The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Make Room, Make Room, by Harry Harrison

Monday, November 18th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Keith Roberts

Cover by Keith Roberts

Cover by Richard Powers

Cover by Richard Powers

Cover by Alan Aldridge

Cover by Alan Aldridge

An award called The Prix Jules Verne would seem to be presented in France, and, in fact, such a literary prize was given out in France from 1927 to 1933 and 1958 to 1963 for fantasy and science fiction by French authors.  However, the Prix Jules Verne that was presented from 1975 to 1980 was a Swedish award about which little is known. The first one was given to Roland Adlerberth. Rolf Ahlgren, Eugen Semitjov, and Lars-Olov Strandberg for their service to Swedish science fiction.  Subsequent awards were presented to individual authors for specific novels. The first novel to win the award was Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness.  The last award before it was discontinued was presented to Harry Harrison for Make Room! Make Room!.

Make Room! Make Room! is best known for being the inspiration for the 1973 Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson film Soylent Green, although there are significant differences between the film and the novel.
The novel is an interesting and atypical work.  While the protagonist, Andy Rusch, is a police detective tasked with tracking down the murderer of Big Mike O’Brien and discovering if there are political implications in Big Mike’s death, it is not a police procedural and the crime and investigation often take a back seat. Harrison also provides the identity of the killer, as well as telling parts of the story from his point of view, throughout the book.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: “Mackintosh Willy,” by Ramsey Campbell

Thursday, November 14th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Mark Berghash

Cover by Mark Berghash

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 sculpture of a tree. The Short Fiction Award (sometimes called short story award) has been part of the award since its founding, when it was won by Robert Aickman for “Pages from a Young Girl’s Journal.” In 1980, the year Campbell received the award for the story “Mackintosh Willy,” the convention was held in Baltimore, Maryland. Campbell tied for the award with Elizabeth A. Lynn for the story “The Woman Who Loved the Moon.”

Ramsey Campbell’s story “Mackintosh Willy” was initially published in the Charles L. Grant anthology Shadows 2. It is the story of a young boy who is finding his way in the world and even the familiar can have a sinister feel to it.  In this case, the homeless man who appears to live in one of the shelters in the park near where he lives causes caution in all the children in the area, although it is not clear that the man is doing anything to gain the reputation he has.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Joan Hanke-Woods

Sunday, November 10th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Mariner over Mars

Mariner over Mars

Joan Hanke-Woods

Joan Hanke-Woods

Metropolis: Maria with Friends at Play

Metropolis: Maria with Friends at Play

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The Fan Activity Achievement Awards, or FAAN Awards were founded in 1976 by Moshe Feder and Arnie Katz. Created to highlight writing in fandom, they differed from the Fan Hugos in that they were voted on specifically by fanzine fans. The original awards were presented at various convention. Following the 1980 awards, the awards were on hiatus until 1994 and have been presented each year since, with the exception of 1996. Joan Hanke-Woods won the last of the original run of FAAN Awards for Best Fan Artist—Serious, her second consecutive win. The first winner was Jim Shull. The category was not revived after the hiatus, being combined with the Best Fan Artist—Humorous category and replaced by the Best Fan Artist category.

Over the years, joan hanke-woods used a variety of monikers for her artwork. By the time I got to know her, she was using the name delphyne woods. She first discovered fandom in 1978 at Windycon V and rapidly began providing artwork for fanzines. She won the FAAN Awards in 1979 and 1980. While the FAAN Awards are given by fanzine fandom and the Hugos are presented by a more varied electorate, her work gained recognition and from 1980 through 1986, she was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist, eventually winning in 1986.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: H. Warner Munn

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

H. Warner Munn

H. Warner Munn

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. Although the Balrog Award for Poet was presented each year of the Balrog’s existence, it only went to four different winners, with H. Warner Munn winning the award twice and Frederick Mayer winning it three times.

H. Warner Munn was born on November 5, 1903 and died of cancer on January 10, 1981. Munn’s mother died when he was an infant and he was raised by his grandmother, who was a correspondent with Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Munn began his own correspondence with H.P. Lovecraft who suggested that Munn try telling a story from a werewolf’s perspective. The resulting novelette “The Werewolf of Ponkert” became Munn’s debut story when it appeared in the July 1925 issue of Weird Tales.

Munn and Lovecraft were not only correspondents, but also knew each other, visiting at each one’s homes in Providence, Rhode Island and Athol, New York. During this time, Munn helped Lovecraft formulate and eventually write the story which would become “In the Mountains of Madness.”

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The Book of the Dun Cow, by Walter Wangerin, Jr.

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Ronald Keller

Cover by Ronald Keller

Cover by James Marsh

Cover by James Marsh

Cover by Carl Lundgren

Cover by Carl Lundgren

The National Book Awards were established in 1936 by the American Booksellers Association. Although the Awards were not given out between 1942 and 1949 because of World War II and its aftermath, the awards were reestablished in 1950 and given out annually since then. Since 1950, only US authors are eligible for the award, which is designed to celebrate the best of American literature, expand its audience, and enhance the value of good writing in America. From 1980 through 1983, the American Book Awards were announced as a variation of the National Book Awards, run by the Academy of the American Book Awards. While the National Book Awards were selected by a jury of writers, the TABA program relied on entry fees, committees, and voters made up of groups of publishers, booksellers, librarians, and authors and critics. The change was controversial and a group of authors including Nelson Algren, Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, Joyce Carol Oates, Philip Roth, and Susan Sontag, among others, called for a boycott of the award. The American Book Award included genre categories, presenting awards for mysteries, science fiction, and westerns. Two awards were presented in the science fiction category, one for hardcover, one for paperback. The genre awards were abandoned after a single year. The only winner of the National Book Award for Paperback Science Fiction was Walter Wangerin, Jr.’s The Book of the Dun Cow, which had originally been published in hardcover in 1978 and reprinted in paperback in 1979. The Awards were presented in New York on May 1, 1980 at a ceremony hosted by William F. Buckley and John Chancellor. Isaac Asimov presented the science fiction awards.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The Unlimited Dream Company, by J.G. Ballard

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Bill Botten

Cover by Bill Botten

Cover by Carlos Ochiagavia

Cover by Carlos Ochiagavia

Cover by Peter Goodfellow

Cover by Peter Goodfellow

The British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards have been presented by the British Science Fiction Association since 1970 and were originally nominated for and voted on by the members of the Association. The Best Novel Award was one of the original awards and the first two were won by John Brunner for his novels Stand on Zanzibar and The Jagged Orbit. J.G. Ballard would be nominated for the Best Novel award three times, only winning on his first nomination in 1980.

Ballard’s novel The Unlimited Dream Company is told by Blake, an antihero and narrator so unreliable it is difficult for the reader to determine if anything he says in the course of the novel is real or merely the result of Blake’s own warped perception. The novel opens with Blake relating how as a young man he moved in with a woman, wound up killing her, and stealing an airplane before crashing it into the Thames. His first victim is never mentioned again and throughout the novel it isn’t clear if Blake died in the crash, if everything he relates in the book is the subject of visions brought about by his drowning and asphyxia, or if any of it actually happened to him and the community of Shepperton, where all the action takes place.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

Friday, October 25th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Ian Wright

Cover by Ian Wright

Cover by Peter Cross

Cover by Peter Cross

The "42 Puzzle" cover

The “42 Puzzle” cover

The Ditmar Awards are named for Australian fan Martin James Ditmar Jenssen. Founded in 1969 as an award to be given by the Australian National Convention, during a discussion about the name for the award, Jenssen offered to pay for the award if it were named the Ditmar. His name was accepted and he wound up paying for the award for more years than he had planned. Ditmar would eventually win the Ditmar Award for best fan artist twice, once in 2002 and again in 2010. Primarily an Australian Award, for most years from 1969 to 1989, an award was presented for International Fiction. The International Fiction Award was one of the Ditmar’s original awards and the first one was won by Thomas M. Disch for Camp Concentration. In 1980, the Ditmar Award for International Fiction was presented to Douglas Adams for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy at Swancon 5, held in Perth. The last time the award was presented was in 1989 to Orson Scott Card for the novel Seventh Son. On two occasions, in 1971 and 1984, no award was presented.

I bought my first copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy at a small independent bookstore that, amazingly enough, still exists forty years later. When I bought the book, I had already heard the radio series and knew what to expect. Of course, the novel and the radio series are in no way the same thing.  Adams was able to flesh things out a little more in the book and could add descriptive passages that weren’t possible in the radio show. In addition, jokes that had been in the radio series were dropped if Adams felt they didn’t quite work.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The Persistence of Vision, by John Varley

Monday, October 21st, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Jim Burns

Cover by Jim Burns

Cover by Selinas Blanch

Cover by Selinas Blanch

Cover by Stéphane Dumont

Cover by Stéphane Dumont

The Prix Apollo was founded in 1972 and presented in France for the best book published in French during the preceding year. The first winner was Roger Zelazny’s Isle of the Dead. The award was suspended following the presentation of the 1991 award. Only five times in the awards nineteen year history did it go to works originally published in French, including 1988, when it was presented to an entire series of 36 books written by Georges-Jean Arnaud. Although technically an award for a novel, in 1980, the award was given to John Varley’s collection The Persistence of Vision.

It isn’t entirely clear what the Prix Apollo was presented for. Varley’s debut collection, The Persistence of Vision was published by The Dial Press/James Wade in 1978 and contained nine short stories, published between 1975 and 1978. The collection wasn’t translated into French until 1979, which is why it was eligible for the Prix Apollo in 1980. However, the nine stories were published in two separate volumes in French. One volume, Dans le palais des rois martiens, contained five stories, including French translations of “The Phantom of Kansas,” “Air Raid,” “Retrograde Summer,” “The Black Hole Passes,” and the titular story, “In the Hall of the Martian Kings.” The second volume, Persistance de la vision, contained the remaining four stories, translations of “In the Bowl,” “Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance,” “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank,” and “the titular story, “The Persistence of Vision.” It is possible that the Prix Apollo was given for the complete text of the original anthology, but also conceivable that it was only given to the volume which bears the name in French.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 John W. Campbell Memorial Award: Beyond Apollo, by Barry N. Malzberg (plus Special Award to Robert Silverberg for Dying Inside)

Sunday, October 20th, 2019 | Posted by Rich Horton

beyondapollofirsted-small Beyond Apollo Pocket-small Beyond Apollo Carol and Graf-big

Beyond Apollo (Random House, 1972, Pocket Books, 1979, Carrol & Graf, 1989). Covers by Roger Hane, Don Maitz, and unknown

Two separate awards were established in 1973 in memory of the profoundly influential long time editor of Astounding/Analog, John W. Campbell, Jr., who had died in 1971. We have already covered the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (which has just been renamed the Astounding Award), which went to Jerry Pournelle.

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award is given for the Best Science Fiction Novel of the year. It is a juried award. It was first established by Harry Harrison and Brian W. Aldiss, to, well, let’s reproduce Harrison’s words:

When John died it was a blow to all of us. After the memorial service a number of his writers were talking, and out of the talk came the Astounding anthology, what has been called the last issue of the Campbell magazine. It was a good tribute to a good editor. There is another tribute I think of just as highly, the award for the best SF novel of the year presented in his name and memory. An award I am sure he would have loved because it instantly became involved in controversy when the first prizes was presented. How John enjoyed a good argument and a good fight! That this fight sprawled through the letter columns of Analog for some months would have cheered him even more.

The first award was presented at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. The jury for the first award consisted of Harrison, Aldiss, Thomas Clareson, Willis McNelly, and Leon Stover.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Scientifriction #11, edited by Mike Glyer

Sunday, October 13th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Scientifriction #11

Scientifriction #11

The Fan Activity Achievement Awards, or FAAN Awards were founded in 1976 by Moshe Feder and Arnie Katz. Created to highlight writing in fandom, they differed from the Fan Hugos in that they were voted on specifically by fanzine fans. The original awards were presented at various convention. Following the 1980 awards, the awards were on hiatus until 1994 and have been presented each year since, with the exception of 1996. Mike Glyer won the last of the original run of FAAN Awards for Best Fanzine, Single Issue for Scientifriction #11. The first winner was Outworld #21/22, edited by Bill and Joan Bowers. The category was not revived after the hiatus, being replaced by the Best Fanzine category.

While Mike Glyer’s File 770 can be considered a newszine of the science fiction fannish community, his zine Scientifriction could be seen as an opinion related work, although it contained far more than simply opinion pieces. In issue 11, Glyer opened up with an inside-baseball discussion of a proposal to add a Non-North American zone to the then current three zone rotation for Worldcons. At the time the Worldcon would rotate between the Eastern US, the Western US, and the Central US, with foreign worldcons being allowed to bid for any year. The proposal would have added a fourth zone, limiting when foreign worldcons could be held, but ensuring one would be held every fourth year. The proposal raised quite a bit of debate, including the opinion that the change would actually further cement worldcon as a US event.

Glyer also published his own article on the game Hell is High, which he would later rework for the second issue of my own fanzine, Argentus, published 23 years later. Glyer’s description of the game mechanics, camaraderie, and rivalry make the evenings spent playing Hell Is High sound like a wonderful place and time to have been able to experience.

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