

Which turns out to have been set in a very early version of Vernor Vinge's Zones of Thought.


Charles Sheffield’s Sight of Proteus

Which gave me a life-long interest in protean settings, worlds where form is a function of choice and budget.
Rob Munnelly
9. RobMRobM
Re Donaldson and his future career: I have no idea about the extent of commercial success but I love the Gap Series. Blew me away when I read them for the first time a few years ago. (I enjoyed but didn't love the first set of Covenant books and haven't dipped into the sequels.)

Rob
Doug M.
10. James Davis Nicoll
Cynthia Felice would write about ten books, but she seems to be best known for her two collaborations with Connie Willis (Light Raid and Water Witch).

Light Raid features as its existential threat to all that is good and decent in Anglophone North America an independent and very feisty French Canada. I cannot figure out if it's simple innumeracy (NorAM Anglos outnumber NorAm Francophones about forty to one and it really doesn't look like this ratio is likely to change dramatically any time soon) or whether the authors, having seen the Montreal Canadiens trounce the opposition one time too many, really do think Quebecois are a variety of superhuman.
Alan Wallcraft
11. AlanWall
Dreamsnake is available as an ebook from Book View Cafe.
Beth Friedman
12. carbonel
The audience at those Hugos, not surprisingly, were much more enthusiastic about Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy than the actual winner, Superman. Which Christopher Reeve, the star of Superman who was there to accept the Hugo, was entirely gracious about. He said something to the effect that he could tell he wasn't the audience's favorite, but was nevertheless very pleased.
Tex Anne
13. TexAnne
Dreamsnake was in my 9th-grade library, and I loved it. I'm sure I don't want to reread it. What I got out of it was that the things that you love can hurt you (the snakes' poison healed many illnesses, but caused what I think were autoimmune diseases in their handlers), and that you should never hit first and ask questions later (a child nearly died because her father killed the snake that was curing her--I think he was macho-ly refusing to listen to the female snake-handler, too, which greatly annoyed my proto-feminist self). I have no idea if those were the things McIntyre intended me to notice, but as 9th grade lessons go, they're not too bad.
Doug M.
14. James Davis Nicoll
Gordon R. Dickson’s The Far Call

A somewhat dour novel about a manned mission to Mars, heavily influenced by experiences on Skylab.


It would not surprise me if one of Dickson's sources was Henry S. F Cooper's A House in Space. I still regret losing my copy of Cooper during a disastrous camping trip, the one where I accidentally placed a 300 pound rock on my hand while playing cards.
Rich Horton
15. ecbatan
For all Light Raid's geopolitical silliness, it's a fun book, as is Water Witch. Felice was a good nominee, and a fun writer. Odd that she would get the Campbell nomination instead of her more famous collaborator, but that's because Willis was foolish enough to publish some rather awful shorter stuff early and use up her eligibility. I did read some of Felice's solo work, also with enjoyment.

Demetrios@6 -- you meant Pern came out of the closet as Fantasy, right?
Doug M.
16. Doug M.
James, I don't count the Prometheus as an award. If I did, Pournelle would be off the list. Because he won a Prometheus. For _Fallen Angels_.

_Outcasts of Heaven Belt_ is a solid good book that has been OOP for a long time. Don't think it deserved a Hugo, but it would have been a perfectly worthy nominee.

I tried rereading _The Avatar_ a while back. Wow, it really was that bad.

_Space War Blues_ was sick and brilliant. Lupoff only wrote a handful of books, and his stuff was all over the place. A lot of it was published in small presses and has vanished without a trace. Frex, we got through a whole month of steampunk without anyone mentioning Professor Thintwhistle's Aetheric Flyer. And his "Lovecraft's Book" is apparently considered one of the best alternate history novels ever written... by the very small group of people who've read it, since it was published in a single edition of (IMS) something like 5,000 copies.

Anyway: Lupoff also deserves mention for editing two volumes of
What If? Stories That Should Have Won The Hugo. I think volume one covered the 1950s, and volume 2 the 1960s. I don't know why he never continued the series. Certainly there was no lack of material!


Doug M.
Doug M.
17. Lil Shepherd
HHGTTG was, at that point, a radio serial only - and one with only one season. No-one outside the UK had heard of it, which meant that the actually quite decent "Superman" film won, much to the chagrin of most UK attendees.

I voted for "Up the Walls of the World" and was annoyed at Tiptree's withdrawal as I considered none of the other nominees worth a Hugo. I could not finish "Dreamsnake"...
Rich Horton
18. ecbatan
Lupoff is an excellent writer -- and an excellent and Hugo winning fanzine writer! -- who loves many genres and writes in them all, without much regard to commercial success. Some of his best work is mysteries.

I reviewed a collection of his short fiction several years ago, from Golden Gryphon I think -- very solid book. The anthology from his and his wife Pat's fanzine Xero -- The Best of Xero -- is also excellent.

I enjoyed the two What If? books a lot -- after all they are just the sort of thing we're doing in these threads! I believe the publisher canned the series due to poor sales.

--
Rich Horton
Michal Jakuszewski
19. Lfex
Tiptree withdrew Up the Walls of the World from the ballot? Didn't hear about it. Pity, since it should be a clear winner in this ballot, IMHO. I did enjoy Dreamsnake, but I don't think it was really award material. I would put both The Faded Sun: Kesrith and Strangers (which I agree deserved a nomination) above it.

I can live with all short fiction winners, even if I liked Card's novelette somewhat better than Anderson's.

I also liked Donaldson's Gap series a lot, and I also think Second Thomas Covenant chronicles were better than the First. It may be true Donaldson never won any awards, but it was simply because he wrote in the subgenres (epic fantasy and, in Gap's case, space opera) which seldom get this kind of recognition.
Doug M.
20. James Davis Nicoll
I tried rereading _The Avatar_ a while back. Wow, it really was that bad.

I'd blame the Rick Sternbach cover for getting me to buy it -in hardcover for a whopping $14.95! - but this was during a period when I'd have bought anything with Anderson's name on it, including The Ink in This Book Will Kill You on Contact and Also The Book is a Bomb if it had been offered. Books like The Avatar played a role in me not doing that any more.

The sad thing is there are lots of promising bits in the book. A different author - a younger Anderson - could have done something with them.



1: For younger readers, MMPBs were running something like two bucks back then.
Doug M.
21. James Davis Nicoll
Seeing an Edward Bryant reminds me; has his situation improved any since 2010? And if not, how do I include a link to the Friends of Ed Bryant site without it getting nuked as spam?
David Levinson
22. DemetriosX
ecbatan@16: No, I meant SF. Suddenly, there was a spaceship and forgotten technology. Put a whole new spin on the series. The book itself was a bit of a let-down, though. It really didn't live up to the hype and expectations. Which, frankly can be said about a lot of books from this period: The Courts of Chaos, Fountains of Paradise (which we'll get to next week), a couple of others.
James Enge
23. JamesEnge
Bensen's And Having Writ... is an alternate history story where a crew of alien space travellers avoid becoming the Tunguska meteor by judicious employment of a one-use-only magic box. After that they're stuck in early 20th C. America, trying to accelerate the technological progress of the savage natives until they can use local technology to repair their wrecked ship and escape. Some of the locals (including Thomas Edison) don't like the interlopers, and hilarious consequences ensue. I liked it well enough to hang on to my battered copy over the decades... but I confess I haven't reread it recently.
René Walling
24. cybernetic_nomad
I feel pretty much like Jo about having a hard time finding better novels than the nominees listed, though I would probably have put Clement's Through the Eye of a Needle on my list of nominees, but I love all of his work,so that's no big surprise

@1.ecbatan
LeGuin's Very Far Away From Anywhere Else while very good is not genre fiction, so it wouldn't be eligible.


@10.James Davis Nicoll

That book sounds like pure fantasy to me. As a local comedian put it: "Trouble hates the cold. When people talk of revolution in Quebec, they usually end the meeting with 'Let's go kill the bastard!', open the door, see what the weather's like,close the door and decide to put it off until the weather's nicer, by which time they've forgotten about it."
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
25. tnh
James Nicoll @21: I wouldn't object on principle, though I'd hope that anyone watching would understand that they weren't being granted comparable permission to post links on behalf of their own causes.

To my mind, a more pertinent question is how much good it would do to post it here. By the time you've finished checking to see whether it's needed, the conversation will have moved on.
Doug M.
26. Dick Schatz
Of the 3 nominated novels I read that year, I think Dreamsnake deserved the award.

I looked through some of my magazines from 1978. One novelette that has certainly endured is "Gunslinger" by Stephen King - the introductory story to the long-running series appeared in F&SF that year. I doubt it received much attention.

I also remember liking "To Bring in the Steel" by a mostly forgotten writer (Donald Kingsbury).

Analog also featured a rare Harlan Ellison appearance that year with his short story "The Man Who Was Heavily into Revenge."

A couple of other strong novelettes from Analog were Greg Bear's "The Wind from a Burning Woman" and Joan Vinge's "Fireship." Vinge produced some top-notch work in the late 70's.

1978 also featured the first appearance by James Patrick Kelly (in F&SF). Surprisingly JPK did not manage even a Campbell nomination in his two years of eligibility.

Dick
Doug M.
27. James Davis Nicoll
25: tnh: fair enough and also having done the due diligence I should have in the first place, matters Byantish appear to be in hand.

24: That book sounds like pure fantasy to me. As a local comedian put it: "Trouble hates the cold. When people talk of revolution in Quebec, they usually end the meeting with 'Let's go kill the bastard!', open the door, see what the weather's like,close the door and decide to put it off until the weather's nicer, by which time they've forgotten about it."

The Lower Canadian Rebellion lasted longer than the Upper Canadian one, which was pretty over bar the brutal Tory reprisals after the Battle of Montgomery's Tavern, so it's not like the French Canadians can't be feisty. Still 40:1 odds seem a little long.
Doug M.
28. James Davis Nicoll
I’d have voted for Baen. Words can not express how much Destinies meant to me in 1979.

I still have the complete run.

Lost all my Baen Galaxy magazines in a flood, though.
Doug M.
29. James Davis Nicoll
Spider Robinson's "Antinomy"

Is this the cold sleep one that has the Inevitable Coming Race War as a background detail, with the whites ever so sad that they were simply forced to exterminate almost all African Americans or was that a different cold sleep story?
Doug M.
30. Narmitaj
I thought Richard Cowper’s The Road to Corlay was great when I first read it.

Paddy Chayefsky’s Altered States is the basis for a Ken Russell film with William Hurt... I haven't read the book or seen the film, but at some point it had some kind of public profile that manage to impinge on my consciousness.
Jo Walton
31. bluejo
James: I also still have the complete run. I got rid of all my old magazines when I moved to Canada (except the Astounding with "Omnilingual" in) in a fit of "I have to pay how much for shipping?" But I kept the Destinies, because they were shelved as books.

Ecbatan: A Very Long Way From Anywhere Else is a mainstream teenage novel. Actually it's so short it may be a novella. I liked it too, but not eligible.
Rich Horton
32. ecbatan
Yes, I remember that Very Far Away From Anywhere Else (which was differently titled in the UK, I see) was not SF or Fantasy. But any excuse to mention a good Le Guin story (especially one that a lot of folks may have missed) seems worth it to me. And indeed I'm pretty sure it's novella length.

I don't think that "Antinomy" is the Race War story but I might be wrong. I really don't remember it well. Wasn't "By Any Other Name" a Race War story? (It was on shortlists a year or so before this year.)

Dick Schatz@26 -- good catch on the Kingsbury! "Shipwright" was a good story too. Kingsbury resembles Hilbert Schenck in that he had a couple of pieces in the magazines (Astounding, in his case) in the '50s before returning with many more in the late '70s. Dean Ing's career had something of that shape, too. I imagine many of these are folks that started writing a lot more when they retired. (For that matter, Charles Harness was just returning (again!) to the field, this time I believe after retirement from lawyering.)

And yes, I remember "The Gunslinger" in F&SF. I was surprised to see a big bestseller writer like King in the magazine.
Andrew Barton
33. MadLogician
James Nicoll @21:

Googling on 'Friends of Ed Bryant' gets to the site you probably mean, but it has not been updated since 2010 and the link there to CFPD has been hacked (or possibly the CFPD site itself has). The facebook site might have more recent news - I haven't checked it because I don't do FB.
Doug M.
34. James Davis Nicoll
Ah, thanks for catching.I emailed the contact person and what I got back indicated that while on-going support wouldn't be rejected, the urgent Being Sick While American health crisis had been managed.
Doug M.
35. James Davis Nicoll
In case people unfamiliar with Anderson get the wrong impression, he wrote a lot of good stuff over the course of a long career, which is why those us familiar with him read the bad stuff.

Do be warned that in a lot of his stories women mostly exist to be rewards or at least motivations for the men; one of his more memorable women spends the entire novel dead.

If I could make SF authors absorb one lesson from Anderson, it would be "planets are really big and each of them has its own unique history". Granted, there was the odd Planet of Hats in the Terran Empire that seemed to have only one culture (the one that comes to mind might have been an ocean world with only a few islands, though) but on the whole, that would be the exception.

I note Joan D. Vinge had two stories up for the Hugo this year. Go Vinge! Once again: The Complete Short Works of Joan D. Vinge would be a good idea.

26: I also remember liking "To Bring in the Steel" by a mostly forgotten writer (Donald Kingsbury).

I read that under fairly memorable circumstances; at my father's funeral (1). Be warned that the story was visited by the Sexism Faery (In general, best not to think about Kingsbury's sexual politics).

I was a little surprised to discover his Finger Pointing Solward, which I though he began working on in the 1970s, in fact has its origins in the 1950s. I am becoming somewhat less than entirely optimistic that I will ever see it.


1: Funerals can involve a lot of waiting around (2). I also recommend, if the circumstances ever come up, making sure you have on hand a Waiting for the Coroner to Bloody Show Up book.

2: Also encountering people about whom the only things you know are e.g. that they once built an unshielded Jacob's ladder in their living room or that as a teen they accidentally stuck a dart into the top of their own head.
Doug M.
36. James Davis Nicoll
the odd Planet of Hats in the Terran Empire

Mind you, the Terran Empire had more habitable planets than Earth currently has cultures so if people had wanted a planet all to themselves (albeit probably only one of the marginal ones) they could have had it.

Another lesson from Anderson is "the galaxy is really big"; I seem to recall Flandry looking at a coin with an image of the Milky Way on it. The image has a small defect, tiny enough to be hard to see; it's still larger in proportion to the Milky Way's image than the Empire is the real Milky Way.
Chuk Goodin
37. Chuk
@35: note: footnote #2 only applies to James Nicoll.
Doug M.
38. James Davis Nicoll
37: For the record, I've never done either of those things. The Jacob's Ladder was by a guy named Farmer (who was a fellow student at MIT with my father); the second was a childhood friend of my father's and I think maybe the same guy who had the rocket fuel accident in his parents' basement *and* who managed to crash his dad's new car while trying to stub out a cigarette he was smoking to show how cool he was.

Farmer also installed an unauthorized elevator on his building, something the landlord was oddly displeased by.

I have, however, attempted to stamp out burning thermite (not recommended), neglected to note that I'd lit the fuse of a homemade grenado (not recommended) and only noticed I was standing in a cloud of gasoline vapour after I struck a match (also not recommended).
Doug M.
39. Gardner Dozois
Generally, a pretty weak year. The strongest story of the entire year is Gene Wolfe's magnificent "Seven American Nights," which definitely should have won in novella.

I'm not sure what I'd vote for in novel (my own Really Terrific novel aside, of course!). I don't think that DREAMSNAKE has aged well, and most of the other novels mentioned are weak. I'd almost go for THE STAND, even though several hundred pages could be cut out of it without any loss (with improvement, in fact) and it features one of the worst endings in the history of world literature, causing me to throw the very heavy book across the room, killing the cat. Still, the middle sections, after everbody dies from the Snot Plague, are very fine in spots. Guess I would have to go for UP THE WALLS OF THE WORLD, on the theory that middle-level Tiptree is better than no Tiptree at all.

I've already told you my pick for novella, "Seven American Nights," although Brian Aldiss's little-known "A Chinese Perspective" is good too, as is "The Persistence of Vision" and Algis Budrys's "The Nuptial Flight of Warbirds." Although a fantasy, I'd also mention Avram Davidson's "Sleep Well of Nights," another of the strongest Jack Limekiller stories. Novella was by far the strongest category this year.

Novelette I think should have gone to Thomas Disch's heartbreaking "Mutability," a story from an SF novel that Disch was putting together at one point, but never finished. James P. Girard's "September Song" was also pretty jazzy, and he looked like a pretty hot new writer at this point, but he subsequently disappeared without a trace. King's "The Gunslinger" also certainly deserved to be in the race.

Short story I'd give to Jack Vance's little-known (almost unknown, in fact) story "The Secret"--a very untypical Vance story. Aldiss's "The Small Stones of Tu Fu" is also good, and again a little-known story by a major author.

HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE is clearly the best thing in this category, better than the awful SUPERMAN, and, indeed, the best of all the many subsequent HITCHIKER'S GUIDE adaptations; the original radio version is still the best take on this material. Other than that, WATERSHIP DOWN is actually pretty good, and a fairly faithful take on the book.

Charles Sheffield, the best SF writer of the group, should have won the Campbell, in my opinion.
Doug M.
40. Marianne
"It’s a good book but it hasn’t lasted well"
You know, I thought that too (it made me sad, because it was one of my favorites in college in the 90s), and then someone put it in a display at the small liberal arts college where I work. Three different young women GUSHED about how great it was, so I looked at the circ figures for the last few years, and they were pretty solid. People are reading it in at least one small place:).
Cathy Mullican
41. nolly
I'm coming in lae, but I only recently read Dreamsnake -- it's also available in audio from Audible -- and I quite liked it. Independently, a friend (around my age -- early-to-mid 30s) re-read it around the same time, and also quite likes it, especially for the way it's quietly feminist, a very balanced and equal society. The female lead quite handily rescues herself and her adopted daughter, but there's no blinking neon signs saying "Look how awesome women can be!" She's just a skilled, c ompetent person, who happens to be female. We both like that.

So I'm not sure it's entirely true that it "hasn't aged well".
Doug M.
42. Denny Lien
Re Lupoff's LOVECRAFT'S BOOK -- there was a UK pb edition (Grafton, 1987) but no US pb. Given that anything HPL-related seems to have a guarenteed audience, that always struck me as strange. More recently, Lupoff expanded the novel, retitled it MARBLEHEAD, and published it in 2006 with small but feisty press Ramble House.
Doug M.
43. Alan Heuer
Here is how I voted in 1979:

Best Novel
1. Up the Walls of the World James Tiptree, Jr.
2. Blind Voices Tom Reamy
3. Dreamsnake Vonda N. McIntyre
4. The Faded Sun: Kesrith C.J. Cherryh
5. The White Dragon Anne McCaffrey

Best Novella
1. "The Persistence of Vision" John Varley
2. "Seven American Nights" Gene Wolfe
3. "Enemies of the System" Brian W. Aldiss
4. "The Watched" Christopher Priest
5. "Fireship" Joan D. Vinge

Best Novelette
1. "Devil You Don't Know" Dean Ing
2. "The Man Who Had No Idea" Thomas M. Disch
3. "Mikal's Songbird" Orson Scott Card
4. "The Barbie Murders" John Varley
5. "Hunter's Moon" Poul Anderson

Best Short Story
1. "Stone" Edward Bryant
2. "The Very Slow Time Machine" Ian Watson
3. "Cassandra" C.J. Cherryh
4. "Count the Clock That Tells the Time" Harlan Ellison
5. "View from a Height" Joan D. Vinge

Subscribe to this thread

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