Sun
May 15 2011 10:14am
Hugo Nominees: 1983

Photo by Michael Benveniste

The 1983 Hugo Awards were awarded in ConStellation, in Baltimore. The best novel winner was Isaac Asimov’s Foundation’s Edge, a late addition to his wonderful Foundation trilogy. I have read it, and it struck me as fairly entertaining but ill-advised—it was thirty years since he’d written about this universe. I felt that going back to it, and especially connecting it up to the Robots universe, diminished the originals. But it was popular, and so were the other sequels and prequels. It seemed to me to be nailing down corners of the universe that were better left unpinned, but other people evidently liked it. It doesn’t seem to be in print, but it’s in the library (the Grande Bibliotheque) in English and French.

There are six nominees and I have read them all, and written about two of them.

Arthur C. Clarke’s 2010: Odyssey Two is another disappointing sequel by a beloved veteran writer. The strange thing is that the original 2001 novel didn’t get nominated. I suppose the subgenre is near future hard SF. It’s in print, and it’s in the library in English and French.

I’ve already written about my reactions to Robert Heinlein’s Friday (post). It’s a deeply flawed book, but I love it anyway. It’s in print, and it’s in the library in English only. I think it’s a reasonably good nominee but I’m glad it didn’t win.

Donald Kingsbury’s Courtship Rite is wonderful but very odd. It’s about a lost colony on a planet where there’s very little to eat except other people, and it’s a sweet love story about evolutionary fitness and cannibalism. It’s quite unforgettable, and exactly the kind of thing that should be nominated, and I’d have been quite happy for it to have won. It did win the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel.

C.J. Cherryh’s The Pride of Chanur (post) is what I’d have voted for then or now, an outstandingly good book in my absolute favourite subgenre—aliens and spacestations. It has wonderful aliens, and wonderful spacestations too come to that. It’s in print, but it’s not in the library.

Gene Wolfe’s The Sword of the Lictor is part three of the Book of the New Sun, and it really doesn’t stand alone even a bit. It’s in print and in the library in English.

So, five men and one woman, five definitely science fiction and one science fiction disguised as fantasy. One first novel, last year’s Hugo winner, three writers with cult status and Gene Wolfe, who still hasn’t won a Hugo.

What else might they have chosen?

SFWA gave their Nebula Award to Michael Bishop’s No Enemy But Time. Other non-overlapping nominees were Philip K. Dick’s The Transmigration of Timothy Archer and Brian Aldiss’s Helliconia Spring. The only one I’ve read is the Aldiss. It’s probably his best work and certainly should have made the Hugo list. It won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the BSFA Award—good!

The World Fantasy Award was won by Michael Shea’s Nifft the Lean. Non-overlapping nominees were Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin, The Nestling by Charles L. Grant, and Phantom by Thomas Tessier.

The Philip K. Dick Award, for paperback original SF, was won by Rudy Rucker’s Software, another book from the incipient cyberpunk movement, and one which would have been a great Hugo nominee. They gave a special citation to The Prometheus Man by Ray Faraday Nelson. Other nominees were Aurelia by R. A. Lafferty, Roderick by John Sladek, The Umbral Anthology of Science Fiction Poetry by Steve Rasnic Tem, ed. and Waiting for the Barbarians by J. M. Coetzee.

The Locus Award went to the Asimov. Non-overlapping nominees were: The Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey, Starburst by Frederik Pohl, Merchanter’s Luck by C. J. Cherryh (post), Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams, The Golden Torc by Julian May, Hawkmistress! by Marion Zimmer Bradley (post), Eye of Cat by Roger Zelazny, The Descent of Anansi by Larry Niven & Steven Barnes, Mindkiller by Spider Robinson, A Rose for Armageddon by Hilbert Schenck, The White Plague by Frank Herbert, Coils by Fred Saberhagen & Roger Zelazny, Wintermind by Marvin Kaye & Parke Godwin, Birthright: The Book of Man by Mike Resnick, Light on the Sound by Somtow Sucharitkul, Nor Crystal Tears by Alan Dean Foster, The Fall of the Shell by Paul O. Williams.

The Mythopoeic Award went to Carol Kendall’s The Firelings. Nominees not so far mentioned were The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce, God Stalk by P. C. Hodgell, Lady of Light by Diana L. Paxson, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, The One Tree by Stephen R. Donaldson, Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings.

The Prometheus Award (Libertarian SF) went to James P. Hogan’s Voyage From Yesteryear.

Is there anything all these awards missed? There’s John M. Ford’s The Princes of the Air, (post) but I think most of the things worth noting did get on one of these lists.

So, is the Hugo list doing its job this year? Nearly. I think the winner is weak, and I’d have liked to see the Aldiss and the Rucker on it in place of any of the Asimov/Clarke/Heinlein but... it’s okay. Not perfect, but okay. These are representative books of 1982, and there aren’t many of the lasting significant books of 1982 that got missed.

Other Categories

NOVELLA

  • “Souls,” Joanna Russ (F&SF Jan 1982)
  • “Another Orphan,” John Kessel (F&SF Sep 1982)
  • “Brainchild,” Joseph H. Delaney (Analog Jun 1982)
  • “The Postman,” David Brin (Asimov’s Nov 1982)
  • “To Leave a Mark,” Kim Stanley Robinson (F&SF Nov 1982)
  • “Unsound Variations,” George R.R. Martin (Amazing Stories Jan 1982)

“Unsound Variations” is one of Martin’s most chilling stories, and one that I remember better than I want to. The rest of these are also excellent—it seems to me that we keep having a set of brilliant novellas year after year, that it’s consistently a really strong category.

NOVELETTE

  • “Fire Watch,” Connie Willis (Asimov’s 15 Feb 1982)
  • “Aquila,” Somtow Sucharitkul (Asimov’s Jan 18 1982)
  • “Nightlife,” Phyllis Eisenstein (F&SF Feb 1982)
  • “Pawn’s Gambit,” Timothy Zahn (Analog 29 Mar 1982)
  • “Swarm,” Bruce Sterling (F&SF Apr 1982)

SHORT STORY

  • “Melancholy Elephants,” Spider Robinson (Analog Jun 1982)
  • “The Boy Who Waterskied to Forever,” James Tiptree, Jr. (F&SF Oct 1982)
  • “Ike at the Mike,” Howard Waldrop (Omni Jun 1982)
  • “Spider Rose,” Bruce Sterling (F&SF Aug 1982)
  • “Sur,” Ursula K. Le Guin (The New Yorker 1 Feb 1982; The Compass Rose (revised))

NONFICTION BOOK

  • Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of Science Fiction, James Gunn (Oxford University Press)
  • The Engines of the Night, Barry N. Malzberg (Doubleday)
  • Fear Itself: The Horror Fiction of Stephen King, Tim Underwood & Chuck Miller, eds. (Underwood-Miller)
  • A Reader’s Guide to Fantasy, Baird Searles, Beth Meacham & Michael Franklin (Avon)
  • The World of the Dark Crystal, J. J. Llewellyn, text; Brian Froud, illustrator (Knopf)

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION

  • Blade Runner
  • The Dark Crystal
  • E.T. The Extraterrestrial
  • The Road Warrior
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

A rare year when there’s not only a worthy winner in this category, but something that almost looks like sufficient nominees to be worth running it.

PROFESSIONAL EDITOR

  • Edward L. Ferman
  • Terry Carr
  • David G. Hartwell
  • Stanley Schmidt
  • George Scithers

PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

  • Michael Whelan
  • Frank Kelly Freas
  • Don Maitz
  • Rowena Morrill
  • Barclay Shaw
  • Darrell Sweet

FANZINE

  • Locus, Charles N. Brown
  • Fantasy Newsletter, Robert A. Collins
  • File 770, Mike Glyer
  • Science Fiction Chronicle, Andrew Porter
  • Science Fiction Review, Richard E. Geis

FAN WRITER

  • Richard E. Geis
  • Mike Glyer
  • Arthur Hlavaty
  • Dave Langford

FAN ARTIST

  • Alexis Gilliland
  • Joan Hanke-Woods
  • William Rotsler
  • Stu Shiffman
  • Dan Steffan

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

  • Paul O. Williams
  • Joseph H. Delaney
  • Lisa Goldstein
  • Sandra Miesel
  • Warren G. Norwood
  • David R. Palmer

Hmm. Paul O. Williams seems to have won on the strength of his first novel The Breaking of Northwall. He published half a dozen more novels, but he was a minor writer.

Joseph H. Delaney had a novella on the Hugo ballot, and he went on to write other award nominated short work through the eighties.

Lisa Goldstein is the standout on this list—she has continued to produce excellent fantasy right up to the present day. She has been nominated for Nebulas, Mythopoeics, and World Fantasy Awards. I think hindsight would make her the best winner from this list—and not just because she’s one of my favourite writers.

I don’t know much about Sandra Miesel or Warren G. Norwood—anyone?

David R. Palmer had published a handful of notable short work over the couple of years prior to this nomination, and then the much praised novel Emergence in 1984 and the sequel Threshold in 1985, and since then nothing but rumours of a third in the sequence.

So not a great year for the Campbells overall.


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.

45 comments
Rob Munnelly
1. RobMRobM
Hey - what happened to the commentary on the shorter works? Connie Willis makes her appearance. DUN DUN!
Andrew Love
2. Andy Love
"Threshold" is not a sequel to "Emergence" (see here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threshold_%28novel%29) - "Threshold" is rather, the first book of what was apparently originally planned to be a trilogy. There was a sequel to "Emergence" called "Seeking" published in Analog (in three parts) in 2008.
john mullen
3. johntheirishmongol
Coutship Rite is a wonderful bit of world building, consistent, smart and fascinating throughout. I would have voted for it. If you haven't read it, it is a little off-putting because of the whole cannabilism thing but it makes perfect sense in context. I highly recommend it.

I really did enjoy Foundation's Edge but by the time I finished the trilogy, I thought it was an awful stetch to try to put together his two universes into one.

I can't say that there is anything Heinlein wrote that I didn't enjoy, and I have them all. It's what RAH would call a good yarn, not amazing but fun to read.

I have read all the other nominees but I wouldn't have gone for any of them. Not a big fan of Cherryh or Wolfe and the Clarke book was pretty bad.

It's a really good year for movies but the wrong winner. Bladerunner is good world building but the plot is very weak and the only real suspense is whether Harrison Ford survives or not. The romance isn't really a romance and there's a huge plot hole no one ever mentions.

Both ET and ST:WOK are wonderful movies and I would have been fine with either. Road Warrior is still the best post-apocolyptic film around. A very strong year for movies.

On the Campbell nominees, I agree a weak year. Just a little bit about Sandra Meisel, she won 3 hugos for fan writing and is more of a fan than an author. Kind of an odd nominee but shes written extensively about the Childe Cycle.
David Levinson
4. DemetriosX
I think a lot of what was going on this year with the novels is beloved authors coming out of retirement and/or coming back to something approximating their old form. It is a slightly weak year and the winner is acceptable, at least.

The novellas are pretty good. "The Postman" will never be the same since first the fix-up novel and then the movie, but the original novella was outstanding. It's probably what I would have voted for. I might have gone with "To Leave a Mark" based on my acquaintance with KSR, but I've never really liked his early short fiction. He hit his stride there in the late 80s/early 90s.

"Fire Watch" is a very deserving winner. I'm a bit puzzled by "Aquila" being there, though. It's something of a zany alternate history romp. Comedy usually doesn't do well in the awards and I'm sure Somtow wrote much better things that year.

"Melancholy Elephants" is also an excellent winner. I'm surprised it was so early. I thought Robinson wrote it after Heinlein had died. It's even still relevant today. "Ike at the Mike" would have been tempting. Waldrop broke a major AH rule and used famous people. Since then, lots of people have done it, though few like this.

Drama: A decent list and an excellent winner. Blade Runner has had more incarnations than the first Star Wars movie, so it's not easy to remember what the original screen version was. But it really left a mark on SF film. This and Alien are primarily responsible for the "used future" look.

Artists: Two newcomers this time. Barclay Shaw is another good artist who doesn't seem to get a lot of recognition. Only one Chesles and not all that many nominations in 30 years. The other new name is Darrell Sweet. I've never been a big fan of his, mostly because of the way he draws people. But he is a major cover artist and this is his only Hugo nomination.

In hindsight, Lisa Goldstein probably should have won the Campbell. Williams never really wrote anything beyond his post-apocalyptic series, which was OK, but nothing special. Palmer gave up writing for economic reasons, but he seems to be playing with a comeback. One correction: Threshold is not a sequel to Emergence. It was intended to be the start of a new series that was competence porn at it's most extreme. The name Warren Norwood rings a bell, but I can't pin him down. Sandra Miesel has largely been a critic.
Rich Horton
5. ecbatan
My favorite novel of 1982 (except for The Sword of the Lictor, which I agree really doesn't stand alone well) was Martin's Fevre Dream, a wonderful "rationally explained vampires" novel.

I also greatly liked Courtship Rite, and I found Friday and Foundation's Edge enjoyable, if each very flawed in very different ways. I like The Pride of Chanur a lot as well. Either it or Courtship Rite -- or Helliconia Spring, for that matter -- would have been worthy winners. I confess with much guilt that I haven't read No Enemy But Time, but I'm sure it's very good too.

As mentioned last week, I really love The Princes of the Air. I read the comment thread to your rereading review of it, and somebody compared it to Emma Bull's Falcon, which seems apposite to me.

I should also mention Damien Broderick's The Judas Mandala and a couple from the YA field:

Diana Wynne Jones's Witch Week
Lloyd Alexander's The Kestrel (which is not really SF or Fantasy but "other world historical" sort of like Malafrena (which it reminds me of) or Swordspoint without the sequels (which reveal the presence of magic).) The Kestrel is the second book of Alexander's Westmark trilogy.

As for the Campbell, the award to Williams may have made sense at the time, given his body of work to date, but yes, it's obvious in retrospect that Lisa Goldstein should have won. Sandra Miesel is best known for her rather hagiographic writing about Poul Anderson and Gordon Dickson. Her first of only two novels, Dreamrider, appeared in 1982.

As noted, Threshold isn't the sequel to Emergence, but a rather weak start at a fantasy trilogy. The failure of that book may have helped kill Palmer's career aborning. I think the sequel to Emergence, "Seeking" (so far only an Analog serial, as Andy Love notes) is on balance a bad novel, but it is engaging and you can see why people would read Palmer based on it and Emergence. Not so Threshold.

--
Rich Horton
Rich Horton
6. ecbatan
Indeed, quite a remarkable list of novellas. "Souls" is brilliant and a very worthy winner, but at the time I probably voted for "To Leave a Mark", which I totally loved and which was my introduction to KSR. I also think "Another Orphan" (which won the Nebula) is a great great story. Any of those three do the award proud. For that matter, "The Postman" is first rate too -- as DemetriosX notes, it is perhaps diminished in our memory by the rest of the novel and by the movie.

The only other novella I'd mention, though not really as a potential nominee, is Pauline Ashwell's return to her Lizzie Lee series, "Rats in the Moon", which is fun but minor.

"Fire Watch" is one of my favorite Connie Willis stories, and certainly is a strong winner. But I think my vote might have gone to Sterling's "Swarm", which is really scary in its way, as well as great SFnal speculation.

I'd have voted for Sterling again in short story -- I think "Spider Rose" is a masterpiece. I really felt blessed at the time -- the field was blessed -- with the emergence of Sterling, KSR, Kessel, Goldstein, and Gibson. There's a strong Le Guin story, too, in "Sur". Gibson's "Burning Chrome" is also good, as is Willis's Nebula winner, "A Letter from the Clearys", and Barry Malzberg's "Corridors", and Greg Bear's "Petra".

I should also mention three strong stories from Howard Waldrop, who was at his most productive: "... The World as We Know't", "Ike at the Mike", and "God's Hooks!". Also, J. G. Ballard published a significant short story, that got onto the Nebula shortlist, "Myths of the Near Future", which is interesting in that it recapitulates the themes (and style) of his early t0 mid '60s stories like "The Terminal Beach" long after Ballard had pretty much moved on.

--
Rich Horton
Jeremy Heater
7. nexus
Just to note that it looks like Foundation's edge is in print (I bought it just a few years ago and it's available on amazon, so...).
James Davis Nicoll
8. James Davis Nicoll
Sandra Miesel's an odd one out in this set: she had about a hafl dozen short stories and two novels, Dreamrider and Shaman, but Shaman is a reworked Dreamrider so really it was one novel, twice. I believe it's one of those books where an demi-dystopia (Oppressive 1970s-style Bureaucracy) comes into contact with a world with magic and maybe talking otters. She had a ton of essays on SF, however, with a particular interest in Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson. I believe she fell out with Anderson over Avatar and there was some Dickson book she really disliked but despite that I keep seeing essays by her reprinted in new editions of older works. In retrospect I regret never having crossed paths with her.

I think her recent critical efforts involve debumking trash like the DaVinci Code.

1: If I remember correctly, one of the triggers for the situtation we see in the unpleasant world of tomorrow is the detonation of a LNG tanker, which is interesting for two reasons: one is why that never happens in real life (LNG needs a very particular air/fuel mix to go boom in a satisfactory way and getting the right mix with all the fuel before ignition is apparently unlikely with tankers - if someone can arrange a suitable external heat souce, a Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion involving an entire tanker would be pretty spectacular but so far AFAIK nobody ever has).

The other is the likely source of the idea of LNG going off like a nuke; there was an article in Penthouse about the Coming Inevitable Doom of Exploding LNG Tankers What Explode at Midnight but I think a nice Catholic girl like Miesel is unlikely to have read that. I would suspect the source was Petr Beckmann's Health Hazards of Not Going Nuclear, which was published by a Jim Baen-run Ace in 1980; Baen was Miesel's editor as a novelist.

Beckmann was a very memorable character who USENETers might recall from his energetic claims to have debunked Einstein,claims he put forward in a forceful and colourful way; one could almost feel the spittle flying out of the screen and be dazzled by the tinfoil wrapped firmly around his head. Nuclear energy really needs a more acceptable advocation (note: Beckmann has been dead a while).
James Davis Nicoll
9. James Davis Nicoll
advocation

advocate! Why do I only see typos after I hit send?
James Davis Nicoll
10. James Davis Nicoll
The Prometheus Award (Libertarian SF) went to James P. Hogan’s Voyage From Yesteryear.

There's a sad case: Hogan began as a hard SF writer whose prose was a bit clunky and whose science was a little iffy from time to time (it's somewhat hard to come up with a scenario where the Earth captures a large passing body ) but whose books were entertaining enough. This one sets a left-libertarian colony up against a filibuster from an Oppressive America of Tomorrow; the colonists win because the author's thumb is on the scale (they have technology the Americans lack because the colonist's hearts are pure and they're willing to impliment new ideas at a much faster rate). It's easy to see why it won the Prometheus.

The older Hogan got, the crankier he became; it seemed like his main criteria for accepting an idea was that it was in some way contrarian: he was a HIV-skeptic (which I've seen in other libertarians - I don't understand the connection), a climate change skeptic, a Velikovskiite, and perhaps most notable, an increasingly outspoken Holocaust denier. In fact one of his last essays on his blog was a defense of Ernest Zundell:

But when an entire nation is accused of murder on a mass scale, claims
that are wildly fantastic, mutually contradictory, and defy common sense and often physical possibility are allowed to stand unchallenged, truth is openly declared to be irrelevant, no evidence for defense is
admitted, and even defense attorneys for the accused can be charged and imprisoned as being guilty of the same offense.

Anyway, a very sad process to watch for those of his fans who weren't themselves lunatics and cranks.

Hogan began as a Del Rey author, moved to (IIRC) Spectra and then ended up at Baen for last part of his career.


1: Yes, we got an explanation later.
David Levinson
11. DemetriosX
@8: Exploding LNG tankers were everywhere in the early 80s. I mean the idea/worry, obviously. LNG was being pushed as the energy source of the future and there were plans to build large port facilities for the tankers in several places. Long Beach, CA was one of the places under consideration and I can remember tons of news reports and activists of various sorts protesting. The idea was pretty ubiquitous at the time.

Just about the only thing I remember about Voyage from Yesteryear is that it includes a British style crossword. One of the POV characters sets crosswords (as did Hogan; maybe a little Mary Sue going on there) and he included it in the book. The fact that that is about all I remember says a little about the book itself.
Tex Anne
12. TexAnne
Warren Norwood was a frequent guest at AggieCon. He wrote a series called The Windhover Tapes, which I don't think I ever got around to reading. I'm sure they're long out of print. He taught me to play mountain dulcimer, and he was a ruthless yet encouraging workshop teacher.
James Davis Nicoll
13. Russ Allbery
I came late to the Foundation series and went right on to Foundation’s Edge after reading the original trilogy. At the time, I enjoyed it and loved large universes that were all tied together (even when Heinlein did it). Looking back, my opinions have changed a lot, but I think the real damage was done in Foundation and Earth (which I disliked even at the time and have never re-read).

No Enemy But Time is an odd one. It's a prehistoric time travel story with strong mainstream sensibilities. The actual time travel part bored me to tears, but I liked the mainstream part, and the ending is excellent. I still think it's a surprising Nebula winner; there was better stuff published that year.

I have to disagree with you on Software: I thought it was awful. It's typical Rucker, though, and he's popular enough that I may just be one of those people for whom he doesn't click. To me, it reads as gonzo surrealistic humor built on characters who are painfully superficial and annoying. I'm not sure if the characterization just works better for other people, or if the humor excuses it. It has a trio of sequels, the first of which (Wetware) also won the Philip K. Dick.
Andrew Barton
14. MadLogician
I read the Windhover Tapes series. They were pleasant enough that I kept buying them, but all details have now erased themselves from my memory except that at one time the hero rejoiced in the title 'Fize of the Gabriel Ratchets'.

I only now discover that he also later wrote two other series, which I don't think ever made it across the Atlantic.
James Davis Nicoll
15. Doug M.
I've been doing discussions of the Campbell winners for the last dozen threads, but I may drop out now -- this year's nominees are just very meh.

-- Okay, Norwood. Warren G. Norwood, aka Warren Norwood or Warren Carl Norwood. Vietnam vet turned small-college writing instructor. Lived in Texas. Wrote about a dozen novels, all in the 1980s. Three series -- "Time Police", "Windhover Tapes", and "The Double Spiral War" -- plus some standalones. Basically a respectable lower-midlister. Nothing published after 1990; not clear if he stopped writing or just couldn't get published any more. (The 1990s were not a good decade for lower-midlisters.) Had bad health problems for a while, then died in 2005 at the age of 60.

-- Sandra Miesel, yes -- she was a protege of Gordon Dickson. One of several. Carlos made a point a while back that you can't really understand Sf from this period without having some notion of the social networks. Writers, editors, fans, the small handful of critics -- the connections could get really tight. As for the significance, well, it ranges from "warmed over gossip decades after the fact" to "you cannot make sense of this text without this background information."

Anyway, Miesel. "Hagiographic" is about right, but then she got better.

Overall just not a great year for the Campbells, but I can't think of anyone better who should have been on the list that year.

-- James Nicoll discusses the long downward spiral descent of James P. Hogan. Donald Kingsbury was on a similar track, though a lap or two behind. _Courtship Rite_ is indeed a good book, but it was his last good book. (If someone mentions _The Moon Goddess and the Son_, I will have to note that it is in the category "books written by fiftyish techie guys in which a key plot element is that a fiftyish techie guy is total sexual catnip and just irresistable to a hott woman 30 years his junior".) Kingsbury's current crankeries are too tedious to go into here; if you really want to know, google will tell you quickly enough.


Doug M.
Andrew Love
16. Andy Love
Kingsbury's current crankeries are too tedious to go into here; if you really want to know, google will tell you quickly enough.



The ancient origins of modern units of measure, isn't it? I didn't have much trouble with suspension of disbelief when reading Psychohistorical Crisis, but was startled when I heard him talking about the subject nonfictionally at a Worldcon panel a decade or so ago.
James Davis Nicoll
17. James Davis Nicoll
Speaking of Kingsbury, I've been waiting for him to finish The Finger Pointing Solward since the nineteen seventies . Imagine my joy when I discovered that in fact he has been working on it since the NINETEEN FIFTIES. I am no longer investing all that effort into anticipating it, prefering to refocus on eagerly awaiting Panshin's The Universal Pantograph.
Rich Horton
18. ecbatan
Actually, Psychohistorical Crisis is really a pretty good book, and qualifies as the second best Foundation story written after the original trilogy. (The best is of course Card's "The Originist".)
James Davis Nicoll
19. James Davis Nicoll
Doesn't Psychohistorical Crisis have an example of what TV Tropes calls Wife Husbandry:

A story where a man scores with a woman because the man had a protective role towards the woman when she was a child. She looked up to the man, thought of him as a parent or beloved uncle, a role model, counted on him to be there when she needs him, etc. In the more extreme cases she might have even vowed to marry him when she grew up.

Then, when She Is All Grown Up, the girl often decides she is in love with the man, or vice versa.

If I recall correctly it's the creepier, Hikaru Genji variation where the adult male sets out to make sure that's how things work out.
Rich Horton
20. ecbatan
Kingsbury made his first splash (of sorts) with a controversial article in Astounding in 1955, "The Right to Breed", which if nothing else established an early tropism towards crankery. (His first short story appeared in Astounding in 1952, but no more fiction until 1978.)

Like Chan Davis, he is a native of the US who had a long career as a professor of mathematics at a Canadian university, though I don't think Kingsbury went to Canada for the same reason Davis did.

--
Rich Horton
Rich Horton
21. ecbatan
James -- I was going to mention that, yes, Psychohistorical Crisis did show signs of creepy sexual politics.

So how many SF stories might be said to fit that trope? The Door Into Summer, obviously, though with a twist.
James Davis Nicoll
22. James Davis Nicoll
Kingsbury or rather his story Shipwright led to this less than shining moment in Analog:

April 1979, Brass Tacks, p. 176

Dear Ben,

Just finished "I Put My Blue Genes On" by Orson Scott Card. Good story. But it reminded me that all your stories have one major fault. They are racist by implication and by supposition. They ignore the possibility that Japanese, Chinese, Indians, Arabs, Ethiopians etc. might found civilizations in the stars. Card at least mentioned the Chinese (only to explain briefly that they had all been wiped out) to concentrate on the real world beaters of 2810 A.D. -- the Americans (granted they came from Hawaii), the Russians, and the Brazilians. Western civilization all. Most of your stories just ignore the existence of Earth's other races. Even a story about a planet peopled with the descendants of Japanese space explorers (Donald Kingsbury's excellent "Shipwright") feels it necessary to explain that this is an out-of-the-way, backward planet and that real interstellar civilization is white. Hope that in the future your writers will come to accept the fact that Nigerians as well as WASPs are star bound.

Gordon Heseltine
Canandaigua, NY 14424

Why is there no science fiction written by Eastern authors? (Assuming Russia and Japan are Western nations.) Because Eastern cultures are a-scientific. They will get to the stars aboard Western ships -- no matter who builds them.

1: Someone on my flist had the misfortune to run into Kingsbury's 1978 (?) novella "To Bring In the Steel", which if you wanted a tale of Heroic Engineers and the Whores Who Eventually Come to Adore Them as the Man-Gods They Deserve to Be Adored As is pretty much the story you want to look for. If on the other hand you have even the tiniest shred of feminist tendencies, you will want to avoid it. Or write a scathing review, which was the solution the unfortunate flister hit on.
James Davis Nicoll
23. joelfinkle
I haven't read Norwood's Windover books, but his *True Jaguar* is a great book. It seemed to be part of a mini-trend around that time of a resurgence of Zelazny-like myths and religions in SF, including *Neon Lotus* by Marc Laidlaw, and I couple others. Go find *True Jaguar* -- at one point I had two copies around the house, it shouldn't be too hard to find :)
Andrew Love
24. Andy Love

Doesn't Psychohistorical Crisis have an example of what TV Tropes calls Wife Husbandry


Yes, and it also features a society in which teenage boys are "educated" in sex by middle-aged women.
Michal Jakuszewski
25. Lfex
I remember I sort of enjoyed Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein books (well, Friday was rather annoying, but it still remains the most readable of old Heinlein novels), but I don't really think any of them deserved an award or would have any chance to be nominated, if not for the authors' names.

I agree The Sword of the Lictor doesn't stand alone, but should it matter? I don't think so. After all it is an award for a novel, defined as a work consisting of required number of words, not for a standalone novel. Still I would probably put The Pride of Chanur first of the nominees, since it is one of my favorite Cherryh novels, perhaps even the favorite. Helliconia Spring would also make an excellent winner. I liked the two next volumes less, since they took the story in the different direction than I wanted it to go, but the first book was very good, IMHO.

Courtship Rite is a strange case. I enjoyed the book a lot, but the cannibalism was really offputting for me. What was this thing with some old school SF writers and cannibalism, BTW?

There was also at least one story, "Shipwright" set in the same universe. I waited for The Finger Pointing Solward quite a long time, before giving up. Interestingly enough, The Finger Pointing Solward once had a cover. I remember Kingsbury posting it somewhere. The same cover was latter used by Polish magazine "Nowa Fantastyka", so I can put a link to it here:

http://imageshack.us/f/137/scan0010gd2.jpg/


As for short fiction, I would go with Martin or Brin for novella (it really isn't just to blame the original story for Kevin Costner), Sterling for novelette and Robinson for short story.
James Davis Nicoll
26. CarlosSkullsplitter
Psychohistorical Crisis was Kingsbury trying his hand at Asimov's Foundation, yes, but I am a little surprised no one has commented that Courtship Rite is Kingsbury trying his hand at Herbert's Dune.

(Kingsbury, from internal evidence, was just as whackdoodle then as later, but his obsessions fit his subject matter thematically better for Courtship Rite than anything else he did.)
Eli Bishop
27. EliBishop
I'm immoderately fond of Roderick. Jo, I'd love to see you write something about Sladek.
Bob Blough
28. Bob
Pretty poor year for novels - although I think Bishop's No Enemy But Time is one of his top novels. Rich, you would, I think, enjoy it. It is Bishop at his best. The Pride of Chanur (and it's sequels) is excellent, as well as The Courtship Rite (if a trifle unsettling - in more ways than one). I do not and did not at the time like Friday or 2010: A Space Odyssey. Enjoyed the Asimov but thought it not really Hugo worthy. Helliconia Spring would have been great choice. Wolfe has never gotten his Hugo and I would have handed it to him for this one even if it is not "standalone"- just becuse when the whole "book" is done it is one of towering works of American Literature let alone SF. One book not mentioned that would have been in my top five is Eye of Cat - a later work by Roger Zelazny which I think is the best novel he published after 1968.

Not the best year for novels but everyone is right about the great year in novellas. "Brainchild" was good but not superior. I would have replaced it with "Horrible Imaginings" by Fritz Leiber - eerie and sinister or "Thesme and the Ghayrog" from Robert Silverberg's Majipoor Chronicles. "Souls" was my choice, however.

The novelette winner was my definite favorite of the year (and one of my favorites of all time), but only one other of the nominated stories is in that category and that is "Swarm".
Others that were worthy candidates:
"Burning Chrome" by William Gibson (can't believe this was passed up, actually)
"Myths of the Near Future" by J.G. Ballard
"Understanding Human Behavior" by Thomas M. Disch
"Farmer on the Dole" by Frederick Pohl

As far as the short story - I personally dislike the winner. "Sur" should have won but I would have been very happy with "Spider Rose" or "Ike at the Mike"
Other possibilities:
"The Pope of the Chimps" by Robert Silverberg
"A Letter from the Cleary's" by Connie Willis
"Kitemaster" by Keith Roberts
"God's Hooks" by Waldrop, again - really good year for him!
"The Comedian" by Timothy R. Sullivan. This one seems to have been forgotten but I remember it vividly and was pleased that Wollheim included it in his "Best of..." collection - but no one seems to enjoy it as much as I do.

Again, the short fiction, as a whole, out shown the novels for the year.
Andrew Love
29. Andy Love

"The Comedian" by Timothy R. Sullivan. This one seems to have been forgotten but I remember it vividly and was pleased that Wollheim included it in his "Best of..." collection - but no one seems to enjoy it as much as I do.



This is the one with the time traveller from the future? I remember that one very well - I enjoyed it a lot too.


"A Letter from the Cleary's" by Connie Willis



I remember reading this one when it was first published, and not enjoying it all that much, but I read it a few years ago and was amazed at how much better it had gotten - the portrayal of the anger of the powerless and the lengths that they may go to express their anger is terrific.
Joe Romano
30. Drunes
If the Campbell award recognizes the best new science fiction or fantasy writer of the year, then shouldn't the winners be judged on what they did to win it, not what they did later?
James Davis Nicoll
31. Gardner Dozois
I loved THE SWORD OF THE LICTOR, but agree that it doesn't stand alone very well. The award to Isaac was clearly a lifetime tribute, or a releaved-he's-writing-SF-again thing. 2010 is minor Clarke--the movie is actually better than the book (and, interestingly, many of the faults of the movie are imposed on it BY the book, where they originated. FRIDAY was readable (unlike some other late Heinlein novels), but a book that left a bad taste in the mouth afterward. EYE OF CAT is entertaining Zelazny, perhaps his best late book, but not major. THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER, Dick's last book, is a peculiar thing, a very dark mainstream novel that "thrills with premonitions of death," in Tom Disch's words; it's well worth reading, and, in fact, I liked it better than a few of his near-incoherent SF novels that came before it, such as VALIS, but I can't see it winning the Hugo.

In retrospect, probably the most reasonable winner was Aldiss's HELLACONIA SPRING.

"Souls," Joanna Russ's last major SF story, is the clear winner for me in novella, although the Kessel and the Robinson are good stories too.

In novelette, at the time I might have given it to Sterling's "Swarm," and still might, in fact, but it's hard to ignore Gibson's other seminal story at short lengths, "Burning Chrome"; it and "Johnny Mnenomic" carried most of the weight of Gibson's influence at the time--and influence other young writers he did indeed do--although NEUROMANCER largely surplanted them once it came out. "Firewatch" and "Understanding Human Behavior" were also very fine; in fact, I think that overall, counting nominees and stuff that didn't get nominated, novelette was stronger than novella this year.

Never liked "Sur" or "Melancholy Elephants." "A Letter from the Cleareys" was good, but "Firewatch" was stronger, and "The Boy Who Waterskied to Forever" is weak Tiptree. At the time, I'd probably have voted for "Spider Rose," although I like it less overall than "Swarm." Now I'd be tempted by "God's Hooks!", to my mind a much stronger Waldrop story than "Ike at the Mike," although "The Pope of the Chimps" is a very underrated story, one of Silverberg's best.

I've never been one of those who consider BLADERUNNER to be the best SF movie of all time; in fact, I was only lukewarm about it. Nevertheless, out of this field, it deserved to win.

Little doubt in my mind that the Campbell should have gone to Lisa Goldstein, although, as someone pointed out, these decisions are a lot clearer in retrospect than they probably were at the time.
Rich Horton
32. ecbatan
Drunes@30 -- absolutely I've been trying to differentiate in my discussions of the Campbell between "Who was a reasonable choice at the time" and "Who is in retrospect the best nominee". I think both questions are interesting, and worth discussing.

Gardner -- "Burning Chrome" and "Johnny Mnemonic" are fine works, and very influential, but I think "Swarm" (and "Spider Rose") are better stories, if indeed perhaps less obviously influential. The greatest Gibson short story came a couple of years later -- "New Rose Hotel". (Ignore the movie, please!) That was just before Neuromancer, and of course after "Burning Chrome" and "Johnny Mnemonic", so it didn't have the same "shock of the new" influence. But man is it a great story. The other best single piece of writing Gibson has done (in my opinion) is the "artist of the boxes" chapter from Count Zero.
Jo Walton
33. bluejo
Drunes: The point of looking back at these awards is to see how well they have lasted, and for the Campbell, yes, the voters were going on what they'd done up to that point -- but it's supposed to be for "best new writer", so it's useful to look at what they have done since.
Joe Romano
34. Drunes
Rich and Jo: Thanks for the follow-up comments. I think we're in agreement. There are many reasons people don't fulfill the promise they show early in their writing careers. It's unfortunate when they don't meet the expectations others place on them, but that's life -- isn't it?

Then again, it's absolutely teriffic when they go on to have brilliant careers. Only time will tell. which way things will go.
James Davis Nicoll
35. Laurell
Does no one else enjoy Paul O. Williams? The claim that he wrote only the Pelbar Cycle is incorrect - he wrote _The Gifts of the Gorboduc Vandal_ and _The Man from Far Cloud_ as well. Also, I think the Pelbar Cycle is undervalued as a nice example of postapocalyptic American SF. It has a very strong sense of place and is quite poetic. I prefer it over many of the more nihilistic postapocalyptic novels.
James Davis Nicoll
36. James Davis Nicoll
Does no one else enjoy Paul O. Williams?

Waves hand.
j p
37. sps49
I didn't mind the linking of Foundation and Robots, except for the Galaxia bit (and wow, R.DO is old). And an extragalactic threat would be something to see from Asimov; the only one in SF that I recall reading was Piers Anthony's Kirlian books.

The Pride of Chanur and it's sequels are awesome, except I always think Tully is too passive. I think it should've won, but I also think Hugos and Oscars are more likely to go to works with some pretenciousness.

DemetriosX @4-

I remember Star Wars doing a non-shiny future first- Luke's dented landspeeder, grimy and worn Rebel ships, the Millenium Falcon....
James Davis Nicoll
38. Doug M.
Cover love.

Michael Whelan did a whopping three out of five covers for the Best Novel nominees. The URLs are stupidly long, but googling "Whelan Friday", "Whelan Foundation's Edge" or "Whelan pride chanur" will give you the links to his site at glassonion.com. They're all excellent covers, and all are interestingly different -- one humorous, one portentous, and one cheesecake. (Jo, you say you never saw the covers. Did you really miss that _Pride of Chanur_ cover? It's a classic.)

It's worth glancing at the other Professional Artists, because this category was really strong in the 1980s. Kelly Freas was getting old but still a major artist. Don Maitz got a shout-out in the last thread; he was a highly successful commercial artist in addition to doing wonderful stuff like the first set of New Sun covers.

I never liked Rowena Morrill's stuff, myself -- her figures look like waxworks to me, and the women all seem to have the same body -- but she was a major figure, and there's no denying that her paintings were eye-catching and technically solid. And Darrell Sweet would be the perpetual bridesmaid in this category, doing dozens of excellent and memorable covers without ever quiiiite picking up a Hugo. He did all the covers for the Thomas Covenant books, for the Wheel of Time series, and for every single frickin' Xanth book. (In retrospect, maybe that's why he never won. This is right around the time Piers Anthony morphed into "the best-selling SF author you're totally embarassed to admit you've read".)

Seriously, this was a golden age. The genre never had a better set of illustrators working on it before, and I'm not sure if it has had since.


Doug M.
Brian R
39. Mayhem
Does no one else enjoy Paul O. Williams?

Another hand back here!
The Breaking of Northwall really really appealed to my teenage self, although I could only ever find the first five of the series in NZ.

@8 & 11 Agreed, exploding LNG systems were the terrorist attack de jour for a good few years. I think Clive Cussler did it best what with combining that, a fertiliser ship and an oil tanker in an attempt to blow up Havana in one book.
Joe Romano
40. Drunes
Laurell: I enjoyed the Pelbar Cycle, although the first book, The Breaking of Northwall, was my favorite of the series. I've never read anything by Williams except books in the Cycle, but I'm sure his other work is just as good. In fact, my fondness for his writing is what led me to comment initially about the Campbell Award. Based on The Breaking of Northwall, I think he was a deserving recipient of the award.
David Levinson
41. DemetriosX
I also enjoyed the Pelbar Cycle books. They were certainly a cut above most of the other post-apocalyptic work that was so popular at the time. But while I enjoyed them, I also found them fairly run-of-the-mill, nothing special.

sps49 @37:

I remember Star Wars doing a non-shiny future first- Luke's dented landspeeder, grimy and worn Rebel ships, the Millenium Falcon


There's some truth to that, but my first thought when I think of Star Wars is more shiny corridors and conference rooms than dirt and grime. Alien and Blade Runner were far more influential in that respect.

Doug M. @38: Sweet also did most of Jack Chalker's covers. I'm not sure he actually qualifies as even a bridesmaid. This was his only Hugo nomination so far and he only had 3 Chesley nominations. Most of the award love he gets is from Locus. He has great composition and colors and his covers are always relevant to the book, but his people are just a bit off to me. Mostly, it's something about their skin, like he tries to paint every cell. It makes them look old and leathery.
James Davis Nicoll
42. Gardner Dozois
Doug is right, it was a great time for SF cover art--Whelan, Maitz, and Sweet all at the top of their form at the same time.

Must admit that I never read any Paul O. Williams. Good to see that people still stick up for him after all this time, though; means he must have had something going for him.
Bob Blough
43. Bob
Andy Love - Glad to see you remembered and liked "The Comedian". It's good not to be alone in these things!

And I agree with you about the "A Letter from the Clearys" - it "got better" as I matured.

Gardner - I agree that the novelettes this year were a singular group. A terrific year for that length.
Peter D. Tillman
44. PeteTillman
Re: Paul O. Williams

See
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_O._Williams

--and be sure to click for the full-size version of
"Paul O. Williams reading from his book of cat haiku." Looks like quite a party!

Incidentaly, I just learned that his The Man from Far Cloud (2004) is an omnibus, containing his The Gifts of the Gorboduc Vandal (1989), by far my favorite Williams, and a later sequel, of which I was totally unaware. Jo, I'm reasonably certain you'd like Gorboduc Vandal -- and perhaps the sequel too, who knows, but it seems hard to find.

Happy reading--
Pete Tillman
James Davis Nicoll
45. Alan Heuer
Here is how I voted in 1983:

Best Novel
1. The Sword of the Lictor Gene Wolfe
2. Courtship Rite Donald Kingsbury
3. The Pride of Chanur C.J. Cherryh
4. Friday Robert A. Heinlein
5. 2010: Odyssey Two Arthur C. Clarke
6. Foundation's Edge Isaac Asimov

Best Novella
1. "Another Orphan" John Kessel
2. "Unsound Variations" George R.R. Martin
3. "Souls" Joanna Russ
4. "To Leave a Mark" Kim Stanley Robinson
5. "The Postman" David Brin
6. "Brainchild" Joseph H. Delaney

Best Novelette
1. "Fire Watch" Connie Willis
2. "Swarm" Bruce Sterling
3. "Aquila" Somtow Sucharitkul
4. "Pawn's Gambit" Timothy Zahn
5. "Nightlife" Phyllis Eisenstein

Best Short Story
1. "Spider Rose" Bruce Sterling
2. "The Boy Who Waterskied to Forever" James Tiptree, Jr.
3. "Ike at the Mike" Howard Waldrop
4. "Melancholy Elephants" Spider Robinson
5. "Sur" Ursula K. Le Guin

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