Monday, May 16, 2022

Hugo Nomination Recommendations, 1955

Hugo nomination recommendations, 1955 (1954 Stories)

Recently I did a piece on potential Hugo winners from 1957, having noticed that no stories from 1957 won Hugos: the 1958 Hugos went to stories from 1958 -- a result of the rules at that time extending eligibility up until a couple of months before Worldcon, and also that the 1957 Hugos didn't have any fiction awards. 1954 is in a similar state -- the short fiction awards from 1955 went to Walter M. Miller's "The Darfsteller" (Astounding, January 1955) and Eric Frank Russell's "Allamagoosa" (Astounding, May 1955). Mind you, the novel winner, "They'd Rather be Right", by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley, is from 1954 (Astounding, August through November), but it is also widely regarded as the worst Hugo-winning novel in history, so there's no harm looking at potential alternate winners in that category either!

I'll note for the record that the novelette "The Darfsteller" is an excellent story, and a very worthy Hugo winner (though I'd probably choose Damon Knight's "The Earth Quarter" (If, January 1955) instead) and the short story winner, "Allamagoosa", is good fun, though I'd have chosen one of several other candidates. ("Watershed", by James Blish, for example, or "One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts", by Shirley Jackson.) "Allamagoosa", by the way, is the first Hugo winner by a non-American (unless you count the German-born Willy Ley, who won for his science articles in 1953 -- but I'm pretty sure he'd become an American citizen by then.) I note as well that Richard A. Lupoff's excellent anthology What If?, Volume 1, selected "alternate Hugos" for the years 1952 through 1958, and his choice from 1954 was "The Golden Helix", by Theodore Sturgeon.

Incidentally, you might notice that all three fiction winners in the 1955 Hugos are from Astounding. In addition, the Best Editor award went to John W. Campbell, Jr., and the Best Artist went to Frank Kelly Freas, then as throughout his career a regular contributor to Astounding/Analog. Perhaps not surprising -- Astounding certainly retained a position as one of the leading SF magazines. But the story I've heard is that fans of Astounding were somewhat annoyed that Galaxy outdid Astounding in the first Hugos (1953), tying Astounding for Best Magazine, and having the Best Novel winner (The Demolished Man, by Alfred Bester) be a Galaxy serial, plus Excellence in Fact Articles going to Galaxy columnist Willy Ley. Thus, in 1955, they (in how organized a fashion I couldn't say) strongly supported Astounding contributors.

[Note -- I'm revising this to mention a couple more stories that I overlooked! Thanks to Joachim Boaz and Kris Vyas-Myall for the prods!]


Here's a possible nomination list (though in reality we can assume "They'd Rather Be Right" would have been on the list too.) I would list The Fellowship of the Ring at the top, and then A Mirror for Observers. And honestly, had either A Mirror for Observers or I Am Legend won (assuming The Fellowship of the Ring might not have got the requisite notice as a UK hardcover only), the reputation of the 1954 novel award would be much higher!

The Broken Sword
, by Poul Anderson

The Syndic, by C. M. Kornbluth

I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson

A Mirror for Observers, by Edgar Pangborn

The Fellowship of the Ring, by J. R. R. Tolkien

Other possibilities:

Brain Wave, by Poul Anderson

One in Three Hundred, by J. T. McIntosh

Search the Sky, by Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth

Gladiator-at-Law, by Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth

Undersea Quest, by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson

There were also a couple possibilities from the  so-called "mainstream". Of these three novels, I don't personally consider Lord of the Flies SF (though I can see the argument), and I haven't read the other two.

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

Messiah, by Gore Vidal

The Magicians, by J. B. Priestley

And of course there were some from the category then called "Juvenile" (now YA or Middle Grade):

The Star Beast, by Robert A. Heinlein

The Horse and His Boy, by C. S. Lewis

The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, by Eleanor Cameron


I only found six novellas particularly worth mentioning, so I list them all. Of these, my pretty clear-cut choice is "Rule Golden".

"Sucker Bait", by Isaac Asimov (Astounding, February and March)

"Sine of the Magus", by James Gunn (Beyond, May)

"Rule Golden", by Damon Knight (Science Fiction Adventures, May)

"Natural State", by Damon Knight (Galaxy, January)

"No More Stars", by "Charles Satterthwaite" (Frederik Pohl and Lester Del Rey) (Beyond, July)

"The Golden Helix", by Theodore Sturgeon (Thrilling Wonder, Summer)


Now this is interesting! I found 14 (at least) potential nominees among the novelettes. By sheer coincidence, my five favorites are the first five alphabetically. And the first two are clearly not just the best two stories of 1954, but two of the very greatest SF stories of all time. I don't think it's shocking, but it is disappointing, that none of these stories won an award. I'd also like to highlight once again Budrys' "The End of Summer", which is a wonderful and wonderfully strange story, marred just slightly by a slightly disappointing resolution. (Had he landed that, this story would rank with the two Bester stories.) 

Note that Judith Merril's "Dead Center" became the first SF story from a genre publication to be reprinted in the Best American Short Stories series. Indeed, under Martha Foley's editorship (1941-1977) only two SF stories from genre sources were selected, the other being Theodore Sturgeon's "The Man Who Lost the Sea" from 1959. 

"Fondly Fahrenheit", by Alfred Bester (F&SF, August)

"5,271,009", by Alfred Bester (F&SF, March)

"Beep", by James Blish (Galaxy, February)

"The End of Summer", by Algis Budrys (Astounding, November)

"The Golden Man", by Philip K. Dick (If, April)

Other possibilities:

"The Cold Equations", by Tom Godwin (Astounding, August)

"Miss Tarmity's Profession", by Roy Hutchins (Beyond, July)

"Gomez", by C. M. Kornbluth (The Explorers)

"Dead Center", by Judith Merril (F&SF, November)

"Lot's Daughter", by Ward Moore (F&SF, October)

"The Music Master of Babylon", by Edgar Pangborn (Galaxy, November)

"The Midas Plague", by Frederik Pohl (Galaxy, April)

"Dusty Zebra", by Clifford Simak (Galaxy, September)

"How-2", by Clifford Simak (Galaxy, November)

"Down Among the Dead Men", by "William Tenn" (Philip Klass) (Galaxy, June)

"Party of Two Parts", by "William Tenn" (Philip Klass) (Galaxy, August)

"Big Ancestor", by F. L. Wallace (Galaxy, November)

Short Stories

Oddly, I'd didn't find as many short stories that stuck out. For me, either Bradbury's "All Summer in a Day" or Seabright's "Short in the Chest" would have been strong winners.

"The Immortal Game", by Poul Anderson (F&SF, February)

"All Summer in a Day", by Ray Bradbury (F&SF, March)

"The Father-Thing", by Philip K. Dick (F&SF, December)

"Adjustment Team", by Philip K. Dick (Orbit, September-October)

"Daughter", by Philip Jose Farmer (Thrilling Wonder, Winter)

"The Nostalgia Gene", by Roy Hutchins (Galaxy, November)

"Short in the Chest", by "Idris Seabright" (Margaret St. Clair) (Fantastic Universe, July)

"BAXBR/DAXBR", by Evelyn E. Smith (Time to Come)


  1. Rich--thanks for this great piece, which has already got me digging in my moldy-SF-anthology crate. However, my OCD demands I note that "Fondly Fahrenheit" originally appeared in F&SF for August, 1954, not GALAXY.
    All best, S. Hamm

    1. Thanks! Don't know how I messed that up! Fixed now.

  2. One reason "One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts" probably wasn't considered too strongly is that it's neither sf nor fantasy, but simply an excellent story for it to be Close Enough to publish in F&SF, after the better-paying markets turned it down. Another example in F&SF from about that time was "The Vanishing American" by Charles Beaumont, which "should've" gone to PLAYBOY as much as "Peanuts" should've been taken by THE NEW YORKER or, say, REDBOOK, and more the fools they.

    1. I agree, Todd, that "One Ordinary Day" would almost surely have got no traction for the Hugo. I will say that I see the two main characters as at least conceivably supernatural beings, to it can be read as fantasy.

      I should note that I purpose chose alternatives to "Allamagoosa" from the first half of 1955, as the voters who chose it for the Hugo hadn't seen stories from later than June or so. If you bring in the whole year you can add stories like "The Game of Rat and Dragon", "Nobody Bothers Gus", "The Discovery of Morniel Mathaway", "Dreaming is a Private Thing", "Judgment Day", and "The Hoofer". 1955 was a strong year for short stories. I'll eventually do a 1955 thing, I suppose. Then I'll probably let things lie ...

    2. They're definitely tricksters, but I will always see the story as fantasy-adjacent. Contrast Jerome Bixby's somewhat similar "Trace", which is essentially inarguably fantasy/horror.

  3. I think "Down Among the Dead Men" by William Tenn would be a strong contender for top honors. I love a good subversive satire.

    Thanks for compiling these. It would be fun to read/re-read all your "nominations."

    1. There are plenty of great 1954 short stories that could also be included.

      Philip José Farmer's "Daughter" (1954) comes to mind. It was collected in the wonderful Farmer collection Strange Relations (1960).

    2. I also imagine that Kornbluth's "Gomez" for the novelette category wouldn't be out of place. I remember it fondly (I read it back in 2012) -- I wonder what I would think now.

    3. "Gomez" should be on the list, for sure, though not in my top 5. I will confess that I have not read "Daughter". I've never much gotten on with Farmer, which is probably my fault. I should revisit him, or at least read some of the famous stories, like "Daughter", that I have not read.

  4. "Star Beast" was my first Heinlein (I was 10) and it made me an RAH fan forever, so I'd have to go with it, be it juvie or no. "Broken Sword" also evokes fond memories. I've since over the years read all the other novels, but none had the impact of these two (probably because I wasn't still in the first blush of my Golden Age). Of the shorter works, I would not have included "Sucker Bait," as it's lower grade Asimov in my view. But "Fondly Fahrenheit" and "All Summer in a Day" would have been very worthy choices. Most of the others are fine as well. Thanks for taking me on a pleasant nostalgia trip on an otherwise dull day.