Carson of Venus (1938) by Edgar Rice Burroughs


This barely happens.

Carson is an all-around swell guy. Muscular, with sharp reflexes, he can win any fight. With a good head on his shoulders, he can wheedle his way out of a trap with calm, cool logic. His affability charms even his enemies. His good heart and moral code guide him to make the right decisions. Upright, confident, and in control, Carson has no powers in the superhero sense, but his personal advantages bring him near the pinnacle of invincibility– and when those fail him, he taps his endless supply of cosmic luck. Continue reading

Let’s Go to the Hugos: 1994!

The 2014 Hugo Awards ceremony is today, August 17th at LonCon3! As we count down to the big moment, let’s review the best novel nominees from previous decades.

Next up: 20 years ago! (See my previous posts on 195419641974, 1984 & 2004.)


1994 Winner

1994 was a good year. The U.S. enjoyed an economic boom, gas was 99 cents per gallon, and Kim Stanley Robinson won the Hugo Best Novel Award for Green Mars!




The other nominees weren’t bad, either:







Of all the Hugo years ending in -4, ’94 is my favorite year. Although they are of different styles and scopes, I enjoyed all of the nominees. Here are my rankings:

#5. Moving Mars by Greg Bear

This story about a political revolt by colonists on Mars, resulting in the physical relocation of the planet by quantum computer modifications, is the simplest tale of the bunch. Bear’s attention to his protagonist’s political career isn’t as shallow as one might expect, and the SF elements aren’t too generic to dismiss offhand, but the ultimate titular plot point relies on too much computer hocus-pocus to satisfy hard SF readers. Some might call this the layman’s version of the Mars trilogy (see below). Some might just call it lame.

#4. Glory Season by David Brin

Brin won the Hugo for Startide Rising just ten years earlier, and he returns with another strong novel about a planet ruled by fascist feminism. Amazingly thorough, Brin’s world serves as a cautionary tale for restrictive societies that will eventually turn on themselves, while it serves as an elegant allegory for our own world’s insidious misogyny. Perfect for teen readers, especially young men.

#3. Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress

Kress expanded her Hugo-winning novelette about genetically-modified humans who never need sleep. It turns out, never sleeping can result in greater productivity and intelligence, which might threaten all of the non-modified normals who resort to prejudice and mob violence. Part philosophical treatise, this novel alternately feels like a rebuttal to and a supporter of Randian libertarianism, which allows the reader to draw their own conclusions. Also, this novel has nothing to do with Spain.

#2. Virtual Light by William Gibson

Nearly ten years after Gibson blew minds with Neuromancerhe polished his style and released this cyber-light crime drama. The characterization and dialogue are brilliant and funny, and Gibson’s famous oracular skills prove accurate once again with his protagonist’s asides about reality T.V. I loved this book, and it would have been my top choice, if only it wasn’t competing against…

#1. Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

The second installment of this massive trilogy is considered the best of the three (although I lean toward Blue Mars). The colony on Mars is essentially established, and now the scientists get to work designing a Martian atmosphere and government, and, incidentally, a unique Martian culture. Although the colonists get crazier with their passions and neuroses (sometimes the same thing), they become a bit more human than they were in Red Mars. It’s a masterpiece, but some readers might get bogged down in the thoroughness of it all.



Let’s Go To the Hugos: 1984!

The 2014 Hugo Awards ceremony is this Sunday, August 17th at LonCon3. As we count down to the big day, let’s review the best novel nominees from previous decades.

Next up: 30 years ago! (See my previous posts on 195419641974, & 2004.)


1984 Hugo Winner

1984 brought us crack-cocaine, minivans, and the discovery of the AIDS virus. Kathryn Sullivan became the first woman to walk in space, Apple’s Mac PC was released to the technomasses, while The Karate Kid, Sixteen Candles, The Terminator, Ghostbusters, The NeverEnding Story, and This is Spinal Tap! transformed 80’s pop culture.

And David Brin’s Startide Rising won the 1984 Hugo Award for Best Novel! Continue reading

1939 Retro Hugo Awards Announced!









Today at LonCon3 the winners of the 1939 Retro Hugo Awards were announced. See the full list here. Mary Robinette Kowal (Shades of Milk and Honey, 2010) and Rob Shearman (Doctor Who) hosted the event, which looked dazzling on, even though none of us viewers could really hear what was going on. I would normally comment on the clever things people said and did, but because I couldn’t hear anything, I’m going to take the vain route and say that Mary looked gorgeous and I want her dress.

The winners [my comments in green]: Continue reading

Let’s Go to the Hugos: 1954!

The 1939 Retro Hugo Awards ceremony is this Thursday, August 14th at LonCon3. As we count down to the big day, let’s review the last group of Retro Hugo Best Novel nominees.

Next up: 60 years ago! (See my previous posts on 19641974, and 2004.)

Fahrenheit_451_1st_ed_coverIn 2004, Hugo voters had an opportunity to vote for the Retro Hugos of 1954 because no best novel category was offered at the 1954 LonCon I Hugo Awards ceremony. (The 2014 WorldCon will host the 1939 Retro Hugos.)

In 1954, Vietnam heated up, McCarthyism peaked, and Brown v. the Board of Education abolished systematic segregation of U.S. schools. William Golding published Lord of the Flies, the first Godzilla film premiered in Japan, and Burger King opened its doors.

And Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 might have won the Hugo Award for Best Novel? Maybe? Continue reading

Let’s Go to the Hugos: 2004!

The 2014 Hugo Awards ceremony is this Sunday, August 17th at LonCon3. As we count down to the big day, let’s review the best novel nominees from previous decades.

Next up: 10 years ago! (See my previous posts on 1964 and 1974.)


2004 Winner!

2004: Not a good year. It began with promise when Opportunity knocked on Mars, and Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage, but another divisive U. S. presidential election, followed by the deadly Indian Ocean tsunami ended the year on a depressing note.

Plus, Facebook launched, making it possible for grandparents worldwide to argue with other elderly family members in a public forum. Yay for technology. Continue reading

Let’s Go to the Hugos: 1974!

The 2014 Hugo Awards ceremony is this Sunday, August 17th at LonCon3. As we count down to the big day, let’s review the best novel nominees from previous decades.

Next up: forty years ago! (See my previous post on 1964.)

rendezvouswithrama1stUK1974: Nixon resigns, “Lucy” is discovered, and the world population reaches 4 billion. Stephen King publishes Carrie, the Rubik’s Cube is invented, and Dungeons & Dragons is released.

And Arthur C. Clarke wins the Hugo Award for Best Novel for Rendezvous with Rama (1973). Continue reading