Jul 10 2011 10:30am

Hugo Nominees: 1991

The 1991 Hugo Awards were presented at Chicon V in Chicago. The best novel winner was Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Vor Game (post), a book that’s probably best described as military science fiction with depth and consequences. It’s the sixth volume in Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga, but a great place to start the series, which I think a lot of people may have done with this Hugo nomination. It’s a really good book in a solidly realised universe. It’s about identity and duty and the way history informs present decisions. It’s a very good book, and the first of Bujold’s Hugo nominations for this series. It’s in print in several editions — NESFA brought out a hardcover edition last year with my post (linked above) as an introduction, and in the Grande Bibliotheque of Montreal (hereafter “the library”) in English only. An excellent Hugo winner.

There are four other nominees, of which I have read three.

David Brin’s Earth is an ambitious failure. It’s that hardest of all forms, the fifty years ahead novel. The near future can be assumed to be not all that different from the present, the far future can be whatever you like, but that fifty year distance is tricky. John Brunner did it with Stand on Zanzibar, and Stand on Zanzibar is clearly what Earth is trying to do. It’s a big multiple viewpoint predictive novel that was overtaken by events and technology almost the moment it hit the shelves. It’s in print and in the library in English.

Dan Simmons The Fall of Hyperion is a book that didn’t disappoint me at the time, but which didn’t stand up to re-reading. The universe is still marvellous, but the answers are not as satisfying as the questions. I think I’d describe it as far-future meta-SF. It’s in print and it’s in the library in English and French. I don’t think it really belongs on this list, and I’m glad it didn’t win.

Greg Bear’s Queen of Angels is a murder mystery in a fast moving near future world where the question isn’t who did it but why they did it, with forensic psychology and an emergent AI. This is the kind of book I’m delighted to see on the list — not entirely successful, but pushing the boundaries of genre. It’s in print and it’s in the library in French.

And I haven’t read Michael P. Kube-McDowell’s The Quiet Pools — no excuse, I’ve just never picked it up or really looked at it. Did it have a UK edition? It seems to be about people sending out generation starships and other people trying to stop them, which sounds like something I might like. It’s not in print and it’s not in the library, which reduces my chances of reading it any time soon. Nor has anyone urged me to read it.

So, four men and one woman, all American. All solidly science fiction, no fantasy at all. Two star-spanning adventures, very different from each other, two near futures with computers but neither of them really cyberpunk, and one generation starship. I think the best book won, but I wouldn’t have been sorry if any of them had won except for Fall of Hyperion.

What else might they have chosen?

SFWA’s Nebula Award was won by Ursula Le Guin’s Tehanu, (post) a book about which I am deeply conflicted. Other non-overlapping eligible nominees are James Morrow’s brilliant Only Begotten Daughter, which was well worthy of Hugo nomination, Jane Yolen’s White Jenna, and two books I’ve never heard of: Valerie Martin’s Mary Reilly and John E. Stith’s Redshift Rendezvous. It’s not all that unusual for me not to have read something, but I’m surprised to see two books on the Nebula ballot that I haven’t even heard of. Oh well.

The World Fantasy Award was shared between James Morrow’s Only Begotten Daughter and Ellen Kushner’s Thomas the Rhymer (post). Other nominees not previously mentioned: Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens (post) and Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana.

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award went to Pacific Edge, (post) which would have been a great Hugo nominee.

The Philip K. Dick Award, for paperback original science fiction, went to Pat Murphy’s Points of Departure, with a special citation for Raymond Harris’s The Schizogenic Man. Other nominees were Allen Steele’s Clarke County, Space, Gregory Feeley’s The Oxygen Barons, and Elizabeth Hand’s Winterlong.

The Locus Award went to The Fall of Hyperion. Nominees not previously mentioned were: Voyage to the Red Planet (post) Terry Bisson, The Difference Engine, William Gibson & Bruce Sterling, Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton, The Ring of Charon, Roger MacBride Allen, Pegasus in Flight, Anne McCaffrey, Raising the Stones, Sheri S. Tepper, The Hemingway Hoax, Joe Haldeman, Summertide, Charles Sheffield, Polar City Blues, Katharine Kerr, The World at the End of Time, Frederik Pohl, The Hollow Earth, Rudy Rucker, The Rowan, Anne McCaffrey, In the Country of the Blind, Michael F. Flynn (which won the Prometheus Award), The Ghost from the Grand Banks, Arthur C. Clarke, The Divide, Robert Charles Wilson, Agviq, Michael Armstrong, Heathern, Jack Womack.

The Locus Fantasy Award went to Tehanu. Nominees not yet mentioned were: The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan, The Blood of Roses, Tanith Lee, Servant of the Empire, Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurts, Drink Down the Moon, Charles de Lint, Rats and Gargoyles, Mary Gentle, Ghostwood, Charles de Lint, Moving Pictures, Terry Pratchett, Dealing with Dragons, Patricia C. Wrede, Time and Chance, Alan Brennert, In Between Dragons, Michael Kandel, Gossamer Axe, Gaèl Baudino, Chase the Morning, Michael Scott Rohan, Castleview, Gene Wolfe.

Some good stuff, but nothing that strikes me as notably better than the Hugo list we have.

Thomas the Rhymer won the Mythopoeic Award.

And was there anything all these missed?

Nancy Kress’s Brainrose, Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Diane Duane’s High Wizardry, Colin Greenland’s Take Back Plenty, Dorothy Heydt (“Katherine Blake”)’s The Interior Life (post). I don’t think any of those are likely Hugo nominees really, but they’re all good books.

I think the Hugos really did miss out Pacific Edge and Only Begotten Daughter, but not much else, and four out of the five books we have on the list of nominees are just the kind of book I think we should be nominating. So on the whole a pretty good year.

Other Categories


  • “The Hemingway Hoax”, Joe Haldeman (Asimov’s Apr 1990)
  • “Bones”, Pat Murphy (Asimov’s May 1990)
  • Bully!, Mike Resnick (Axolotl)
  • “Fool to Believe”, Pat Cadigan (Asimov’s Feb 1990)
  • A Short, Sharp Shock, Kim Stanley Robinson (Mark V. Ziesing; Asimov’s Nov 1990)

The novella version of The Hemingway Hoax is brilliant, and I’d have voted for it by a hair from the Robinson and the Cadigan. An other great novella year.


  • “The Manamouki”, Mike Resnick (Asimov’s Jul 1990)
  • “A Braver Thing”, Charles Sheffield (Asimov’s Feb 1990)
  • “The Coon Rolled Down and Ruptured His Larinks, A Squeezed Novel by Mr. Skunk”, Dafydd ab Hugh (Asimov’s Aug 1990)
  • “Over the Long Haul”, Martha Soukup (Amazing Stories Mar 1990)
  • “Tower of Babylon”, Ted Chiang (Omni Nov 1990)

The only one of these I remember is the Chiang.


  • “Bears Discover Fire”, Terry Bisson (Asimov’s Aug 1990)
  • “Cibola”, Connie Willis (Asimov’s Dec 1990)
  • “Godspeed”, Charles Sheffield (Analog Jul 1990)
  • “The Utility Man”, Robert Reed (Asimov’s Nov 1990)
  • “VRM-547”, W. R. Thompson (Analog Feb 1990)

Robert Reed’s first Hugo nomination, with an excellent story. The Willis and the Bisson are memorable too.


  • How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, Orson Scott Card (Writer’s Digest Books)
  • Bury My Heart at W.H. Smith’s, Brian W. Aldiss (Avernus; Hodder & Stoughton) Hollywood Gothic, David J. Skal (Norton)
  • Science Fiction in the Real World, Norman Spinrad (Southern Illinois University Press)
  • Science Fiction Writers of America Handbook, Kristine Kathryn Rusch & Dean Wesley Smith, eds. (Writer’s Notebook Press)

Bury My Heart at W.H. Smith’s is my favourite book by Aldiss, a really funny touching memoir.


  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Back to the Future III
  • Ghost
  • Total Recall
  • The Witches


  • Gardner Dozois
  • Ellen Datlow
  • Edward L. Ferman
  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Stanley Schmidt


  • Michael Whelan
  • Thomas Canty
  • David A. Cherry
  • Bob Eggleton
  • Don Maitz


  • Locus, Charles N. Brown
  • Interzone, David Pringle
  • The New York Review of Science Fiction, David G. Hartwell, Kathryn Cramer & Gordon Van Gelder
  • Quantum (formerly Thrust), D. Douglas Fratz
  • Science Fiction Chronicle, Andrew Porter


  • Lan’s Lantern, George “Lan” Laskowski
  • File 770, Mike Glyer
  • FOSFAX, Janice Moore & Timothy Lane
  • Mainstream, Jerry Kaufman & Suzanne Tompkins
  • Mimosa, Dick & Nicki Lynch


  • Dave Langford
  • Avedon Carol
  • Mike Glyer
  • Arthur Hlavaty
  • Evelyn C. Leeper
  • Teresa Nielsen Hayden


  • Teddy Harvia
  • Merle Insinga
  • Peggy Ranson
  • Stu Shiffman
  • Diana Stein


  • Julia Ecklar
  • Nancy A. Collins
  • John Cramer
  • Scott Cupp
  • Michael Kandel

I hadn’t heard of Julia Ecklar, but it seems she’s a filker and short story writer who wrote a Star Trek novel under her own name and also wrote in collaboration as L.A. Graf. It’s hard to feel she was the best choice for Campbell winner. But it wasn’t a strong field of nominees.

Nancy A. Collins is a very successful and well known horror writer who had a very successful first novel out that year, and with hindsight I think she’d have been the best winner.

Michael Kandel is best known as the translator of Lem, but he has also published original fiction. He’s not prolific, and although well thought of he is not well known.

I’m not familiar with John Cramer or Scott Cupp — anyone? Neither of them have had the kinds of careers that one might wish from Campbell nominees.

Nominators could also have considered Tom Holt and Michael F. Flynn, who both had notable first novels out in 1990, but I don’t know whether previous publications might have made them ineligible. The Campbell is a very odd award, and this wasn’t one of its more shining moments.

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.

Paul Weimer
1. PrinceJvstin
It’s the sixth volume in Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga, but a great place to start the series, which I think a lot of people may have done with this Hugo nomination.

I certainly became aware of her work. I remember reading the 1991 Locus issue with the names of the Hugo winners, and got curious about the Vorkosigan novels...
Rich Horton
2. ecbatan
Among the novel field, I think at the time I preferred Queen of Angels, and I still might. As you say, Earth is an ambitious failure, partly because of the horrid deus ex machina of an ending. And The Vor Game is very fine work, very enjoyable, but to me just a notch below.

Tehanu is a book I like but don't quite love.

But there is one major major novel that in retrospect, to me, is clearly the most deserving SF novel of 1990. This is Use of Weapons, by Iain M. Banks. It's my favorite Banks novel, using Banks's preferred twisty structure to perfect effect, with lots of SFnal neatness and a powerful emotional story. It wasn't published in the US until a bit later, as I recall, which probably accounts for it not getting any notice.

For once I can comment on the Dramatic Presentation award -- Edward Scissorhands is a film I deeply love, tremendously moving. And clearly the choice among those nominees.

As to the Campbell, yes, a dispiriting group of nominees. Julia Ecklar has been mostly an Analog writer, and she's done some nice work, but in reality she's had a rather insubstantial career. Perhaps Nancy Collins is indeed the right choice based on her career to that date, or even since, but I'll show my prejudices and say that I wouldn't have been happy to have a pure horror writer win.

Tom Holt's actual first novel appeared in 1985 -- it was a continuation of E. F. Benson's Lucia series, and as such not genre. So if he was still eligible (which I believe he was) he would have been eligible in 1988 and 1989, after the publication of Expecting Someone Taller in 1987.

However, he did publish a major, major novel in 1989/1990 -- in my opinion his best work. This is The Walled Orchard. It was originally published in two parts: Goat Song in 1989, The Walled Orchard in 1990. (It has since been reissued in one volume.) If you consider it Fantasy (and it's not really -- it's historical fiction with a tinge of fantasy because the characters really believe in things we consider fantastical now), and if you consider the two novels as one, I retract my vote for Use of Weapons and put forward The Walled Orchard as by far the best novel of 1990. (That said, I don't consider it Fantasy. But I do most strongly recommend you read The Walled Orchard!)

There is, though, one very intriguing potential Campbell nominee: Ian R. MacLeod. His first story appeared in Interzone in 1989, and it didn't make much of a splash: "Through". But four major stories appeared in 1990, in Interzone and Weird Tales: "Green", "1/72 Scale", "Well-Loved", and "Past Magic".

The curious thing is, arguably none of these stories made him Campbell-eligible, due to the technicalities of the Campbell rules, by which Interzone and Weird Tales were deemed not pro publications. By this argument, he was Campbell-eligible in 1992 and 1993, based on the appearance of "1/72 Scale" in Best New Horror in 1991 (and in the Nebula anthology in 1992) and "The Giving Mouth" (another major story) in Asimov's in 1991.

Still, he'd have been a great nominee, and clearly a better choice for a winner than anyone on the actual shortlist.

Rich Horton
Pseu Donym
3. Scotoma
One of the years with an excellent novel list, thought I would have preferred the Bear or the Brin (Earth a failure, in what universe?!?, that was perfect) novel over Bujold's, still, it's a good book and I don't begrude it the win. The second Hyperion is my favorite of the whole sequence, far better than the first, so I wouldn't have mind the book winning either.

The Quiet Pools on the other hand, ouch, a book I wanted to love but had a hard time even getting through. Just awful.

One I would have liked seeing mentioned was William Barton's and
Michael Capobianco's Iris, a big dumb object novel where the characters don't feel like an after-thought or irrelevant.
4. CarlosSkullsplitter
A while back I came up with the phrase "non-destructive military science fiction" for Bujold's work, a riff on her father's field of expertise: Robert McMaster literally wrote the book on non-destructive testing. There are other examples of the subgenre -- Lloyd Biggle, Jr. comes to mind -- but I think Bujold is its clear master.

Has anyone ever commented how fluidly Bujold can move from the tactical to the operational to the strategic scale in her depictions of warfare? It's a rare gift, and The Vor Game does it so gracefully that you would never know it's a major problem in military fiction and non-fiction.
David Levinson
5. DemetriosX
The only novel I've read this time out is Earth. I think "ambitious failure" is a tad harsh, though it does fall somewhat short of what Brin was trying to do. Some of the technological predictions have done pretty well, but like ecbatan @2, I find the ending less than satisfying. Of the others, I've never been able to get into Bear or Simmons (and after last week's discussion I'm not likely to start) and I seem to have some sort of mental block that keeps me from reading Bujold. I would probably like her stuff, but I can't seem to make myself pick it up.

"The Hemingway Hoax" just didn't work for me. I'd probably have gone for Robinson. Of the novelettes, all I really remember is that the ab Hugh just couldn't live up to its title. Great short story list and I'd have voted for the Bisson.

Dramatic presentation is a pretty weak list. Ghost and The Witches really shouldn't be there and I have my doubts about Back to the Future III. Total Recall is fun, but certainly not Hugo-worthy.

The artist list is interesting, because for the first time in a very long time, if not ever, there are no new names. In fact there won't be a new name on the list until 1999. That's a little disturbing and I'm not sure if it says more about the strength of the bigger name artists or a contraction of the market in the 90s.
Rich Horton
6. ecbatan
In novella, three stories were pretty much neck and neck for me: Haldeman's "The Hemingway Hoax", which is just wonderful in its novella form, KSR's "A Short Sharp Shock", and also a very good Greg Bear story, in his Queen of Angels future: "Heads", which probably didn't get nominated because in 1990 it only appeared as an Interzone serial and a slim UK book. (It was published in book form in the US in 1991.)

A couple more worthy novellas, besides the very good set of nominees: "Mammy Morgan Played the Organ, her Daddy Beat the Drum", by Michael F. Flynn; and "Elegy for Angels and Dogs", by Walter Jon Williams (channeling Zelazny).

In novelette there are as usual a ton of worthy stories. Among the nominees, my vote would probably have gone to Ted Chiang's "Tower of Babylon", which did win the Nebula. But I would also strongly recommend Dafydd ab Hugh's "The Coon Rolled Down and Ruptured His Larinks, a Squeezed Novel by Mr. Skunk", which is exceptional, a strange post-apocalyptic thing about intelligent mutated animals. Ab Hugh never did anything else remotely as good, that's quite a story.

But probably my favorite two novelettes of 1990 appeared in the same issue of Asimov's, the March issue. These are "Simulation Six", by Steven Gould; and "Buddha Nostril Bird" by John Kessel. Either would have been a worthy winner.

Other strong novelettes:
"Green" and "1/72 Scale", by Ian R. MacLeod
"Four Kings and an Ace" and "The Spiral Dance", by R. Garcia y Robertson
"Fin de Cycle", by Howard Waldrop
"Final Tomte", by Judith Moffett
"Sea Change", by Alan Brennert
"The Death Artist", by Alexander Jablokov
"The Caress", by Greg Egan
"The Shores of Bohemia", by Bruce Sterling (which I think would have made the fifth of my ideal shortlist, along with the Ab Hugh, Chiang, Kessel, and Gould stories)

Also, Ursula Le Guin returned to her Hainish universe with "The Shobies' Story", which got a lot of praise but which I don't like all that much. Later "new" Hainish stories were much better, though.

In Short Story, I'm a big fan of Bission's "Bears Discover Fire", and I consider it a very worthy winnner. The Reed and Willis stories are, as you say, quite fine. W. R. Thompson did some pretty good stuff for Analog in that period as well, and I think "VRM-547" was solid stuff, though I confess I don't remember it well.

But there were also four major Egan short stories: "Axiomatic", "The Extra", "The Moral Virologist", and "Learning to be Me", any one of which surely would have graced the shortlist.

Rich Horton
7. James Davis Nicoll
And I haven’t read Michael P. Kube-McDowell’s The Quiet Pools — no excuse, I’ve just never picked it up or really looked at it. Did it have a UK edition? It seems to be about people sending out generation starships and other people trying to stop them, which sounds like something I might like. It’s not in print and it’s not in the library, which reduces my chances of reading it any time soon. Nor has anyone urged me to read it.

I haven't read this since the 1990s but as I recall the twist - well, twists but one of them fits nicely into SFnal traditions

(Does anyone care if I spoil a 20 year old book? Well, just in case, I will rot13 this)
Gur fgnefuvc svanapvat fpurzr vf n senhq naq pnaabg shaq naljurer nf znal fuvcf nf vg vf fnlf vg pna. Vg'f nyfb ba gur iretr bs pbyyncfr; gur arkg fuvc jvyy or gur ynfg fuvc.

Gur zber genqvgvbany natyr vf gung gurer'f n trargvp natyr sbe gur qrfver gb rkcyber fb lbh pna nethr gung gur pbybavfgf jub ner (va znal pnfrf) fgevc-zvavat gur Greerfgevny rpbabzl gb svanapr gurve yvggyr ubool ner nethnoyl qbvat vg orpnhfr gurl unir n trargvp qvfbeqre. Unccvyl, vg'f bar gung vf tbvat gb orpbzr fyvtugyl yrff pbzzba va gur greerfgevny uhzna fcrpvrf.

Sbe fbzr ernfba, V qba'g guvax gur pbybavfgf jrer qbzvangrq ol tebhcf jubfr uvfgbevpny qrfver sbe rkcybengvba pyrneyl rkprrqrq gur yvzvgf chg ba gurz ol gurve grpuabybtl; sbe rknzcyr, Znqntnfpne tbg frggyrq ol crbcyr sebz sernxvat *Obearb*.

I think I may name an island-nation Obearb some time....

In terms of novels, Kube-McDowell was a mid-80s to early 90s author; after 1992's Exile, he does three franchise novels in the Star Wars universe (that if I recall a conversation on rasfw outsold anything he did in his own universes) and one of those BIG NAME little name books with Clarke (about a superscience device that among other things seems to offer gun elimination; in its way similar to the device that kills civilization at the beginning of the Trigon Disunity) and one final book in 2002 about a man who discovers the scientific basis for the soul. If he's had anything since, I have not seen it.

This is, unfortunately, not an uncommon career arc. Take Kevin O'Donnell, Jr.; his first novel was Bander Snatch in 1979, his final novel is 1990s Fire on the Border and since then aside from a handful of short stories, silence. He's done a lot of work for SF behind the scenes, though.
8. James Davis Nicoll
I’m not familiar with John Cramer

Iconclast physicist, Kathryn Cramer's dad, frequent contributor of Alternate View articles to Analog - alternating with Jeffrey Kooistra - and author of two SF novels: Twistor, in which an unexpected scientific development gives humans access to new universes, and Einstein's Bridge, which I own but have not read. Something about the SSC and evil black holes, maybe?

Twistor reminded me a little of Bob Shaw's A Wreath of Stars.

As I recall, Cramer supplies the unlikely but interesting if true AVs, like discussing the implications of the fact that zero-energy tachyons are not zero-momentum, so you can build what amounts to a fuelless relativistic rocket using them (although note that universes that have tachyons in are unstable and doomed). Kooistra, on the other hand, provides the kind of Analog SCIENCE! those of us who are old enough to remember the Dean Drive and Hieronymus Machine expect; if you need a glowing review of a collection of James P. Hogan essays, he's the one to turn to.
9. James Davis Nicoll
Summertide, Charles Sheffield

Poor Sheffield had something of a track record of coming up with interesting original ideas for novels, only to discover another novelist had simultaneously developed a similar idea in complete isolation from Sheffield. In the 1970s, he and Clarke both wrote orbital elevator novels. In 1990s, he and Robert Forward both wrote books featuring extremely close-orbiting double planets....

(ISTR there's a short story version of the Sheffield but do you think I can recall what it was called?)
john mullen
10. johntheirishmongol
I find it hard to argue with almost any Bujold story. She writes so well and with depth that I would vote for almost anything she has written. I liked Earth but I would have voted for Vor Game.

On the movies, sorry but just being weird does not make a good film for me. I really don't like Scissorhands, find Johnny Depp highly overrated and have never liked Tim Burton's films. Even Batman, which I did like, was flawed by his direction. I also don't really think it qualifies as a scifi film. I probably would have gone with Total Recall, a true scifi movie, with a story reminiscent of Leigh Brackett.

I do want to make a comment on the Fantasy Awards. I don't know if the winner is any good but two amazing series were in the nominees and I would have been good with either winning. I would have gone with Servant of the Empire.
11. James Davis Nicoll
Even Batman, which I did like, was flawed by his direction.

You may enjoy toddling over to Comics Alliance to read Christopher Sims and David Uzumeri's epic review marathon of the Batman films.
12. Michael Habif
I think it is worth mentioning the BSFA Award and Clarke Award. They include multiple nominees not metioned.

Clarke Award

*Take Back Plenty, Colin Greenland (Unwin)
Rats and Gargoyles, Mary Gentle (Bantam UK)
The City, Not Long After, Pat Murphy (Pan)
Farewell Horizontal, K. W. Jeter (Grafton)
Red Spider, White Web, Misha (Morrigan)
Use of Weapons, Iain M. Banks (Macdonald)

BSFA Award

*The Fall of Hyperion, Dan Simmons (Headline)
The Architecture of Desire, Mary Gentle (Bantam UK)
Eternal Light, Paul J. McAuley (Gollancz)
13. James Davis Nicoll
Twistor reminded me a little of Bob Shaw's A Wreath of Stars.

Except the gloomy Shaw protagonist is replaced by a cheerful American, the setting is California and not post-colonial Africa, and the antagonists are, IIRC, evil venture capitalists, not some sort of Bokassa/Amin analog.
14. Barb in Maryland
Two books I’ve never heard of: Valerie Martin’s Mary Reilly and John E. Stith’s Redshift Rendezvous.

I'm sure you have looked these up by now. Mary Reilly was a re-telling of the Jeckyll/Hyde story and later made into a movie starring Julia Roberts in the title role(movie released in 1996).
As for Redshift Rendezvous, I think I've read it, but it obviously didn't stick.
15. reaeveryelse
"Total Recall . . . a story reminiscent of Leigh Brackett."

Total Recall is actually based on a Phillip Dick story.
David Levinson
16. DemetriosX
Oh, and Mike Flynn was also not eligible for the Campbell. He'd been turning out short stories for several years, mostly in Analog, I think.
17. Gardner Dozois
Seems like another fairly weak year for novel to me. I'm not sure what I voted for. Might had voted for USE OF WEAPONS, if I'd seen it then.

Sadly, "the answers are not as satisfying as the questions" is something that applies to many books, especially multi-volume series.

In novella, my vote goes to "The Hemingway Hoax" (which, yes, I liked better than the novel version, which didn't really add anything essential). Second place probably goes to "Elegy for Angels and Dogs," which I believe still may hold the title for longest single novella ever published in ASIMOV'S. In addition to those novellas already mentioned by Rich, there was "Mr. Boy," by James Patrick Kelly, "The Cairene Purse," by Michael Moorcock, "Not Fade Away," by R. Garcia y Robertson, and "The First Since Ancient Persia," by John Brunner.

In novelette, my vote probably would have gone to Egan's "The Caress," which we discussed last week, although Jablokov's "The Death Artist" was strong too. "The Coon Rolled Down" seemed at the time to indicate that ab Hugh was going to have a much more signifigant career than he actually subsequently had. Ian MacLeod's "Green," which, by the way, appeared in the Mid-December 1990 ASIMOV'S, not in INTERZONE, was a significant step toward the type of fantasy that MacLeod would later develope; he also had a novelette, "Marnie," in the May 1991 ASIMOV'S. Ian McDonald's "Toward Kilimanjaro" is also strong. And yes, agree that "The Shobies' Story" would be easily outclassed by subsequent new Hainish stories. The rest of the stories Rich lists are worth mentioning too.

In short story, "Bears Discover Fire" is really the only one still read and discussed (even argued about, since some love it and some loath it), so it's the most historically significant in retrospect. My vote might have gone to Egan's "Learning To Be Me," a very important story in shaping the SF of the '90s that was just taking form. A now-forgotten fantasy story by Keith Roberts, "Mrs. Byers and the Dragon," is also worth reading.

I'm proud to point out that the winning stories in all three short fiction categories came from ASIMOV'S--a rare sweep for one market.

Didn't actually like any of the movies very much, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS included, although it's probably the only one of the bunch remembered today.

A very weak Campbell year. Yes, in retrospect, it probably should have gone to Ian R. MacLeod, although I'm not sure he had enough work out and easily visible to swing it. Collins is a successful horror writer, but not a good fit for the Campbell, I think. Rest of the writers are not in the same league.
18. James Davis Nicoll
The Ghost from the Grand Banks, Arthur C. Clarke

Am I right in thinking this was almost entirely innocent of plot, even by the standards of a late Clarke solo novel?

Huh. I was going to assert that this might be his final solo novel but there was a later one that I either missed or read and then completely forgot: Hammer of God. Further, it being optioned led to the movie Deep Impact although Deep Impact is not based on Hammer of God.
Clark Myers
19. ClarkEMyers
Just ordered two copies of To Touch the Stars from Prometheus sent to Apartment 3 in Montreal. Much there that in these last days of the Shuttle Program might well get more play.

The prose is perhaps best described as negligible at best but name recognition may have been for other talents.

I have some differences with most of the world on what by rights ought to be called military SF (cf David Drake's usage) but as with other language shifts I'll go along with the popular usage in public. And certainly those of us who've boated on the Ohio will usually have a soft spot for Bujold anyway.
20. Gardner Dozois
Of historical interest this year are Tom Purdom's first sale to ASIMOV'S, and early stories by Tony Daniel and Mary Rosenblum.
21. CarlosSkullsplitter
I think this was rather a weak year for novels. I am not seeing anything I would put into someone's genre-curious hands and say, "go, read," without qualifications. Maybe Thomas the Rhymer? Maybe the Iain M. Banks? Well, maybe not the Banks. I have been known to smash a chair or two.

Earth was I think exactly how you described it, an ambitious failure. For me, it was a failure not of extrapolation -- of course science fiction writers are not prophets (although they should be able to do the math) -- but of authorial voice. In other words, it was a tragic failure: the parts that were most Brin-y were in my opinion the worst parts. This may be just me, but whenever I read Brin at length, I get the sense of a man who is exceedingly proud of being able to see three moves ahead, not knowing there are people who can see four, five, six, ten moves ahead all over the place. Standing pat on a half-assed conclusion is something of a Brin hallmark.

Haldeman's "The Hemingway Hoax", though, is beautifully done. Haldeman uses his own debt to Hemingway (and to other writers of the American male) to create an entire cosmology around Hemingway, while making it accessible to readers who might not care about Hemingway. It would have been very easy for Haldeman to write a closed, hermetic story about Hemingway, especially given the time paradox form, but Haldeman not only resisted the idea, he made the resistance part of the story itself.

(Of course Hemingway had a star persona independent of his writing, which made Haldeman's task easier, but still.)

I would have gone with the Chiang and the Bisson, although Rich's description of the ab Hugh intrigues me.

I know it's a beloved movie for many, but it's been hard for me to take Edward Scissorhands seriously ever since I saw a clip from a pornographic parody with an actor in almost the same costume trying to eat spaghetti. I could not stop laughing. If that had run on Saturday Night Live people would still be talking about it.
22. (still) Steve Morrison
The Hammer of God is an expansion of a short story Clarke wrote for Time magazine; it's in the one-volume complete collection of his stories. The plot involves an asteroid on a collision course with Earth and the efforts to divert it. And yes, it (and The Ghost From the Grand Banks) are highly forgettable late Clarke.
Michal Jakuszewski
23. Lfex
The novel line is quite decent, IMHO. There are no obvious stinkers and I wouldn't be very unhappy with any of them winning. Still, it could be better.

The Vor Game didn't work for me very well, because I thought it was badly constructed (the first part was published before as an independent novella, IIRC).

The Fall of Hyperion was somewhat disappointing sequel, but still quite good and far better than Endymion novels. It would go my vote in this ballot, and I would probably nominate it, if I was voting back then.

Earth was an impressive attempt, but I agree the ending was very disappointing and, like all near-future novels, it has aged badly.

The Queen of Angels and The Quiet Pools were decent novels, perhaps not great, but also not out of place in the ballot, IMHO. I would probably put them below Bujold and Brin, but above no award.

What I would put in the ballot? I agree Use of Weapons was the best genre novel in the year. I would also like to see Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana there and also Rats and Gargoyles, wonderfully bizarre novel by Mary Gentle. I also liked Walker of Worlds, first part of trilogy by Tom de Haven which is unlike any other fantasy trilogy out there.

As for short fiction, I would probably go with Murphy, Chiang (can't believe it didn't win, but he was total newcomer back then, and name recognition does have some influence with Hugo voters) and Reed.

I am truly baffled with popularity of Bisson's story. He must have done something right, since this story worked for so many people, but I haven't slightest idea what it was.
Jo Walton
24. bluejo
Use of Weapons should certainly have been a nominee. I might even have voted for it. Very well put, Carlos.
25. James Davis Nicoll
The John W. Campbell Memorial Award went to Pacific Edge, (...) which would have been a great Hugo nominee.

Probably Robinson's best book, I think.
26. Fenric25
Alas, I have not read most of these-however, I have read the winner. The Vor Game was the book that got me into the Vorkosigan Saga (my mother was a fan, I was curious, was hooked quite quickly.) Love it still, think its a great book. Of all the others mentioned from the list, I have only read Good Omens and The Eye of the World, both of which are great favorites of mine. Once I've returned my hugely late library books and paid the fine, I shall have to take a gander at some of these...and possibly re-read the Vorkosigan Saga, it's been a while...
Rich Horton
27. ecbatan
Pacific Edge is a nice book, but it has always seemed muted to me -- the Utopia problem, if you will. I'd call Red Mars or maybe even The Years of Rice and Salt his best novel, and then I'd note that both are really collections of novellas, which is a hint! -- KSR is at his best at that length. I know he needs to pay the bills, but he's written essentially no short fiction for over a decade, and that's a damned shame -- I'd really like to see more KSR short fiction.

Gardner, thanks for the correction on "Green" -- I missed that it was in Asimov's. So MacLeod was unambiguously eligible for the Campbell that year...

I should certainly have mentioned Kelly's "Mr. Boy" as one of the best novellas of the year ...

And I should also note the two strange Gene Wolfe books, both set in Northern Illinois (my home until college, and Wolfe's home for decades now): Castleview and Pandora by Holly Hollander. Castleview is a difficult book (as with much Wolfe), an Arthurian retelling of sorts. Pandora by Holly Hollander isn't really SF, it's a mystery with something of a YA flavor, and I liked it a fair bit. Neither is what I would call Hugo worthy, but they are mature Wolfe, and as such worth a look.

Rich Horton
28. Michael F Flynn
DemetriosX is correct. My first story was in 1984, my second in 1986.
Tex Anne
29. TexAnne
Scott Cupp is a Texan, which is why I've heard of him. He co-edited the Robert E. Howard centennial book with Joe Lansdale.
30. Gerry__Quinn
I don't get the hate on 'The Fall of Hyperion' - it's not quite as good as 'Hyperion', but it is the necessary second half of the story. 'Hyperion' as it stands is plainly unfinished. (The Endymion novels were unnecessary, though.)

Of course it shouldn't have won, though - that would be a bit much after the first novel won the previous year!

The only one of the others I've read is 'Queen of Angels' but I rate it very highly - it is Bear's best in my opinion and I would be happy to see it win.

a good while later but not as good. It's a little unusual in that it kind of dismisses certain elements of the original - Jill is dead, and the psychic contagion feared by the psychological researcher has simply faded away. The detective has jettisoned what seemed to be defining elements of her character. Maybe that's why I didn't like it, though it's a theoretically interesting way to proceed.. But anyway, this sequel is a completely separate story - 'Queen of Angels' is a standalone novel.]
31. Gerry__Quinn
That should have read:

'Queen of Angels' also has a sequel, 'Slant' set in the same universe a good while later, but not as good.
Andrew Love
32. AndyLove
As I recall, Cramer supplies the unlikely but interesting if true AVs, like discussing the implications of the fact that zero-energy tachyons are not zero-momentum, so you can build what amounts to a fuelless relativistic rocket using them

Yes. I like his columns because he's always clear about what is the currently accepted science on a subject and what is "interesting if true" - with nary a suggestion that the blinkered fools in the academy are ignoring the evidence. I thought he fudged the Earth science a bit in "Twistor" but I could be wrong.
33. nlowery71
I enjoy these posts so much, and doubly so now that they are a look back at books I read soon after publication. I've probably read more from this list than any other so far (though not nearly enough, sigh...if only I were one of the Sleepless.)

I enjoyed most of the books I read from this year, but the one that stands out to me is James Morrow's Only Begotten Daughter. Along with Butler's Dawn, it really changed my relationship to science fiction and fantasy. Up until then, Heinlein was some sort of Platonic ideal of Science Fiction, and these books really shook that up and opened doors and windows into imaginative fiction.

I read three of Morrow's books without realizing they were by the same author (I was young, I read a lot of random books...OK, I really have no excuse for this.) But, independently of the others, I thought each was brilliant. That has to be a good test of an author's quality -- sometimes I wish I could read all books like that.
Peter Stone
34. Peter1742
Two books I’ve never heard of: Valerie Martin’s Mary Reilly and John E. Stith’s Redshift Rendezvous.

I am pretty sure that Mary Reilly was marketed as literary fiction, and not genre. Valerie Martin joins Atwood, Vonnegut, and Pynchon in the select group of authors on the Nebula shortlist who were not marketed as SF/F. I've never heard of Redshift Rendezvous but I'm guessing from the title that it must have been marketed as SF.
Rich Horton
35. ecbatan
I remember Redshift Rendezvous as being pretty fun ... and yes, it's pure SF, no chance it could have been marketed as Litfic. Don't remember the details, though ...

I think of him as an Analog writer, mostly because of an entertaining series of SF private eye stories, but actually much of his early work was for Amazing/Fantastic and Space and Time.

Wasn't something like "stith" a word used for some kind of alien in some novel? I just can't think of it.
36. mike shupp
Let me stick up a fist or hoist an oar or something for Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana as the best novel of that year. It's a damn near perfect work about victory and defeat, tyranny and resistance, heroism and endurance. I've read it three times now, and simply thinking about it is almost enough to bring tears to my eyes -- and I am not a demonstrative man.
37. Doug M.
IMS, Iain Banks' publishing schedule in the US was pretty erratic until well into the 1990s -- his books tended to come out well after the British editions, and often had low print runs or weird distributions. So it's not really surprising that Use of Weapons didn't make the shortlist.

Doug M.
Dave Bell
38. DaveBell
CarlosSkullsplitter @4

I can see what you're getting at about the tactical/operational/strategic problem in military affairs. They're such different levels of knowledge and responsibility. I can see settings where they blend much more than they might do in 20th Century wars, such as naval warfare in Nelson's time. And Miles Vorkosigan has that same sort of multi-level involvement, because, like Nelson, he's in a bubble of personal knowledge which isn't available to whatever high command there is.

There's a lot of military fiction which tries to cover the range by throwing a lot of different characters into the mix, sometimes with no real character-reason to interact. Yet the real world certainly has examples, such as a head-of-state's grandsons being military helicopter pilots (though the way that particular reality works could confuse some authors).

What makes Miles Vorkosigan work is that it's a world where personal connections and loyalties are part of the system. He knows what's going on because of who his father is, and because his declarations of personal loyalty matter, to him and to his superiors.

He's a bit more than a Kennedy or Bush, in the war but apart from the corridors of power. It's a quite alien situation that Miles exists in.
39. a1ay
the real world certainly has examples, such as a head-of-state's grandsons being military helicopter pilots

An even closer parallel - and I would be fascinated to know whether LMB had this in mind or is even aware of it - is Winston and Randolph Churchill; the father is the legendary wartime prime minister and mentor for the young King-Emperor, the son is an SAS-trained commando working on covert military/diplomatic/intelligence operations behind enemy lines...
Marcus W
40. toryx
I've tried reading Earth a handful of times over the years and never have gotten past the first couple of chapters. Now that I've read so much about the disappointing ending, I think I might have to add it in my pile of books to sell/ giveaway.

I can't remember whether I've read Queen of Angels or not. I curse my poor memory for books. I had no idea that Slant was a sequel.

I quite liked Bears Discover Fire.

Edward Scissorhands never did anything for me, but like a few of the others who have posted previously, I don't like Tim Burton films in general.
41. James Davis Nicoll
36: mike shupp

The The Destiny Makers Mike Shupp, by any chance?
42. James Davis Nicoll
I'd call Red Mars or maybe even The Years of Rice and Salt his best novel

Red Mars violates basic thermo. It's like reading a history of the English Civil War and encountering a section where it becomes apparent the author thinks the British Islands are composed entirely of cream cheese.
43. Jeff R.
_Good Omens_ really deserved at least a nomination.

And, given that it came out this year, this would be the first of two times that the Campbell neglected to recognize Neil Gaiman.

This would have been a better year than last to complain about Dramatic Presentation. This would also be a year in which Dramatic Presentation seems to have missed a big one from Television: both halves of Star Trek TNG's Best of Both Worlds came out in 1990. (Did the rules not yet allow TV-origined 2-hour+ stories originally aired in two parts in that category, or did it simply not occur to anyone to nominate them yet? Farpoint was up a few years ago, and I know that two-parters dominated the category before 'short form' was introduced...)
44. Francis Burdett
the author thinks the British Islands are composed entirely of cream cheese.

What?? The British Isles are not made of cream cheese?


Well that's nearly 3 years of research to chuck in the bin.
45. Gardner Dozois
They're not made of cream cheese. They're made of cheddar.
46. John R. Ellis
I wish I could like Tehanu. I really do. But, like her essay about how the reason why The Left Hand of Darkness didn't include explorations of certain things, this is a case where I find the latter work marrs my enjoyment of the former.

Oh, well.
Alain Fournier
47. afournier
I read Redshift Rendezvous when it first came out. It’s a murder mystery/thriller set aboard a passenger ship in hyperspace. Being in hyperspace the ship is subject to different laws of physics. The speed of light was 10m per second if I recall correctly. It was a very Analogish sort of novel. I remember liking it and some of the short stories he published at the time but I couldn’t have been that enamoured since I don’t remember picking up any of his subsequent novels.

For best novel I would have voted for Fall of Hyperion. Not as good as the first but satisfying conclusion to the story. I was disappointed by Earth I thought it was too preachy. Among the remaining novels I really enjoyed The Divide by Robert Charles Wilson. I am a big fan of his and think that he is pretty underrated. I also enjoyed the Difference Engine partly due to the fact that it was my first exposure to steampunk.

I agree with everyone about the Hemingway Hoax about it being the best Novella and being better than the novel. I would of went with Tower of Babylon by Ted Chiang for best novelette. I like the Resnick but I pretty much enjoyed all his Kirinyaga stories. Well not sure enjoy is the right word but he definitely always stirred some emotions and got me thinking. I enjoyed both stories by Charles Sheffield on the ballot although I did not think he deserved to win for either story. It showed that he was writing excellent short stories in that era. I always looked forward to reading his stuff when it appeared in the magazines.
Alain Fournier
48. afournier
@ ecbatan 35

Are you maybe thinking of Stars Wars and Revenge of the Sith?
49. Gardner Dozois
The Sith, yes. That's what I thought he was thinking of too.
50. James Davis Nicoll
Red Mars violates basic thermo.

I don't know what's more fun: discussing what's wrong with the windmill scheme in Red Mars or what's wrong with the schemes used in Schoeder's Permanence and Asher's Line of Polity where passive systems of reflection are used to heat up a target above the temperature of the luminary source. I do know which of the two I am likely to be able to indulge in the near future.
51. James Davis Nicoll
Schoeder should be Schroeder.
52. Melissa Cox
1991 was the year I graduated from high school, but it was my eighth year of working my way through the science fiction and fantasy sections of the bookstore and library in great swaths. Oddly, though, I read very few of the 1991 ballot novels at that time. I had an Asimov's subscription from sixth grade through late college, so I did read a lot of the nominated short fiction, but not much of it has stuck with me beyond the titles and a memory of reading the stories.

One of only two novels mentioned in the article that I read close to publication was Tigana, and it affected me and my reading tastes in ways I'm only realizing now. My enjoyment of deLint, McKillip, Kushner, Windling, and many other mythic fiction writers owes at least a nod to Tigana and it certainly made me think about how history and public perception can be manufactured, manipulated, and repressed (all of that in a beautifully written, lush story). It's been years since I re-read the book....I think I need to go box diving for my hardback (bought with babysitting money!). Sword and Sorceress and such, but I didn't read his collections or novels until about 1993. I read Thomas the Rhymer around 1995.]

I encountered Good Omens in late 1991 when a college friend forced me to borrow the comic book club's copy and read it (same friend introduced me to Sandman). I later found a hardback in a shop when visiting England on a 1994 college trip, and it is still my go-to "cheer me up" book when I'm having a rough patch. Yes, a cheerful book about averting Apocalypse. I also have owned various $1 used book store pb copies to give away to friends.

I'm always amazed at how persistently some books can stick with you, and how finding other people similarly affected gives you an instant bond. I imagine that I'm stating the obvious to this crowd.
Evan Langlinais
54. Skwid
Redshift Rendezvous is a moderately fun whodunnit/thriller stuffed on top of a really, really great physics thought experiment. Stith wanted to really show people what relativistic effects might look like if they were perceptible in human frames of reference, so he had his hyperspace ships magnify relativistic effects. So you get fun stuff like visible red-shift/blue-shift on moving objects, toenails that grow much slower than fingernails, light out of a flashlight/torch that falls like water out of a garden hose. I can't really recommend it as an inspiring story (and was frankly surprised to find out just now that it was nominated), but it's absolutely an inspired idea, and a fun read.
55. Bruce A.
John Stith and I were both in an online screenwriting group in the early 90's, and we met at conventions a few times. Nice guy, interesting writer. Googling, I find his "Naught For Hire" stories are being developed as a possible Web series for Ben Browder. Good for him.
Rich Horton
56. ecbatan
I remember the alien race with a name like "Stith", only they weren't really aliens, just radically altered humans: the Styth, from Cecelia Holland's excellent novel Floating Worlds. (The Styth were adapted to live in the Outer Planets.)

Given when Floating Worlds was written (mid '70s) I guess the name wasn't a Tuckerization of John Stith.

Oh, and yes of course the windmill scheme in Red Mars is dumb, dumb, dumb. But it's not that critical to the novel.

Rich Horton
57. mike shupp
James Davis Nicoll@41. Yes.
58. James Davis Nicoll
59. James Davis Nicoll
Oh, and yes of course the windmill scheme in Red Mars is dumb, dumb, dumb. But it's not that critical to the novel.

Except to undermine any faith the reader might have the author actually gets the stuff he's writing about so authoritatively. It's like reading a book about WWII where the author goes on about civilian massacres at Iwo Jima; you knwo immediately they didn't do their homework.
Kevin Maroney
60. womzilla
James @59--No, it just means you know they didn't do *all* their homework.
61. Scotoma
Not trolling, a honest question James. Is it possible, with this attention to details, to really enjoy much of the science fiction you read?
62. James Davis Nicoll
Absolutely. For example I don't have any problem with A Certain Scientific Railgun despite it being, as one person put it, about the struggle between magic and technobabble because it's not attempting to claim it has any verisimitude.

What drives me up the wall are easily avoided idiocies like space stations drawing air from the upper atmosphere with long hoses, violations of basic thermo, plots that depend on the near stars remaining fixed with respect to each other for billions of years, books that require 1 to equal 2; very basic stuff. Oh, and authors who borrow other people's set pieces without thinking about them.

1: On the other hand, a little Kuroko Shirai in proximity to Mikota goes a very long way.
63. James Davis Nicoll
the struggle between magic and technobabble

I should have said A Certain Magical Index . Railgun is more about why it's a good idea to run research ideas past an ethics committee of some sort and why it's a bad idea to be roomies with your stalker.
64. James Davis Nicoll
James @59--No, it just means you know they didn't do *all* their homework.


1: OK, possibly Thomas Gold might.
Kevin Maroney
65. womzilla
Not everyone knows basic thermo, James. Nor is everyone immune to making mistakes.

No author knows everything.(1) And no author knows as much about everything as his entire potential audience does. (2)

(1) Well, Gene Wolfe might.
(2) Not even Gene Wolfe.(3)
(3) Now you've got me doing it.
66. Gerry__Quinn
Gene Wolfe can quite happily ignore basic physics when it suits him. In 'Urth of the New Sun' he has a ship accelerate past light speed by tacking across the photon wind! I'm sure he was well aware that this doesn't work, especially in a story in which other phenomena depend on special relativity. But it's a cool idea.
67. James Davis Nicoll
(Do I actually enjoy SF, revisited)

35 pages in, I'm enjoying Outies (the sequel to Mote in God's Eye) a lot more than one would expect if one described it as a sequel to a famous book written two generations later by the child of one of the original authors. In fact, one might go so far as to say "it's the sequel The Gripping Hand should have been but wasn't."
68. Petar Belic
Tehanu was extraordinarily disappointing. I was really looking forward to it and when I read it, I realised I didn't like LeGuin as an author anymore. Earth by Brin was great fun, not sure why you'd class it as a 'failure'. In fact several predictions have already started coming true...
jon meltzer
69. jmeltzer
The first part of "Vor Game" is very good indeed, but the book as a whole reads like a fixup ... I wasn't convinced by the villain of part 1's coincidental appearance about two thirds of the way in, and the middle section drags a bit. I did like Cavilo, though ... isn't it about time she showed up in another Miles novel?

So, best of the year? Not this time for Lois.

Next year, though ...
Ken Papai
70. kpapai
I think Simmons' Hyperion 4-volume set is superb. I've turned many people on to them and they've been a huge hit, including some who reread in their entireity. I love them and I can never forget them and how powerful they still are -- all four!
71. Alan Heuer
Here is how I voted in 1991:

Best Novel
1. The Fall of Hyperion Dan Simmons
2. The Vor Game Lois McMaster Bujold
3. Queen of Angels Greg Bear
4. The Quiet Pools Michael Kube-McDowell
5. Earth David Brin

Best Novella
1. "The Hemingway Hoax" Joe Haldeman
2. "Bones" Pat Murphy
3. "A Short, Sharp Shock" Kim Stanley Robinson
4. "Bully!" Mike Resnick
5. "Fool to Believe" Pat Cadigan

Best Novelette
1. "The Coon Rolled Down and Ruptured His Larinks, a Squeezed Novel by Mr. Skunk" Daffyd ab Hugh
2. "A Braver Thing" Charles Sheffield
3. "Over the Long Haul" Martha Soukup
4. "The Manamouki" Mike Resnick
5. "Tower of Babylon" Ted Chiang

Best Short Story
1. "The Utility Man" Robert Reed
2. "VRM-547" W.R. Thompson
3. "Cibola" Connie Willis
4. "Bears Discover Fire" Terry Bisson
5. "Godspeed" Charles Sheffield
72. NullNix
James Nicoll@8, it's a year later and you won't spot this, but: the SSC and evil insect creatures from an alternate bubble subuniverse (another universe within a Type I multiverse, to be specific). Also interesting genetic tricks and, well, there aren't many books that can use the line (rot13ed)

"Gurer jnf n oyvaqvat oyhr-terra synfu, naq gur havirefr raqrq."

Perhaps uniquely in SF, this cataclysm, the means by which the protagonists both trigger and escape it, and the reason it works, are all described by the implications of Cramer's own (pre-existing) transactional interpretation of quantum mechanics, which while controversial is not laughed at in the field (it is a valid interpretation, if not widely followed). So the whole book could be considered a rather engaging introduction to the transactional interpretation!
73. James Davis Nicoll
James Nicoll@8, it's a year later and you won't spot this


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