The chill of winter is finally here, heralding the end of a year. It’s time for eggnog, nutmeg, presents, pies, and family. But more importantly, it’s time for the second annual Galactic Stars awards.
Forget the Hugos–here’s what I liked best in 1960.
In a tradition I began last year, I look back at all fiction that debuted in magazines (at least, The Big Four) with a cover date of this year as well as all of the science fiction books published. Then I break down the fiction by length, choose the best by magazine, and finally the best overall. All using the most modern and sophisticated scientific techniques, of course.
Last year, my choices mirrored those chosen at the Labor Day Worldcon for the Hugo awards. We’ll see if my tastes continue to flow in the mainstream. I break my length categories a bit finer than the Hugos, so there are bound to be some differences from that aspect, alone.
(stories within the category are ordered best to least)
Best Vignette (1-9 pages):
A Day in the Suburbs, by Evelyn Smith (F&SF)
Words and Music, Arthur Porges (IF)
The Barrier Moment, Poul Anderson (Analog)
Best Short Story (10-19 pages):
From Shadowed Places, Richard Matheson (Combat Unit, Keith Laumer, runner-up) (F&SF)
Something Bright, Zenna Henderson (Galaxy)
Gun for Hire, Mack Reynolds (Analog)
Best Novelette (20-45 pages)
Immortality for Some, J. T. McIntosh (Analog)
Meeting of the Minds, Robert Sheckley (Galaxy)
All the Traps of Earth, Clifford Simak (F&SF)
Best Novella (46+ pages)
To the Tombaugh Station, Wilson Tucker (F&SF)
The Lost Kafoozalum, Pauline Ashwell (Analog)
(none in Galaxy/IF)
A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller (1st Place)
Deathworld, Harry Harrison (2nd Place)
The High Crusade, Poul Anderson (3rd Place)
Element of Perfection, Isaac Asimov (F&SF)
F&SF and Analog competed for the top of their categories, with Galaxy/IF not winning a single one. This carried over into the novels, with Canticle originally appearing in F&SF, and Deathworld and Crusade both Analog stories.
This is consistent with the overall magazine rankings…
Fantasy and Science Fiction (3.17 stars)
Analog (2.92 stars)
Galaxy/IF (2.75 stars)
…particularly when you understand that Analog’s rating is encumbered by John Campbell’s wretched “science” articles.
All in all, there were fewer stand-out (5-star) stories in 1960. On the other hand, women wrote three of the fourteen fiction winners, a proportion larger than their representation by a factor of two.
I think the answer is clear—if we want better fiction, we need more women writing it!
Finally, adding a new category to accommodate the large and small screen:
Best Dramatic Presentation
The Time Machine, George Pal
with a special nod to…
The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling (the 1st Season)
As always, tell me your favorites for 1960. Here’s hoping for an excellent 1961 in science fiction/fantasy!