Tag Archives: worldcon

[Sep. 4, 1962] Differences of opinion (the 1962 Hugo Awards!)

[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Gideon Marcus

Once again, the best and the brightest of the fans (and many of the rest of them) congregated for the biggest SFnal shindig of the year: WorldCon.  This year, Chicago won the bid to hold this prestigious event.  The Pick-Congress Hotel saw more than 500 fen gather for a Labor Day weekend of carousing, shopping, costuming, and voting.

You see, every year these fans select the worthiest science fiction stories and outlets of the prior year to be recipients of the Hugo, a golden rocketship trophy.  It’s the closest thing one can get to a curated list of the best SF has to offer.  Winning is a tremendous honor; even getting on the nominees ballot is a laudable achievement.  In fact, we have been informed that Galactic Journey was the Nominee-Runner Up this year in the Best Fanzine category — thanks to all of you who got us to one rank below the ballot.  Perhaps next year will be the breakthrough!


The Chicon III fanquet, where the award ceremony was held

So let’s see what the fans decided was 1961’s best, and in particular, let’s compare it to my list of favorites, the ones I gave at the end of last year.

Best Novel

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein [Putnam, 1961]

Nominees

Dark Universe by Daniel F. Galouye [Bantam, 1961]
Sense of Obligation (alt: Planet of the Damned) by Harry Harrison [Analog Sep,Oct,Nov 1961]
The Fisherman (alt: Time Is the Simplest Thing) by Clifford D. Simak [Analog Apr,May,Jun,Jul 1961]
Second Ending by James White [Fantastic Jun,Jul 1961]


Robert Heinlein holding court

This line-up shouldn’t shock me, given the pre-convention buzz, and yet it does.  Stranger has gotten a lot of attention, particularly from the mainstream edges of our fandom (probably because it dares to mention sex).  It has also earned its fair share of scorn.  It’s a lousy, preachy book, but if we’re judging by the sales, then it’s won its trophy, fair and square.

Galouye’s book was my #2, so I’m glad it was recognized.  The Fisherman was quite good.  The Harrison was no great shakes, especially compared to Deathworld, which it resembled.  I suspect these two made it to the top ranks thanks to their appearing in Analog, the most popular digest.

We weren’t covering Fantastic last year.  Maybe Second Ending is excellent.  Someone tell me, please.

Short Fiction

The Hothouse series by Brian W. Aldiss [F&SF Feb,Apr,Jul,Sep,Dec 1961]

Nominees

Monument by Lloyd Biggle, Jr. [Analog Jun 1961]
Scylla’s Daughter by Fritz Leiber [Fantastic May 1961]
Status Quo by Mack Reynolds [Analog Aug 1961]
Lion Loose by James H. Schmitz [Analog Oct 1961]

Once again, Analog dominates, and once again, I cannot agree.  None of these stories won the Galactic Star last year (and that’s even with me giving out far more awards than Worldcon does).  I did give a Star to the first story in the Hothouse series, but the quality of the tales went down over the course of the publication.  I understand they were novelized early this year, so Aldiss may get another bite at the apple.  He doesn’t deserve it, though (the reviewer for UK sf digest, New Worlds, agrees with me).

As for the rest, Monument is a good story, and I haven’t read the Leiber, but the other two nominees were wretched.  And where’s Cordwainer Smith?  Zenna Henderson?  Or a host of more worthy authors?  Feh, Chicago.  Feh!

Best Dramatic Presentation

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

Nominees

Village of the Damned (1960) [MGM] Directed by Wolf Rilla; Written by Stirling Silliphant and Wolf Rilla and Ronald Kinnoch
The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (1961) [Warner Brothers] Directed by Karel Zeman; Screenplay by Frantisek Hrubin and Karel Zeman; based on the novel Face au Drapeau by Jules Verne
The Two Worlds of Charlie Gordon (U. S. Steel Hour #8.13) [CBS, 1961] Teleplay by Jame Yaffe; based on the short story Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Thriller (TV Series) [NBC, 1961]

This is interesting.  Three of the five are television shows, and while Jules Verne won a nomination, it wasn’t for any of the films I watched and nominated.  I have not seen Village, but Ashley Pollard spoke fondly of it.  Neither The Twilight Zone nor Thriller were stellar last year, but I suppose if that’s what you tune into week-after-week, you’re bound to be partial. 

I’d be keen to know how the Flowers for Algernon adaptation was.  It was based, of course, on an excellent story.

Best Professional Magazine

Analog Science Fiction and Fact ed. by John W. Campbell, Jr.

Nominees

Galaxy ed. by H. L. Gold
Amazing Science Fiction Stories ed. by Cele Goldsmith
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction ed. by Robert P. Mills and Avram Davidson
Science Fantasy ed. by John Carnell


That’s Cele Goldsmith, editor of Fantastic and Amazing, at the podium

Another set of rankings that shouldn’t surprise me — Analog has far and away the biggest circulation numbers.  That said, it was pretty lousy last year.  Of course, we weren’t covering Amazing and Fantastic, and Science Fantasy remains the last English-language magazine yet to be reviewed at the Journey. 

It seems the fandom feels Galaxy is of highly variable quality, sometimes showcasing the best stuff and sometimes the worst.  I hold an opposite opinion — for me, Galaxy is always good, but only occasionally stands out.  My feelings on F&SF are, of course, no surprise to the regular followers of my column.

Best Professional Artist

Ed Emshwiller

Nominees

Virgil Finlay
Mel Hunter
John Schoenherr
Alex Schomburg


Emsh is on the right

Kelly Freas appears to have fallen out of favor.  Emsh remains the favorite, and I can agree with that.  I think I’m going to have to start nominating my own set of artists for Galactic Stars, especially after the beautiful work Gaughan contributed for Vance’s novella, The Dragon Masters (which almost assuredly will win a Star of its own, if not a Hugo).

Best Fanzine

Warhoon ed. by Richard Bergeron

Nominees

Cry ed. by F. M. Busby, Elinor Busby and Wally Weber
Yandro ed. by Robert Coulson and Juanita Coulson
Amra ed. by George H. Scithers
Axe ed. by Larry Shaw and Noreen Shaw

Last up is the fanzines, which I don’t generally have time to read — though I did pick up the latest copy of Rhodomagnetic Digest, and I now have a subscription to Axe and Science Fiction Times.  Fill me in on what I’m missing, folks?

So there you have it.  A markedly different list from what I would have chosen, but then I suppose there is merit to having more than one curated selection at your disposal.

What choices did you make?




[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]

Nominees

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]

Nominees

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]

Nominees

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.

Nominees

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

Nominees

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.

Nominees

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!

[September 6, 1960] The 1960 WorldCon in Pittsburgh!

The Journey presents that annual assemblage of scientifiction (stf or “steff”) fans known as WorldCon!


all pictures from fanac.org

Of course, I wasn’t actually present at the con, it being held some 2500 miles away on the 17th floor of the Penn Sheraton in Pittsburgh.  But I know people, and I have access to a million-dollar ‘fax machine.  Thus, even though the custodial staff is just barely finishing its sweeping up after some 300 attendees had a roaring great time, I am already able to bring you this report:

The primary purpose for a convention is to allow fellow fen (plural of fan) to mingle.  Gordon Dickson likens it to a Gentleman’s Club where adventurers can meet and compare notes before heading off back into the wild.  Fred Pohl calls it a family gathering. 

It looks like the demographics of fandom match that of publication: women are in the distinct minority, but they are present and often outsizedly significant.

Plenty of professionals attended, too.


Avram Davidson


James Blish


Ed Emshwiller


L. Sprague DeCamp

But it’s not all about chatting up your friends.  The convention offered all sorts of activities including panels, auctions (art, manuscripts, you name it), an art show, a dealers’ hall, and a game room:

Saturday was dress-up day, with plays put on by club members and, of course, the night-time Costume Ball!

But what you’ve likely been waiting for with bated breath is the announcement of the Hugo winners.  I, too, was keenly interested to see how the tastes of the Pittcon-going fans differed from my choices for 1959’s best.  As it turned out, we weren’t too far off:

Best Novel

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein [F&SF Oct,Nov 1959; Putnam, 1959]

Nominees

Dorsai! by Gordon R. Dickson [Astounding May,Jun,Jul 1959]

The Pirates of Ersatz by Murray Leinster [Astounding Feb,Mar,Apr 1959]

That Sweet Little Old Lady by Mark Phillips (aka: Randall Garrett and Laurence M. Janifer) [Astounding Sep,Oct 1959]

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. [Dell, 1959]

I didn’t read a lot of novels in 1959, though I’d have thought Alas, Babylon would have beaten out the Astounding serials, which were 2 and 3 star stories.  I’ll let my readers tell me if the Vonnegut was any good.  I can’t argue with the winner, though.  I liked it a lot.  I understand Bob Heinlein was actually at Pittcon, which is unusual.

Short Fiction

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes [F&SF Apr 1959]

Nominees

The Alley Man by Philip José Farmer [F&SF Jun 1959]

The Pi Man by Alfred Bester [F&SF Oct 1959]

The Man Who Lost the Sea by Theodore Sturgeon [F&SF Oct 1959]

Cat and Mouse by Ralph Williams [Astounding Jun 1959]

Here, the fans and I are in virtually complete agreement.  These are all 4 and 5 star stories, and the Keyes is not only among the best, but it is the longest (the Hugos combine all stories shorter than a novel into one category, whereas I divide them more finely).  I might have excluded the Bester and the Farmer to include McIntosh and Simak, but that’s a quibble.

Best Dramatic Presentation

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

Nominees

The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959) [HarBel/MGM] Directed by Ranald MacDougall; Screenplay by Ranald MacDougall; Story by Ferdinand Reyher; based on the novel The Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel

Murder and the Android (Sunday Showcase episode #1.5)

The Turn of the Screw (1959) [NBC] Directed by John Frankenheimer; Teleplay by James Costigan; based on the novel by Henry James

Men into Space (TV series) [CBS, 1959]

This one is interesting.  I think mixing TV and movies creates too broad a category, and the result is MacDougall’s fantastic and progressive The World, the Flesh and the Devil ending up as an also-ran.  Moreover, The Twilight Zone was not even halfway through its first season by close of 1959–not that much to go on.

Still, it is a good (nay, groundbreaking) show, so I’m not complaining too much.

I haven’t seen Murder or TurnMen into Space, while laudable for its attempts to portray realistic space travel, has always been dull as dirt when I’ve tuned in. 

Best Professional Magazine

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

Nominees

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

Galaxy ed. by H. L. Gold

Amazing Science Fiction Stories ed. by Cele Goldsmith

Fantastic Universe ed. by Cele Goldsmith

They’ll be lucky if they have enough magazines to fill this category next year!  Still, they picked the right “best” even if their #2 was pretty dreadful last year.

Best Professional Artist

Ed Emshwiller

Nominees

Frank Kelly Freas

Virgil Finlay

Mel Hunter

Wally Wood

All of these names should be familiar to you, and I’m not surprised good ol’ Emsh topped the charts again.

Best Fanzine

Cry of the Nameless ed. by F. M. Busby, Elinor Busby, Burnett Toskey and Wally Weber

Nominees

Fanac ed. by Terry Carr and Ron Ellik

Yandro ed. by Robert Coulson and Juanita Coulson

JD-Argassy ed. by Lynn A. Hickman

Science Fiction Times ed. by James V. Taurasi, Sr., Ray Van Houten and Frank R. Prieto, Jr.

I should read the ‘zines, but I don’t.  Ever since Mari Wolf stopped reviewing them, I stopped being interested.  I also have a full dance card as it is.  Nevertheless, the fanzines should not be overlooked–they are a stepping stone to the major leagues, writing-wise, and they also keep the fans in touch between conventions.

So, hats off to the organizing committee for another successful WorldCon!  If you have any personal anecdotes from the convention, please drop me a line.  In the meantime, I’ll get cracking on this month’s Analog.  I’m not ashamed to confess that I emitted a little squeal of delight when I saw that Pauline Ashwell has the lead novella.

[Sep. 9, 1959] WorldCon Report! [Detention, the 17th WorldCon]

Twenty years ago, something lovely happened.  Two hundred science fiction and fantasy fans got together in New York City and had what was (I believe) the first convention of their genre: Worldcon.  It has been an annual Labor Day tradition ever since, with the exception of the war years, from 1942-45.  It travels from city to city, adopting the name of its host city for that year. 

This year, the event was held in Detroit.  It was thus aptly named "Detention."

I did not get to go, but I stood anxiously by my phone last night to get a preliminary report.  I also paid a pretty penny to have some quickly developed pictures ‘faxed to my town.  I spare no expense for my readers.

Some 370 fans were in attendance, many resplendent in fantastic costumes.  Poul Anderson was the professional guest of honor (it’s a good thing he’s written some decent stuff this year!) and John Berry was the fan guest of honor.  I don’t know who that is either.

Here’s a great shot of the banquet:


from Jeff’s Flickr account

Someone captured this lovely shot of the Emshwillers, the artist and author pair.


from fanac.org

Isaac Asimov was the toastmaster at the Detention banquet.  The good doctor has a fine wit, so the quips came fast and furiously.  I think my favorite recounted anecdote concerned science writer Willy Ley (who was in attendance, and apparently the subject of an impromptu roast).

As you may know, Willy is an expatriate of Germany, who left before the Nazis ruined everything.  He still has a thick accent, which he reportedly practices in front of a mirror so as to preserve it.  Per Asimov, someone once asked Mr. Ley if he preferred being called "Willy" or "Veelee." His reply?  "Veelee oder Veelee.  Id makez no differenz."

I understand that the pint-sized super-fan, Harlan Ellison (who has aspirations of becoming an author) attempted to woo a statuesque attendee with the line, "What would you say to a little f***?"

To which, said attendee replied, "Hello, little f***!"

I suppose they can’t all be be Randall Garrett.

Speaking of whom, Randy was Henry VIII for the masquerade this year.  That’s a nice costume–if only his writing were of the same caliber.


from fanac.org

The highlight of the convention, aside from the Masquerade, the banquet, and the debauchery, was the announcing of the Hugo winners.  For those not in the know, the Hugo are the fandom-awarded prizes for best science-fiction/fantasy stories in a number of genres.  I am only passingly familiar with many of the candidates as they were taken from 1958 publications.  Nevertheless, for your edification, here they are:

Best Novel:

A Case of Conscience by James Blish (I keep hearing good things about this one)

Runners up:

We Have Fed Our Seas by Poul Anderson (I didn’t make it through this one)
Who? by Algis Budrys
Have Spacesuit – Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein (a fine book, but not Hugo material)
Time Killer by Robert Sheckley (again, decent, but not Hugo-winning)

Best Novelette:

The Big Front Yard by Clifford D. Simak (I should remember this one–I read it, but it escapes me)

Runners up:

Unwillingly to School by Pauline Ashwell (I remember liking this one)
Captivity by Zenna Henderson (another one that left a good impression, though I don’t remember the details)
Reap the Dark Tide by C. M. Kornbluth
A Deskful of Girls by Fritz Leiber (completely forgotten, and probably a good thing)
Second Game by Katherine MacLean and Charles V. De Vet (vaguely familiar)
Rat in the Skull by Rog Phillips
The Miracle-Workers by Jack Vance (completely forgotten)

Best Short Story:

That Hell-Bound Train by Robert Bloch

Runners up:

The Men Who Murdered Mohammed by Alfred Bester
They’ve Been Working On … by Anton Lee Baker
Triggerman by J. F. Bone (a decent story)
The Edge of the Sea by Algis Budrys
The Advent on Channel Twelve by C. M. Kornbluth
Theory of Rocketry by C. M. Kornbluth
Rump-Titty-Titty-Tum-TAH-Tee by Fritz Leiber (middling)
Space to Swing a Cat by Stanley Mullen
Nine Yards of Other Cloth by Manly Wade Wellman
(I’ve read all of these but the Kornbluth, but it was before the column, so they aren’t ringing bells–I’ll do better next year, promise.)

Best SF or Fantasy Movie:

None!

Runners up:

The Fly
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
Dracula
(Not The Blob?!?)

Best Professional Magazine:

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

Runners up:

Astounding Science Fiction
New Worlds
Galaxy
IF

Best Professional Artist:

Kelly Freas

Runners up:

Ed Emshwiller
Virgil Finlay
H. R. Van Dongen
Wally Wood

Best Fanzine:

Fanac ed. by Terry Carr and Ron Ellik

Runners up:

Cry of the Nameless ed. by F. M. Busby, Elinor Busby, Burnett Toskey, and Wally Weber
Yandro ed. by Robert Coulson and Juanita Coulson
Hyphen ed. by Chuck Harris and Walt Willis
JD-Argassy ed. by Lynn A. Hickman
Science Fiction Times ed. by James V. Taurasi, Sr., Ray Van Houten, and Frank R. Prieto, Jr.

Finally–

Best New Author:

None!

Runners up:

Brian Aldiss
Paul Ash (actually Pauline Ashwell)
Rosel George Brown (my choice!)
Louis Charbonneau
Kit Reed (my #2, I think)


from Jeff’s Flickr account

Your thoughts?

P.S. Galactic Journey is now a proud member of a constellation of interesting columns.  While you’re waiting for me to publish my next article, why not give one of them a read!

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