Saturday, August 6, 2022

Hugo Nomination Recommendations, 1959

 Potential Hugo nominations for the 1959 Hugos (stories from 1958)

One more post about potential Hugos from 1950s conventions: this one for 1959, so that stories from 1958 were eligible. This was the first year that the dates of eligibility were essentially standardized. (A couple of minor tweaks were made later.) Thus, as of the 1959 Worldcon, stories from the previous calendar year (defined by publication date for novels, and cover date for stories from magazines) were eligible. Also in 1959, a formal nomination process was established, and a final ballot was issued. (Prior to this, there were tentative moves in this direction a couple of the conventions.) One thing that was not standardized was the short fiction categories. (Also, I'm not sure if the novel length limit had been set.) That didn't settle down until the early '70s, probably partly under the influence of the Nebula Awards.

I have cited Jo Walton's excellent Informal History of the Hugos before, and in that book you can find Jo's comments on the short lists, her choices for the winners, and comments by a variety of people (myself included) discussing the stories and often offering additional possible nominees or winners. I'll list Jo's choices below, along with Richard Lupoff's short fiction selection from What If, Volume 1. And for the years from 1960 on, I'll leave the field to Jo! (After all, my thoughts are generally recorded in her book anyway.) I've decided to go ahead and make one additional post for stories from 1959, for two reasons: one, to round out the decade of the 1950s by story publication year, not just Worldcon year; and, two, because I was born in 1959.

The 1959 Worldcon was called Detention, and was held in Detroit, MI.

(Note that the 1959 Hugo short fiction shortlists are pretty long, and that novelette and novella are combined. Also note that 1958 was the year magazine distribution collapsed, and there was a decrease in the amount of short fiction published.)


Non-Stop aka Starship, by Brian W. Aldiss

The Enemy Stars aka "We Have Fed Our Sea", by Poul Anderson Hugo Nominee

A Case of Conscience
, by James Blish Hugo Winner

Who?, by Algis Budrys Hugo Nominee

Have Space Suit, Will Travel, by Robert A. Heinlein Hugo Nominee

The Once and Future King, by T. H. White

Other possibilities:

The Cosmic Rape aka "To Marry Medusa", by Theodore Sturgeon

War of the Wing-Men aka "The Man Who Counts", by Poul Anderson

The Triumph of Time, by James Blish

VOR, by James Blish

The Survivors, by Tom Godwin

The Big Time, by Fritz Leiber Hugo Winner 1958

Star Gate, by Andre Norton

The Time Traders, by Andre Norton

The Space Willies aka Next of Kin, by Eric Frank Russell

Immortality, Inc., by Robert Sheckley Hugo Nominee

The Lincoln Hunters, by Wilson Tucker

The Languages of Pao, by Jack Vance

My choice here is still A Case of Conscience, though The Once and Future King would have been an intriguing option. Andre Norton's The Time Traders was one of the first Andre Norton books I read, and it remains in my memory as one of my favorites. Blish's VOR is interesting in part because it's an expansion of a collaboration -- the original short story was written with Damon Knight, titled "The Weakness of RVOG". I note that with Next of Kin (actually a slightly expanded version published in the UK in 1959) and a few other stories that year, Russell essentially packed it in as a writer. (Two more novels followed, The Great Explosion (an inferior expansion of "And Then There Were None") and The Mindwarpers, plus a couple of stories. He was only 60 in 1965, when The Mindwarpers appeared -- I'm not quite sure why he quit. Couldn't have been the pay, could it? :)

Jo Walton didn't express a preference among the five Hugo nominees.


"Captivity", by Zenna Henderson (F&SF, June) Hugo Nominee

"Two Dooms", by C. M. Kornbluth (Venture, July)

"Be My Guest", by Damon Knight (Fantastic Universe, September)

"Hunt the Space Witch!", by Robert Silverberg (Science Fiction Adventures, January)

"The Big Front Yard", by Clifford D. Simak (Astounding, October) Hugo Winner

"The Miracle Workers", by Jack Vance (Astounding, July) Hugo Nominee

It's a thin novella list (though strong at the top.) I would have to choose the same story the voters picked, "The Big Front Yard". (Jo Walton also agrees.) The Henderson, Vance, and Kornbluth are close to it, though. The Silverberg is there because it's perhaps the most fun early Silverberg novella I read. Richard A. Lupoff's selection for an alternate Hugo was Kornbluth's "Two Dooms". 


"Unwillingly to School", by Pauline Ashwell (Astounding, June) Hugo Nominee

"The Ugly Little Boy" aka "Lastborn", by Isaac Asimov (Galaxy, September)

"It Walks in Beauty", by Chan Davis (Star Science Fiction, January)

"Among the Dangs", by George Elliott (Esquire, June)

"A Deskful of Girls", by Fritz Leiber (F&SF,  April) Hugo Nominee

"Second Game", by Katherine MacLean and Charles V. de Vet (Astounding, March) Hugo Nominee

Other possibilities:

"Segregationist", by Brian W. Aldiss (New Worlds, July)

"Big Sword", by "Paul Ash" aka Pauline Ashwell (Astounding, October)

"Aristotle and the Gun", by L. Sprague de Camp (Astounding, February)

"The Immortals", by James Gunn (Star #4)

"Shark Ship" aka "Reap the Dark Tide", by C. M. Kornbluth (A Mile Beyond the Moon) Hugo Nominee

"Rat in the Skull", by Rog Phillips (If, December) Hugo Nominee

"Ullward's Retreat", by Jack Vance (Galaxy, December)

In this list I'd pick Chan Davis' "It Walks in Beauty", I think most present day readers would choose "The Ugly Little Boy", and I really don't dispute that. I just think "It Walks in Beauty" is underrated, too little known, and original and moving. Richard Lupoff chose "Unwillingly to School", which is lots of fun also!

Note that Star #4 is the fourth edition of Frederik Pohl's seminal original anthology series, while Star Science Fiction for January was his abortive attempt to turn it into a magazine. 

Short Story:

"But Who Can Replace a Man?", by Brian W. Aldiss (Infinity, June)

"The Men Who Murdered Mohammed", by Alfred Bester (F&SF, October) Hugo Nominee

"Pelt", by Carol Emshwiller (F&SF, November)

"Casey Agonistes", by Richard McKenna (F&SF, September)

"The Yellow Pill", by Rog Phillips (Astounding, October)

"A Touch of Strange", by Theodore Sturgeon (F&SF, January)

Other possibilities:

"They've Been Working On", by Anton Lee Baker (Astounding, August) Hugo Nominee

"That Hell Bound Train", by Robert Bloch (F&SF, December) Hugo Winner

"Triggerman", by J. F. Bone (Astounding, December) Hugo Nominee

"The Edge of the Sea", by Algis Budrys (Venture, March) Hugo Nominee

"Or All the Seas with Oysters", by Avram Davidson (Galaxy, May) Hugo Winner 1958

"The Burning of the Brain", by Cordwainer Smith (If, October)

"Far From Home", by Walter Tevis (F&SF, December)

"Examination Day", by Henry Slesar (Playboy, February)

"The Statistomat Pitch", by Chan Davis (Infinity, January)

"The Advent on Channel 12", by C. M. Kornbluth (Star #4) Hugo Nominee

"Theory of Rocketry", by C. M. Kornbluth (F&SF, July) Hugo Nominee

"Try and Change the Past", by Fritz Leiber (Astounding, March)

"Space Time for Springers", by Fritz Leiber (Star #4)

"Rum-Titty-Titty-Tum-TAH-Tee", by Fritz Leiber (F&SF, May) Hugo Nominee

"Space to Swing a Cat", by Stanley Mullen (Astounding, June) Hugo Nominee

"Nine Yards of Other Cloth", by Manly Wade Wellman (F&SF, November) Hugo Nominee

I would have chosen "The Men Who Murdered Mohammed" (and Jo Walton agrees with me.) The Aldiss story might be second, or perhaps the Emshwiller. Behind that, the next four stories plus the Bloch, Budrys, Davidson, Slesar, Smith, all three Leiber stories, and "Theory of Rocketry" are very very close. Note that Kornbluth had died in 1958, and this was the last we'd see from him, except for the Pohl collaborations that showed up later. Finally, I admit I know almost nothing about the Stanley Mullen, J. F. Bone and Anton Lee Baker stories, which are listed because the Hugo nominators thought them worthy. I have been assured by multiple people that J. F. Bone's "Triggerman" is quite good.


  1. I can't find a list of recommendations for 1958; was that somehow subsumed into 1959 because of the codification of dates?

    1. I should have done a better job of clearly specifying dates. The recommendations for stories from 1958 are in this post of course. For stories from 1957 (that is, 1958 Hugos) my thoughts are here:

    2. And stories from 1959 (1960 Hugos) will be covered this coming weekend!

    3. Thanks. Somehow I didn't go back far enough to see "Hugo Nomination Recommendations, 1958" in the blog archive list.

  2. I can assure you that you have missed Nothing Much by being unfamiliar with the work of Stanley Mullen, who was able to build some sort of following in PLANET and a few other magazines much the way that E. B. Cole was a favorite of JWC's in the late '50s ASTOUNDING, and relatively few others. Plodding imitations of better fiction by others (in both cases).

    I recall a few decent J. F. Bone stories as late as 1978 AMAZING and ASIMOV'S issues; I might not like them as much now, but particularly the July 1978 AMZ SF allowed Bone and Charles De Vet to shine in comparison with the Robert F. Young, Richard Meredith and (more surprisingly) Charles Sheffield stories in that issue.

    1. "Far From Home" is a charming fantasy, and others seem even more charmed by it than I am (Tevis named his only story collection published during his life for it, and it inspired a handsome cover for one edition of THE BEST FANTASY STORIES FROM FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION some years back).

  3. Another brilliant year for Leiber.

    1. This entire exercise has shown me a couple of notable things: one, how really good Bradbury was in the earliest years of the 1950s; and, two, how incredible Leiber was throughout the decade. Leiber cannot be called unfairly ignored -- he has 6(!) Hugos for fiction; he's a Grand Master, etc. etc. But in a curious way I feel he is slightly underrated by us. Part of it is that his two Best Novel Hugos are weakish -- THE BIG TIME is good enough, but very slight; and THE WANDERER is, ummm, maybe not so good! (Though as I've never been able to finish it, probably I should reserve judgement.)

    2. No, as a Leiber booster, I'd say THE WANDERER was his weakest novel, full of fan-service and little self-indulgences, and in a c.v. that also includes THE GREEN MILLENNIUM and THE SILVER EGGHEADS, that's saying something (while A SPECTER IS HAUNTING TEXAS is unjustly forgotten, perhaps seen as more eccentric or timebound than rather brilliant, when read at all); I'd say you're giving THE BIG TIME a short shrift, albeit it is flawed, it certainly furthered the art at the time, and gets at much of what made the Change War stories interesting and valuable better than many of the short stories did. As does "Try and Change the Past" in its rather blunt way.

    3. Blogspot playing ID games with me at the moment...if I get Anonymized again, this is Todd Mason.

    4. The shorter form of "The Silver Eggheads" in F&SF is better...the novel, another of what James Blish (iirc) bemoaned as Ballantine underachievements by writers who could and did do better.

    5. Indeed, I like A SPECTER IS HAUNTING TEXAS quite a lot. Yes, THE BIG TIME isn't bad at all -- it's just not a towering achievement, I guess is what I'm saying. As for THE SILVER EGGHEADS, I have only read the shorter version.

    6. We will continue to disagree about THE BIG TIME, I think...while I suspect if you read the novel version of EGGHEADS, you won't see an improvement on the shorter version.