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.
My own retro-retroactive ballot:
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.