Sun
May 22 2011 9:13am

Hugo Nominees: 1984

1984 Hugo Award trophy designed by Kathy Sanders

The 1984 Hugo Awards were given at LACon II in Anaheim California. The Best Novel Hugo went to David Brin’s Startide Rising, the second of his Uplift series. This is an excellent winner, exactly the kind of book that ought to win the Hugo—imaginative, innovative, full of new ideas. The concept of “uplift” is wonderful, where each species raises others to sentience—and there’s a galaxy full of alien species who have done this for each other and are freaked out by the mystery of humans who managed it for themselves. Startide Rising is in print, and it’s in the Grande Bibliotheque (hereafter “the library”) in French and English. It’s a classic, and it’s definitely still part of the conversation of SF. As well as the Hugo it won the Nebula, and the Locus—it really was the standout book of the year.

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

John Varley’s Millennium is an expansion of his wonderful novella “Air Raid,” about a world where people with time travel but a ruined future Earth are trying to rescue people from plane crashes. I really looked forward to the book and then found it a disappointing expansion. I much prefer “Air Raid” as a stand alone. It’s in print, and it’s in the library in French only.

Anne McCaffrey’s Moreta, Dragonlady of Pern is the last of the Pern books that I read. I don’t remember it all that well, but I do remember finding it repetitive. It’s in print and it’s in the library in French and English, so I suppose it has lasted.

I loved Isaac Asimov’s The Robots of Dawn, which was great especially after having not enjoyed Foundation’s Edge the year before. I haven’t re-read it for a long time, but I thought at the time that it was a fresh thoughtful addition to the Robots series. It’s in print and in the library in French only.

R.A. MacAvoy’s Tea With the Black Dragon (post) is delightful. It’s an unusual Hugo nominee for several reasons—it’s fantasy, it was a paperback original and it’s a first novel, but a terrific thing to see on the ballot. It’s in print, but it’s not in the library. It was also nominated for the Nebula, the World Fantasy Award, and the Philip K. Dick Award.

So, three men and two women, three additions to existing series, one fantasy, one science fantasy, two space operas, and one uncategorisable. Moreta seems weak, but this seems like a reasonable to good set of five.

What else might they have chosen?

SFWA’s Nebula also went to Startide Rising. Non-overlapping nominees are Gregory Benford’s Against Infinity, Gene Wolfe’s Citadel of the Autarch, Jack Vance’s Lyonesse and Norman Spinrad’s The Void Captain’s Tale. Any of the ones I’ve read would have been perfectly good Hugo nominees too, but not notably better than the ones we have.

The World Fantasy Award went to John M. Ford’s The Dragon Waiting (post). Other non-overlapping nominees are George R.R. Martin’s The Armageddon Rag, (post), Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, and Manuel Mujica Lainez’s The Wandering Unicorn.

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award went to Citadel of the Autarch, as somebody belatedly realised that those books are SF, or maybe it was an award for the whole series. I do think The Book of the New Sun as a whole thing should have won a Hugo, but I’m not sure any of the parts after The Shadow of the Torturer actually stand alone sufficiently to be considerable. Second place is John Calvin Batchelor’s The Birth of the People’s Republic of Antarctica, which I loathed, and third John Sladek’s Tik-Tok.

The Philip K. Dick Award went to Tim Powers The Anubis Gates (post). Finalists not mentioned yet are Zoe Fairbairns’s Benefits, M. John Harrison’s The Floating Gods and Barrington J. Bayley’s The Zen Gun.

The Brin won the Locus SF Award. Other nominees not previously mentioned: Helliconia Summer, Brian W. Aldiss, Thendara House (post), Marion Zimmer Bradley, Orion Shall Rise, Poul Anderson, The Nonborn King, Julian May, Superluminal, Vonda N. McIntyre, Welcome, Chaos, Kate Wilhelm, The Crucible of Time (post), John Brunner, Worlds Apart, Joe Haldeman, Valentine Pontifex, Robert Silverberg, Gods of Riverworld, Philip José Farmer, Forty Thousand in Gehenna, C.J. Cherryh,  A Matter for Men, David Gerrold, Wall Around a Star, Jack Williamson & Frederik Pohl, Golden Witchbreed, Mary Gentle, Broken Symmetries, Paul Preuss, Roderick at Random, John Sladek, There Is No Darkness, Joe Haldeman & Jack C. Haldeman II, Code of the Lifemaker, James P. Hogan, Transformer, M. A. Foster.

The Locus Fantasy Award, in a year with so much excellent fantasy, went to one of my least favourite books, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon. Nominees not previously mentioned: White Gold Wielder, Stephen R. Donaldson, Christine, Stephen King, The Dreamstone, C.J. Cherryh, Damiano, R. A. MacAvoy, Neveryóna, Samuel R. Delany, Dragon on a Pedestal, Piers Anthony, Hart’s Hope, Orson Scott Card, Cugel’s Saga, Jack Vance, The Sword of Winter, Marta Randall, Magician’s Gambit, David Eddings, The Tree of Swords and Jewels, C.J. Cherryh, On a Pale Horse, Piers Anthony, Floating Dragon, Peter Straub, The Neverending Story, Michael Ende, Anackire, Tanith Lee, Sung in Shadow, Tanith Lee, ’Ware Hawk!, Andre Norton, The Silent Gondoliers, S. Morgenstern, The Sword Is Forged, Evangeline Walton.

The Mythopoeic Award went to Joy Chant’s When Voiha Wakes, another book I really like.

The Prometheus Award (Libertarian) went to J. Neil Schulman’s The Rainbow Cadenza.

And looking at the ISFDB to see if there’s anything they all overlooked I find Steven Brust’s Jhereg, (post) which should certainly have been on the World Fantasy list, and got him a Campbell nomination!

So out of all this there are The Dragon Waiting and The Anubis Gates, both of which I think the Hugo voters overlooked unfairly in favour of weak books by better known writers. And I’d have liked to see Crucible of Time get more attention too. But a good winner and a reasonable field—I think this is another year where I’m coming down on “meh, sort of” doing their job.

Other Categories.

NOVELLA

  • “Cascade Point,” Timothy Zahn (Analog Dec 1983)
  • “Hardfought,” Greg Bear (Asimov’s Feb 1983)
  • “Hurricane Claude,” Hilbert Schenck (F&SF Apr 1983)
  • “In the Face of My Enemy,” Joseph H. Delaney (Analog Apr 1983)
  • “Seeking,” David R. Palmer (Analog Feb 1983)

So did I suddenly stop reading novellas in 1983? Why are none of these familiar?

NOVELETTE

  • “Blood Music,” Greg Bear (Analog Jun 1983)
  • “Black Air,” Kim Stanley Robinson (F&SF Mar 1983)
  • “The Monkey Treatment,” George R. R. Martin (F&SF Jul 1983)
  • “The Sidon in the Mirror,” Connie Willis (Asimov’s Apr 1983)
  • “Slow Birds,” Ian Watson (F&SF Jun 1983)

These, on the other hand, are great. I think the best one won, but what a terrific set. “Black Air” was one of the first Robinsons I noticed.

SHORT STORY

  • “Speech Sounds,” Octavia E. Butler (Asimov’s mid-Dec 1983)
  • “The Geometry of Narrative,” Hilbert Schenck (Analog Aug 1983)
  • “The Peacemaker,” Gardner Dozois (Asimov’s Aug 1983)
  • “Servant of the People,” Frederik Pohl (Analog Feb 1983)
  • “Wong’s Lost and Found Emporium,” William F. Wu (Amazing Stories May 1983)

Yay, another great winner.

NONFICTION BOOK

  • The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Vol. 3, Donald H. Tuck (Advent)
  • Dream Makers, Volume II, Charles Platt (Berkley)
  • The Fantastic Art of Rowena, Rowena Morrill (Pocket)
  • The High Kings, Joy Chant (Bantam)
  • Staying Alive: A Writer’s Guide, Norman Spinrad (Donning)

It makes absolutely no sense to call The High Kings non-fiction—it’s a retelling of Celtic legends as if they were being told at the court of King Arthur. I like it, but it’s definitely fiction.

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION

  • Return of the Jedi
  • Brainstorm
  • The Right Stuff
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes
  • WarGames

PROFESSIONAL EDITOR

  • Shawna McCarthy
  • Terry Carr
  • Edward L. Ferman
  • David G. Hartwell
  • Stanley Schmidt

PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

  • Michael Whelan
  • Val Lakey Lindahn
  • Don Maitz
  • Rowena Morrill
  • Barclay Shaw

SEMI-PROZINE

  • Locus, Charles N. Brown
  • Fantasy Newsletter/Fantasy Review, Robert A. Collins
  • Science Fiction Chronicle, Andrew Porter
  • Science Fiction Review, Richard E. Geis
  • Whispers, Stuart David Schiff

Ah, the introduction of the “best Locus” category.

FANZINE

  • File 770, Mike Glyer
  • Ansible, Dave Langford
  • Holier Than Thou, Marty & Robbie Cantor
  • Izzard, Patrick Nielsen Hayden & Teresa Nielsen Hayden
  • The Philk Fee-Nom-Ee-Non, Paul J. Willett

Yay, PNH and TNH first Hugo nomination!

FAN WRITER

  • Mike Glyer
  • Richard E. Geis
  • Arthur Hlavaty
  • Dave Langford
  • Teresa Nielsen Hayden

FAN ARTIST

  • Alexis Gilliland
  • Brad W. Foster
  • Joan Hanke-Woods
  • William Rotsler
  • Stu Shiffman

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

R.A. MacAvoy won the Campbell, unsurprisingly, with her first novel having Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy nominations. She has gone on to have a quiet career writing fantasy novels at intervals. I like her work, but she hasn’t had any more success to match her first book.

Joseph H. Delaney, was nominated on the strength of some short stories. He continued to produce excellent short work through the eighties, and one novel.

Lisa Goldstein was nominated again, as noted last week she’d have been a fine winner.

Warren Norwood never impinged on my consciousness, but he seems to have had a first novel out in 1983 and followed it up with lots of other novels throught he eighties. A reasonable nominee even if he didn’t become a major writer.

Joel Rosenberg is a major writer, he’s been producing well thought of fantasy solidly from 1983 to now. An excellent nominee.

Sheri Tepper is another excellent nominee. She’s probably the standout from this group as far as later career goes—she hadn’t produced much before her nomination, but since then she has gone on to be a major serious writer.


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.

51 comments
David Levinson
1. DemetriosX
Startide Rising is a good winner, although I liked Sundiver a lot better. The fact that it beat Robots of Dawn is pretty impressive. I might have voted for Brin, just because I had met him once, though I might also have gone for Asimov. OTOH, if either Anubis Gates or Armageddon Rag had been on the ballot, I'd have been really torn, though most likely would have gone for Powers.

I'm with Jo on the novellas. I must have read "Hardfought", since I was subscribing to IASFM, but I don't remember it. I've never really been able to get into Bear. That certainly would have affected my novelette vote some, though I'd have gone for "Black Air" just due to having known KSR.

"Speech Sounds" is a good winner and likely the most deserving. But I really like William F. Wu. He wrote some great short fiction in the late 70s/early 80s. He doesn't seem to have done much of anything in the last decade or so, which is a pity.

Like Jo, I am confused by the presence of The High Kings on the non-fiction list. There's no analysis or anything, just a retelling. Very odd.

Dramatic presentation is a really weak field and the winner is a very poor choice. If not "no award", it ought to have gone to The Right Stuff.

One new artist this time out: Val Lakey Lindahn. I must have seen some of her work, but nothing has really stuck in my memory.

MacAvoy is a great Campbell winner. At this point, I think Rosenberg had mostly written Emil and the Dutchman stories, which I liked a lot, but he soon went in other directions. Though he's mostly known for his fantasy, he's also done a fair amount of milSF. Sheri Tepper has proven to be a major writer and would have been a good choice, but for some reason I always confuse her with Pamela Sargent. I have no idea why, they're very different.
Rich Horton
2. ecbatan
I really can't strongly criticize any of the awards but novella this year. I certainly voted for Startide Rising among the nominees that year, and it's a very fun book. My favorite 1983 book, however, is The Anubis Gates, one of my favorite genre novels of all time. What a gloriously fun book that is! And The Dragon Waiting is of course pretty important.

As for Orion Shall Rise -- that's the book that stopped me with Anderson. I couldn't finish it, and I only read him intermittently after. (To be fair, The Avatar also gave me a hard time.)

Tik-Tok and The Zen Gun, in their different ways, are very nice works.

One major mainstream novel needs to be mentioned -- Mark Helprin's breathless Winter's Tale. I definitely recommend that one!

Quite an impressive list of Campbell nominees. I like a lot of MacAvoy's work -- she was a good winner. Tepper does seem to have the "biggest" career of the others -- though to my mind Goldstein is a significantly better writer -- but really the whole list is beyond reproach. Steven Brust, however, would have been a very good addition, as you note.

--
Rich Horton
Rich Horton
3. ecbatan
Demetrios -- I mentioned Val Lakey Lindahn (whose earlier work was signed Val Lakey) in an earlier year -- I really really liked her work. A very worthy nominee.

As to novellas, "Hardfought" is excellent and would probably have got my vote. Otherwise, not really a great year for novellas.

But it was (as so often) a magnificent year for novelettes. Here's my list of the best:
"Black Air"
"Blood Music"
"Cicada Queen" (Sterling)
"Slow Birds"
"The Monkey Treatment"
"Hearts do not in Eyes Shine" (John Kessel, and as he recently remarked, quite similar in general theme and shape to the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
"The Curse of the Smalls and the Stars" (Leiber, a good Fafhrd/Grey Mouser story)
"Remembering Siri" (Dan Simmons, became part of Hyperion)
"Red Star, Winter Orbit" (Gibson and Sterling)

At the time, I think I voted for "Black Air", but I could just as well have voted for "Blood Music", which is brilliant. "Cicada Queen" and "Slow Birds" are nearly as good.

In short story, "Speech Sounds" is wonderful, and so is the Nebula winner (Gardner Dozois's "The Peacemaker"), and so too is Leigh Kennedy's "Her Furry Face". On balance, I think I'd stick with "Speech Sounds" for the award.

1983 is also the year that Robertson Davies, a favorite writer of mine, published High Spirits, a collection of pretty good ghost stories.

And it's the first year of Gardner Dozois's long running Year's Best Science Fiction series, which began with Bluejay Books. (Dozois had earlier done several slimmer volumes for Dutton, continuing a book that Lester Del Rey had started.) His TOC is a pretty remarkable reflection of the best stories of the year.

--
Rich Horton
Kate Nepveu
4. katenepveu
Clearly I need to re-read _The Silent Gondoliers_, because I cannot remember whether it has any fantasy content at all. All I remember is "But when a girl gives a boy a dead squid--that had to mean something."
James Davis Nicoll
5. James Davis Nicoll
The Prometheus Award (Libertarian) went to J. Neil Schulman’s The Rainbow Cadenza.

That's the one where instead of drafting men to fight wars, they draft women to have sex with all the surplus men left over from a period when male births were strongly favored over female (as cannon fodder for a major war, IIRC).

I had an interesting encounter with Schulman; he pointed out online some similarities between his Alongside Night, I noticed that, linked to it and linked to an old review of mine. What I said was "I read the book so you don't have to, which is A: my function and B: kind of a dick comment and that attracted this angry reply:

I wrote the book so you don't have to read james_nicoll's Uselessnet review (massive errors)

Oh, he's so very, very, bored and above it all, that he can't even
bother to get the main character's name right. Or the year of the Ace
paperback edition.

But then again, he's so much smarter and more
literate than Anthony Burgess, whose endorsement was, "I received
Alongside Night at noon today. It is now eight in the evening and I just
finished it. I think I am entitled to some dinner now as I had no
lunch. The unputdownability of the book ensured that. It is a remarkable
and original story, and the picture it presents of an inflation-
crippled America on the verge of revolution is all too acceptable. I
wish, and so will many novelists, that I, or they, had thought of the
idea first. A thrilling novel, crisply written, that fires the
imagination as effectively as it stimulates the feelings."

james_nicoll reminds me of no character so much as Ace Quigley in Heinlein's Have Space Suit -- Will Travel.

It's at times like this that I wish I were Harlan Ellison.

I didn't think it was that negative a review (I mean, I did choose to reread it 20 years after publication) but I will admit it probably had errors: the whole point of the Millennial Reviews was to get past reader's block by reading and reviewing a book a day for at least a month (it worked). But if reviewers get to review, authors get to respond (even if sometimes it's better not to).

Which would have been that except the very next comment was

This is very odd. The subject line of above post implies it was written
by me, but I've written a screed or two about not writing anonymously.
So when a trackback on my blog brought me here, I thought I'd better
make it clear that I don't. The humor piece that prompted Mr. Nicoll's
comments has brought Alongside Night a lot of new readers, over 100,000
downloads of the free PDF in five days following my satire's
publication. One of them, likely libertarian, evidently a fellow
Heinlein fan, evidently took offense on my behalf.

James Nicoll's
review is by far from being the worst I've received on Alongside Night
in the past three decades. I tend to appreciate when reviewers even
notice the book exists.

It's interesting that my anonymous
defender uses what Rand calls "an argument from authority" to discredit
Mr. Nicolls, in taking the Anthony Burgess quote from the publisher's
"praise" page. I happen to consider Mr. Burgess's kind words an early
high point in my career, one of those things that tells you when you've
written a first novel that you should write a second, but it's bad taste
to throw that in the face of anyone who disagrees. I admit, though,
that I've done that in the past and it's a bad habit I'm trying to
break.

Finally, My Defender, if you're criticizing someone for
getting character names wrong, please get them right. The character in
Heinlein's Have Space Suit Will Travel is Quiggle, not Quigley.

J. Neil Schulman
James Davis Nicoll
6. etranger
If you don't remember "Cascade Point" you're not missing much. It was a rather insipid story with highly implausible science. It wasn't a bad story, just very mediocre and, I think, a disappointing choice for the Hugo.

I agree that The Right Stuff was probably the best of the movies that were nominated, but how is it science fiction?
James Davis Nicoll
7. Doug M.
Yeah, bailing on the Campbells this year. Sheri S. Tepper and Joel Rosenberg? No, I'll let someone else do this one.

Joel is currently battling an indictment for carrying a handgun into a courthouse. It's actually a sort of interesting case; googling will turn up tons of links.

_Tea With the Black Dragon_ is a great little book. It had an unfortunate, forgettable sequel. MacAvoy went up and down over the years, but never again caught lightning in a bottle that way. TWtBD is one of the few SFF novels to have an oldish (late middle age in this case) female protagonist, and one of the even fewer to actually make it work. (I'm looking at you, _Remnant Population_. Nice try, but no.)


Doug M.
James Davis Nicoll
8. James Davis Nicoll
Helliconia Summer, Brian W. Aldiss,

Part of a sprawling, multigenerational series about a world with a very long year, and the effect this has on the local cultures.

Orion Shall Rise, Poul Anderson

Associated with the same future history as There Will Be Time and the other Maurai short stories: after the Inevitable Fall of Civilization (You Fools!), the Maurai tried to keep the planet diverse and safe from industrial civilizations. Alternatively, they treated the rest of the planet like their greenhouse and kept everyone else poor. There's a quotation from an earlier story:

From page 134 - 135 of the October 1982 Tor edition of Maurai and Kith ("Progress" itself is from 1962). Alisabeta is taking the Maurai point of view:




"Oh, surely the Brahmard approach has much to offer. We don't want to suppress it. Neither do we want it to take over the world. But given the power and productivity, the speed and volume of traffic, the resource consumption, the population explosion ... given everything your project would have brought about ... the machine culture would have absorbed the human race again. As it did before the Judgment. Not by conquest but but being so much stronger materially that everyone would have to imitate it or go under.

Breathess, Alisabeta reached for her glass. Lorn rubbed his chin. "Mmm... Maybe," he said. "If industrialism can feed and clothe people better, doesn't it deserve to win out?"

"Who says it can?" she argued. It can feed and cloth
more people, yes. But not necessarily better. And are sheer numbers any measure of quality, Lorn?"








This is the sort of argument someone who is not worried about where their next meal is coming from makes. There Will Be Time mentions that the Maurai hold on the world eventually fell; this is how that happened.

Superluminal, Vonda N. McIntyre

Novel expansion of "Aztecs". I could never take the central mcguffin seriously (relativistic flight causes wacky time effects that the humans can detect from the inside; to counter this they have to replace their hearts).

Worlds Apart, Joe Haldeman,

Second book in the Worlds series: humans on Earth had WWIII, which turned out to be a bad idea. The surviving humans, on Earth and in space, have to deal with the consequences. Evenually will connect to a rerwritten story of his from the 1970s: "Tricentenial".

Gods of Riverworld, Philip José Farmer

Make it not have happened! The Riverworld series is best served by not reading the later books.

Forty Thousand in Gehenna, C.J. Cherryh

A Union/Alliance novel set on an alien world. Features Azi.

A Matter for Men, David Gerrold

The second (?) book in the Chtorr series, which is supposedly still ongoing but in practice has not had a new installment in 20 years. Plucky young man takes part in resistance to what seems to be an alien ecoforming project. Lots of Heinlein homage and the odd bit of FOREIGNERS SUCK!

Wall Around a Star, Jack Williamson & Frederik Pohl

Disappointing sequel to Farthest Star.

Golden Witchbreed, Mary Gentle

Human from a somewhat run down Earth visits an alien world with a native civilization the humans don't understand as well as they think they do. Hijinks etc.

Broken Symmetries, Paul Preuss

What ever happened to him, anyway? I own this, I read it, I can't recall what it was about.

There Is No Darkness, Joe Haldeman & Jack C. Haldeman II

Three linked novellas about Starschool, an FTL-equipped roaming school. The kids manage to get into wacky adventures, and by wacky I mean things like "facing an angry bear in an arena while armed with a knife". Interesting in that while the US is now a minor nation, it's not because it got trashed in the Big Atomic Kerblooie; it just failed to keep up with other nations.

Code of the Lifemaker, James P. Hogan,

Interesting first chapter about how evolution works on any kind of replication where resources are limited and the replications have errors. The rest of the book is a bit sad because Hogan rails against the sort of nincompoopery he would later promote.
René Walling
9. cybernetic_nomad
etranger says:
I agree that The Right Stuff was probably the best of the movies that were nominated, but how is it science fiction?



It's not SF, but it's a related subject (the category is defined as "any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects".
James Davis Nicoll
10. James Davis Nicoll
R.A. MacAvoy has a new book coming out; Death and Resurrection, coming from Prime books.

Joel Rosenberg has not, as far as I can tell, had a new sf or fantasy novel in half-a-decade. Don't know why; could be Death of the Midlist, could be gun stuff pays better.

Sheri Tepper is one of those writers who if you lept out of their closet and demanded they describe the work of Warren Thompson would just look at you blankly. I know, I am shocked too! I'd say it's a geezer thing, that as people get older they find it harder to incorporate new facts that contradict their world-models but first, Thompson published in 1929, and second, I am not that sure it's so easy for young people to incorporate upgrades that contradict their basic model of how the world works. Short version: We hit Peak Child this year at 1.9 billion kids; the population will keep growing for a bit before peaking at about 9 billion but the number of kids won't.

Anyway, if you want peachy stories about POPULATION BOMB DOOOOOOM (YOU FOOLS!) with eugenics in, she's a good choice.
James Davis Nicoll
11. James Davis Nicoll
the population will keep growing for a bit before peaking at about 9 billion

So, no Trillion Person Earth and here I'd invested time thinking about heat management on a world where humans made up the same fraction of animal biomass as social insects currently do. Hmph. Even MegaCityToronto, with a half a billion people in a swathe of not-particularly-densely populated urban landscape stretching from Detroit to Quebec City, looks a bit doubtful.
Michal Jakuszewski
12. Lfex
Not much to add. Quite good novel ballot, all things considered, and Startide Rising is an excellent winner. The only novels I can think of which I would like to see nominated are The Anubis Gates and Golden Witchbreed (instead of Moreta and probably Millenium which I agree were the weakest books on the ballot, although not embarassingly so).

I am most definitely not happy with novella category results. "Cascade Point" winning over excellent "Hardfought"? Bear was totally robbed here, IMHO.

On the other hand, he deservedly won the novelette Hugo, and Butler story is also an excellent winner.

MacAvoy also seems very reasonable choice for Campbell Award, so no quarrel here.
James Davis Nicoll
13. Doug M.
I'm still agnostic on the population thing, myself -- though that may just be because I've spent a lot of time in places like Uganda and Burundi lately. The current trend is encouraging, yes -- but it's not intuitively obvious why it must necessarily grow to include every society on Earth without exception and then persist for centuries.

Anyway. This is probably a good place to note that Joel Rosenberg, right-wing SF writer, is a different guy from Joel C. Rosenberg, right-wing thriller writer. Joel C. is more obnoxious and much more successful; he's made millions writing THE MUSLIMS ARE COMING TO GET YOU NOW SEE IT'S ALL RIGHT HERE IN REVELATIONS stuff.

Random other stuff: _The Nonborn King_ was really a good wrapup to the Pliocene Exile tetralogy. If only she'd stopped there!

_Lyonesse_ may be Jack Vance's single best novel, which is saying something. I have no idea why it hasn't received more attention and recognition.


Doug M.
James Davis Nicoll
14. James Davis Nicoll
it's not intuitively obvious why it must necessarily grow to include every society on Earth without exception and then persist for centuries.

Why would Subsaharan Africa be immune to processes we've seen work in the rest of the world? Well, Africa, Iraq (?), Yeman, and Afghanistan; everyone else seems to be around replacement levels of TFR or lower.
James Davis Nicoll
15. James Davis Nicoll
The rest of the book is a bit sad because Hogan rails against the sort of nincompoopery he would later promote.

Shades of Arthur Conan Doyle's intellectual meltdown, come to think of it. Although with Doyle we know what the trigger was.
Andrew Love
16. AndyLove
A Matter for Men, David Gerrold

The second (?) book in the Chtorr series, which is supposedly still ongoing but in practice has not had a new installment in 20 years.
Plucky young man takes part in resistance to what seems to be an alien ecoforming project.


A Matter for Men was the first book of the Chtorr series, not the second. Another fact about this book is that the original version of the novel is different from the second edition, which adds a chapter or two of material, making life confusing if you get the wrong edition out from the library when you want to reread it (Sheffield did something similar with his "Convergence" series, and with his first novel, and Clarke slipped universes going from 2001 to 2010 as I recall). I'm hoping for an omnibus of "A Method for Madness" and "Last Dangerous Visions" someday.


Broken Symmetries, Paul Preuss

What ever happened to him, anyway?



His novel Core (which was pretty good) was apparently mangled to create the move "Core" a couple of years ago - he may still be recovering from the annoyance.
James Davis Nicoll
17. James Davis Nicoll
Shades of the second Rambo novel, which is a sequel to the movie and not the first Rambo book. In the first Rambo book -- is it possible to spoil a book that old? Well, given I didn't know how Star Surgeon ended until someone told me, yes it is. Rot13ed for spoilers: Va gur svefg obbx, Enzob qvrf ng gur raq.
James Davis Nicoll
18. vcmw
I have an unreasoning love for R. A. MacAvoy's Lens of the World books. In my own private biblio-universe they count as a major work, though I recognize that this may not be a widely held or objective opinion. (I like Tea with the Black Dragon a great deal, but I really love the Lens of the World world.)
James Davis Nicoll
19. James Davis Nicoll
This was going to be a nice table but I don't know how to do tables here:

The Gates of Heaven 1980
Re-entry 1981
Broken Symmetries 1983
Human Error 1985
Venus Prime 1: Breaking Strain 1987
Starfire 1988
Venus Prime 2: Maelstrom 1988
Venus Prime 3: Hide & Seek 1989
Venus Prime 4: The Medusa Encounter 1990
Venus Prime 5: The Diamond Moon 1990
Venus Prime 6: The Shining Ones 1991
Core 1993
Secret Passages 1997

If it wasn't for Core and Secret Passages, I'd wonder about burnout from the Venus Prime series; with those and other books he had seven novels in four years....
James Davis Nicoll
20. James Davis Nicoll
16: A Matter for Men was the first book of the Chtorr series, not the second.


Thank you for this correction.
James Davis Nicoll
21. Doug M.
"everyone else seems to be around replacement levels of TFR or lower."

Actually, most of the Middle East and Southeast Asia, along with a fair chunk of Latin America, are still TFR 3.0 or higher.

Also: even within developed countries, there's significant regional variation. For instance, the US has a TFR around 2.1 -- but there are a dozen states that are 2.25 or higher, and Utah's is over 2.6.

The thing is, for long term population stability? there can't be any exceptions. I agree that this might happen, but it's an open question whether it surely well.


Doug M.
Rich Horton
22. ecbatan
One more remark about the nominated novellas -- David Palmer's "Seeking" is the continuation of his fine earlier novella "Emergence", and the two (with some additional material, I think) became the novel Emergence.
Rich Horton
23. ecbatan
And as to Dramatic Presentation -- the best movie among the nominees, by an incredibly wide margin, is The Right Stuff, one of my very favorite movies.

Is it SF? No, not really. And if you want to make sure your winner is SF, Revenge of the Jedi will serve, I suppose. But The Right Stuff is a trillion times better.
James Davis Nicoll
24. James Davis Nicoll
BUT IT'S NOT SF! (palms up clutchy hand gesture combined with neck-tendon-extending facial grimace - why is there no emoticon for that?)
James Davis Nicoll
25. Rob T.
Outside of The Right Stuff and the inevitable Return of the Jedi, it would have been nice to see more imagination in the dramatic presentation nominees this time around. Two it would have been nice to see here are Woody Allen's historical fantasy Zelig and the post-nuclear-apocalyptic sleeper Testament.

Speaking of nuclear apocalypse, I never did see The Day After but it inspired enough public discussion (at least in the U.S.A.) to rank as an important potential nominee. Fan interest in the TV series "V" over the long haul also makes one wonder how the pilot episode (which I also didn't see) missed a Hugo nomination.

Finally, if The Right Stuff qualifies as sf-by-association (and Tom Wolfe's original book sometimes reads like the product of a mordant sf satirist from the 1950's, someone like C. M. Kornbluth or William Tenn or Robert Sheckley), then I think Silkwood would have been a worthy Hugo nominee as well.
James Davis Nicoll
26. Lisa Goldstein
Im on vacation and missed all the terrific comments about the 1983 Campbell award. Im still on vacation (in a land with no apostrophes, apparently) but had to take the time to say that I didnt mind (much) losing the Campbell to R.A. MacAvoy, who is a wonderful writer. Looking forward to her new book!
James Davis Nicoll
27. Doug M.
-- I used to love _Orion Shall Rise_ for its Tuckerization of Ragnarok. The rest of the book has huge, gaping flaws, but I really loved those three or four chapters near the end where Anderson has the forces of chaos rise up to destroy the old gods. The final confrontation between the Loki-character and the Heimdall-character takes place in the control room of a launch silo as the seconds count down towards launch; come on, how cool is that?

I haven't dared re-read it in years, for fear that the Suck Fairy will have touched those chapters too.

_Orion_ is also notable for the presence of one of Anderson's favorite characters, the Girl with Freckles across her Tip-Turned Nose. Also the Hero in a Difficult Marriage, who ends up leaving his wife for the Girl, because his wife is Messed Up. These were recurring themes in Anderson's work for, oh, a good long while.

Moving on, I note that _The Nonborn King_ also did Ragnarok that year, though it was "inspired by" rather than "based on".

-- I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned _The Void Captain's Tale_. No love for Spinrad and his Anglish sprach?


Doug M.
Bob Blough
28. Bob
I have to disagree with most of you in that I think this Novel ballot had only two worthy nominees - Startide Rising and Tea with a Black Dragon. I really disliked Moreta, Robots of Dawn and Milleneum. Forty Thousand in Gehenna by C.J. Cherryh is still my favorite of her novels and should have been nominated as well as The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers and The Void Captain's Tale by Norman Spinrad (my favorite novel by this author). Other possibilites include:
Superluminal by Vonda N. McIntyre
Against Infinity by Greg Benford
Helliconia Summer by Brian Aldiss
Lyonesse by Jack Vance
Roderick at Random and Tik-Tok both by John Sladek.

The listed novellas for this ballot were all poor choices except the brilliant "Hardfought" (which was, to my mind, the first truly far flung new space opera that I encountered). But the best novella of the year was "Her Habiline Husband" by Michael Bishop. I would have to say that these two novellas would be two of my top picks for an all time favorite novellas book. The Bishop is sadly forgotten but is the first part of his novel Ancient of Days. The other nominees in my mind were "Homefaring" by Robert Silverberg, "Carrion Comfort" by Dan Simmons (which was the basis of his novel of the same name) and another Bishop - "The Gospel According to Gamaliel Crucis".

The novelettes this year were supurb - all nominees were worthy although I don't enjoy the novelette verson of "Blood Music" as much as the novel of the same name. Rich Horton gave a great list of other possibilities but I have to add a few other favorites:
Michael Bishop had a terrific year with "The Monkey's Bride and "And the Marlin Spoke" as well as the two novellas.
"Blind Shemmy" by Jack Dann
"Multiples" by Robert Silverberg

Short Stories were not as memorable. "The Peacemaker" and "Speech Sounds" would be the top choices. One that was not nominated and should have been, I think, is "Her Furry Face" by Leigh Kennedy. She is a woefully underappreciated author and should be reprinted.
Other good nominations that year might have been:
"Spending the Day at the Lottery Fair" another short by Pohl
Three by Silverberg - "Amanda and the Alien", Basileus" and "Needle in a Timestack"
"Cryptic" by Jack McDevitt
and Lucious Shepard's first published story , "Solitario's Eyes".

Again a lot of good stuff to read in SF - but then every year has something worthwhile. Love this genre.
lake sidey
29. lakesidey
Ah, "Startide Rising"! I bought it - and "The Uplift War" - just before I set out on a 3-month 'factory stint' far away from civilisation (I'd been warned to carry a lot of books as there wasn't much else to do - between us my friend and I bought and lugged along around 35 books for that trip! And we finished them in a month and a half - there really was nothing to do after work...we averaged nearly a book a day)

I loved Robots of Dawn (and for that matter Jhereg) but I think the best book won. Brin (and Vinge, whose "A Fire upon the Deep" I also read on the same trip) revived my faith that there would be treasures to be found in SF as long as I was willing to keep looking for them.

~lakesidey
James Davis Nicoll
31. James Davis Nicoll
25: and the post-nuclear-apocalyptic sleeper Testament.

Speaking of nuclear apocalypse, I never did see The Day After but it inspired enough public discussion

Funny; I was just chatting with the people at my local video store about an Atomigeddon marathon but the lineup I came up with missed Testament because I think I've never seen it. Instead I went with On the Beach (1959 version), The Day After and Threads. I guess if you were doing this anywhere near Feb 14, you could toss in Miracle Mile for the romance angle.

27: -- I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned _The Void Captain's Tale_. No love for Spinrad and his Anglish sprach?

No love for that particular book, in the sense of I know I own it and read it but I don't remember it particularly. I remember liking the other book in that sequence, though I have not looked at it in decades.
James Davis Nicoll
32. Gardner Dozois
Seems like a weak year for novels to me. Guess I would go for THE ANUBIS GATES. (Love CITIDEL OF THE AUTARCH, but it doesn't stand on its own well.)

In retrospect, Bear's "Hardfought" is clearly the most significant of the novellas, by a good margin.

In novelette, I would go for either Bear's "Blood Music" or Sterling's "Cicada Queen," although "Black Air" is a classic too, and "Hearts Do Not in Eyes Shine" is also a good story. "Blood Music" probably had the most impact on subsequent SF, as did "Hardfought."

"Speech Sounds" is a good story, but I'd probably have gone for "Her Furry Face" or Jack McDevitt's "Cryptic."

I too liked THE RIGHT STUFF, but no way that it's SF, no matter how much we liked it. Not sure there's anything else there, though, that would get my vote.

Notice Shawna McCarthy's well-deserved win for editor. I always thought that if she'd stayed on as editor of ASIMOV'S, it would have been the first of many.

A weak Campbell list. If it had been given to Lisa Goldstein the year before, I guess I'd give it to R.A. MacAvoy--although she really did hit the peak of her career with her first novel, with none of the subsequent ones having as much impact.
James Davis Nicoll
33. Michael O.
I haven't read "Hardfought," but I remember liking Zahn's "Cascade Point" quite a bit - it took lightspeed travel, usually just window dressing, and make it the focus of the story.
john mullen
34. johntheirishmongol
I thought both the right book and the right movie won. David Brin's universe is fascinating and different but still human and its a very compelling story on top of it. I actually think Uplift War is even better but that's a couple of years away yet.

Jedi was a very satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, and while I like The Right Stuff a lot, it simply isn't genre.

I think some of you are way too critical of genre films. This is not the Academy Awards, which have hardly even been relevent since the 70's, this is the Hugo's which should be about awarding to the best genre film of that year. The idea of "no award" is simply a copout. There was a time when there weren't enough genre films to make a choice but that hasn't been true in 30 years.

Talking about post-apocalyptic movies...most of them are just bad. I love the genre in books but other than the Mad Max movies, most of them are just a bore. I saw The Day After when it came out and it was stupid, the Postman made no sense as a film, On the Beach is boring and depressing simultaneously.
James Davis Nicoll
35. CarlosSkullsplitter
If you were to look at Jhereg cold, it would look like a minor noir/fantasy hybrid, not unlike Glen Cook's Sweet Silver Blues of a few years later. The "first person smart-ass" is OK -- not great, only OK -- and rather derivative of Zelazny and Robert B. Parker. The setting 'feels' like a gaming scenario, not a fully realized novelistic world. If you're charmed by Brust's cosmologies, then the setting will charm you. If not, it will irritate you. Jhereg looks important in retrospect because of the sheer work Brust has put into selling his vision since then. But if Brust had stopped writing after Jhereg, would people even remember it?
Joe Romano
36. Drunes
johntheirishmongol: Thanks for the great observation about genre films. I'm grateful we have them -- good or bad -- but I've always been a sucker for cheesy movies. I think most movies really are only made to be watched once, so I go for the "ride" and try not to over analyze them.

Still, Testament probably would have been a better winner than Return of the Jedi. But if memory serves me correct, it had a very small theatrical run because it was originally produced for PBS. I saw it on TV myself and don't think it ever played in a theater near my small town.
Pamela Adams
37. Pam Adams
johntheirishmongol@34,

My objection to awarding Hugos to films is that the awardees don't really care,so why should we bother?
Rich Horton
38. ecbatan
Sometimes they care (Galaxy Quest). But the awards aren't for them, they're for us. They're our memory of what we thought the best films were!
James Davis Nicoll
39. Doug M.
It's interesting how little love "The Empire Strikes Back" is getting. No doubt that's a function of how much time has passed -- and, of course, how godawful the prequels were.

But "Empire" was a huge, huge deal at the time. It was better than the first movie, and it also had a noticeably more SFnal look-and-feel. (Thank you, Leigh Brackett.) Even SF fans who were a bit nonplussed by "Star Wars" jumped on board with it.

We're all kind of ticked at George Lucas now for (a) the prequels, (b) his relentless greed, (c) his willingness to screw around with his own, better, earlier work, and (d) the prequels. But back in 1979, Lucas was a bright thirtysomething guy who'd had a single runaway success and who was gambling everything -- literally; he invested pretty much all of his own personal fortune in "Empire" -- on being able to catch lightning twice.

It had the biggest budget of any SFF movie up to that time, it made more money than any SFF movie up to that time, it was a decent story; it was visually absolutely mesmerizing; it was a huge cultural phenomenon; and dammit, _people liked it_. Star Trek fans liked it. Heinlein fans liked it. Grumpy old SF critics liked it. Alienated New Wavers liked it. Isaac Asimov liked it. ("Start Part Three!") Siskel and Ebert liked it. Okay, Vincent Canby didn't like it, but he never liked anything. But the rest of us, /we liked it/.

We now know that Lucas looked at "Empire" and said "pretty good, but too dark, and also /damn/ could I get rich if there were more toy and action figure tie-ins." But pause to consider if he hadn't. If he'd been hit by a falling key grip in 1981? We'd remember him today as cinematic SF's greatest genius, and we'd all be arguing about the *undoubtedly totally awesome* third movie he would have made had he lived.

So, give a little love to "Empire", and let's not hold ourselves too high above the naive foolish Hugo voters of yesteryear. Yeah, it was all downhill afterwards. But there was no way to know that in 1984.

Doug M.
James Davis Nicoll
40. CarlosSkullsplitter
39: Doug, that's right around the time the media in general discovered that children had massive buying power. The word 'toyetic' had only been coined in 1977, just before Star Wars, when Bernard Loomis at Kenner was looking for a follow-up to the Six Million Dollar Man action figure. 1983's He-Man and the Masters of the Universe -- and I wonder what Jo's reaction to that title is, if she's never heard of it before -- was the first television cartoon to be based on a toy instead of the other way around.

It's not surprising that Lucas decided to get on that gravy train. It is annoying that he apparently lost some of his critical judgment along the way -- this is the same guy who made American Graffiti? -- but not surprising.
Rob Munnelly
41. RobMRobM
Doug - Empire was great and Phantom would have been great - if Lucas had eliminated the freaking Ewoks, the cuddly and ridiculous forebears to Jar Jar Binks. Aaaaarrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhhhh.
James Davis Nicoll
42. Gardner Dozois
I liked THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, although not as much as I liked the original STAR WARS, but surely the movie under consideration here is the third one, THE RETURN OF THE JEDI, which I liked nowhere near as much as the first two--the Ewoks have already been mentioned (who annoyed lots of SF fans who saw them as rip-offs of H. Beam Piper's Fuzzies, and who were annoyingly cute), it repeats the ending of the first movie although on a bigger (if less effective) scale, and the last scene with all the Good Ghosts gathered around the campfire waving (including a man responsible for the genocidal death of everybody on AN ENTIRE PLANET who seemingly has been redeemed by one good act) set my teeth on edge. The "prequels" in some ways just followed the lead of RETURN OF THE JEDI, and were much more like it than they were like the first two, only even worse and more exagerated.
David Levinson
43. DemetriosX
I still think that The Right Stuff qualifies. It isn't SF, but it certainly has a connection through the importance to the genre of the space program. No one complained about Cosmos being on the ballot and the moon landing coverage also won.

As for RotJ, the problems are a lot more than the Ewoks. They aren't even all that bad apart from a couple of cutesy moments (yes, it would have been better to use Wookies as originally intended). But the film connects poorly to the previous one (a lot has obviously happened), it's rather disjointed - more like a handful of episodes - and the MacGuffin is exactly the same as in the first movie.
James Davis Nicoll
44. CarlosSkullsplitter
A little more follow-up to Doug:

We'd remember him today as cinematic SF's greatest genius,


We would? Let's not go overboard. Spielberg, Kubrick, Ridley Scott, James Cameron, and let's not forget people like Douglas Trumbull or Ray Harryhausen. A little hyperbole there.

You don't want to re-read Orion Shall Rise. Even when I first read it, I found the tuckerized Ragnarok awful and garish. The quiet moments with the Heimdall character were much better. Anderson, for all his affection for old-fashioned blood and thunder, was much better at the contemplative mode -- but not his "I will have a character brood about my political preoccupations and put them in italics" mode.
James Davis Nicoll
45. James Davis Nicoll
40: 1983's He-Man and the Masters of the Universe -- and I wonder what Jo's reaction to that title is, if she's never heard of it before -- was the first television cartoon to be based on a toy instead of the other way around.

Huh. That late? Captain Action did the toy > comic book thing in 1968 and I can't be sure it's the first example.

They had to change the character for the comic due to licensing issues. From wikipedia:

After the success of G.I. Joe, Stan Weston's company, Leisure Concepts, then brought the idea of a new, articulated, twelve-inch (305 mm) action figure to Ideal Toys Corporation, who were seeking an action figure of their own, to remain competitive in the toy market. Weston proposed Captain Magic, a many-in-one hero, who could adopt the guise of several heroes, all of whom Leisure Concepts represented. The name was changed to Captain Action, and first marketed by Ideal in 1966.

The figure itself had a rather sad and worried expression, a strange shaped head (so the masks of the various heroes would better stay in place over it) and a more detailed musculature than G.I. Joe's. The original Ideal base for the line was Captain Action in his blue and black uniform, with lightning sword and ray gun included in the box. Separate Superman, Batman, Lone Ranger, The Phantom, Flash Gordon, Captain America, Sgt Fury, Steve Canyon and Aquaman costumes (with accessories) were available; the next wave (1967) added Spider-Man, Buck Rogers, the Green Hornet, and Tonto, with a Blue Lone Ranger variation (matching the still popular Clayton Moore series) and collectible flicker rings in each box.



National Periodical (DC Comics) licensed the character from Ideal and published five issues of Captain Action in 1968, illustrated at first by Wally Wood, then by Gil Kane. The scripts were by Jim Shooter and Gil Kane. The comic book story line had little to do with the toy concept, as some of the heroes licensed for use as costumes for the Captain Action doll were not owned and published by DC (Spider-Man and Captain America for example, were Marvel Comics characters), therefore the ability to change into different characters was entirely dropped. Instead, Captain Action came to possess magical coins, each of which provided him with a spectacular power from a Greek, Roman, or Norse mythological god (in a similar way to the original Captain Marvel). Captain Action was given a real name of his own, Clive Arno, and was identified as a widowed archaeologist and museum curator, and was described as having located "the coins of power" in a buried city. Action Boy's comic-book alter-ego was Carl Arno, son of Clive. Dr. Evil was given a back-story too, having been Captain Action's father-in-law, then going mad in a mishap.
James Davis Nicoll
46. CarlosSkullsplitter
The reason for the delay is that the Federal government maintained a firewall between advertising and children's television that Loomis (among others) helped undo. Think of Grayskull as libertarianism in action.

I think Heinlein had a rant in one of his later books about kids playing with all those electronic gewgaws and not the wholesome games of Lazarus Long's youth (stickball, ringolevio, and wandering naked through public parks in the dead of night). Didn't he know the market demanded it?
James Davis Nicoll
47. James Davis Nicoll
I think Heinlein had a rant in one of his later books about kids playing with all those electronic gewgaws and not the wholesome games of Lazarus Long's youth

I suddenly have a theory that a suprising large amount of the avoidable unpleasantnesses of the past were due to the lack of modern entertainment options and the subsequent need to find low tech alternatives, even if the alternatives were just stabbing one's political opponent in the kidneys as they exited church.
James Davis Nicoll
48. Zvi999
Oh frabjous day. A new R. A. Macavoy? Thank you James Nicoll for that piece of excellent news.
Rich Horton
49. ecbatan
I suspect the MacAvoy novel will be an expansion of (or sequel to) her 2009 novella "In Between" that appeared from Subterranean in chapbook form. (And indeed a version of "In Between" appeared a couple of years earlier as an Amazon e-book.)

I don't know this for sure, but the title James gives (Death and Resurrection) seems consistent with the theme of "In Between".
James Davis Nicoll
50. James Davis Nicoll
Joel Rosenberg is a major writer

I regret report that the tense in that sentence was superceded:

Rosenberg died June 1, 2011, after a sudden respiratory depression caused a heart attack, brain damage and major organ failures.
James Davis Nicoll
51. Alan Heuer
Here is how I voted in 1984:

Best Novel
1. Tea with the Black Dragon R.A. MacAvoy
2. Startide Rising David Brin
3. Millennium John Varley
4. The Robots of Dawn Isaac Asimov
5. Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern Anne McCaffrey

Best Novella
1. "Hardfought" Greg Bear
2. "Seeking" David R. Palmer
3. "Hurricane Claude" Hilbert Schenck
4. "Cascade Point" Timothy Zahn
5. "In the Face of My Enemy" Joseph H. Delaney

Best Novelette
1. "Blood Music" Greg Bear
2. "Slow Birds" Ian Watson
3. "Black Air" Kim Stanley Robinson
4. "The Sidon in the Mirror" Connie Willis
5. "The Monkey Treatment" George R.R. Martin

Best Short Story
1. "Speech Sounds" Octavia E. Butler
2. "The Geometry of Narrative" Hilbert Schenck
3. "The Peacemaker" Gardner Dozois
4. "Servant of the People" Frederik Pohl
5. "Wong's Lost and Found Emporium" William F. Wu

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