Science fiction is a genre with a unique dangerobsolescence. As advances in technology and our understanding of the universe change, this can create problems for stories later on. (For example, Asimov’s great short story “The Dying Night,” which relies on a particular understanding of the motion of the planet Mercuryone which we now know is incorrect.) It can become difficult for authors to maintain that sense of far future advances in science and technology, or even astrological conventions (for example, anything referring to Pluto as a planetlike Roger Macbride Allen’s Ring of Charon). While we aren’t yet up to the level of the Star Trek warp drive, the PADD system isn’t all that different from currently available cell phones. In fact, with new applications such as the location-aware browser Layar, it’s becoming more and more tricorder-like. Over 50 years of Hugo awards have come and gone, with major changes to the genre. With voting for the current round having recently completed, it seemed a fitting time to to take a glance back at the historical winners, and see how they have held up.
Fittingly enough, Allamagoosa is timeless, and should be as entertaining to today’s office worker as it was to kids in the 1950s when the story first appeared in Astounding Science Fiction over fifty years ago.