Sun
May 1 2011 9:54am

Hugo Nominees: 1981

1981 Hugo Awards trophyThe 1981 Hugo Awards were handed out in Denvention II in Denver, and shoot me now because this is the year when I don’t like anything.

The best novel award went to Joan Vinge’s The Snow Queen. It’s science fiction that uses the Hans Christian Anderson story of “The Snow Queen” to shape the story and for resonance, and I really ought to love it but in fact I’ve never been able to force myself through it. Maybe I am too young for it, but I tried it again last year. It’s a beloved classic for many people, but it just does nothing for me. I’m sorry. I’m quite prepared to see this as a flaw in me rather than a flaw in it. It’s in print and it’s in the Grande Bibliotheque of Montreal (henceforth “the library”) in English. I’ve heard people talking about it recently. It has definitely lasted. And despite not liking it, I think it was the right winner.

There are four other nominees and I’ve read them all. I hate three of them and I’m tepid on the other.

Frederik Pohl’s Beyond the Blue Event Horizon is the sequel to his brilliant Gateway (post). It has a wonderful title. And it’s in the Gateway universe? What could possibly go wrong? Well, everything. This is one of the most disappointing books I have ever read, because I had such high hopes for it. It is not as bad as the later sequels, and it is enlivened by Pohl’s always delightful prose, but...Gateway did not need sequels, and this book isn’t only bad, it spoils what went before. If the Lacuna Corporation ever really advertised their memory blocking, the memory of these sequels would be one of the first things I’d erase. (“Then you’d read them again,” my son said. And he’s right. I wouldn’t be able to stop myself.) It’s in print from Tor (notice how we have free speech on this site) and it’s in the library in French only.

Next the one I’m tepid about. Robert Silverberg’s Lord Valentine’s Castle is what I’d probably have voted for if I’d had a vote in 1981. It’s the first of Silverberg’s Majipoor books, introducing the world which feels like fantasy but is science fiction. It’s a huge sprawling picaresque adventure about a man who loses his memory and his body. I liked it when I was fifteen, but it hasn’t worn well and I have come to feel that it’s one of Silverberg’s weaker books. I don’t care for the sequels and it doesn’t re-read well. It doesn’t seem to be in print, but it’s in the library in English and French.

Larry Niven’s The Ringworld Engineers is the first sequel to Ringworld, and it has some of the same flaws as Beyond the Blue Event Horizon, explaining things best left unexplained, revisiting characters whose stories were finished. It’s in print from Orbit, and in the library in French and English. I’ve also heard people refer to its word for inter-species sex fairly recently, so maybe everybody else likes it.

Which brings me to John Varley’s Wizard, which is just—spare me. I hated this so much I didn’t ever read the third one.

So four men and one woman, all Americans, all science fiction, one book I can’t read, three feeble sequels, and one okay book by an author who has done much better. I understand why the Vinge and the Silverberg got nominated, but the rest of this is a mystery to me. Wasn’t there anything better available to represent 1980 than this collection of warmed over stuff?

The Science Fiction Writers of America gave their Nebula Award to Gregory Benford’s Timescape, a solid work of hard SF, which would have been a good nominee. They had three non-overlapping nominees—Gene Wolfe’s The Shadow of the Torturer, a work of sufficient outstanding excellence that it should have made the Hugo ballot in any year, and two books I haven’t read Walter S. Tevis’s Mockingbird, and Robert Stallman’s The Orphan.

The World Fantasy Award went to The Shadow of the Torturer. Good. (Though it’s SF, you know.) Their other nominees were Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Aristo, Parke Godwin’s Firelord, Stephen King’s The Mist and Peter Straub’s Shadowland.

The Campbell Memorial also went to Timescape, for once a book Campbell would have liked, with Damien Broderick’s The Dreaming Dragons in second place and The Shadow of the Torturer third.

The Locus SF Award went to The Snow Queen. Nominees not already mentioned: C.J. Cherryh’s Serpent’s Reach (post), Stephen King’s Firestarter, Robert Heinlein’s The Number of the Beast, Philip Jose Farmer’s The Magic Labyrinth, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Two to Conquer. Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed (post), Alfred Bester’s Golem 100, Robert L. Forward’s Dragon’s Egg, Marta Randall’s Dangerous Games. Norman Spinrad’s Songs From the Stars, Orson Scott Card’s Songmaster, Michael Bishop’s Eyes of Fire, Ian Watson’s The Gardens of Delight, Keith Roberts’s Molly Zero (post), James P. Hogan’s Thrice Upon a Time, M.A. Foster’s Waves, Jean Lorrah and Jacqueline Lichtenberg’s First Channel and John Shirley’s City Come a Walking.

My opinion is that you could throw a dart into that paragraph anywhere and find a better nominee than the ones we have. The ones I’ve written posts about would clearly be my choices, along with the Wolfe. Oh dear, Hugos, you are letting me down badly here.

Locus Fantasy Award went to Lord Valentine’s Castle — it feels like fantasy, in the same was as Lord of Light and for that matter The Shadow of the Torturer. But they are all three SF.

Nominees not mentioned so far: Stephen R. Donaldson’s The Wounded Land, Roger Zelazny’s Changeling, Elizabeth Lynn’s The Northern Girl, Piers Anthony’s Split Infinity, Ursula Le Guin’s The Beginning Place. Suzy McGee Charnas’s The Vampire Tapestry, Tanith Lee’s Kill the Dead and Sabella, Fred Saberhagen’s Thorn, Manly Wade Wellman’s After Dark, M. John Harrison’s A Storm of Wings, William Horwood’s Duncton Wood, Glen Cook’s All Darkness Met, Basil Cooper’s Necropolis, and Lyndon Hardy’s The Master of Five Magics.

Locus First Novel Award went to Robert Forward’s Dragon’s Egg. Other notable nominees are John M. Ford’s Web of Angels, David Brin’s Sundiver, Rudy Rucker’s White Light, Joan Slonczewski’s Still Forms on Foxfield, and Gillian Bradshaw’s Hawk of May. If the Hugo list had been five of these I’d still have been asking where the Wolfe was, but otherwise I’d have been happy.

The Mythopoeic Award went to Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales, which seems a little recursive—it’s for work “in the spirit of the Inklings.” Nominees not previously mentioned Joy Chant’s Grey Mane of Morning and Morgan Llewellyn’s The Lion of Ireland.

So, was there anything else? There’s Anthony Burgess’s Earthly Powers, (post), and Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, (post) both published as mainstream but wonderful readable genre books that would have graced the Hugo ballot—and I expect they’d have had some chance of being nominated for the Nebula if they’d been American books.

So this was a great year, with lots of good books, and there’s no excuse for nominating the feeble offerings that made the ballot.

Other Categories

NOVELLA

  • “Lost Dorsai,” Gordon R. Dickson (Destinies Vol. 2, No. 1, Feb.-Mar. 1980)
  • “All the Lies that Are My Life,” Harlan Ellison (F&SF Nov 1980; Underwood-Miller)
  • “The Brave Little Toaster,” Thomas M. Disch (F&SF Aug 1980)
  • “Nightflyers,” George R. R. Martin (Analog Apr 1980)
  • “One-Wing,” Lisa Tuttle & George R. R. Martin (Analog Jan/Feb 1980)

You know, whatever happens with the novels, the novella category always seems to have great stuff. It’s true that this is where a lot of the life of the genre has always been.

NOVELETTE

  • “The Cloak and the Staff,” Gordon R. Dickson (Analog Aug 1980)
  • “The Autopsy,” Michael Shea (F&SF Dec 1980)
  • “Beatnik Bayou,” John Varley (New Voices III)
  • “The Lordly Ones,” Keith Roberts (F&SF Mar 1980)
  • “Savage Planet,” Barry B. Longyear (Analog Feb 1980)
  • “The Ugly Chickens,” Howard Waldrop (Universe 10)

On the other hand, one of the best Varley stories ever, a great Roberts story and an awesome Waldrop one and they give it to one of Dickson’s more forgettable pieces? Maybe the nominators and voters at Denver were an odd lot.

SHORT STORY

  • “Grotto of the Dancing Deer,” Clifford D. Simak (Analog Apr 1980)
  • “Cold Hands,” Jeff Duntemann (Asimov’s Jun 1980)
  • “Guardian,” Jeff Duntemann (Asimov’s Sep 1980)
  • “Our Lady of the Sauropods,” Robert Silverberg (Omni Sep 1980)
  • “Spidersong,” Susan C. Petrey (F&SF Sep 1980)

NONFICTION BOOK

  • Cosmos, Carl Sagan (Random House)
  • Di Fate’s Catalog of Science Fiction Hardware, Vincent Di Fate & Ian Summers (Workman)
  • Dream Makers, Charles Platt (Berkley)
  • In Joy Still Felt: The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov, 1954-1978, Isaac Asimov (Doubleday)
  • Walter A. Willis, edited by Richard Bergeron (for Richard Bergeron)

I want to say I’d have voted for the Asimov, which in fact I didn’t read for another seven years, whereas I did read Cosmos then and it was good. Again, these things are not much like each other and make an odd kind of category, hard to evaluate.

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION

  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • Cosmos (TV series)
  • Flash Gordon
  • The Lathe of Heaven
  • The Martian Chronicles (TV series)

PROFESSIONAL EDITOR

  • Edward L. Ferman
  • Jim Baen
  • Terry Carr
  • Stanley Schmidt
  • George Scithers

PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

  • Michael Whelan
  • Vincent Di Fate
  • Steve Fabian
  • Paul Lehr
  • Don Maitz

FANZINE

  • Locus, Charles N. Brown
  • File 770, Mike Glyer
  • Science Fiction Chronicle, Andrew Porter
  • Science Fiction Review, Richard E. Geis
  • Starship, Andrew Porter

File 770 is nominated this year too. Good for three decades.

FAN WRITER

  • Susan Wood
  • Richard E. Geis
  • Mike Glyer
  • Arthur D. Hlavaty
  • Dave Langford

FAN ARTIST

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

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

  • Somtow Sucharitkul
  • Kevin Christensen
  • Diane Duane
  • Robert L. Forward
  • Susan C. Petrey
  • Robert Stallman

I think Somtow is an excellent winner, as I said last week. I also talked about Duane last week.

Robert Forward was an aerospace engineer who wrote excellent hard SF for years—he was a mainstay of Analog until his death in 2002.

Susan Petrey had a Hugo-nominated short story in 1981, but she was already at the end of her short career, she died in 1980. There’s a scholarship fund named for her that raises money to send young writers to Clarion.

Robert Stallman had a 1981 Nebula nominated novel that I haven’t read, and I’m not familiar with his work generally.

I know nothing at all about Kevin Christensen.

So three good nominees, one career cut sadly short, and two don’t knows.


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.

61 comments
john mullen
1. johntheirishmongol
Certainly not one of my favorite years for nominees either. I would certainly have voted for Lord Valentine's Castle, since I think it's got great strengths as well as weaknesses. I don't find any of the sequels nearly as good though.
I'm shocked that Number of the Beast wasn't at least nominated. It is certainly one of my favorite stories. The ending is weak but the joy that the story gives is great.

Of the movies, Empire is certainly a great winner, but I do have a fondness for Flash Gordon. It's fun and campy and over the top.
David Levinson
2. DemetriosX
I'm with you on the novels. Either Timescape or Shadow of the Torturer should have been on the ballot and won. I recently read another Majipoor story, and I think I've discovered that what really bugs me about all of them is the narrative style. It's a bit like what Wolfe is doing in the New Urth stories, but nowhere near as well done.

Of the novellas on the ballot, I'd have voted for "Nightflyers". There's a lot of overlap with the Nebula list and I really don't understand the love for "The Brave Little Toaster", but then I really only know the cartoon.

Waldrop definitely should have won the novellette category. If not him, then one of the Swanwick's that were on the Nebula ballot. But Howard needs more award love.

Not much to say, really, about either the short stories or the non-fiction.

Dramatic presentation is an interesting mix. Empire is the best of the Star Wars movies, but I'm not sure it's really Hugo-worthy; it's too disjointed and open, largely due to being the second part of a trilogy. Cosmos was good and had a big influence on pop culture for awhile (biiiiilions and biiiilions). Flash Gordon is horrible kitsch not even redeemed by the Queen soundtrack. The Lathe of Heaven was terrific; LeGuin was closely involved in casting and the screeplay. It would have been my vote. The Martian Chronicles was so-so, for all that Richard Matheson wrote the screeplay. He would certainly seem to be the best candidate to adapt Bradbury to the screen. But this just went nowhere. Bradbury deemed it "boring".

One new artist this time out: Don Maitz. I'm not terribly familiar with his work, but he's won a bunch of Chesleys. He's also married to Janny Wurts.

The Campbells are weird this year. Somtow is a good winner. From what I've been able to dig up Petrey was not the only posthumous nominee. Stallman was also dead (and he got nominated again the next year!) according to ISFDB. Of Christensen, I can find nothing. With Robert L. Forward also gone, this may be the class with the most deaths. I'm sure our Campbell experts will know.
Mordicai Knode
3. Mordicai Knode
Gene Wolfe should win the Hugo for Book of the New Sun every single year, again & again & again, over & over.
John Ginsberg-Stevens
4. eruditeogre
Wow, Wolfe did not even get nominated for a Hugo that year for one of the best SF book of the 20th century? Holy carp.

Silverberg's book is a sprawling saga, and I had not thought of it as a picaresque, but I read it in high school and never returned to it. I never bothered with the other books set on Majipoor either. As you noted with those other books that spawned series, none of the subsequent novels seemed necessary. This seems to be a common theme, although certainly Wolfe proves the exception.

That novella ballot is fantastic. Most of those are stories I treasure. It was a good year for written fantastika, but it looks like middle-of-the-roadism triumphed on the Hugo novel ballot.
Michal Jakuszewski
5. Lfex
Yeah, The Shadow of the Torturer should be totally obvious winner that year. But then, Wolfe never won a Hugo, IIRC. As for the rest I liked The Snow Queen a lot back then, and Lord Valentine's Castle as well, but am not sure if they have aged well. The three other nominees were there only because they were sequels to widely popular works, not on their own merit. That saying, I rather liked Niven and Varley books, but I don't really think they are award-worthy.

As for othe possible nominees, Timescape should be there. Sundiver and Dragon's Egg were two excellent debuts which I would also live to see nominated, even if Forward never came close to his first effort.

I never was a Dickson fan, so I guess I would go with Martin and Varley in their respective categories. Simak was an OK winner.
Rich Horton
6. ecbatan
I'm at my brother's house in Indianapolis, so a more detailed response will have to wait, but I did want to say right off the bat that, obviously, The Shadow of the Torturer is the great novel of 1980, and should have won every award (except perhaps the one it won, since, as Jo notes, it's actually SF and not Fantasy).

I liked The Snow Queen somewhat (more the first time I read it than the second), and I liked Timescape a great deal. Timescape is a worthy Nebula winner, would have been a worthy Hugo winner -- except for the fact of The Shadow of the Torturer.

And one quick comment on the novelettes -- "The Autopsy" should have won. It's an amazing SF horror story, and for all that it's horror it's uplifting (especially important in horror, which so often accepts a sort of po-faced "the universe is horrible and we can do nothing in the face of it" attitude that might be bracing the first time but is simply tedious on constant unexamined repetition). Anyway, as I said, "The Autopsy" is great, and even with a good Varley story and a good Waldrop story and a good Roberts story on the ballot, it should have won.

--
Rich Horton
jon meltzer
7. jmeltzer
re: "Valentine": Given Silverberg's increasingly dark work (like "Stochastic Man") in the mid 1970s, and then the five year retirement, the appearance of the amnesiac Valentine and his subsequent quest to regain his identity feels to me like Silverberg trying to write his way out of a depression. The book was better than its sequels, though.

I agree with everyone else about what should have been best novel: Wolfe. Wolfe. Wolfe.

To DemetriosX: try to find Disch's original story; the cartoon is bowdlerized.
Peter Stone
8. Peter1742
This is making me feel much better about never having been able to get through The Snow Queen , despite really liking Joan Vinge's Psion/Catspaw sequence. Thanks!
Mordicai Knode
9. Dietes
Wolfe was robbed. Best SF novel ever written.
Andrew Mason
10. AnotherAndrew
May I express some doubts about Wolfe? I would happily give any number of awards to Book of the New Sun, taken as a whole. But Shadow by itself is radically incomplete. BOTNS is a work-in-parts, like Lord of the Rings, not a series, like, say, Earthsea: and it is cryptic in a way that Tolkien isn't. So at the end of the first volume, I don't think one is in a position to judge it. I had the advantage of reading it all at once, when it was finished; what it would be like to reach the end of Shadow and have to wait a year for the next episode I cannot imagine. Yes, everything in it has a meaning; some of those meanings we will be told, others we will have to work out, but will get more clues. But by itself I wouldn't know what to make of it.
David Levinson
11. DemetriosX
Lfex @5: Oooh, I'd forgotten that Sundiver would have been eligible. It certainly could have been on the ballot. I have certain strong ties to that book. In the summer of 1980, I attended my freshman orientation at UCSD. The first evening there was BBQ on the lawn and this stereotypical-looking grad student - long hair, long beard, jeans, Pendleton shirt, sandals - sat and listened to us talk for a while before he started asking questions. Finally, he told us about the book he'd just had published and it was available in the university bookstore. I grabbed it mostly because it had a map in it; I thought the idea of a trip into the sun was stupid (he forgot to mention he was an astrophysicist). I started it soon after I got home and finished in a day.
Mordicai Knode
12. Doug M.
Somtow Sucharitkul. Well.

There are various theories about Sucharitkul. Is he an alien? A mutant? A time-travelling posthuman? Let's take a look.

He was educated at Eton and Cambridge, then exploded on the Thai music scene as a western-style composer with a flair for the avant-garde. Around 1979 he got burned out on music and turned to (among other things) writing. In very little time he had established himself in SF, writing books, novellas and short stories alike.

Since 1979 he's written about 40 books, of which maybe a dozen are SF, twenty or so fantasy and horror (mostly horror) and the rest mostly young adult. He's probably best known as a horror writer; his vampire books are very influential among, well, vampire books. His book _Vampire Junction_ was voted one of "forty all-time greatest horror books" by the Horror Writers Association.

He has written two Star Trek novels and two "V" novels.

He has directed two movies: "The Laughing Dead", a schlock B-grade zombie flick, and "Ill Met by Moonlight," an art film based on Shakespeare.

His autobiography, _Jasmine Nights_, has caused him to be called "Thailand's J.D. Salinger". Certainly it's one of the first books you encounter when you start looking for English books about Thailand.

He has written a fair amount of poetry, including several creepy sonnets about serial killers.

He has won one Locus, a Stoker, and a World Fantasy Award. Been nominated for a bunch more, including two Hugo and five Stoker nominations.

And that was mostly in one decade, the 1980s. Then he went back to music. By the early 1990s he was a conductor as well as a composer. He founded the Royal Thai Philharmonic and became the country's leading conductor of classical western music. He's a major cultural figure there. (He's also involved in Thai politics, though I don't pretend to understand the details of that. The Thais are like the French, apparently -- major cultural figures are not just expected but almost encouraged to be political commentators as well.)

A few years ago, he took some time off from conducting and composing to write another Star Trek novel, just for the hell of it.

He paints -- he's had at least one exhibition.

And in his spare time, he blogs.

Sucharitkul (he also goes by S.P. Somtow) was the pretty obvious choice this year. And while he's somewhat drifted away from SF, he still returns to it periodically. If you're envisioning him scribbling a story for Asimov's on a break between conducting "Carmen" and flying to L.A. for a convention of vampire fans... that's probably about right.

Losers: It's a little bit spooky... this year saw not one but two nominees competing posthumously, and a third nominee has since died.

Robert Stallman's career was tragically cut short by his death in 1980 at the age of 50. He left behind a single fantasy trilogy (The Orphan, The Captive, and The Beast) which I'm told is pretty good -- The Orphan was nominated for a Nebula.

Susan Petrey died that same year. She was only 35. Although she'd written only a handful of short stories, at least one -- "Spidersong" -- was good enough to get nominated for a Hugo. She's memorialized by a scholarship to the Clarion workshop, which apparently is still being awarded every year.

Robert L. Forward would have been a strong contender in most years. A serious physicist with a raft of patents to his name (he invented the Forward Mass Detector, which is in wide use by astronomers and geologists), Forward turned to writing fiction in 1979. He memorably described his first novel, _Dragon's Egg_, as "a textbook on neutron star physics, disguised as a novel." Some would say not very well disguised, since it had some memorably awful prose... but it was a lively and enjoyable read anyway.

Dr. Forward was a popular and well-liked figure in both physics and fandom. He died of brain cancer in 2002 -- R.I.P.

Diane Duane joins the ranks of the two-timed. Kevin Christensen seems to have been an early MilSF writer, with some story sales to New Destinies and such. Then he disappeared for 25 years, only to pop up with a hardcover -- Knights of a New World -- self-published by PublishAmerica in 2006. Then he seems to have disappeared again. Go figure.

All in all, this was a pretty strong Campbell class. It's also striking in that it contained not one but two writers who are probably better known to a wider public for their work outside the genre -- Forward's inventions and physics work, and Sucharitkul's... well, everything, but mostly his composition and conducting. Having two nominees like that in one year is pretty unusual; I can't think offhand that it ever happened another time, before or after.


Doug M.
Mordicai Knode
13. James Davis Nicoll
Robert Stallman had a 1981 Nebula nominated novel that I haven’t read, and I’m not familiar with his work generally.

There wasn't much of it; as far as I can tell he diedfive months after his first novel was published; there were two more novels published posthumously. All three were part of the same series.
Mordicai Knode
14. James Davis Nicoll
The Locus SF Award went to The Snow Queen. Nominees not already mentioned: C.J. Cherryh’s Serpent’s Reach (post), Stephen King’s Firestarter, Robert Heinlein’s The Number of the Beast, Philip Jose Farmer’s The Magic Labyrinth, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Two to Conquer. Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed (post), Alfred Bester’s Golem 100, Robert L. Forward’s Dragon’s Egg, Marta Randall’s Dangerous Games. Norman Spinrad’s Songs From the Stars, Orson Scott Card’s Songmaster, Michael Bishop’s Eyes of Fire, Ian Watson’s The Gardens of Delight, Keith Roberts’s Molly Zero (post), James P. Hogan’s Thrice Upon a Time, M.A. Foster’s Waves, Jean Lorrah and Jacqueline Lichtenberg’s First Channel and John Shirley’s City Come a Walking.

My opinion is that you could throw a dart into that paragraph anywhere and find a better nominee than the ones we have.


Not if that dart hit Number of the Beast, the book that convinced me I didn't need to finish every book I started (1)or Golem 100, perhaps Alfred Bester's worst book (although The Computer Connection gives it a run for its money).


1: Note that not even the dreaded Algorithm had managed that.
Mordicai Knode
15. Susan Loyal
I am one of those people who like The Snow Queen very much and am glad it won, but I can grasp not being able to read it. Like the fairy tale of the same name, its world has a stomach-churning quality and some pretty powerful ick factors. What lives most strongly in memory for me is Gillian Bradshaw's Hawk of May, which I love unreservedly. Otherwise, I missed most of this year (thankfully, I'd say), as I was working full time and taking two-thirds of a full schedule in graduate school. Perhaps the trick for being able to read The Snow Queen is heavy sleep deprivation.
jon meltzer
16. jmeltzer
@14: or Magic Labyrinth, another example of the Law of Declining Sequel Quality.
Mordicai Knode
17. James Davis Nicoll
16: I'd managed to put that one from memory.
Mordicai Knode
18. James Davis Nicoll
Joan Slonczewski’s Still Forms on Foxfield,

My favourite of her novels, I think. Rare example of Quaker SF; about the only thing rarer is Amish SF.... (1)

1: Go ahead, name someone other than Karl Schoeder. At the least the Quakers have Joan Slonczewski, Gael Baudino, Olaf Stapledon and Judith Moffett.
Mordicai Knode
19. Doug M.
You know, looking at those lists? Maybe 1980 just wasn't such a great year for novels in the genre.

There were plenty of decent books, but not that many really good ones. The only one that approaches greatness is _The Shadow of the Torturer_ -- and AnotherAndrew has a legitimate point; if you read that book by itself, it's very incomplete, and rather baffling. It's a book that looks very different in hindsight than it did at the time.

You actually have to work a bit to put together a good Hugo list for that year. Shadow of the Torturer... then what? Mockingbird, maybe the Benford? the Forward?

Really, this was a weak year. So it's no surprise we ended up with a weak ballot. Just compare this year's batch of novels to the next year's (1982 award), when you get there. I see a pretty huge difference; YMMV.

Doug M.
Chris Modzelewski
20. elflands2ndcousin
A couple of weeks ago I picked up a copy of Tevis' Mockingbird. After reading it, I came to the firm conclusion that Mockingbird diserved the Nebula win.

I don't believe Timescape (or any of the other Nebula nominees) were bad. But either Mockingbird or The Shadow of the Torturer deserved the Nebula, and at least a Hugo nomination for their perspicacity and the luminous beauty of their prose. They're both solid SF, though a bit fuzzier around the edges than Benford's hard SF award-winner.

(FYI: I wrote a review of Mockingbird a couple of weeks back that tied into some of the dystopia-week discussions here on Tor.com.)
Bob Blough
21. Bob
Well, I think this was one of the greatest years for novels in all my life reading SF. Shadow of the Torturer is amazing - but if you just read that novel alone there are some clues that it is SF but 99% reads as a fantasy - so you can't blame those of us who read them one at a time as considering it Fantasy! (Same for Silverberg's book) I think Timescape is another classic of the genre as is Wild Seed by Octavia Butler - a searing portrayal of slavery that is legitimate SF as well. Mockingbird is another classic that every SF reader should read - beautifully written. Then there is the best SF novel that Orson Scott Card ever wrote - yes much better that Ender's Game, I think - Songmaster. I am one who liked The Snow Queen very much but there are two others that are classics - The Vampire Tapestry by Suzee McKee Charnas - a terrific Vampire novel before vampires became the "in thing" and The Orphan by Stallman. He only wrote the three novels in this trilogy but they were fantastic and should not be forgotten. I felt betrayed by the Silverberg novel and he's only written one novel since this time that I have on my permanent bookshelf. I believe The Ringworld Engineers is as bad as it gets . Ditto for Wizard and Beyond the Blue Event Horizon. But then there is the worst of the worst - The Number of the Beast. So this is a year that the nominess were just wrong, but there were 7 books, that I believe are among the best that SF/Fantasy have ever published.
Bob Blough
22. Bob
I think the year was terrific for short fiction as well. This Novella list is great but I truly hate the Ellison story. I usually like his work but this was, to me, the new style that Ellison was writing in which signaled a deal decline in my esteem for his writing.

Other great possibilities: "The Web of the Magi" by Richard Cowper (sadly under-read these days),
"Dangerous Games" by Marta Randall (again sadly neglected), "Unicorn Games" by Suzy McKee Charnas (won the Nebula and is a part of The Vampire Tapestry),
"Slow Music" by James Tiptree, Jr. (suprisingly un-nominated)
"On the North Pole of Pluto" by Kim Stanley Robinson
"Tell Us a Story" by Zenna Henderson (the penultimate 'People' story that she ever published)
"Bouyant Ascent" by Hilbert Schenk (another great writer that should be re-published)

A GREAT year for novelettes - but unfortunately one of the two that should not have even appeared on the ballot won ("Savage Planet" is the other - which inexplicably came in 2nd)
Others to think about would be:

"Strata" by Edward Bryant (an SF author of the highest calibre)
"Feesters in the Lake" by Bob Leman (see my note about his short story)
"Variation on a Theme by Beethoven" by Sharon Webb (another neglected writer)
"Scorched Supper on New Niger " by Suzee McKee Charnas
"Ginungagap" and "The Feast of Saint Janis" by Michael Swanwick (these were his first two published stories and they are polished gems)

Still and all I could not have passed up voting for the Nebula winner "The Ugly Chickens" by Waldrop . As much as I really love many of these others "The Ugly Chickens" is a noveleete that is like no other in our genre. Probably why it came in last in the voting.

The winner of the short story "Grotto of the Dancing Deer" is one, again, of my all time favorite stories so I was happy it won. The two Jeff Duntemann stories are OK but rather forgettable. At least that is what I thought about them at the time and the fact that I cannot remember a single thing about either one now supports my early thoughts!. "Spidersong" was very good and Robert Silverberg showed that his post retirement writing was still great in the short fiction realm if not the novel form.

Others to think about:

"Window" by Bob Leman (love to see his collected works published in a
more affordable volume - he was not prolific but was terrific and this
one is especially good)
"The Last Answer" by Asimov (again surprisingly unnominated!)
"The Detective of Dreams" and "The War Beneath the Tree" by Gene Wolfe
"Secrets of the Heart" by Charles N. Grant
"A Spaceship Made of Stone" by Lisa Tuttle

So, I would have almost a completely different ballot, but I still would have given Simak his award - the Nebula voters agreed with this one - and only this one.
Bob Blough
23. Bob
Oh, I have to add two other novels that should be considered classic for 1980 - Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban and Roderick by John Sladek both published in England for the first time in 1980. That brings my list of classic or near classic novels for the year to 9. Amazing!
Mordicai Knode
24. Gardner Dozois
For me, there's no contest. The winner should have been THE SHADOW OF THE TORTURER, my favorite of the Book of the New Sun volumes, and a reading experience unlike any that I'd ever had before; it's the only one of the possibilities that approches greatness, and I think that it's still one of Wolfe's best three or four books. If, for some bizarre reason, it couldn't be given to THE SHADOW OF THE TORTURER, then I guess I would give it to TIMESCAPE--a solid book with a good deal of gravitas, but not really in the same league as far as invention and vividness are concerned.

THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST is probably Heinlein's worst book, and the only one I was never able to finish; it makes TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE look good by comparison (and it's probably significant that it didn't even make the ballot). WIZARD was awful, a major disappointment, and so was GOLEM 100. FIRESTARTER is weak King (and the movie version wasn't very good either). BEYOND THE BLUE EVENT HORIZON was okay, but not as good as GATEWAY. LORD VALENTINE'S CASTLE and THE SNOW QUEEN probably deserved places on the ballot, but neither of them deserved to win over THE SHADOW OF THE TORTURER or even TIMESCAPE.

THE ORPHAN is actually quite good, by the way, and I recommend a look at it as a worthy book now unfairly forgotten. Stallman was dead before it came out, I believe, or died shortly thereafter. There were two posthumous sequels, neither as good as the original had been.

I liked "Nightflyers," but the novella Hugo should have gone to the heartbreaking "Slow Music," in my opinion perhaps Tiptree's last really good story, and one of the saddest stories I've ever read. It certainly shouldn't have gone to a fair-to-middling Dickson novella. Other good novellas included Suzy McKee Charnas's "Unicorn Tapestry," and M.J. Engh's troubling "The Oracle." Davidson's "There Beneath the Silky Trees and Whelmed in Deeper Gulphs Than Me," another Jack Limekiller story, is worth reading, although a bit over-complicated.

Novelette should have gone to Howard Waldrop's "The Ugly Chickens," one of the strangest and most unique stories ever written; I'll never forget Howard's reading of it at some convention. Another worthy choice would have been Michael Swanwick's "Ginnungagap," a clear cyberpunk precursor. "Strata" was also good. Again, certainly not the Dickson.

Short story is the weakest category. I guess you'd have to give it to Simak, although I'm not wildly enthusiastic. Another good, and almost unknown, story was Naomi Mitchison's "The Finger." Le Guin's "The White Donkey" is good, although not major Le Guin.

Somtow was the clear winner in the Campbell (although THE LAUGHING DEAD is one of the worst movies ever made), although Stallman was a significant talent who might have developed interestingly if he had survived.

Judith Moffett's first novel, PENNTERRA, which I bought and published, was a Quaker SF novel.
Rich Horton
25. ecbatan
I've already noted my view that The Shadow of the Torturer deserved all the awards in 1981 -- I don't think its incompleteness is a flaw, in particular as it does bring to a close one aspect of the overall work's narrative arc.

Of the non-nominated novels Jo mentioned, I think Wild Seed and Dangerous Games of particular note. Marta Randall in particular I'd like to mention -- she published some very nice stuff in the late '70s and early '80s, but seems to have disappeared since then. I think she could have had a major career.

A few more novels worth at least a mention, if probably not a Hugo nomination:
F. Paul Wilson's An Enemy of the State
Dean Ing's Anasazi
Rachel Pollack's Golden Vanity
Glen Cook's October's Baby
Sam Nicholson's The Light Bearer
Diana Wynne Jones's The Magicians of Caprona
Lee Killough's The Monitor, the Miners, and the Shree
Damon Knight's The World and Thorinn

And a couple from the mainstream -- one I wouldn't particularly recommend, but I note as it was a major bestseller: Jean Auel's The Clan of the Cave Bear; and a fairly minor Kingsley Amis novel, but perhaps his most overtly SFnal: Russian Hide-and-Seek.

And finally, a novel I'm surprised not to see mentioned yet: John Sladek's Roderick.

--
Rich Horton
Jo Walton
26. bluejo
James: Molly Gloss's generation starship novel A Dazzle of Day. I posted about it here a while ago. Quaker SF, and brilliant.

(And I thought Schroeder was a Mennonite?)
Rich Horton
27. ecbatan
In novella, then.

At the time, "Nightflyers" might have got my vote -- an excellent story. I wasn't ready for "Slow Music" yet, but it might get my vote now. I agree with Bob that "Buoyant Ascent" is fine work, and that Hilbert Schenck is worth a rediscovery.

A couple that weren't mentioned: one of Somtow Sucharitkul's best stories, "Light on the Sound". And one of Orson Scott Card's best stories, "Hart's Hope".

In novelette, as I mentioned already, "The Autopsy" was the best story of 1980. (I see that it was a Nebula nominee in novella, in which case it should have won there!) "The Ugly Chickens" is significant, very good, very original, but as a story qua story, it's not quite as good. (Perhaps I guessed what was going on too easily. There's an Avram Davidson story on the same subject, "Full Chicken Richness".)

The novelettes Bob mentions are all good additions to the list. But there's a really good one that I just discovered a year or two back -- Damien Broderick's "The Ballad of Bowsprit Bear's Stead", from Ursula Le Guin and Viriginia Kidd's anthology Edges. As I wrote in my review of Broderick's collection Uncle Bones: "This is a bravura performance, spectacularly written and stuffed with SFnal ideas." It's also very funny. It definitely should have got a nomination.

I also really liked at the time a story by Karl Hansen called "Sergeant Pepper", a cynical and action-packed MilSF story. And Richard S. McEnroe's "Wolkenheim Fairday", from Asimov's, was enjoyable enough to stick in my memory. Also, Avram Davidson's "Peregrine Perplexed", part of his second Peregrine novel.

Two more stories to mention from the Short Story category: Gene Wolfe's "Suzanne Delage", and Howard Waldrop's "All About Strange Monsters of the Recent Past". Leman's "Window" is very good too. That said, I don't have a problem with Simak's fine late story winning.

About Jeff Duntemann: the two stories he had nominated were both nice enough, but neither was remotely Hugo-worthy. There was some controversy about the nominations -- I can't remember why, was it concern about a campaign? Anyway, Duntemann subsequently pretty much disappeared, until he returned several years ago with a quite nice novelette in Asimov's, and a novel (that I haven't read) from the publishing arm of the Illinois Science Fiction Society.

As to artist -- I've liked Don Maitz's work a lot. He was a worthy nominee. It may have been his cover for The Shadow of the Torturer that got him enough notice for the nomination.

And in Campbell -- I have nothing much to add except to note that Harry Turtledove's first story appeared in 1980 (as by "Eric G. Iverson"). Clearly he wasn't worthy of a nomination, yet, though.

--
Rich Horton
Mordicai Knode
28. schatzfam
Reading The Snow Queen was an odd experience for me that year. For the first 100 pages or so, I slogged through it as if it was an unpleasant chore. Then somehow everything clicked into place for me and I sailed through the rest of it. Vinge has a favorite of mine at the time, so I certainly think she deserved the nomination. In the end, I might of voted for Timescape or Mockingbird. The Shadow of the Torturer might have gone a little over my head at the time, and it certainly has become the classic novel from that year.

It was a great year for novellas. I echo those who noted the Schenk and Randall were also worthy of consideration. I might have gone for either Martin novella that year, although maybe "One Wing" hasn't aged as well.

I do want to mention one other short story that no one has mentioned. It is probably too slight to deserve a mention, but it is one of my favorite "poetic revenge" stories ever. It is "All Things Come to Those Who Weight" by Robert Grossbach. Mr. Grossbach is probably best known for "Of Scorned Women and Causal Loops" which Gardner chose for one of the year's best in 1999.

Dick Schatz
Mordicai Knode
29. James Davis Nicoll
Crap, you're right (and for those just joining, I should know better, given that all my nieces and nephews went to a Mennonite school). I am embarrassed.
Sol Foster
30. colomon
Y'all are making me feel sheepish about having fond memories of Beyond the Blue Event Horizon and The Number of the Beast. It has been a long time since I have read either of them, I admit.

I won't argue that The Shadow of the Torturer didn't deserve the Hugo. But it's certainly not my favorite of his novels. Has Wolfe been robbed five or six times?
Mordicai Knode
31. Gardner Dozois
The Hugo electorate has never been really impressed with Wolfe, it would seem.
Mordicai Knode
32. James Davis Nicoll
Whatever happened to Karl Hansen?
Mordicai Knode
33. afterthefallofnight
My nominations would have included: "The Shadow of the Torturer", "Snow Queen", "Sundiver" and "Lord Valentine's Castle". While I remember enjoying each of these books, Sundiver is the only one I can remember in any detail.

I agree with people who felt there was a glut of disappointing sequels. I clearly remember being unhappy with the Gateway, Ringworld and Titan sequels.

Though I cannot remember many details of the story, I would probably give my vote to Wolfe's book. I remember warming up to it slowly, but feeling my patience had been rewarded by the end. Maybe it is time for a reread.
jon meltzer
34. jmeltzer
@27: Jeff Duntemann, like P.J. Plauger, is better known for his day job - writing computer tech books.
zaphod beetlebrox
35. platypus rising
For me it would have been Riddley Walker over A Storm of Wings and Mockingbird.
James Goetsch
36. Jedikalos
I keep on trying to read Gene Wolfe because of how he is praised by so many people, and I always get bored and feel like I'm doing a required reading for a college class. I've been trying off and on for twenty years, so I've just about given up. I feel like I'm supposed to be enjoying it immensely, but I just can't. Always makes me feel like I've failed the literati test again. So the lack of Hugos actually accords with my judgment, anyway. And I like Lord Valentine's Castle, even upon re-read. Alas.
Mordicai Knode
37. Kvon
I remember learning how to juggle around the time of Lord Valentine's Castle, so I really liked that book myself (but I haven't re-read it in the past twenty years either).

The Snow Queen had Michael Whelan's gorgeous cover art, but was it still in the Dillon cover in 1980?

I was wondering if all those seem-like-fantasy-but-are-really-sf were a product of the times, but the Steerswoman saga does the same, and the Pern books, and probably a few others. I don't think of any particular time period associated with that trope.
Mordicai Knode
38. Jeff R.
This was the year of eligibility for Restaurant at the End of the Universe, right?
john mullen
39. johntheirishmongol
Funny thing how tastes differ. I have tried to read Gene Wolfe too, and just didn't like it. And it isn't just the style, I just have to enjoy the story or characters and I didn't. Whereas, I loved Number of the Beast just for the fun of it.

It's not that I don't like literature. I read Shakespeare and Hugo just for fun. To me there was a long period of time when storytelling just seemed to disappear in scifi.
Mordicai Knode
40. Gardner Dozois
I'm not as impressed by "The Autopsy" as Rich is--a good, solid, scary SF horror story, but something that any of a half-dozen authors could have written. Nobody but Howard could have written "The Ugly Chickens," or would ever have thought to do so.

Besides, I'm almost positive that "The Autopsy" is a novella.
Rich Horton
41. ecbatan
"The Autopsy" may well be a novella -- it was nominated in that category for the Nebula. And I'd be happy to cede the novelette award to Waldrop, and let Shea have the novella award!

I agree that nobody but Howard could have written "The Ugly Chickens" -- that can be said of damn near every one of his stories. (Who else could possibly have written, or thought of writing, "Ninieslando" from last year, for example?). (Oddly though, as I noted, Avram Davidson came somewhat close to the theme of "The Ugly Chickens" in "Full Chicken Richness". ) I guess, for me, too much of the pleasure of "The Ugly Chickens" lay in wonder at his audacity and slant imagination, and not enough in pure story.

"The Autopsy" may indeed by a story within the range of quite a few writers, but that's true of many fine stories, and after all it was Shea who actually did write the story.

It may be a case of "right story, right time" for me. I read it on first appearance, when I was 20 years old, and it wowed me then and has never left me.
Mordicai Knode
42. Gardner Dozois
I'd still give novella to "Slow Music," even with "The Autopsy" in the category. It and "Nightflyers," though, another SF horror story, could fight it out for second place--with perhaps "The Autopsy" having a slight edge.
Mordicai Knode
43. the O Floinn
"Nightflyers" was the only time I was ever actively frightened while reading text. Movies can always scare you with the Boo! factor, but text-reading is another matter.
Mordicai Knode
44. Gardner Dozois
They were both pretty scary stories.
Clifton Royston
45. CliftonR
I'll go with everyone else on The Shadow of the Torturer being the deserved winner, probably for several years.

Re Waldrop: I was going to say I hadn't read "The Ugly Chickens" but then I realized I think I have. Is that the one that ends with "... is still extinct."?

Looking back, I think Silverberg was unquestionably going to get a nomination for Lord Valentine's Castle because people were just so relieved to have him writing again and to have something new from him to read. It could have been nearly anything and it would have been nominated, and in fact it was quite a decent book. I reread it a few years ago, and I found it had held up reasonably well. There's an odd sense of inevitability to the whole story; it's more of a triumphal progression than an adventure. However, it doesn't really measure up to the best competition this year.

I can see The Snow Queen striking many readers as good, but I just found it oddly forgettable.
Mordicai Knode
46. Doug M.
I don't think cover art gets enough love in these threads. There are several cases where I suspect it's propelled a novel into the finalist pool, and a couple where it may have determined the winner. In the case of _The Snow Queen_, both the Dillon and Whelan covers were absolutely gorgeous. The Dillon cover came first:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a7/TheSnowQueen%281stEd%29.jpg

That's just a terrific cover on multiple levels, really one of the best for any SF novel ever: It's beautiful in its own right, it's intriguing, it depicts an actual scene from the novel, and it contains a number ofvisual references to elements or themes of the book. See, for instance, how the eye is drawn downwards from the white of the Snow Queen to the gradually warming yellows and golds of the painting's lower half, and finally to the sybil's trefoil like a punctuation mark at the bottom. Just great.

The Whelan cover is pretty spiff too. Whelan revisited the image a decade later with the cover to _Summer's Queen_. Put "Snow Queen Vinge" into google images to see 'em.)

I don't love _The Snow Queen_ -- the whole "oh noes the creatures we are killing for our immortality drug turn out to be INTELLIGENT" thing strikes me as painfully obvious and heavy-handed -- but there are a few things to be said for it. Not only is it on the short list of Hugo Winners that pass the Bechdel Test, but it's on the even shorter list of Hugo winners in which most of the major characters are female. (How long is that list, anyway? Depending on who you call a "major character", I'm coming up with between one and four.)


Doug M.
Jo Walton
47. bluejo
Clifton: That's the one.

DougM: I've rarely seen the original US cover art. And in earlier years many books were nominated from the magazine publication. I think it might sometimes help a book because a really good cover will get people reading it and a really awful cover will prevent them from picking it up, but I don't think that's often a factor. The other nominees this year didn't have notable covers as far as I can tell googling. And I read all these books in UK covers with planets on -- they could all have been the same book.
Mordicai Knode
48. Dasein
I'd like to strongly endorse the positive vibes above for Robert Stallman's trilogy. I remember buying these as the Pocket/Timescape mmpbs came out, and loved all three. Werewolf novels like no others, and I don't particularly like werewolf books! The first two, at least, had stunning covers by Don Maitz, possibly the first time I really noticed his work. See

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/s/robert-stallman/

& go to the page for The Orphan to see a larger image.
Mordicai Knode
49. Doug M.
Jo: sure -- but the majority of Hugo voters have historically been US fans who have first seen potential nominees in their hardcover US editions. (Sometimes there would be two or more covers in a book's first year in the US, most typically mass-market and SFBC. This is a fractally complicated topic; I'm sure someone will be along to fill in details.)

I don't know how much further you plan to go with this... but if you skim the next decade of nominees, you're going to see a lot of Michael Whelan covers. (Just in the period 1982-86, I count eight Hugo nominees that had Whelan covers out in their first year.) We're coming to the period when he really hit his stride as the prestige artist for high-end SF.

Sure, there's a chicken-and-egg issue here; did the Whelan covers help nudge these books onto the finalist list, or did Whelan get tapped for a lot of flagship titles? I don't know what the answer is to that one. But in general, SF covers were getting a lot better around this time.


Doug M.
Mordicai Knode
50. Gardner Dozois
I do think the Whelan cover might have contributed to the success of THE SNOW QUEEN; I remember there being a buzz about it at the time.

Be interesting for someone to take a look at THE ORPHAN as a precursor to the later paranormal boom; certainly there can't be many werewolf novels with its gravitas and literary quality.
Mordicai Knode
51. David G. Hartwell
I had a good year. I published the Benford, the Wolfe, the Charnas, the Stallman, the Spinrad, the Ford, Sucharitkul, and a bunch of others. Don't miss the Stallman, it;s a fine book and belongs in its company.
Steve Taylor
53. teapot7
> THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST is probably Heinlein's worst book, and the only one I was never able to finish; it makes TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE look good by comparison

I think I know what's happened here. Your brain has erased all memory of I WILL FEAR NO EVIL in a desperate last ditch attempt to preserve itself.
Mordicai Knode
54. Gardner Dozois
There was a book called I WILL FEAR NO EVIL?
Jo Walton
55. bluejo
I laughed out loud. But if I had really missed the fact it existed I'd rush out and find it, and I'd read it, and with all its flaws I'd be glad of having a new Heinlein. The only Heinlein I really do not like and would be happier for never reading is TO SAIL BEYOND THE SUNSET.
Mordicai Knode
56. James Davis Nicoll
Dream Makers, Charles Platt (Berkley)

Was it this one or the sequel that has the interview with Pournelle in which he admits to having been a damn dirty Red Commie Marxist Left-leaning ssssssssssssssssssssssssssocialist?

A little googling turns this up:

After I got out of the Korean war, and came back and was an undergraduate, I fell into the hands of those who kept telling us that Marxism was within the Western tradition, and so forth. I was also a victim of the snigger-theory of philosophy, which is that if you admire anyone other than a leftist then you're barely tolerated in the university department, and they laugh at you.

As something quoted in The Stuff Our Dreams Are Made Of (a often silly SF crit book by the late Thomas Disch] but I am sure it comes from an interview between Charles Platt and supposedly former damn dirty Red Commie Marxist Left-leaning ssssssssssssssssssssssssssocialist Jerry Pournelle in one of the Dream Makers books.

Best not misinterpret the faith in the Soviet Union angle shown in the CoDominium series or how the author tried to salvage that setting after the Big Politics Mixup of the early 1990s. Many right-wingers of the era had a touching faith in the Soviet Union that would have done Aleksei Grigorievich Stakhanov credit; I think it's related to how any current Existential Enemy of America is seen as eternal and unbeatable and the US is always doooooooooooomed despite all previous dooooooooooms having not panned out.
Mordicai Knode
57. Gardner Dozois
Bad as I WILL FEAR NO EVIL and TO SAIL BEYOND THE SUNSET were, I finished them, and TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE even had a couple of pretty good parts in it. I couldn't stomach THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST, though.
Mordicai Knode
58. Lee Ann Rucker
I’ve also heard people refer to its word for inter-species sex fairly recently, so maybe everybody else likes it.



I think it's more that the only thing that anyone remembers from the book is that it gave us a word for a concept that was in need of one.
Bob Blough
59. Bob
I read all the Heinlein except Number of the Beast and To Sail Beond the Sunset - tried Number of the Beast but never finished and was so frustrated with The Cat Who Could Walk Through Walls that I never picked up another new book by him again. In rereading others I have downgraded a lot of those from favorites to never try again as well. His 50's novels (especially Double Star)and Moon is a Harsh Mistress are my favorites.
Mordicai Knode
60. Alan Heuer
Here is how I voted in 1981:

Best Novel
1. Wizard John Varley
2. Beyond the Blue Event Horizon Frederik Pohl
3. The Snow Queen Joan D. Vinge
4. Lord Valentine's Castle Robert Silverberg
5. The Ringworld Engineers Larry Niven

Best Novella
1. "Nightflyers" George R.R. Martin
2. "One-Wing" George R.R. Martin & Lisa Tuttle
3. "Lost Dorsai" Gordon R. Dickson
4. "The Brave Little Toaster" Thomas M. Disch
5. "All the Lies That Are My Life" Harlan Ellison

Best Novelette
1. "The Lordly Ones" Keith Roberts
2. "Beatnik Bayou" John Varley
3. "The Autopsy" Michael Shea
4. "The Cloak and the Staff" Gordon R. Dickson
5. "The Ugly Chickens" Howard Waldrop
6. "Savage Planet" Barry B. Longyear

Best Short Story
1. "Spidersong" Susan C. Petrey
2. "Guardian" Jeff Duntemann
3. "Grotto of the Dancing Deer" Clifford D. Simak
4. "Our Lady of the Sauropods" Robert Silverberg
5. "Cold Hands" Jeff Duntemann
Mordicai Knode
61. Ryk E. Spoor
Well, I would have voted for Lord Valentine's Castle in a shot. It remains one of my absolute favorite books of all time, one of the few books I will call "poetic and lyrical" and mean it.

I read The Snow Queen and liked it, but not as much as many other novels, and compared to LVC it wasn't much of anything.

I'm unsurprised the Heinlein didn't make it. NotB was not, IMCGO, as bad as the later material become (To Sail Beyond the Sunset is the only Heinlein I had to force myself to finish), but it was clearly not the equal of his earlier material.

I AM surprised that Wolfe didn't get a nomination. He's got such a "literary SF" rep that he would seem an obvious choice, but maybe that wasn't the case in 1981. I've tried reading a couple of his books but I can't remember a thing about them, so they obviously weren't my cuppa.

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