Back to the Hugos: 1966

It’s Hugo Week! And I’m just not that into it! So you know what that means… it’s time to go… Back to the Hugos!

Hugo Year: 1966

Fifty years ago: Muhammad Ali defied the draft, Indira Gandhi headed India, and the Miranda Rights were born (remember those?).

Meanwhile, Isaac Asimov announced a tie at Tricon in Cleveland when Hugo voters couldn’t decide between an ecological sand opera and a jaded god. (Also notable: A little story called “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” won the Hugo for Best Short Fiction. As much as I complain about Harlan Ellison, I do adore this story.)

The list:

Screenshot 2016-08-13 at 8.26.51 PM

A tie! THE WINNERS: DUNE by Frank Herbert & THIS IMMORTAL by Roger Zelazny! Followed by THE SQUARES OF THE CITY by John Brunner, THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS by Robert Heinlein, and SKYLARK DUQUESNE by EE Smith.

My own time traveling ballot:

Screenshot 2016-08-13 at 8.27.20 PM

Links to my reviews:

This Immortal (…And Call me Conrad) by Roger Zelazny – I suspect most sixties guys enjoyed Zelazny because he made them feel smart and cool, but his words are a bit dated today. Still, there is something appealing about his Holden Caulfield-esque, DGAF voice that’s ideal for this long-lived demigod who’s seen and done it all, yet still has to deal with all kinds of tiresome crap, including ex-girlfriends, a modern post-apocalypse, and shady real estate deals with those pesky Vegans.

The Squares of the City by John Brunner – A small, unnamed South American nation recruits an American city planner to help with their traffic problem who soon discovers that the city’s obsession with chess is more than just a game. I like Brunner’s work, I like his politics, and I like the interesting way he approaches culture and gender. A more straightforward novel than his more popular and incendiary Stand on Zanzibar, some readers might find it boring, but I found it thoroughly intriguing.

Dune by Frank Herbert – But then there are other novels about political maneuvering based on egoism and sexism that I have little patience for. But it’s, like, everybody’s favorite, you know.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert H. Heinlein – see above (oh, don’t worry Heinlein fans. Heinlein favoritism rules the Hugos, so this book will somehow get a second chance and a total win in ’67.)

Skylark Duquesne by E. E. Smith – Two rival inventors have to team up to stop an imperialistic alien race and ultimately decide to blow up an entire galaxy in order to get rid of them. Based on the writing style and pulpy aesthetics, this would be better suited for the bottom of a 1930’s ballot, but alas, the Hugos weren’t around yet and neither was this puerile book.


For a better alternate list of titles, check out SFWA’s long list of Nebula nominees from the same year.


That’s it for Back to the Hugos: 1966! Next up… 1976!

14 thoughts on “Back to the Hugos: 1966

  1. Of these,I’ve only read “This Immortal” and “Dune”.I much preferred the first book,which I found eminently readable,even though it’s brilliant effects I having found lasting.Overall,I think it was a bit thin,but the other one,like the journey the characters have to make across the desert,I found it to be tedious and became lost in the plot!

    It also won a Nebula.Now an article about these from the same year would be interesting.


    • Comparing to the Nebulas was the plan this year, but I got distracted by this year’s Clarke list (a mistake) and a few other things. Hoping to make room for some of the ’66 & ’76 Nebs this fall.


      • I looked at your link.I’m a bit appalled I’ve only read four of them.There’s “Good old” “Dune” of course[it must have had something going for it to appeal to the makers of both awards!It
        was too long though and just went on and on].”A Plague of Demons” was below average I thought,so don’t know how it could have been a nominee for either award.I wouldn’t have minded either of the two Dick novels winning.


  2. Peter S says:

    It’s interesting seeing the changing style of cover art from ’56 to ’66. Ten years doesn’t seem like a great deal of time, (the older I get it doesn’t anyway), but the art changes drastically between your ’56 post and ’66 one.


    • Yeah the change from ’50s to ’60s is drastic. Even more to the point, I think 4 of the 5 ’50s novels were originally published in Astounding, with basically pedestrian looking covers. I opted to use the first novel-format images instead, otherwise my ’50s post would have looked even more boring.


  3. bormgans says:

    I think Dune needs to be judged as a series. The final 2 books imo only show the true scope of what Herbert wanted to communicate. It’s about power & egoism & sex, yes, but about ecology too. TMIAHM doesn’t even come close in depth. Anyhow, I need to reread them, maybe they won’t hold up.


    • I need to read the next two books. And I agree with judging things as a series. I tend to wonder if series books should only be considered for awards once the series is completed. That big picture is so critical.


      • bormgans says:

        I think book 2 & 3 are the weakest of the series. Not that they are bad, but mainly setup of what is to come in 4-5-6.

        Not sure about awards & series: I guess a good book always has to have merits of its own, so…

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Alright, I’m putting that Brunner on my list. I’m surprised E.E. Smith even made the ballot, but I guess it’s one of those “golden age privilege” things. Also, I can’t help but refer to Heinlein’s as “The Moon is a Harsh Mansplainer” forever more. See what you have wrought.


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