The Hugo Winners Volume 3 (i)1970-1972, ed Isaac Asimov

‘Hugo Winners Volume III’ follows (not unsurprisingly) the first two volumes of collected Hugo award-winners, and appeared in a confusing variety of editions, primarily on account of its large size. The edition in (my sticky, eager) hand is the hardback UK edition published by Dennis Dobson in 1979. As your Earth days are restricted to only 24hrs, and as I have a range of other duties which prevent me reading the stories herein at the present moment in time, I shall, as ever, list the contents, drawing on older reviews/summaries of mine which I may have made in reading the stories in other locations.

The book was an eBay purchase, and originated, as evidenced by the stamps inside the book, from the rather posh Whitgift School in Surrey, so hopefully the volume will have launched a lifelong interest in SF in some of the alumni of that august establishment. (Boys have been buggered there for hundreds of years!)

The previous volume finished with coverage of the 28th Convention held in Heidelberg in 1970, but neglected to include (or indeed mention, other than in the appendices) Fritz Leiber’s Hugo winning novella ‘Ship of Fools’ from that year (on account of editor Isaac Asimov having not attended the con). Having recognised this omission, this volume consequently starts with reference to that Convention, and includes the story at the start of this volume. Although, readers may we be confused, as the contents page just lists the Leiber story under the heading for that convention, leaving the casual reader the impression that this story was the only winner in Heidelberg (whilst the previous volume gives said reader the impression that the only winner was Samuel R. Delany’s ‘Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones’). Confusing or what??

My anal retentiveness on such matters has resulted in my going to great lengths to get a hold of a copy of Volume II from the quantum Earth in which Asimov had no fear of flying and did indeed remember and include Leiber’s story. In this alternate volume Asimov alludes to an infamous event at a strip joint after the awards ceremony, in the style for which he is famous, thus :

    there was a young stripper named Eva
    who did bump, grind and get in a fever
    so hard was she workin
    she shook loose her merkin
    and finished her act on a split beaver

1971 29th Convention. Boston.

Best Novella :

Fritz Leiber. Ill met in Lankhmar. (F&SF Apr 1970)

Other nominees :

  • Dean R. Koontz. Beastchild. (Venture Aug 1970)
  • Harlan Ellison. The Region Between. (Galaxy Mar 1970)
  • Fritz Leiber. The Snow Women. (Fantastic Apr 1970 [nomination withdrawn])
  • Clifford D. Simak. The Thing in the Stone. (If Mar 1970)
  • Robert Silverberg. The World Outside. (Galaxy Oct/Nov 1970)

Best Short Story.

Theodore Sturgeon. Slow Sculpture. (Galaxy Feb 1970)

Other nominees :

  • Ben Bova & Harlan Ellison. Brillo. (Analog Aug 1970)
  • R. A. Lafferty. Continued on Next Rock. (Orbit 7)
  • Keith Laumer. In the Queue. (Orbit 7)
  • Gordon R. Dickson. Jean Duprès. (Nova 1)

1972 30th Convention. Los Angeles.

Best Novella.

Poul Anderson. The Queen of Air and Darkness. (F&SF April 1971)
Also won Nebula Best Novella. Anderson describes vividly a very alien planet and its inhabitants, and how their lives are threatened by, and how they threaten the lives of, the explorers from Earth. Magic and science come face to face .

Other nominees

  • John Brunner. Dread Empire. (Fantastic Apr 1971)
  • Larry Niven. The Fourth Profession. (Quark/4)
      Aliens, known as The Monks due to their habits (the ones they wear, as opposed to living a life of poverty and prayer) arrive in the USA. One Monk turns up in Frazer’s bar and during the course of some serious drinking, offers him what would appear to be education tablets. The following day the Secret Service arrive and Frazer struggles to recall the content of the tablets he swallowed, before he realises that he has to ensure that the aliens plans do not mean trouble for Earth.
  • Arthur C. Clarke. A Meeting with Medusa. (Playboy Dec 1971)
      Falcon, surviving an airship crash (more than surviving!) is the logical choice for a balloon-drop visit to Jupiter’s atmosphere. Lots of science stuff for the discerning Playboy reader (“I only read it for the fiction, darling!”). Whilst only a runner-up for a Hugo, the story won a Nebula the following year due to that award’s somewhat flexible definition of what could be counted in on each year’s ballot.
  • Gardner Dozois. A Special Kind of Morning. (New Dimensions 1)
      Told, with utter believability, from the perspective of a far-future veteran, the narrative describes how, even in the face of more mechanised and arms-length warfare, the need for men to get their hands bloodied during combat will remain, and the challenge of facing up to the necessity of committing such brutal and intimate acts will remain.

Best Short Story.

Larry Niven. Inconstant Moon. (‘All the Myriad Ways’)

    The moon becomes very, very bright. Romantic perhaps? But if moonlight is simply reflected sunlight, then what has happened to the sun? And if the reflected sunlight is very bright on the side of Earth facing away from the sun, what about those on the side of the Earth facing the sun? Niven describes vividly a couple facing their last night on Earth.

Other Nominees

  • George Alec Effinger. All the Last Wars at Once. (Universe 1)
      Bleak, dark look at man’s inhumanity to man and the societal demarcation and polarisation which in this story lead to a most violent conclusion.
  • Clifford D. Simak. The Autumn Land.
  • Stephen Tall. The Bear with the Knot on His Tail. (F&SF May 19710
      The Bear in question being the constellation from which a musical message of distress appears to emanate. A ship, including a lovey-dove husband and wife team, arrive on planet mere hours before it’s sun goes nova and destroys the planet.
      Contact is finally made with the egg-like inhabitants in a scene from which Close Encounters could have drawn inspiration – with a crew member using a guitar to match musical notes with the aliens.
      It being so close to the sun going nova there is no chance of evacuation, and the ovoids appear to be succeeding in preventing the crew escape. However a consignment of ovoid eggs (as in chicken eggs) and documentation is loaded just in time. Reads more 1950s than 1970s.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin. Vaster than Empires and More Slow. (New Dimensions 1)
      Set in the author’s Hainish universe, a team of planetary surveyors struggle against a most insidious enemy – the very planet upon which they have landed. The interplay between the individuals is well observed and described.
  • R.A. Lafferty. Sky. (New Dimensions 1)
      Decaying, subterranean darkness can be replaced by aerial freedom through the use of psychotropic drugs.

For those of you so inclined, there follows a list of links to other volumes which attempted to identify the best short stories of 1971 :

  • 1972 Nebula Awards
  • The Best Science Fiction of the Year #1 edited by Terry Carr, 1972
  • The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF, edited by Donald A. Wollheim and Arthur Saha, 1972
  • Best SF: 1971 edited by Harry Harrison and Brian Aldiss, 1972
  • Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year, First Annual Collection, edited by Lester Del Rey 1972

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