Let’s Go Back to the Hugos! 1946 (Retro edition)

It’s Retro Hugo Day! And fans are Slans! Or something vile like that. But let’s not be Slans; instead, let’s go… Back to the Hugos!

Hugo Year: 1946 via 1996

1946: The Iron Curtain comes down, bikinis hit the French Riviera, and the US gets Tupperware.

In 1996 Hugo voters decide to play their own version of revisionist history (so don’t hate on me!) by voting on a 1946 Retro ballot.

The list:

Screenshot 2016-08-13 at 11.14.45 AM

The Winner: “The Mule” from FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE by Isaac Asimov, followed by THE WORLD OF NULL-A by A.E. van Vogt, THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH by C.S. Lewis, DESTINY TIMES THREE by Fritz Leiber, and DANGER PLANET by Edmond Hamilton (as Brett Sterling)

My own retro-retroactive ballot:

Screenshot 2016-08-13 at 9.59.54 PM

After the Leiber, I don’t care how the others rank. They are all equal amounts of varying types of stilt.

Destiny Times Three by Fritz Leiber – I mean, look at that cover. I prefer to not collect physical books, but I am the proud owner of that cover. Now compare that cover to the other covers on the list. And that’s the difference you get inside, too. It’s an allegory based on multiverse theory that’s actually a criticism of the idea of utopia and the dehumanizing effects of class structures. It’s also a sobering, and surprisingly accurate, projection of events after WWII. I have a love-hate relationship with Fritzie, but this is my favorite by him. Most people will find it dry and boring, but I was blown away by his perceptiveness.

The World of Null-A by A. E. van Vogt – For a book that contains the most unintentionally humorous metaphor ever (falling bread sounds like pieces of dry dough, *snicker*), how can this book not be entertaining? And by entertaining, I mean absolute, careening nonsense. Null-A is an inductive type of telepathy, which is exactly what you need in order to make sense of this book!

That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis – The last and most interesting of the “Cosmic” trilogy, but wow, C.S. Lewis is really sexist.

“The Mule” from Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov – Asimov is an atrocious writer but Hugo voters had it right when they decided to vote only for this one little section, instead of the entire serialized novel. “The Mule” is one of the few interesting moments in an otherwise dry and jerky excuse to get the idea of psychohistory down on paper.

Danger Planet by Leigh Brackett’s husband – Captain Future goes to Cancun or, at least, I’m guessing a lot of this was inspired by a Brackett family summer vacation. It’s a pulpy kids’ novel with lingo and alien descriptions that are reminiscent of the Yucatan peninsula, until the end, when the final, climactic scene assails with Lovecraftian prose and imagery. Oh, the horrific, horrible horror!


That’s it for Back to the Retro Hugos: 1946! See you tomorrow when we flash forward to… ugh… 1996.

18 thoughts on “Let’s Go Back to the Hugos! 1946 (Retro edition)

  1. Warstub says:

    I kind of like the cover of Null-A. Overly high forehead on the gentleman, but the colours and title work. It’s on my must-have first editions list. Actually, this is the sort of book (so little I remember of the reading) that I’d love to see rewritten by someone with actual talent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, it’s nice, but I’m not big on faces for cover art.

      I do wish some of these old books could be rebooted as often as they reboot movies. They have some neat ideas that just need to be retooled and written better. If we can gender swap Ghostbusters, why not any of this old SF?


  2. S. C. Flynn says:

    “Leigh Brackett’s husband” LOL

    Liked by 2 people

  3. History was made for another reason this year.There wasn’t,according to what I think are my reliable sources,any books published with the science fiction label before 1946.So these are the first ones then!Did they all carry the label though?


    • Astounding SCIENCE FICTION



      Use your Null-A, Richard.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “The term “science fiction” was used first in 1851 (in Chapter 10 of William Wilson’s A Little Earnest Book upon a Great Old Subject): ‘Science-Fiction, in which the revealed truths of Science may be given interwoven with a pleasing story which may itself be poetical and true.'”

        Hugo Gernsback also “coined” and tried to trademark the terms “scientifiction” and “science fiction” in the late ’20s, early ’30s to support his little magazine Amazing Stories


      • *Megan,no!* *How can you think I’m so opaque!* You’re totally misunderstanding!I know full well the lurid pulp magazines had been around for the previous twenty years with the science fiction badge on them.They were daring.I was referring to the first novels published with it on.Before that,any SF work,would have been published alongside the other books of general literature.There was no clear definition between the two outside of the two.

        I thought I made it clearly understood.Such mistakes aren’t uncommon though on the internet,that lacks the clarity of face to face communication..I think it has gremlins living in it,that are playing tricks today!

        I was just trying to state the fact of an event.The begining of a book publishing genre.


        • Joachim Boaz says:

          Richard, your comment is downright unwarranted (“You’re totally misunderstanding!” wtf, how rude is that?)…. She responded to your very vague original comment which might, in your mind only, relate to your lengthy after-the-fact explanation. You are the one at fault. Pretty sure everyone, and I mean everyone, who comes by this public post sees that. I’m starting to think you might not see why your comments are so frustrating.


          • It seems I’m treading on everybody’s toes!I didn’t mean to be rude to her,and wouldn’t be intentionally.From what I’ve gleamed about her from her site,I think quite a lot of her.We usually see eye to eye.Even in this instance,I felt no different.Contrary to what you think,I did try to be light-hearted about it as I could,if you noticed.

            Yes,I was a bit shocked that she thought I said that,but there were no feelings of intent.I haven’t the heart to do that.Perhaps it was largely my fault as you say,I don’t know.I know I am direct though,and that’s probably the trouble.


          • Joachim Boaz says:

            Richard, that might be the case — if so, demonstrate it with the actual content of your comments.


          • Yes,I did get a bit anxious about it,so I overreacted.Anyway,okay.


        • Let’s just say we all suck at Null-A and call it a day.

          Richard: I don’t interpret any of this as rude–my toes certainly aren’t stepped on– but I also don’t interpret your original comment any differently than I did this morning. I read it as a sarcastic carryover from the *other* back-and-forth we’ve been having on another post because it fits very well with what I think you are saying over there. My response was well in line (and is a damn good retort, which I must say is impressive for 5 AM me).

          My retort was direct because, yes, I do think you know better and I knew you would see that. I think this whole conversation has degenerated at this point, but I must say this nitpicking about labels is exactly why I hate SF and I THINK WE ALL AGREE ON THAT POINT, but perhaps we are just coming at it from different angles, which is why that *other* conversation is so baffling to me.

          Bottom line: SF is stupid.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I don’t use the shortening SF because of any feelings of mild jingoism,but to try and avoid as you say,”this nitpicking about labels”.It can stand for at least four sub-types including science fiction.However,I admit it doesn’t really sound any better than “sci fi”,so I won’t use it anymore.

            If it’s the post I think it is,I’m sorry you interpreted it as sarcasm.I have to say,I really hate sarcasm.I wouldn’t use it against anybody,let alone against you or on anybody else’s blog.It’s thinly disguised abuse.The effects are sickening.

            Despite this,I will as you say,”call it a day”.


          • I actually love to use the words “scifi” and “science fiction” to describe books I read, even when I know they aren’t quite “scifi” or “science fiction.” I like to use SF when I mean the scifi/fanty genre as a whole. I have no objection to broad categories because I like to examine books in relation to one another.


          • Well,that’s exactly why I use it.I like a broad category too.That’s what I’ve been trying to say all along.I like the fact that they overlap.

            Until very recently,despite the good stuff within it,I haven’t been keen on describing books as fantasy.I found it more misleading than science fiction.


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