Tuesday, March 1, 2016

My Nominations for the 1941 Retro Hugo Awards

For the past few years, I've been an active participant in the voting and nominating process for the Hugo Awards.  As you may or may not know, part of the rules that govern the Hugo Awards say that if there was a year where there was a World Con but there were no Hugo Awards given, there can be Retro Hugo Awards 75 years later.  That means that in 2016, we get to retroactively give awards for 1941.

The 1941 awards are given for works published in 1940.  I haven't read a ton from 1940, but there are a few gems I need to nominate.

So here are all of my nominations for the 1941 Retro Hugo Award.

Best Novel

1. Slan by A.E. Van Vogt

I only have one nominee in this category, because, well, that's all that I have read from 1940.  But I really did enjoy Slan.  It kind of reminded me of the X-Men.  It's about super powered people that are at war with regular people.  It's a bit dated.  It's supposed to be in the far future, and yet people don't even have personal communication devices of any sort.  Nevertheless, it's a really fun read, and I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I read it in 1940.

Best Novelette
1.  Half-Breeds on Venus by Isaac Asimov, Astonishing Stories, December 1940
2. Half-Breed by Isaac Asimov, Astonishing Stories, February 1940

Both of Asimov's Half-Breed stories are excellent.  These are some of the few Asimov stories that deal with aliens.  Later in his career, he settled on a galaxy populated only by humans from earth.  It's fun to see some of his earlier dabbling in the pulp style alien stories.  Interestingly, the first story, Half-Breed does have aliens, but at it's core it's a story about racism, which was probably a big deal to Asimov, as a Jewish person in the 1940s.  It's probably the deeper of the 2 stories, but Half-Breeds on Venus has telepathic amphibians and Venusian dinosaurs, so it's hard to beat that.

Best Short Story

1. Robbie / Strange Playfellow by Isaac Asimov, Super Science Stories, September 1940
2. The Callistan Menace by Isaac Asimov, Future Fiction, July 1940
3. The Magnificent Possession by Isaac Asimov, Astonishing Stories, April 1940
4. Homo Sol by Isaac Asimov, Astounding Science Fiction, September 1940
5. Ring Around the Sun by Isaac Asimov, Future Fiction, March 1940

Strange Playfellow (later published as Robbie) is Asimov's first robot story.  That alone deserves some kind of recognition.  And, it's a cute little story that Asimov wrote to combat the sentiment within science fiction that our technology would destroy us.  Eventually, he expanded that idea into the Three Laws of Robotics, but none of these stories feature the Three Laws.   Another of my favorites from this list is The Callistan Menace.  It's another fun alien story that takes place in our solar system.

As you can see, I didn't nominate in every category.  It turns out my reading from 1940 is somewhat limited.  Do you have a favorite science fiction work that I need to read and nominate?  Feel free to share it.

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