Apr 24 2011 9:54am

Hugo Nominees: 1980

1980 Hugo Awards trophyThe 1980 Hugo Awards were presented at Noreascon II in Boston. The best novel award was given to Arthur C. Clarke’s The Fountains of Paradise (post), a hard SF novel about building a space elevator beanstalk from Sri Lanka into space. It’s an old-fashioned kind of book, and it was old-fashioned even in 1979. It’s the story of one engineering project and one engineer. It has thin characterisation, few women, and not a lot of plot. It’s in print from Warner, and in the Grande Bibliotheque of Montreal (hereafter “the library”) in English only. I don’t hear a lot of discussion about it these days, and I don’t think many people would say it is their favourite Clarke. I don’t think it’s a good Hugo winner.

There are four other nominees and I’ve read all of them.

Patricia McKillip’s Harpist in the Wind is unquestionably fantasy. It’s also brilliant. But I’m very surprised to see it with a Hugo nomination, because it’s the third book in the Riddlemaster trilogy and it in no way stands alone. An unconventional choice, but a terrific book. It’s in print as part of an omnibus in the Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks series and also as part of an omnibus from Ace, and in the library as part of an omnibus.

Frederik Pohl’s Jem is science fiction—humans colonize a planet that already has alien inhabitants, and everything goes wrong. The aliens are very well done, and so is the conflict. This is a good solid complex SF novel and would have been a much better winner. It’s not in print and it’s in the library in French only. Somebody should reissue it.

Thomas M. Disch’s On Wings of Song is...indescribable. It’s a brilliant masterpiece, depressing, like all Disch, but thought provoking and amazing. It’s set in a near future collapsed U.S., some of which seems surprisingly accurate. There are machines that can literally send your soul out of your body, if you sing well enough, but they’re illegal in many states. It’s also out of print, and in the library in French only. Somebody should reprint it immediately if not sooner. This would have had my first place vote.

John Varley’s Titan is excellent until the very end where it all falls apart. It’s about a woman exploring an alien ecology, big dumb object orbiting Saturn, in the great tradition of Rendezvous with Rama only with more centaur sex. I adored everything Varley wrote up to nearly the end of this book, and have been disappointed by most of what he has written since. This did not deserve a Hugo nomination. It’s not in print and it’s not in the library, though for some reason the two sequels are.

What an odd set! Four men and one woman, four Americans and one Englishman. One very traditional SF novel about engineering, one epic fantasy, two complex SF novels, and one SF exploration adventure. What else might they have chosen?

SFWA’s Nebula Award also went to the Clarke. (But this time I had time to re-read it so I’m sure I’m not missing something that all of SFWA and everyone in Boston saw.) The only eligible non-overlapping nominee was Kate Wilhelm’s Juniper Time.

The World Fantasy Award went to Elizabeth Lynn’s wonderful Watchtower. They also shortlisted the McKillip, and Lynn’s Dancers of Arun, Patricia Wrightson’s The Dark Bright Water, Charles L. Grant’s The Last Call of Mourning, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s The Palace.

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award went to the Disch, and well deserved too. Second place went to John Crowley’s Engine Summer, a significant book that would have been a worthy Hugo nominee, and third to J.G. Ballard’s very odd The Unlimited Dream Company.

The Locus SF Award went to Titan. Well, rather that than Fountains of Paradise. Nominees that haven’t been mentioned so far: Spider and Jeanne Robinson’s Stardance, C.J, Cherryh’s Kutath, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragondrums, Jack Vance’s The Face, Michael Bishop’s Transfigurations. Roger Zelazny’s Roadmarks, Ben Bova’s Kinsman, Len Deighton’s SS-GB, Michael Bishop’s Catacomb Years, Charles Sheffield’s The Web Between the Worlds, Kevin O’Donnell’s Mayflies. Orson Scott Card’s A Planet Called Treason, Norman Spinrad’s A World Between, James P. Hogan’s The Two Faces of Tomorrow, M.A. Foster’s The Day of the Klesh, Larry Niven’s The Ringworld Engineers, and Jerry Pournelle’s Janissaries (post).

Lots there that could have been nominated. Despite the fact that Janissaries is the only one I’ve written about, the book I’ve read most often out of that selection is undoubtedly A Planet Called Treason, which is flawed but fascinating.

The Locus Fantasy Award went to McKillip. Other nominees not already mentioned: Stephen King’s The Dead Zone, Samuel R. Delany’s Tales of Neveryon—no stop. I can’t type the next nominee without cognitive dissonance seeing them on the same line, so I might as well say something. I don’t understand. Why was this not Hugo nominated? It’s fantasy, yes, but we were nominating fantasy this year. This is a really major book!

To continue: Piers Anthony’s Castle Roogna, Poul Anderson’s The Merman’s Children, C.J. Cherryh’s The Fires of Azeroth (SF, actually), Mary Stewart’s The Last Enchantment, Ursula Le Guin’s Malafrena, Tanith Lee’s Death’s Master, Octavia Butler’s Kindred (post), Lynn Abbey’s Daughter of the Bright Moon, Diane Duane’s The Door Into Fire, Phyllis Eisenstein’s Sorceror’s Son, Tim Powers The Drawing of the Dark.

The Delany and the Butler should both have had Hugo nominations, but it’s not really the Hugos so much as the World Fantasy Awards falling down on the job here—good winner, but their selections seem really conventional when I look at this list.

Is there anything all these awards missed? Looking at the ISFDB I see Brian Aldiss’s Brothers of the Head and Cryptozoic, Philip Jose Farmer’s Jesus on Mars, K.W. Jeter’s Morlock Night, Bob Shaw’s Nightwalk and Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

I think this is another year for the negative side—these five nominees are definitely not the five best or most significant of the year.

Other Categories


  • “Enemy Mine,” Barry B. Longyear (Asimov’s Sep 1979)
  • “The Battle of the Abaco Reefs,” Hilbert Schenck (F&SF Jun 1979) 
  • “Ker-Plop,” Ted Reynolds (Asimov’s Jan 1979)
  • “The Moon Goddess and the Son,” Donald Kingsbury (Analog Dec 1979)
  • “Songhouse,” Orson Scott Card (Analog Sep 1979)

Good winner. I had the Hugo winners anthology for this year and can remember actually crying at this story. I don’t know whether I should look at it again or not!


  • “Sandkings,” George R. R. Martin (Omni Aug 1979)
  • “Fireflood,” Vonda N. McIntyre (F&SF Nov 1979)
  • “Homecoming,” Barry B. Longyear (Asimov’s Oct 1979)
  • “The Locusts,” Larry Niven & Steve Barnes (Analog Jun 1979)
  • “Options,” John Varley (Universe 9)
  • “Palely Loitering,” Christopher Priest (F&SF Jan 1979)

Again, good winner. I’ve been a fan of Martin’s from this story onwards.


  • “The Way of Cross and Dragon,” George R. R. Martin (Omni Jun 1979)
  • “Can These Bones Live?”, Ted Reynolds (Analog Mar 1979)
  • “Daisy, In the Sun,” Connie Willis (Galileo Nov 1979)
  • “giANTS,” Edward Bryant (Analog Aug 1979)
  • “Unaccompanied Sonata,” Orson Scott Card (Omni Mar 1979)

Good winner and an awesome list of nominees. I had no idea Willis had been writing this long.


  • The Science Fiction Encyclopedia, Peter Nicholls, ed. (Doubleday)
  • Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials, Wayne Douglas Barlowe & Ian Summers (Workman)
  • In Memory Yet Green, Isaac Asimov (Doubleday)
  • The Language of the Night, Ursula K. Le Guin, edited by Susan Wood (Putnam)
  • Wonderworks, Michael Whelan (Donning)

Look, new category! And what a great set of nominees to start off—and as usual, a set of things not very like each other and hard to compare. I’ve read four of these (everything but the Whelan, which I assume is an art book) if you can say you’ve read an Encyclopedia, and I have no idea which I’d vote for. Probably the Le Guin, but... when you have four novels, no matter how different, they are at least all novels.


  • Alien
  • The Black Hole
  • The Muppet Movie
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  • Time After Time


  • George H. Scithers
  • Jim Baen
  • Ben Bova
  • Edward L. Ferman
  • Stanley Schmidt


  • Michael Whelan
  • Vincent Di Fate
  • Steve Fabian
  • Paul Lehr
  • Boris Vallejo


  • Locus, Charles N. Brown
  • File 770, Mike Glyer
  • Janus, Janice Bogstad & Jeanne Gomoll
  • Science Fiction Review, Richard E. Geis
  • Thrust, Doug Fratz


  • Bob Shaw
  • Richard E. Geis
  • Mike Glyer
  • Arthur D. Hlavaty
  • David Langford

People could still nominate Arthur Hlavaty now. He’s still a terrific fan writer. He has a wonderful way of putting things.


  • Alexis Gilliland
  • Jeanne Gomoll
  • Joan Hanke-Woods
  • Victoria Poyser
  • Bill Rotsler
  • Stu Shiffman


  • Barry B. Longyear
  • Lynn Abbey
  • Diane Duane
  • Karen Jollie
  • Alan Ryan
  • Somtow Sucharitkul

Interesting list.

Longyear produced that one wonderful novella, and I entirely see why people voted for him. He’s kept writing but never been very prolific or written anything else that’s had the same kind of attention since.

Lynn Abbey edited some collections with Asprin and did some writing in the Cherryh’s Merovingian universe. I haven’t heard anything about her in a while.

Diane Duane has gone on to have a major career, largely in YA. She’d also have been a good winner.

Karen Jollie is a complete blank to me—anyone?

I don’t know Alan Ryan either, but Locus says he won a World Fantasy Award for short story in 1984 and edited a pile of anthologies in the eighties but nothing recent.

Somtow Sucharitkul is a writer I really like. He has published a lot of books, science fiction, fantasy, horror and historical, some under the more pronouncable name S.P. Somtow, he’s wonderful but he’s never really had the sales to go with his talent. He’d have been another good 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.

1. manglar
Cryptozoic! - also known as An Age- was published in 1967, I think. It's a reversed time and time travel story, which also includes some really bleak depictions of a dystopic future England. By no means flawless, but one of my favourites among Aldiss's books. By the way, Jo, another great post.
Rich Horton
2. ecbatan
I actually think the nomination list is pretty good. As I noted in your post on The Fountains of Paradise, I like that novel a lot more than you do, and I'd even call it (admittedly unusually) my favorite Clarke. (I would agree that each of Childhood's End, The City and the Stars, and Rendezvous with Rama are more significant, and better remembered, but I had problems with all of them, and I simply have more affection for The Fountains of Paradise.)

I also enjoy Harpist in the Wind, and I agree with you on Titan -- it's quite good until the end. And I like Kate Wilhelm's Juniper Time a great deal.

On Wings of Song would surely have been a good winner. But my choice of the Hugo nominees is JEM -- I loved that novel, it made me furious, it made me cry (in a bitter, not tragic, sense). I actually threw the book across the room, in anger at the mess Pohl depicted so well.

But even ahead of JEM, there are two novels I love even more. One of these is Malafrena, which arguably is not eligible -- it's SF only in the "Ruritanian" sense. But it's a book I passionately devoured at the time. Some of this is for personal, or temporary, reasons: it was a gift from my then girlfriend, and I read it at just the right age (I was 20). But I do think it a lovely book.

The other novel, though, is my actual pick for the best novel of 1979, and that is John Crowley's Engine Summer, which is simply beautiful and heartbreaking.* And the last line is purely wonderful.

(*Heartbreaking is a term that can also be applied, in slightly different ways, to JEM, Malafrena, and On Wings of Song ...)

Other novels to mention: Barrington Bayley's Collision with Chronos, and the original Italian edition of Italo Calvino's If On a Winter's Night a Traveller (which would have had a better chance after the English translation appeared in 1981). Also, L. Neil Smith's enjoyable first novel, The Probability Broach. And more YA in tone: The Spellcoats, one of Diana Wynne Jones's excellent Dalemark Quartet, and Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson, which I haven't read but which seems to get good press.

As to the Campbell, no I don't remember anything about Karen Jollie at all. It should perhaps be noted that besides his SF and Horror, Somtow Sucharitkul is a major composer, and is the Artistic Director of the Bangkok Opera.

Rich Horton
3. Dietes
The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wofle came out in 1980, and deserved a nomination at least.
Tex Anne
4. TexAnne
I remember reading Watchtower, and haunting the used-book store until I found the other two. I don't remember why I didn't hang on to them; I suspect 11-year-old me missed a lot of the subtleties. Watchtower was actually where I learned that women could love women, no big deal, just another part of an adventure-filled, heroic life. I'll always be grateful that I found out about it from a book, and not from bigots like many of my peers did.
Rich Horton
5. ecbatan
And for the short fiction ... in novella at the time "Enemy Mine" seemed a clear enough winner, and it holds up fairly well. Longyear's weird career (affected in part by some personal issues he had (alcoholism) that he chronicled to some extent in a later novel) hasn't backed up that story much, and even his early work was terribly uneven, but he does still show up with a pretty strong story, as with last year's "Alten Kameraden".

As to the other novellas -- generally a decent but not brilliant set. One more story from the Nebula shortlist was one of my favorites, Samuel R. Delany's "The Tale of Gorgik". One might also note the presence on the Nebula shortlist of a story by Richard Wilson, "The Story Writer", which appeared in Destinies. Wilson hadn't been much heard of since is Nebula winning late '60s story "Mother To the World".

In novelette, no argument with "Sandkings", first rate stuff. (Something of a revisiting of Sturgeon's SF Hall of Fame story "Microcosmic God".) But other potential nominees worthy of a mention include a really good Spider Robinson story, "God is an Iron", and a late Alfred Bester story, "Galatea Galante". I also really like Richard Cowper's "Out There Where the Big Ships Go", and perhaps the first John M. Ford story to make a big impact, "Mandalay".

In short story, I would probably vote for "Daisy, in the Sun" as the best. This was Willis's first story to get much notice, but she had first published SF as early as 1970, with an apparently justly forgotten story called "Santa Titicaca", in Worlds of Fantasy, a short-lived companion to Galaxy.

I also really like Ed Bryant's "GiANTS", which won the Nebula.

Some more stories to mention:
"A Day in Mallworld", by Somtow Sucharitkul
"And Come From Miles Around", by Connie Willis
"In the Country of the Blind, No One Can See", by Melisa Michaels

And an interesting one: "The Colonel Came Back From Nothing-at-all", by Cordwainer Smith. This is apparently an early Instrumentality story that Smith never published, partly because it conflicts with some of the later stories. He rewrote aspects of it as "Drunkboat". This version first appeared in the Del Rey collection The Instrumentality of Mankind.

Finally, a note about artist ... there was one artist in those days I really enjoyed, Val Lakey. (Later Val Lakey Lindahn.) I haven't seen her work in some time, but around then she was probably my favorite.

Rich Horton
6. Doug M.
Dramatic Presentation: this goes to the "five worthy nominees" problem. There's not a single decent nominee on that list except for _Alien_. On the other hand, _Alien_ was a very good movie that's also been hugely influential; it simply had to be acknowledged.

I think _Castle Roogna_ would be Piers Anthony's last appearance on any award list.

The _Neveryon_ books were good, but also relatively opaque, inaccessible, and slow. It didn't help that they came out with covers that suggested the contents would be a more or less standard Conan-type blood-and-thunder fantasy.

Doug M.
Rich Horton
7. ecbatan
Dietes@3 -- this is the 1980 Hugos, but for work from 1979. Trust me, there'll be plenty of discussion of The Shadow of the Torturer next week!
Rich Horton
8. ecbatan
You know, thinking of Connie Willis, this is a classic example of how the Campbell Award eligibility rules can get in the way of recognizing some writers. "Santa Titicaca" made her ineligible in later years, but it was all she published in the field (I think she wrote some "True Confessions" stories) until 1978. She would have been an eminent candidate for the 1980 Campbell, though I dare say Longyear would still have won.
john mullen
9. johntheirishmongol
Not a big fan of the Hugo winner either. I thought it wasn't bad, just dull. I would more have gone with Titan. I have not gotten into Disch's style that much.

I do think Janissaries is a really good story but I would more have thought it fit the novelette category than novel. Hard to beat Pournelle for military scifi back then. I would say there are some equally good ones now. I do wish that Jerry would finish the next book in the series. According to his website, he is close to finishing the book but its been that way for some time.

I also enjoyed Cryptozoic, and would recommend it.

Alien was an easy winner for best dramatic presention and one of the best genre movies ever made. It also may be one of the best horror movies ever. I was a huge fan of Sigourney Weaver before this came out, but I thought she should have been at least nominated for the Academy Award. She took leading female roles to an entirely new area.
10. Doug M.
So Barry B. Longyear. 38 years old when he won, which made him one of the older winners up to that point.

Back in the early 1980s I had a subscription to Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Except that back in the early 1980s, it was more like Barry B. Longyear's Science Fiction magazine, because Barry had a story in almost every issue.

Longyear came late to writing SF, but then he burst on the scene with several good short stories (most of them set in the "City of Baraboo" universe) and the memorable novella "Enemy Mine", which would later be made into a mediocre movie. He had a very intense run for three years or so. Then alchohol and drug problems sent him into a crash, and he went into rehab. (Not telling tales out of school here; Barry has been very open about his problems and struggles.) Since then he's been up and down; he's continued to write, and some of it seems to be pretty good stuff, but he hasn't ever repeated that initial explosion.

He'd eventually write a dozen novels, four short story collections, and a couple of TV tie-ins (for the "Alien Nation" series). He picked up a Hugo, a Nebula and a Locus. He's still writing; in fact, he's had half a dozen stories published in the last couple of years. He's got a blog at "".

Losers: Somtow Sucharitkul would get his next year. Karen Jollie I know nothing of. Alan Ryan had a burstof stories in the late '70s and early '80s, and then seems to have drifted away from the field. Diane Duane is best known for the "Young Wizards" series, but she's written a shelf full of other stuff, including about 15 Star Trek novels and several comic, TV and movie tie-ins. She's also written for movies and TV.

Lynn Abbey was a protégé of the late Gordon Dickson; she dictated her first novel to him while lying in a hospital bed. She went on to write a dozen or so novels, but she's probably best known for her work on Thieves World, the first and still the biggest shared world. Abbey is also interesting for spending a lot of time in the murky netherworld of role-playing games... she's written several D&D tie-ins and other RPG supplements.

Doug M.
Michal Jakuszewski
11. Lfex
Tough choice. The Fountains of Paradise is your typical Clarke novel with all the bad coming with it, and not so much of the good - overall I agree it is a poor winner. I remember liking Titan a lot back then, but I am not sure how it would stand to reread. Admittedly it is also rather silly and I tend to think awards should go to more-or-less serious works. That is why I would probably vote for Harpist in the Wind, even if it was part of the series. Back then a straightforward fantasy novel had no chance of winning, of course. I had mixed feelings about On Wings of Songs and strongly disliked Jem. As for oher novels which could be nominated, I would probab?y chose A Planet Called Treason, The Faded Sun: Kutath and The Drawing of the Dark, but I don't think any of those is better than McKillip.

It is hard to debate with short fiction categories this time. Three excellent choices for winners.
12. James Davis Nicoll
Somtow Sucharitkul is a writer I really like. He has published a lot of books, science fiction, fantasy, horror and historical, some under the more pronouncable name S.P. Somtow, he’s wonderful but he’s never really had the sales to go with his talent. He’d have been another good winner.

Lost to the sordid world of musical composition and opera; IIRC he is the artistic director of the Bangkok Opera.
13. Raskolnikov
Interesting. I'd agree that Fountains of Paradise was largely undeserved, far from the best of Clarke and really pretty old fashioned. Of the nominees Jem would have been my pick, it's funny, creative, energetic and really brilliant in its use of alien-human intersections. One of my favorite of Pohl's, and one that doesn't seem to be as widely read now as it deserves.

Titan is the only Varley I've read, and it's the reason I haven't explored him more. I found it bizarre, awkward and dated, throwing bizarre themes and sexual motifs around without building a reasonable story around it.

Not a terrible shortlist, all in all, although there's a lot of outstanding stuff left off. I'm particularly bummed by the Cherryh omission, I think, although she would later get quite a deal of attention there. It's interesting to look at the Campbell, and see how many of the nominated authors aren't remembered at all today.
14. etranger
It seems like Orson Scott Card was doing some of his best writing around this time, with Songhouse, Ender's Game, and Unaccompanied Sonata all being published. I remember crying when I read Unaccompanied Sonata, and I love Songhouse, but almost nothing he's written since then has worked for me.
15. James Davis Nicoll
I really need to start reading other people's replies before posting.

John Varley’s Titan is excellent until the very end where it all falls apart.

Odd detail I recall from the last time I reread it: it's set in 2025, space ships are advanced enough that humans can travel across a billion plus kilometers and yet the moon count for Saturn a dozen or so, about what it was in the 1970s. At the moment we know of sixty-two moons of Saturn, fifty-three of which have been named and it seems obvious in retrospect that there had to be a lot of small bodies around Saturn we had not spotted yet. Clearly it wasn't obvious or Varley would have written a different book.

The moon count for Saturn would go from 11 to 17 in 1980-1981, thanks to ground observations from Earth and also the Voyager space craft, which meant that detail of the book aged very quickly.

I adored everything Varley wrote up to nearly the end of this book, and have been disappointed by most of what he has written since.

Which is what, 70-80% of his career? I have a number of authors like that; loved their early stuff and on the basis of that count them among my favourites but in fact haven't liked most of what they have done.
16. Susan Loyal
What an odd year. JEM is perhaps my favorite Pohl novel, but Kate Wilhelm's Juniper Time was easily my favorite novel that year. Glad it got on one list, anyway.
17. James Davis Nicoll
Bob Shaw’s Nightwalk

I see a 1967 Banner edition for this book. I know I first read it before 1979 (although not too much before, because the first Shaw I read was A Wreath of Stars in 1978; a Pan mmpb, I think)

Speaking of Shaw, was his name mentioned during the "pros should have the decency not to win best fan writer Hugos" kerfluffle last year (where, I note, I was on the correct, which is to say the guy who mentioned Pohl's eligibility in the first place, side).
18. James Davis Nicoll
I love Jem but boy is it a 1970s book. Not without elements other authors might consider emulating but really, a world divided into a Burnhamesque three blocs, where the Blocs are the oil-exporting nations, the food-producing nations and the too-many-people nations?

(Still better than whatever novel it was that I was sent a few years where the Galaxy of the Distant Future! was divided into the Cosmic Muslim Caliphate (Now with added suicide bombers), the Republic of Fecund Fanatic Christians (who combine a high birth rate with a near-static population through means not clearly explained), China and the Commonwealth of Vaguely Disapproving Secular Humanists)
19. Doug M.
"I have a number of authors like that; loved their early stuff and on the
basis of that count them among my favourites but in fact haven't liked
most of what they have done."

Case in point: Larry Niven. By 1980 he had well begun his long, protracted decline. He appears on the ballot this year, but by 1980 he'd won his last Hugo or Nebula, and IMS he'd only get nominated one more time (_Footfall_, 1986).

That's a thing about the Hugos: there's a certain hardwired tendency to award minor works by major authors, and sometimes -- as in this year's best novel -- to give an award for lifetime achievement. (It's a bit astonishing to think that Clarke was already past retirement age in 1980; he'd live another 24 years, dying in 2004 at the age of 90.)

Doug M.
20. Dietes
ecbatan: I stand corrected. However, in my defense, a book that good (much like the concilliator) trancends space and time.
21. James Davis Nicoll
It's a bit astonishing to think that Clarke was already past retirement age in 1980; he'd live another 24 years, dying in 2004 at the age of 90.

2008, I believe. If he died in 2004, his later collaboration with youthful up-and-comer Fred Pohl must have involved some very long distance email.
22. James Davis Nicoll
By 1980

The number of once-favorite authors whose work appeared to head into a simultaneous precipitous decline around this time must, I think, be an artifact of when I began reading SF in a big way and when I finally got through the backlogs of my then-favourite authors. Or maybe my tastes just changed.
23. Doug M.
...that's like the fifth factual error I've posted on this forum in the last few months.


Doug M.
24. James Davis Nicoll
A quick glance at Steven H. Silver's In Memoriam 2004 doesn't suggest a likely person for you to have confused Clarke with (I was wondering if Williamson died that year but he died in 2006).

Might you have been confused by Clarke's personal connection to the 2004 tsunami, both the destruction of his school and the fact that the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation had been working at that time to get a better Indian Ocean tsunami warning system in place?
25. Gardner Dozois
I too like FOUNTAINS OF PARADISE far better than Jo does. It's not my favorite Clarke, but it's a solid novel with an interesting and complex (for Clarke) central character, and it's very evocative in Clarke's typical quiet, low-key, Stapeldonian way. It might have gotten my vote, and it certainly would have gotten my vote ahead of TITAN, which I found very disappointing, particularly, as Jo said, toward the ending. The two sequels got progressively worse, with the last one being nearly unreadable. Shortly thereafter, Varley lapsed into a decade-long silence from the genre's perspective, while he was out in Hollywood writing scripts for movies that never got produced, and although he did some good work once he came back, he was never quite the same. This was a major disappointment at the time, since I would have said that he was the best and most promising of the new writers in SF up until this point, and everybody was predicting great things for him, which didn't quite ever materialize.

JEM was SO bleak and depressing that it was too depressing even for me, who has a fairly high tolerance for the stuff. ON WINGS OF SONG was also fairly bleak, and it's commercial failure caused Disch to largely give up on science fiction, abandoning, for instance, the new SF novel he was writing, a chunk of which, the brilliant "Mutability," was published the previous year. Len Deighton's SS-GB should have been on the ballot, Deighton's only foray into science fiction, a complex and intricately detailed Alternate History novel that manages to also be a tense thriller at the same time, one of the best Alternate History novels of the last few decades, in fact. I suppose the fact that Deighton was a complete Outsider kept him off. ENGINE SUMMER probably desrved a place on the ballot, as did THE FACE, one of the best of Vance's later "Demon Princes" novels. THE DRAWING OF THE DARK is one of Powers's less complex novels, but one of his most purely enjoyable. And considering the impact that it would later have on the field, HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY probably should have been on, although I suspect that most of that influence came from the radio and later media adaptations. Zelazny's ROADMARKS had an interesting idea that it largely wasted. MALAFRENA is an absorbing book, but not SF or really fantasy either, except in the loosest of terms.

I never warmed to "Enemy Mine," perhaps because it always struck me as a direct one-to-one translation into SF of an old Frank Sinatra war movie. The win for Longyear and the presence of him and Somtow Sucharitkul on the Campbell ballot is certainly related to the win for George Scithers in the Best Editor category. Longyear was hugely prolific at short lengths during Scithers's reign at ASIMOV'S--the joke at the time was that the magazine ought to be called BARRY B. LONGYEAR AND SOMTOW SUCHARITKUL'S SCIENCE FICTION MAGAZINE, since it seemed that every issue featured a story from one of the other of them, and sometimes both--and his lapse into silence pretty much corrolated with George leaving ASIMOV'S. Novella is a weak category this year, unlike the previous year, when it was the strongest. I think my vote at the time went to Hilbert Schenck's "The Battle of the Abaco Reefs," although I suspect that it's seriously dated by now. Another good novella which was overlooked was Suzy McKee Charnas's "The Ancient Mind at Work," one of the stories in at the start of the Big Vampire Revival, the floodgates of which would really swing wide in coming decades.

Novelette clearly goes to "Sandkings," although Jack Dann's "Camps," which didn't make the ballot, is powerful stuff, and Zelazny's "The Last Defender of Camelot" is a strong fantasy. I think Martin deserved his win in short story too; in fact, in some ways I like "The Way of Cross and Dragon" better than "Sandkings." I liked Bryant's "giANTS" too, and Zelazny's very short "Halfjack" was good as well. Connie Willis would be doing much stronger work in just a year or two, so I wouldn't have voted for "Daisy, in the Sun," although it probably deserved a place on the ballot.

ALIEN is the clear winner in Dramatic Presentation, and one of the first candidates to date in this category that was really memorable.

Non-fiction is a tough category, but I guess I'd give it to THE ENCYCLOPEDIA, a book of significance to the genre which I still use to this day. Asimov's autobiography is probably the most fun to read, though.

I was the one who fished "The Secret of Santa Titicaca" out of the slush pile at WORLDS OF FANTASY, later making Connie illegable for the World Fantasy Award, which Connie chided me about from the podium at some point during the procedings, leading to a brief rumor that we were Feuding. Considering their comparative bodies of work at that point, I suppose that Longyear was a reasonable choice for the Campbell, although I've never really warmed to his work. Not sure who, if anybody, I would have voted for out of that category. I too don't remember who Karen Jollie was, or what she actually published.
lake sidey
26. lakesidey
Hard to really argue with the winners in the shorter categories, but I'd still have given the "Short Story" to Unaccompanied Sonata. It's one of my favourite pieces ever, partly because it is so hard to write about a world where (most) everyone is happy, and make it work simply and elegantly. I remember lending this to a teacher of mine in college to convince her that SF also has great writing on offer.

Can't really be upset with the winner though, or with giANTS winning the Nebula (haven't read the other two candidates, but on the evidence of those three, that was a good year for short stories it would seem!) just that Sonata was my personal favourite of the three.

(As for the novels, meh. I'd rather have given it to the Hitchhikers Guide.)

Michael Ikeda
27. mikeda
James Davis Nicoll@18

Republic of Fecund Fanatic Christians (who combine a high birth rate
with a near-static population through means not clearly explained)

You needthe high birth rate to keep up with the repeated Raptures...
Rich Horton
28. ecbatan
Gardner making Connie Willis ineligible for the Campbell was simply him paying it forward after Frederik Pohl made Gardner ineligible for the first Cambpell by publishing "The Empty Man" in 1966, four years before he started publishing really good stuff.

As nobody, including myself, had ever heard of Karen Jollie, I figured I'd check ... It seems she had two stories in Roy Torgeson's anthology series Chrysalis in 1978 -- "The Works of His Hands, Made Manifest" in Chrysalis 2, and the amusingly titled "Chrysalis Three" in Chrysalis 3. She had one more story in the field, "Bunny-Eyes" in the May 1980 F&SF. I probably read those numbers of Chrysalis, though perhaps not that issue of F&SF (I was in college and had let my subscription lapse), but I don't recall any of those stories. As of 2009 it appears she lived in the Seattle area, doing web design, having previously been a High School Science teacher.

Speaking of Chrysalis, I wonder what ever happened to Roy Torgeson? He was an energetic editor for a while there, with a distinct set of authors that he published, but I've seen nothing from him for a long time either.
Andrew Love
29. AndyLove
the joke at the time was that the magazine ought to be called BARRY B. LONGYEAR AND SOMTOW SUCHARITKUL'S SCIENCE FICTION MAGAZINE, since it seemed that every issue featured a story from one of the other of them, and sometimes both.

Yes - I was new to magazine SF when I subscribed to Asimov's in 1979, and for a while I thought that it was just the rule that there would be a Longyear story in every issue (kind of like Robert Reed recently in F&SF - not that I'm complaining)
David Levinson
30. DemetriosX
As I pointed out on the post on Fountains, I really think this award happened because Clarke had announced it would be his last work and he was retiring. Very much a last-chance vote here and on the Nebula ballot. I think I'd have given it to JEM, but I'm not 100 & sure.

Enemy Mine definitely deserved its award. All of its later iterations were certainly, to use Jo's phrase, homeopathically good. Longyear wrote quite a lot of good stuff before Hollywood and the bottle ate his brain for a time. Homecoming, which is on the novellette ballot was about the descendants of intelligent dinosaurs returning to Earth. And, as noted, he wrote a lot of Circusworld stories.

Of the other novella nominees, Ker-plop by Ted Reynolds (who also disappeared after a short time) was also quite good, though it sticks most in my memory thanks to the wonderful DiFate illustrations that accompanied it.

Novellette: Sandkings was the clear winner and, as with Jo, brought GRRM to my attention. I mentioned the Longyear story above and The Locusts was an idea that Niven had and couldn't do anything with, so he gave it to a young aspiring writer. It started several years of collaborations that would eventually make Barnes a pretty good writer in his own right.

The dramatic presentation is a strange bunch. Alien was terrific and I love the Muppet Movie, thogh I'm not sure what it's doing here. The rest ranges from mediocre to crap.

Artists, the only new name is Paul Lehr. As near as I can tell, he did a lot of the covers for Berkeley and Dell in the 60s and 70s, the ones that had nothing to do with the books, but were very sfnal.

Campbells: Longyear probably won on the strength of Enemy Mine, but he had written a lot of rather good stories. Somtow at this point only had a couple of Inquestor stories and some Mallworld stories. His win the next year was certainly deserved and I think his output in the intervening period was crucial to that win.
Andrew Love
31. AndyLove
"Of the other novella nominees, Ker-plop by Ted Reynolds (who also disappeared after a short time) was also quite good, though it sticks most in my memory thanks to the wonderful DiFate illustrations that accompanied it."

Until I checked just now, I assumed Ted had died in the 80s. I still remember how much his "Through All His Houses Wandering" blew my mind. I must have been confusing him with Tom Rainbow, who died in 1984.
32. Kvon
This feels to me like the first year where I really know most of the books mentioned (although I seem to have skipped over Titan, Fountains, and Jem) and also several of the short works. I'm hitting my personal golden age of sf here, age 12.

Jo, you made me laugh out loud about separating the two names in the Locus award.
Jo Walton
33. bluejo
Speaking entirely for myself here, I've thought what we could do with Dramatic Presentation. The problem is that there just are not five good eligible films every year -- neither then nor now. However, there are occasional brilliant eligible films. So we could scrap the category, and every ten years, at the end of a decade, have the best dramatic presentation of the decade -- because there are five films, most decades, that belong on the list. The movie people don't give a damn about out awards anyway, generally, so they wouldn't care that they were missing out.

I am almost tempted to propose this at the business meeting in Denver.
34. schatzfam
1980 brings back memories for me. It was actually the only time I have been to a Worldcon (since it was in my home town) and the only time I actually voted for the Hugo Awards. I don't actually remember what I voted for at the times, but I seem to recall that most of my favorites lost.

I am reasonably certain I voted for "On Wings of Song" for best novel, which I loved when it was serialized in F&SF. Of the actual nominees, I think the only one I did not like was "Harpist in the Wind." I sometimes have strange reactions to fantasy novels - I hated "Little, Big."

I think the novellas were all strong, and I think I might have gone with "Songhouse" at the time. Card was another writer (like Varley) who produced a lot of great work early.

I think "Sandkings" was the clear choice for novelette, although I also liked "Options." Another strong novelette from that year was "The Angel of Death" by Michael Shea, although horror doesn't normally make the list.

I know I am in the minority here, but my favorite short story that year was Ted Reynolds' "Let Those Bones Live." This was the story of the last woman on earth revived by an alien race, who may have the opportunity to resurrect mankind with the correct choice. "GiANTS" was my second favorite.

A couple of other stories I remember from that year:

"Ernie" - an early Timothy Zahn story about a boxer with a very slight "super power."
"Broken Stairways, Walls of Time" by Lee Killough - who never quite became a name.
"Spareen among the Tartars" by Susan C. Petrey, who died soon after publishing a handful of stories.

Although I don't remember it too well, there was an Alan Ryan story in F&SF that year - ""You're Welcome," Said the Robot, and Turned to Watch the Snowflakes."

My favorite cover that year was one done by Barclay Shaw for Lee Killough's story. I always thought Mr. Shaw had a wonderful color sense, and he was later nominated 5 times for best artist.

Dick Schatz
Bob Blough
35. Bob
Couldn't agree with you more about Titan and John Varley's career. I keep reading him (his last work was a YA SF trilogy) hoping that the fire will catch again but his writings have been disappointing. I really did not like Fountains of Paradise. I can't even think of re-reading it today. My favorites were On Wings of Song - absolutely one of the best of Disch's brilliant SF novels - and Engine Summer by John Crowley - another classic, I feel. The rest of my top choices would be Juniper Time by Kate Wilhelm (her best SF novel, I think), The Road to Corlay by Richard Cowper, Jem and Harpist in the Wind.

Orson Scott Card had "Unaccompanied Sonata" my favorite short story of the year and also one of my top Novellas. He is another writer (along with Niven and Varley) that somehow seemed to forgot how to write in his later career. The novel Songmaster which begins with "Songhouse" is his best SF novel in my eyes.

Jo, have you read the second verson of A Planet Called Treason that he published later in his career (called Treason)? I still like the early one better.

"Sandkings" is a great choice but I also really liked "Fireflood" by Vonda NcIntyre , "Options" by Varley (about the last thing I have really liked by him), "Ancient Mind at Work" by Charnas and "The Angel of Death" by Michael Shea.

I think all the Novellas were first class. I can't fight with "Enemy Mine" however. I think the shorts were tremendous this year - all the Hugo nominees plus "Vernalfest Morning" by Michael Bishop and "Red as Blood " by Tanith Lee.

By the way my Franson and DeVore listings say that Titan came in second and On Winds of Song came in 5th.
Jo Walton
37. bluejo
Bob: I have read the revised and updated Treason, and I think it's a good illustration of how "technically better" is not equal to "better book". The original with its first person angst is a more deeply felt book, and better for it. The revised version is slicker but much more forgettable.
David Levinson
38. DemetriosX
I meant to note earlier that I'm like Jo in being surprised to see Connie Willis so early. She first really came to my attention with "Blued Moon", which ISFDB says was 1984. OTOH, there are 4 names that I most closely associate with Scithers-era IASFM: Longyear and Somtow, whom we have discussed here, as well as John M. Ford and Connie Willis. The late 70s/early 80s seem to have been a fairly productive time for new talent.
39. deacondee
This was a great year from my persective. One of my favorite novels, Juniper Time, was released as well as my favorite short story, Unaccompanied Sonata, both reread many times. I'm going to have to search for the Disch as I've never read it but it sounds fascinating.
40. dancing crow
Lynn Abbey and Cherryh are inextricably linked in my mind because somehow I read Sardonyx Net and Downbelow very close to eachother, and they cross-pollinated in my head.
Jo Walton
41. bluejo
Dancing Crow: Sardonyx Net is Elizabeth Lynn, not Lynn Abbey. Sorry.
42. Rob T.
As someone who voted for 63 (!) movies in the recent "best of the decade" movie poll on this site, I'm going to have to disagree with you about the lack of worthy Dramatic Presentation nominees in recent years. I do agree, though, that for much of the early history of the category Hugo voters were lucky to have even one worthy nominee in a given year. Furthermore, the nominating system for a long time favored blockbuster hits or at least movies widely seen by genre fans, even if some of them (e.g. the first "Star Trek" movie and The Black Hole from the 1980 ballot) were mediocre or worse.

In recent years, the generation of filmmakers that grew up on Star Wars has given fans a greater variety of genre films to chose from each year, mostly with a higher level of craft than what fans were used to 20 or more years ago. Moreover, the ready availability of home video has given fans who don't get to see everything in the theater greater ability to single out noteworthy nominees. Thus, last year three of the five long form Dramatic Presentation nominees were also "best picture" Oscar nominees, and all three were beaten by a low-grossing "sleeper" that found a sizeable audience on home video. Not all the recent nominees are that great, but utter dogs like The Black Hole are rare indeed.
43. Rob T.
Oh, and I wanted to add my two cents on the novelette category too. "Sandkings" is indeed a worthy winner--prior to the "Wild Cards" books it was probably the one thing George R. R. Martin was best known for--but 1979 was an outstanding year for novelettes in general. Just about all of the top 10 stories Locus poll for the category would have been worthy winners in other years, including any of the top 10 plus maybe Charnas's "The Ancient Mind at Work" and Pronzini/Malzberg's "Prose Bowl".

My favorite of all is Fritz Leiber's "The Button Molder", for my money easily the best of the autobiographical/roman à clef fantasies he was writing during those years (including the previous Hugo/Nebula winner "Catch That Zeppelin!"), and in some ways the most deeply self-probing of them. It's also about the secret of life. Check it out.
44. Gardner Dozois
If one of the Dramatic Presentation nominees wins this year, I can't wait to hear whoever is giving out the award announce, in a ringing voice, "Fuck me, Ray Bradbury!"

(The crowd goes wild!)
45. Jeff R.
This is the second, but by no means the last or most blatant, time Douglas Adams was robbed of a Hugo.

(And while I liked Titan well enough, I'm firmly in the crowd that has Varley's peak with Steel Beach and The Golden Globe.)
Jo Walton
46. bluejo
Gardner: Rene happened to be over here yesterday when the nominations were announced, and he was reading them to us from his laptop. When he got to that one he hesitated because he didn't want to say it, and said "That... Ray Bradbury... thing". It turned out that my son's girlfriend had seen it, even though she didn't actually know who Ray Bradbury is. So it's clearly very very popular, and considering the standard of the other nominees, I think you may have your wish.
47. Gardner Dozois
I've been thinking about who would be the funniest choice to have to say "Fuck me, Ray Bradbury!" in a clear, ringing voice during the Hugos. My favorite choice at the moment would be Connie Willis.
Jo Walton
48. bluejo
Gardner: My ideal choice for the job would be Charlie Stross. Or you could volunteer!
49. Raja99
"Jem is ... not in print and it’s in the library in French only. Somebody should reissue it."

Baen just did: You can buy it as a $5 ebook from , or get an ebook bundle of ten (!) Frederik Pohl classics for $40.

Disclaimer: I am not a paid spokesperson for Baen; I just went squee! when I heard about (and immediately bought) the bundle ;-).
Rich Horton
50. ecbatan
Wanted to add one novel from 1979 that I quite liked but forgot to mention earlier: Jayge Carr's Leviathan's Deep. (Carr's real name was Margery Krueger, and she died in 2006.)
51. Alan Heuer
Here is how I voted in 1980:

Best Novel
1. On Wings of Song Thomas M. Disch
2. Jem Frederik Pohl
3. Titan John Varley
4. The Fountains of Paradise Arthur C. Clarke
5. Harpist in the Wind Patricia A. McKillip

Best Novella
1. "Songhouse" Orson Scott Card
2. "The Moon Goddess and the Son" Donald Kingsbury
3. "Enemy Mine" Barry B. Longyear
4. "The Battle of the Abaco Reefs" Hilbert Schenck
5. "Ker-Plop" Ted Reynolds

Best Novelette
1. "Options" John Varley
2. "Palely Loitering" Christopher Priest
3. "Sandkings" George R.R. Martin
4. "Fireflood" Vonda N. McIntyre
5. "Homecoming" Barry B. Longyear
6. "The Locusts" Larry Niven & Steven Barnes

Best Short Story
1. "Daisy, in the Sun" Connie Willis
2. "giANTS" Edward Bryant
3. "Unaccompanied Sonata" Orson Scott Card
4. "The Way of Cross and Dragon" George R.R. Martin
5. "Can These Bones Live?" Ted Reynolds

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