The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Manly Wade Wellman

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Lee Brown Coye

Cover by Lee Brown Coye

Manly Wade Wellman

Manly Wade Wellman

Cover by Michael Flanagan

Cover by Michael Flanagan

The World Fantasy Awards are presented during the World Fantasy Convention and are selected by a mix of nominations from members of the convention and a panel of judges. The awards were established in 1975 and presented at the 1st World Fantasy Convention in Providence, Rhode Island. Traditionally, the awards took the form of a bust of H.P. Lovecraft sculpted by Gahan Wilson, however in recent years the trophy became controversial in light of Lovecraft’s more problematic beliefs and has been replaced with a trophy of a tree with a full moon. The Lifetime Achievement Award has been part of the award since its founding, with the first one being presented to Robert Bloch. In 1980, the year Wellman was recognized, the convention was held in Baltimore, Maryland. Judges were Stephen R. Donaldson, Frank Belknap Long, andrew j. offutt, Ted White, and Susan Wood.

Manly Wade Wellman was born in Kamundongo in Portuguese West Africa (now part of Angola) on May 21, 1903, where his father was serving as a medical officer. When he was six years old, his family moved back to the United States and Wellman attended school in Washington, DC and prep school in Salt Lake City before going to Wichita Municipal University to earn a BA in English.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Universe 9, edited by Terry Carr

Saturday, May 18th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Roger Zimmerman

Cover by Roger Zimmerman

Cover by Carlos Ochagavia

Cover by Carlos Ochagavia

Cover by Richard Weaver

Cover by Richard Weaver

The Locus Awards were established in 1972 and presented by Locus Magazine based on a poll of its readers. In more recent years, the poll has been opened up to on-line readers, although subscribers’ votes have been given extra weight. At various times the award has been presented at Westercon and, more recently, at a weekend sponsored by Locus at the Science Fiction Museum (now MoPop) in Seattle. The Best Anthology Award dates back to 1976, although it was not presented in 1978. The inaugural award went to the anthology Epoch, edited Roger Elwood and Robert Silverberg. The 1980 award was won by Terry Carr for Universe 9. It was Carr’s third win in a row, with his first two being for entries in his Terry Carr’s Best Science Fiction of the Year series. The Locus Poll received 854 responses.

Terry Carr’s Universe series of anthologies ran for 17 volumes, beginning in 1971 and only ending with Carr’s death in 1987. During that time, he also edited 16 volumes of Terry Carr’s Best Science Fiction of the Year, five volumes of Fantasy Annual, and two volumes of The Best Science Fiction Novellas of the Year. Sixteen of the volumes of Universe ranked in the Locus Poll (only Universe 7 missed out), and Carr won the Locus Poll for entries of Universe for volumes 1, 4, and 9. In four years, Carr’s best of year anthology beat out his own Universe anthology in the poll.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: George Scithers

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Photo by John Teehan

Photo by John Teehan

The Best Professional Editor category was not one of the original Hugo categories in 1953. It was introduced in 1973 as a replacement for the Best Magazine award, partly to recognize the name of the individual who was the driving force behind the magazines, but also, at least in theory, to open the award up to anthology editors, although an anthology editor wouldn’t win until 1985. For the first five years the award was presented, it was won by Ben Bova. In 2007, the award was split into Best Editor, Long Form and Best Editor, Short Form. Gardner Dozois won the Best Professional Editor Award fifteen times, including a six-year streak and a seven-year streak. George H. Scithers won the award for the first time in 1978, ending Ben Bova’s streak, and then for a second time in 1980.

George Scithers had a long career in science fiction, both professionally and in fandom. He began publishing articles in the fanzine Yandro in 1957 and in 1959, he began publishing his own ‘zine, Amra, which won Scithers his first two Hugo Awards (in 1964 and 1968). Amra, which was a Robert E. Howard specialty ‘zine, is also the ‘zine which coined the term “Sword and Sorcery.”

In 1963, Scithers chaired Discon I, the 21st World Science Fiction Convention. He wrote The Con-Committee Chairman’s Guide to provide guidance for future chairmen. For several years in the 60s, he also served as the Worldcon Parliamentarian.

Scithers founded Owlswick Press in 1973 and over the years published works by Roy Krenkel, L. Sprague de Camp, Jack Williamson, Barry B. Longyear, and others. The final two volumes published by Owlswick came out in 1991 and 1993 and were collections by Avram Davidson.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 Skylark Award: Larry Niven

Sunday, May 12th, 2019 | Posted by Rich Horton

World of Ptavvs-small The Long ARM of Gil Hamilton-small Ringworld-small

The Skylark Award, also called the Edward E. Smith Award for Imaginative Fiction, has been presented by the New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA)

to  some person, who, in the opinion of the membership, has contributed significantly to science fiction, both through work in the field and by exemplifying the personal qualities which made the late “Doc” Smith well-loved by those who knew him.

The Award is presented at Boskone – alas, I missed the presentation the two times I’ve attended Boskone (a favorite convention of mine based on those two visits) – in 2017 it went to Jo Walton, and in 2019 to Melinda Snodgrass.

The first winner, in 1966, was Frederik Pohl (Smith having died in 1965.) Over the years it has gone primary to writers, but also to artist, editors, and fans. In 1973 the award went to Larry Niven. One implication of the association of the award with Doc Smith might be that it would go to writers of Space Opera, but that really hasn’t been the case, by and large. That said, while Larry Niven didn’t exactly write Space Opera in the Doc Smith mode, I think what he wrote qualified.

As the title of this series – Golden Age – might suggest, I started reading SF seriously in 1972, when I was 12. I was certainly reading Niven not long after, and I read him with intense pleasure in those years. I remember in particular encountering his story collection Tales of Known Space at Paradise Bookshop in Naperville, IL (located at the site of the now well-known Anderson Books, though I believe the stores have no other connection) in 1975, with the glorious Rick Sternbach “Star Map” cover. I devoured Niven’s books back in the day – Protector might have been my favorite, but I liked them all – A Gift From Earth, World of Ptavvs, the Gil Hamilton stories. (Oddly, perhaps, his Hugo and Nebula winner Ringworld was never a favorite.) And of course the short stories were wonderful.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: 2001: A Space Odyssey

Friday, May 10th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

05-10 2001 1 05-10 2001 2 05-10 2001 3

The Balrog Award, often referred to as the coveted Balrog Award, was created by Jonathan Bacon and first conceived in issue 10/11 of his Fantasy Crossroads fanzine in 1977 and actually announced in the final issue, where he also proposed the Smitty Awards for fantasy poetry. The awards were presented for the first time at Fool-Con II at the Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas on April 1, 1979. The awards were never taken particularly seriously, even by those who won the award. The final awards were presented in 1985. The Film Hall of Fame Awards were not presented the first year the Balrogs were given out, being created in 1980. The SF Film Hall of Fame was given to two films each in its first and final years.

Filmed by Stanley Kubrick and based on several short stories by Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: a space odyssey was released to theatres in April of 1968, it was nothing like the B science fiction films which preceded it.  Kubrick, guided by Clarke, attempted to make a realistic portrayal of space flight, even if it did have an ending that would appeal to the drug culture of the period.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Robert A. Heinlein: America as Science Fiction, by H. Bruce Franklin

Monday, May 6th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Frank Kelly Freas

Cover by Frank Kelly Freas

The J. Lloyd Eaton Award was established in 1977 and initially was presented to the best critical science fiction book of the year. It was not presented in 1981, 1992, 1997, 1998, or 2000 and was put on hiatus after the 2001 awards were presented. When the award was started again in 2008, it was no longer given for a critical work, but rather for lifetime achievement. The award is presented at the annual Eaton Conference, held at the University of California at Riverside. The first Eaton Award was presented to Paul A. Carter in 1977 for his book The Creation of Tomorrow: Fifty Years of Magazine Science Fiction. In 1980, the winner was H. Bruce Franklin for his study Robert A. Heinlein: America as Science Fiction.

H. Bruce Franklin’s Robert A. Heinlein: America as Science Fiction was not the first book-length exploration of Heinlein’s life and writings, nor would it be the last, but it did take a unique view of Heinlein’s fiction, breaking his career into five segments and tying them to different aspects of American civilization.

Franklin opens his study with an exploration of Heinlein’s childhood, the small town of Butler, where he was born, and his father, uncle, and grandfather’s employment both there and in nearby Kansas City. Franklin isn’t merely giving background, but as he discusses Heinlein’s childhood, he ties the vicissitudes of his relative’s business ventures to Heinlein’s own take on the American dream and the way things work, or should work.

Once this background is out of the way, Franklin defines five periods of Heinlein’s writing, not only chronologically and thematically, but by tying each one to a specific period of American history. Heinlein’s earliest short stories, for instance, are linked to the Westward expansion and pioneer motif. The second period of Heinlein’s work was his emulation of the dime novels, when he was writing juvenile science fiction. This was followed by a third period which Franklin sees as mirroring the 1960s counterculture, during which Heinlein was writing. The seventies formed the fourth period with Franklin predicting a fifth period of Heinlein’s writing to kick off in 1980, the year following publication of Franklin’s study, with the publication of Heinlein’s own The Number of the Beast.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Locus

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

January

January

February

February

April

April

The Best Fanzine category was not one of the original Hugo categories in 1953, but was introduced at the second awards in 1955, when it was won by James V. Taurasi, Sr. and Ray Van Houten for Fantasy-Times. Since then, some version of the award has been a constant, with the exception of 1958, when the award was dropped. Although achievement in fanzines was recognized throughout the history of the Hugo Awards, the name of the away was in flux. Originally called the Hugo for Best Fanzine, in 1956 and 1957, the award was presented for Best Fan Magazine. The name then switched back and forth at random intervals between Best Amateur Magazine (in 1959, 63-64, 66, 72-75, 77-78) and Best Fanzine (the other years in that sequence) until it permanently became the award for Best Fanzine in 1979.

Locus was nominated for its first Hugo Award in 1970, losing to Richard E. Geis’s Science Fiction Review. It was then nominated every year until 1983 with the exception of 1979, winning the Hugo for Best Fanzine in 1971, 1972, 1976, 1978, and from 1980 to 1983 inclusive, at which time it was no longer eligible for the category with the creation of the Hugo Award for Best Semi-Prozine. During the 1970s and early 80s, Locus, which began in 1968 to promote the Boston bid for a Worldcon in 1971, which became Noreascon I, was becoming less and less of a fanzine, accepting advertisements and paying for content.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: A.E. van Vogt

Sunday, April 28th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

A. E. van Vogt

A. E. van Vogt

The Ceourl Award was founded in 1980 to recognize Canadian Science Fiction and for the first two years was presented for Lifetime Achievement only. The original nickname for the award was based on the similarity of the award and the creature feature in A.E. can Vogt’s story “Black Destroyer.” The name was changed to the Casper Award in its second year. In the award’s third year, a category for Outstanding Work in English was added to the award, with additional awards added in subsequent years. In 1991, the popular award’s name was changed to the Aurora Award. The awards are administered by the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (CSFFA) and are voted on by members of the annual Canadian National Convention. Although the Lifetime Achievement Award was presented annually from 1980-1983, only three additional awards have been presented, most recently in 2013 to Robert J. Sawyer. The first award was presented to A.E. van Vogt at Canvention 1 in Halifax, Nova Scotia on the weekend of March 7-9.

Alfred Vogt was born on April 26, 1912 in Edenburg, Manitoba, Canada. During the early years of his life, his family moved around Western Canada, never settling down long enough to have roots. The stock market crash of 1929 killed van Vogt’s chances of attending college and he began to work a series of odd jobs, including work as a farmhand, a truck driver, and for the Canadian census bureau. While working these jobs, he began to publish anonymously and pseudonymously in the “true confessions” genre.

Around 1930, he moved back to Winnipeg, where he continued to write pseudonymously, as well as selling advertising space in newspapers. During this time, he wrote radio dramas for the local station. He also began to play with his name, adding the middle name Elton and the van to become Alfred Elton van Vogt and eventually A.E. van Vogt.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 Nebula Award for Best Novella: “A Meeting With Medusa” by Arthur C. Clarke

Saturday, April 27th, 2019 | Posted by Rich Horton

A Meeting with Medusa Tor Double-small

Tor Double #1, October 1988. Cover by Vincent Di Fate

Arthur C. Clarke, of course, was a towering figure in SF circles – when I began reading SF, there was an indisputable “Big Three”: Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and Clarke. And, indeed, that’s how I saw things at that age. Curiously, Heinlein was not really central to my earliest reading, and I didn’t read the bulk of his juveniles until a couple of decades later (though I had read his adult work in my teens.) But Clarke and Asimov were among the “adult” SF writers I first discovered, and I was reading novels like Against the Fall of Night when I was 12.

Clarke was born in 1917. He began publishing SF in 1946 with “Rescue Party” (a story that still gives me a thrill.) He made his mark in SF in the next decade or so with many further fine stories and with novels like The City and the Stars and Childhood’s End. He made his mark in the wider world when the movie 2001 appeared in 1968 – Clarke had written the original story (“The Sentinel”) upon which it was based, and he also worked with Kubrick on developing the story for the movie, and wrote the “novelization.” He had moved to Sri Lanka in 1956, partly because of his interest in scuba diving, but also possibly because he was gay, and homosexual activity was still illegal in England. He was knighted in 1998, at which time disturbing stories accusing him of pedophilia surfaced. He was cleared by the Sri Lankan police, and died a decade later.

“A Meeting with Medusa” first appeared in Playboy in December 1971. (I’m not sure why it was still eligible for the Nebula ballot in 1973 – this was before the “rolling eligibility” period of the Nebulas.) I’d have reproduced a cover image of its first place of publication, but Black Gate is a family website, as so well evidenced by the Margaret Brundage paintings we sometimes feature! I should also mention that this was a period when Playboy published a fair amount of excellent SF — for example, Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Nine Lives”, just a couple of years earlier.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Harpist in the Wind, by Patricia A. McKillip

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by MIchael Mariano

Cover by MIchael Mariano

Cover by Darrell K. Sweet

Cover by Darrell K. Sweet

Cover by Jack Woolhiser

Cover by Jack Woolhiser

The Locus Awards were established in 1972 and presented by Locus Magazine based on a poll of its readers. In more recent years, the poll has been opened up to on-line readers, although subscribers’ votes have been given extra weight. At various times the award has been presented at Westercon and, more recently, at a weekend sponsored by Locus at the Science Fiction Museum (now MoPop) in Seattle. The Best Fantasy Novel Award dates back to 1978, when it was won by J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. The award was not presented in 1979, and when it was reinstituted in 1980, this time permanently, Patricia A. McKillip won the award for Harpist in the Wind. In 1980. The Locus Poll received 854 responses.

The 1980 award season seems to have been a good year for final books in trilogies. Just as Dragondrums, the final volume of Anne MCCaffrey’s Harper Hall trilogy received the coveted Balrog Award, the final volume of Patricia A. McKillip’s Riddle-Master trilogy, Harpist in the Wind, won the Locus Poll for Best Fantasy Novel. Apparently, it was also the award season for musically-oriented fantasy novels. One of the biggest differences between Dragondrums and Harpist in the Wind is also what makes McCaffrey’s novel easier to read on its own.

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