Revisiting the Hugos

Hugo Nominees: 1977

The 1977 Hugos were awarded at SunCon in Miami Beach, Florida. The best novel Hugo was won by Kate Wilhelm’s Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. It’s great to see another win for a woman, making three so far. It’s an odd elegaic book about cloning and the end of humanity. I’ve read it, but not for a long time. I can remember the tone and the characters much better than the plot. It also won the Locus Award and took third place in the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. It’s in print in the U.K. in the Gollancz Masterworks list and in the U.S. in the Orb line, and it’s in the Grande Bibliotheque (hereafter “the library”) in English and French. This meets my standards for having lasted, but it seems to me nevertheless that this is a little-read and little-discussed book.

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

Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune is the third in the Dune series. I said in my post about Dune (post) that each sequel is half as good as the one before, and I stand by that, though some people think that this is better than book two, Dune Messiah. It’s in print, and in the library in both languages. The Dune sequels and the later prequels by other hands are popular and continue to sell, but not to me.

Frederik Pohl’s Man Plus is a classic. It won the Nebula, and took second place in the John W. Campbell Award. It thoroughly deserves its place on this Hugo list. It’s about changing a man to survive on Mars instead of transforming the planet. It’s an up close personal story about becoming a cyborg, but that’s just where it starts. This is one of Pohl’s best books. It’s in print and it’s in the library in English only.

Joe Haldeman’s Mindbridge has colonization of other planets, aliens and telepathy. I was disappointed in it after The Forever War (post). It’s not in print and it’s in the library in French only.

Shadrach in the Furnace is another excellent science fiction vision from Robert Silverberg—he really was producing at least one amazing book every year. This one is about the overstimulated future in which the dictator of the world is seeking to extend his life in a new body, and the present owner of the new body in question has his own opinions about this. It’s in print and it’s in the library in both languages.

So this is a pretty good set of books. I think the Herbert is a weak spot, but overall, these are good nominees and a good snapshot of what people were writing at the time.

What else could they have chosen?

Eligible and non-overlapping Nebula nominees were Marta Randall’s Islands, and Samuel Delany’s Triton (post) one of my favourite books of all time and which I think should definitely have been on the Hugo list.

The World Fantasy Award has no overlap with either list. It was won by William Kotzwinkle’s Doctor Rat. Other nominees were John Steinbeck’s The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, Karl Edward Wagner’s Dark Crusade, Ramsay Campbell’s The Doll Who Ate His Mother, Gordon R. Dickson’s The Dragon and the George and Michael Moorcock’s The Sailor on the Seas of Fate.

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award was won by Kingsley Amis’s alternate history The Alteration.

Other non-overlapping nominees for the Locus Award were Larry Niven’s A World Out of Time, Arthur C. Clarke’s Imperial Earth (post), Ben Bova’s Millennium, probably Bova’s best book and certainly my favourite of his, Roger Zelazny’s The Hand of Oberon, C.J. Cherryh’s Brothers of Earth, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Shattered Chain (post), Jack Vance’s Maske: Thaery, Algis Budrys’s Michaelmas, Kate Wilhelm’s The Clewiston Test, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong, Pamela Sargent’s Cloned Lives, Michael Moorcock’s The End of All Songs, Cecelia Holland’s Floating Worlds and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s The Time of the Fourth Horseman.

The BSFA Award went to Michael Coney’s Brontomek, which somebody should reprint with Syzygy, to which it is a sequel. The two of them would be the size of one modern book.

So, is there anything notable all of these missed? Yes, lots. Using the ISFDB again, I find M.J. Engh’s Arslan, Dick and Zelazny’s Deus Irae, Tanith Lee’s Don’t Bite the Sun (post), C.J. Cherryh’s Gate of Ivrel, the first of the Morgaine books (post), Peter Dickinson’s King and Joker (post) and The Blue Hawk, Octavia Butler’s Patternmaster (post), Spider Robinson’s Telempath, and Ira Levin’s The Boys From Brazil.

Overall this year this wouldn’t have been my ideal list from what’s available, but it’s pretty good.

Other Categories.


  • “By Any Other Name,” Spider Robinson (Analog Nov 1976)
  • “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?,” James Tiptree, Jr. (Aurora: Beyond Equality)
  • “Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” Richard Cowper (F&SF Mar 1976)
  • “The Samurai and the Willows,” Michael Bishop (F&SF Feb 1976)

I don’t know the Bishop, but those are three terrific novelllas. I’d have voted for the Tiptree.


  • “The Bicentennial Man,” Isaac Asimov (Stellar #2)
  • “The Diary of the Rose,” Ursula K. Le Guin (Future Power)
  • “Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance,” John Varley (Galaxy Jul 1976)
  • “The Phantom of Kansas,” John Varley (Galaxy Feb 1976)

Gosh, how on Earth (or any other planet) could Asimov have won? All three of the others are better stories. This is inexplicable. Had they read the Varleys? Had they read the Le Guin? I think I’d have voted for “Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance,” but however, I’d have put the Asimov last.


  • “Tricentennial,” Joe Haldeman (Analog Jul 1976)
  • “A Crowd of Shadows,” Charles L. Grant (F&SF Jun 1976)
  • “Custom Fitting,” James White (Stellar #2)
  • “I See You,” Damon Knight (F&SF Nov 1976)

Oddly enough, in a year where I know nearly all the other short fiction, I don’t remember any of these.


  • no award
  • Carrie
  • Futureworld
  • Logan’s Run
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth

Yes! We could still do this. We could do this this year….


  • Ben Bova
  • Jim Baen
  • Terry Carr
  • Edward L. Ferman
  • Ted White


  • Rick Sternbach
  • George Barr
  • Vincent Di Fate
  • Steve Fabian


  • Science Fiction Review, Richard E. Geis
  • Locus, Charles Brown & Dena Brown
  • Mythologies, Don D’Ammassa
  • Outworlds, Bill Bowers
  • The Spanish Inquisition, Suzanne Tompkins & Jerry Kaufman

Bites tongue on obvious joke.


  • Richard E. Geis
  • Susan Wood
  • Don D’Ammassa
  • Mike Glicksohn
  • Don C. Thompson


  • Phil Foglio
  • Grant Canfield
  • Tim Kirk
  • Bill Rotsler
  • Jim Shull


  • C.J. Cherryh
  • Jack L. Chalker
  • M. A. Foster
  • Carter Scholz

Well, not much doubt that they made the right call there—Cherryh has gone on to win Hugos and to have a long distinguished career, with two whole shelves on my bookshelf and getting into a third with the publication of the new Atevi book in a few weeks. First female winner of the Campbell, too. Chalker was also a major writer. Foster I like a great deal, he produced seven novels and a collection and seemed to just stop writing sometime in the eighties. People are still asking about him and his two trilogies were recently reprinted, so I think he was a good nominee. I’m not familiar with Scholz, but he had a Hugo and Nebula nominated novelette in 1978 and has continued to publish short work, some of it in collaboration with Jonathan Lethem.

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.


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