[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.
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein [Putnam, 1961]
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.
The Hothouse series by Brian W. Aldiss [F&SF Feb,Apr,Jul,Sep,Dec 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]
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.
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
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).
Warhoon ed. by Richard Bergeron
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?