Back to the Hugos: 1995!

The Hugo Awards are this weekend! But time-travel Hugos are much more fun! So let’s go Back to the Hugos: 1995!

The member vote for Best Novel:

MirrorDance1MotherofStorms1Beggars&Choosers1BrittleInnings2TowingJehovah1

Oh, Hugo voters… AYFKM? I thought we had finally reached an understanding after last decade.

 

MY pretend, retro ballot for Best Novel:

BrittleInnings2TowingJehovah1Beggars&Choosers1MirrorDance1MotherofStorms1

(Interesting note: Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower made the shortlist but was deemed inelegible.)

 

Wrong, Hugo voters. You got it ALL wrong.

Allow me to explain:

Brittle Innings is a rich, full-bodied tale about humanity and its monsters in the pre-Civil Rights era South, and involves brilliant literary interplay. It’s gorgeous. Towing Jehovah is an intelligent, biting, religious satire that offends everybody, even the intended audience. Beggars and Choosers is brimful of imaginative near-future technology with (often over-involved) philosophical ponderings, and its problematic nature makes analysis even more worthwhile. Bujold’s Mirror Dance is the “Give your sociopathic clone son a starship” edition of the “Save-yo-fetuses” series, which always puts my deeply internalized pro-choice sensibilities on edge, not to mention the elevation of uberwealthy characters undermines difficult moral quandaries by making them easy, fun to read, and not really a big deal. And Mother of Storms is a kitchen sink filler-thriller about superficial character cliches surviving a global weather disaster.

SPANALYSIS

If the Spaz Clumpies are correct about post-1985 SF, 1995 should be an ideal indicator of a liberal and literary hijacking of the Hugo Awards. Continue reading

Back to the Hugos: 1985!

The Hugo Awards are this weekend! But time-travel Hugos are much more fun! So, let’s go back to the Hugos: 1985!

The member vote for Best Novel:

Neuromancer1emergence1ThePeaceWar2JobAComedyofJusticeTheIntegralTrees1
The Winner: Just a little book called Neuromancer. 

 

My pretend, retro Hugo ballot for Best Novel:

Neuromancer1emergence1TheIntegralTrees1ThePeaceWar2JobAComedyofJustice

Hugo voters, we actually almost agree! Neuromancer is tops, now that I’m accustomed to the wacked out, cyber megatext, and Gibson’s shifty show-don’t-tell-wait-don’t-even-show style. And Emergence became an instant favorite of mine, thanks to the insane plot twists, and despite the Russian-commies-are-evil gag. (Eh, it’s the eighties.)

As for the bottom of the ballot, all three books were just okay. I enjoyed The Integral Trees for those sexy sex scenes– haha, just kidding, those sex scenes were awkward as hell, but the weird physics and flying whales were pretty cool. The Peace War is a story I could easily picture on FX or USA or Lifetime television networks, and you can interpret that however you like.

I would probably No Award Heinlein. If I had grown up reading him, I’d be ready to tell him to fuck off by ’85. Probably sooner. (Definitely sooner.)

*****

According to some Schmuck Fuppy commentary I’ve seen around, 1985 was the death knell of the Hugo Awards– the final year that Hugo voters recognized deserving fiction, and just before the bleeding-heart libs Affirmative Actioned the fun out of science fiction, while the snooty lit-crits meta’d themselves. ‘Twas the year that Pew-Pew-Space-Cadet died… so many sadz…

But so many wrongz.

Pew-Pew-Space-Cadet died decades before 1985, and if anything is dead in the eighties, it’s the (liberal) (wild) (metatastic) New Wave movement, which left behind a great, big stink of drab, commercial fiction, and a regular rotation of reliably conservative authors (and some equally drab, commercial, liberal authors, let’s be honest). 1985 is certainly a conservative-heavy list, but that is more likely to repeat after 1985, rather than before.

So what are the Schmucks actually mourning after 1985? Is it an arbitrary, made up date, or, perhaps, is this misdirected sadness because they just happen to miss Neuromancer‘s “particular flavor”?

WARNING: Conservative enjoyment of Neuromancer may indicate latent liberal tendencies. Side effects include being sad, manufacturing controversy, and avoiding space opera throwbacks because feminine pronouns are scary.

Back to the Hugos: 1975!

The Hugo Awards are this weekend! But time-travel Hugos are much more fun! So let’s go back to the Hugos: 1975!

The member vote for Best Novel:

TheDispossed(1stEdHardcover)firetime4FlowMyTears1themoteingodseye1InvertedWorld

Le Guin wins, but I can’t believe Inverted World placed last. That’s insanity.

My pretend, retro Hugo ballot:

TheDispossed(1stEdHardcover)InvertedWorldFlowMyTears1firetime4themoteingodseye1

I’m having a hard time deciding between the anarchic experiment The Dispossessed and the mind-bendy Inverted World as a first pick. Both are delicious; I love them so much. Maybe they should tie. In comparison, Flow my Tears and Fire Time are pretty forgettable, with misplaced identity and Middle East allegory being the only things I much remember about them. (And for those who haven’t read either, I’ll let you guess which is which.) And people, I know you LOVE the Moties, but it’s lame and stiff and boring, and I don’t think readers-of-color would appreciate the all-too-familiar social hierarchy of Larry and Jerry’s alien society. That ain’t no racial commentary, it’s just lazy characterization. *aggressively shakes finger at Larry and Jerry*

Not that anyone is keeping score or anything, but there are three well-known conservative authors on this list. (And who knows about Dick. We didn’t study the politics of the fifth dimension in my comparative politics classes, but I’m pretty sure that’s where that dude resides.) However, both books by those conservative authors can easily be classified as “message fiction,” with Fire Time advocating land sharing between hostile groups, and The Mote in God’s Eye addressing unsustainable population growth… with a rather severe Malthusian solution, permeated by an ugly anti-immigrant message. And let’s not talk about the “good girls don’t use birth control” message.

Message fiction: a favorite technique of SF writers from all political persuasions! (Not that anyone is saying otherwise. Because that would be dumb and nonsensical.)

Did you know: Manufactured controversy = Free advertising

See you tomorrow for *shock* and *gasp* a year I just might almost agree with… 1985!

Back to the Hugos: 1965!

The Hugo Awards are this weekend, but time-travel Hugos are much more fun! …And there’s less drama when you’re several generations removed.

So let’s go back to the Hugos: 1965!

The member vote for Best Novel:

TheWanderer1Davy1ThePlanetBuyerTheWholeMan
Leiber wins, and Brunner gets the shaft. (It’s okay, Brunner kid. Maybe you can recycle some of those ideas for something really cool later on.)

 

MY pretend, retro vote for Best Novel:

ThePlanetBuyerTheWanderer1TheWholeManDavy1
Smith, then Leiber, Brunner, and Bangporn, er, Pangborn, I mean.

A colorful Hugo shortlist full of imaginative, vibrant, yet structurally flawed stories. The Planet Buyer‘s lack of story requires a reread to be fully appreciated, but it’s more impressive than the fun, but schticky disaster novel, The Wanderer. Brunner’s The Whole Man might have been a tad more interesting if I hadn’t already read Brunner’s brilliant Stand on Zanzibar (1968). As for Bangporn, as he is now called in my house, well, I can see how Davy‘s themes of sexual liberation in a post-apocalyptic setting might have been tantalizing at the time, but I have a hard time reconciling the “women are people, too,” message with the “stallionizing” that begins a few pages later. You mean, “women are people, too, as long as they are my playthings,” right?

Oh, oh, oh! AND, all four of these novels involve highly experimental literary elements, liberal philosophizing, non-white characters, and ZERO pew-pew-space-cadet heroics. They are all VERY WEIRD BOOKS THAT STODGY WHITE DUDES WHO STARCH THEIR SOCKS PROBABLY WON’T LIKE AND IT MAKES ME WONDER IF PEOPLE WHO COMPLAIN THAT NEW SF IS TOO LIBERAL AND EXPERIMENTAL ACTUALLY BOTHERED TO READ VINTAGE SF, OR DID THEY JUST SEE A PICTURE OF A 1930’s-ERA COMIC BOOK AND ASSUME ALL VINTAGE SF IS LIKE THAT. AHEM, I’M SAYING THAT I THINK THE PAD SUPPIES DON’T ACTUALLY READ MUCH SF OUTSIDE OF THEIR OWN CIRCLE JERK.

I’m sorry, that’s probably incorrect. I meant to say “WHOSE WIVES STARCH THEIR SOCKS.”

Tune in tomorrow for 1975… when some real masterpieces show up!

 

Back to the Hugos: 1955!

The Hugo Awards are this weekend, but time-travel Hugo Awards are much more fun! So let’s go… Back to the Hugos: 1955!

*****

They’d Rather Be Right won the Hugo for Best Novel sixty years ago.

They'dratherberight1

Also known as The Forever Machine by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley, which I reviewed last year. Tl;dr: it’s generally known as the worst Hugo winner ever, although I would argue it’s this one. They’d Rather Be Right isn’t THAT bad, but there is no nominee shortlist to make comparisons, so let’s just shrug this off as a clumsy Hugo pick. It happens.

Yes, Hugos, you can survive this year. Crappy books on the Hugo shortlist are part of the tradition, which I will demonstrate over the next five days with some quick and dirty retro analysis. See you then!

 

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.)

greenmars2

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: 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