Revisiting the Hugos

Hugo Nominees: 1958

The 1958 Hugo Awards were awarded at Solacon, South Gate (Los Angeles) and I was wrong last week, they didn’t have nominees, that’s not until next time. You can visit the Hugo Nominees index to see the years that have been covered so far.

The Best Novel Hugo was won by Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time, which was an interesting choice. It’s in print, it has a Kindle edition and an audio edition, and it’s available in my library but only in French. It’s a very short book about a time travelers war and it introduced many of the tropes of time travel. It’s a very good book, and I like it, but although it’s in print I don’t hear it talked about much, and I think Leiber isn’t such a big name as he once was. He’s now best known now for his sword and sorcery, though he was prolific and wrote in almost every sub-genre.

The Hugo was the only genre award given in 1958—in our award-filled times, it’s a little hard to imagine. It’s also hard to be sure what else the fans of 1958 might have been considering. Again using Wikipedia’s list of novels of 1957, the things I think might well have been nominated include Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Jack Vance’s Big Planet, Philip K. Dick’s The Cosmic Puppets and Eye in the Sky, Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, Arthur C. Clarke’s The Deep Range, Robert Heinlein’s The Door Into Summer (post) and Citizen of the Galaxy (post), Fred Hoyle’s The Black Cloud, Van Vogt’s The Empire of the Atom, Philip Jose Farmer’s The Green Odyssey, Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos, Nevil Shute’s On the Beach, Frederic Brown’s Rogue in Space, and Eric Frank Russell’s Wasp.

Again, I could make “Jo’s top five books of 1957” or “what I think would have been likely to be on the list” (and they’d be very different) but that’s fairly useless. I think it would be possible to make a case for any of this list as five likely nominees. Lots of these are books that are still read and widely debated—perhaps more so than The Big Time.

Other Categories

Short Story: “Or All the Seas with Oysters,” Avram Davidson (Galaxy, May 1958). Great choice, terrific classic unforgettable story. And from Galaxy. But from 1958, what’s going on here? What’s going on is that eligibility wasn’t by calendar year but from Worldcon to Worldcon, or something of the sort. They didn’t get this sorted for some time.

Outstanding Movie: The Incredible Shrinking Man.

Magazine: F&SF, Anthony Boucher. My goodness. Was Campbell surprised?

Outstanding Artist: Frank Kelly Freas… again. We’ve only had six years of Hugos, and already we’re seeing repetition.

Outstanding Actifan: Walter A. Willis. Yay! But note that this is a person award, not a fanzine award. These categories may look a lot more normal, but they are still in flux.

Next time, 1959, with actual nominees, really this time!

Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published two poetry collections and eight novels, most recently Lifelode. She has a ninth novel coming out in January, 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.


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