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

Mission of Gravity (1953) by Hal Clement

MissionOfGravity(1stEd)Clement’s acclaimed 1953 novel Mission of Gravity reminds me of a song we used to sing in my Girl Scouts Brownie troupe: Goin on a squeegie hunt… Oh, no, it’s a tall tree! Can’t go over it… can’t go under it… have to go through it… (Repeat the verse with a new obstacle… and it goes on and on and on. I dropped out soon after. The song may or may not have had something to do with it.) And thus it’s the same for our missioneers, human and alien alike, who encounter new obstacles in each chapter, but overcome those obstacles with sensible, pragmatic solutions, talking out every detail in a calm, relaxed manner that may be just a wee bit boring to witness. Reading this book is like eavesdropping on a housing development planning committee, with the engineer and the architect doing most of the talking. I would totally go on an adventure with these people because I know I would be safe, but I don’t think anyone would want to read about it afterward. Continue reading