[September 6, 1961] The 1961 Hugos!

by Gideon Marcus

It’s that time of the year, again, when hundreds of sf fans (or ‘fen’) converge from around the world.  Their goal is not just to converse upon matters science and fictiony, but to determine the genre’s brightest stars.  Yes, it’s Hugo time!

This year, some three hundred fen gathered in Seattle Hyatt House Hotel for the 19th Annual WorldCon (appropriately dubbed “SeaCon” this year) over Labor Day weekend.  Wally Weber organized the shindig, and the silver/acid-tongued Harlan Ellison served as Toastmaster.  It’s a convention I should have, by all rights, been able to have attended given my frequent travels to that jewel city of the Northwest.  A family wedding got in the way, however, so details of this, the year’s most important sf fan event, had to be gotten second-hand.  Luckily, I got them via phone and some photos via ‘fax for you all to enjoy!

Sam Moskowitz on the far left, Alan Nourse’s back to us, then Poul Anderson; I can make out Robert Heinlein and Doc Smith in the back in profile; the fellow with the striped shirt is fan Ed Wood (not the director)

The guest of honor was the great Robert Heinlein, who gave a doom n’ gloom speech about how he thought a good third of the population would soon be dead from wars and survivalist raids (or perhaps from boredom trying to get through his latest book). 

all pictures from fanac

As usual, there was a Masquerade Ball, with attendees sporting outlandish, sf-themed costumes:

Stu Hoffman and Sylvia Dees

Joni Cornell, Superfan Forrest Ackerman, and a fan I don’t recognize

Ellie Turner and Karen Anderson

Bill Warren as The Invisible Man

There was a Dealer’s Hall where hucksters, amateur and professional, sold their wares.  There was also an art show with some lovely pieces on display.

But most importantly, for the purposes of this article, at least, the attendees of SeaCon exercised their solemn right to choose the best genre titles for the year 1960.  Let’s look at what they decided and how their choices compare to the ones I gave at the end of last year.

Best Novel

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller [J. B. Lippincott, 1959]


The High Crusade by Poul Anderson [Astounding Jul,Aug,Sep 1960]

Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys [F&SF Dec 1960]

Deathworld by Harry Harrison [Astounding Jan,Feb,Mar 1960]

Venus Plus X by Theodore Sturgeon [Pyramid, 1960]

My three favorites made the list, as well as Sturgeon’s book (which, if not amazing, was certainly innovative) and Budrys’ short novel, first published in F&SF.  Apparently, a number of fans felt it should have won the prize.  I, personally, found it to be the one entry that didn’t deserve to be here.

Short Fiction

The Longest Voyage by Poul Anderson [Analog Dec 1960]


The Lost Kafoozalum by Pauline Ashwell [Analog Oct 1960]

Open to Me, My Sister by Philip José Farmer [F&SF May 1960]

Need by Theodore Sturgeon [Beyond, 1960]

Poul Anderson and his Hugo

Of course, my presentation is a bit different – I break down my short fiction into smaller categories.  Anderson’s story wasn’t a finalist in my novella category, but I did give it four stars.  I’m very glad to see that the Ashwell (which was a finalist for a Galactic Star) was in close contention for the Hugo.  I hated the Farmer (though, I suppose, that’s a matter of taste), and I never read the Sturgeon.  I wasn’t aware that Beyond was back in print; it died back in 1955.

Best Dramatic Presentation

The Twilight Zone (TV series) by Rod Serling [CBS]


Village of the Damned [MGM] Directed by Wolf Rilla; Written by Stirling Silliphant and Wolf Rilla and Ronald Kinnoch

The Time Machine [Galaxy Films/MGM] Directed by George Pal; Screenplay by David Duncan; based on the novel by H. G. Wells

Once again, The Twilight Zone gets the prize.  I would have given it to George Pal’s film, though to be fair, I haven’t seen Village.

Best Professional Magazine

Astounding Science Fiction ed. by John W. Campbell, Jr.


Amazing Science Fiction Stories ed. by Cele Goldsmith

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction ed. by Robert P. Mills

I suppose this isn’t too surprising.  While I feel F&SF was better than Analog last year, the difference was not tremendous.  As for Amazing, well, I’m not qualified to judge.  It’s not currently among my subscriptions.

Best Professional Artist

Ed Emshwiller


Virgil Finlay

Frank Kelly Freas

Mel Hunter

(This is virtually the same list as last year!)

Best Fanzine

Who Killed Science Fiction? a one shot edited by Earl Kemp got the Hugo this year.  The rules were promptly changed so that, in the future, one-shots won’t be eligible.


Discord ed. by Redd Boggs

Fanac ed. by Terry Carr and Ron Ellik

Yandro ed. by Robert Coulson and Juanita Coulson

Habakkuk ed. by Bill Donaho

Shangri L’Affaires ed. by Bjo Trimble and John Trimble

As usual, I don’t read the ‘zines (who has time), but I do tip my hat to the Trimbles, whom I met at a convention earlier this year, and who are the nicest people. 

Of course, I’m always hopeful that my ‘zine will someday win a Hugo.  Perhaps next year, with your help, it shall!

17 thoughts on “[September 6, 1961] The 1961 Hugos!”

  1. A couple of corrections:

    “Rogue Moon” was by Algis Budrys.  (You must have been thinking of the same initials backwards!) (Poor Budrys not only has his name spelled incorrectly all the time, but a lot of people refer to his latest novel as “Rouge Moon.”)

    “Beyond” isn’t the old magazine, but a collection by Sturgeon.  “Need” is original to the collection.  I have it on my pile of stuff to be read.  (To be nominated from a collection rather than from a magazine is notable.)

    The awards, in general, please me.  I can’t argue with “A Canticle for Leibowitz.”  I might give second place to “Venus Plus X” for its daring.

    I didn’t have a strong favorite for short fiction.  I’ll have to let you know if “Need” is outstanding.

    All the Dramatic Presentation nominees are worthy.  “Village of the Damned” is quite good, if it shows up in your area sometime soon.

    Cele Goldsmith has dragged “Amazing” and “Fantastic” out of the doldrums.  Maybe “most improved” would be a better way to put it.  (I can’t recall another female editor at the helm of any of the prozines.  Somebody will correct me if I’m wrong.) “F&SF” is more to my taste than “Analog,” for whatever that’s worth.

    I can’t argue with the list of great artists, and I’m not familiar with the fanzines.

  2. I liked “Deathworld” and “The High Crusade” a lot… but while they entertaining, I think they’re a bit lightweight.

    “Venus Plus X”… I found that one impenetrable, and after bouncing off it a few times, I gave up.

    The bookstore didn’t manage to get a copy of “Rogue Moon” in for me to read in time to make a choice.  (It’s still back ordered, for that matter…)

    Which brings us to “A Canticle for Leibowitz,” which I found to be downbeat, if not outright depressing.  I’d also argue that it doesn’t rightly belong in the “novel” class at all; it’s essentially a collection of linked short stories or novellas.  I disliked it intensely.  But apparently a lot of someones disagreed with me.  And they’re all wrong, WRONG I TELL YOU!!!

    I would have picked the Anderson story.  Lightweight, but at least it was fun.  My copy will stay on the shelf to be read again later.

    The Harrison story was interesting, but it felt a bit preachy and… maybe not “incomplete”, but it feels a lot like a longer story that was chopped down to some arbitrary size.  It’ll go into the trade stack.

    1. It’s all right, TRX.  We allow everyone to send letters, even those who are so critically wrong.

      If it’s any consolation, I suspect everyone will like Heinlein’s new book more than I did.

  3. I’m so sorry you missed this big con, and hope the wedding made up for it. Thanks for sharing the photos. The top one, with all those biggies in one shot, will be a classic into the next century.

    Myself, I don’t think the Anderson is that light. There’s a lot of solid muscle under the glossy coat. More, frankly, than in some of those called thought provoking. (Though I do think Lady Catherine rather a loss.)

    Also, thanks for telling us the winners.

    1. My pleasure.  The wedding was, indeed, worth it.  And my wife just finished the Anderson and enjoyed it quite a lot.  It may seem frothy, but it’s actually a story that requires a great deal of skill to pull off.

  4. Nothing egregiously wrong with any of the winners. Some people might not have liked Canticle, but I think even TRX would agree it’s not utterly out of place like, say, They’d Rather Be Right.

    What bothers me is that they’ve crammed all the short fiction into a single category. In the past, they’ve broken that up into novelette and short story. Not always (one year they even lumped novelettes and novels together), but often enough. Short fiction does different things depending on its length. A novelette gives an author room to stretch a little, while significantly shorter pieces call for smaller, tighter stories. It’s really apples and oranges. I hope in future they break it up into two or three categories. The way it is now probably favors longer works.

    Much the same could be said of the Dramatic Presentation category. Movies and TV shows do different things. Let’s treat them differently.

    1. Science fiction novels seem to average quite a bit shorter than mainstream literature.  Westerns seem to average a bit shorter than SF.

      If there’s any clear distinction between “novel” and “novella” I’m not aware of it… and if there is one, it probably varies by genre.

      Andre Norton’s “The Sioux Spaceman” came out last year as a novel, and it was only 133 pages.  It’s an awfully thin book, even as half of an Ace Double.

      I suspect the difference between a novel, novella, and short story is flexible based on what is nominated in any particular year.

  5. You may want to consider reading “Who Killed Science Fiction”. The underlying dissatisfaction which you seem to feel with a lot of the magazines and stories is expressed by the writers and editors themselves in this one-off. It’s a kind of colloquium in which dozens of the leading sf writers and a few prominent fanzine writers express their feelings about the direction science fiction has taken over the last few years and its commercial possibilities. Besides the shrinking of the magazine market, many of them feel that somehow something has gone wrong, that sf is in the doldrums and has become tired, repetitive, uniminaginative.

    But who knows, maybe a group of new writers will present themselves in a couple of years to revitalise the field.

    You can read “Who Killed Science Fiction?” online at:


    1. Thanks for distributing the ‘zine to us!  That’s most instructive.

      I see science fiction evolving.  Like music, it has to go through painful transitional periods as it finds its feet.  Some fans will be left behind in the process.

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