Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 Nebula and Hugo Award for Best Novelette: “Goat Song,” by Poul Anderson

Saturday, March 9th, 2019 | Posted by Rich Horton

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction February 1972-small Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction February 1972-back-small

Cover by Bert Tanner

Steven Silver has been doing a series covering the award winners from his age 12 year, and Steven has credited me for (indirectly) suggesting this, when I quoted Peter Graham’s statement “The Golden Age of Science Fiction” is 12, in the “comment section” to the entry on 1973 in Jo Walton’s wonderful book An Informal History of the Hugos. You see, I was 12 in 1972, so the awards for 1973 were the awards for my personal Golden Age. And Steven suggested that much as he is covering awards for 1980, I might cover awards for 1973 here in Black Gate.

Poul Anderson (1926-2001) was one of the leading SF and Fantasy writers of the last half of the 20th Century. He won the Hugo Award no fewer than seven times for his short fiction, twice taking the Nebula for the same story. He was named an SFWA Grand Master in 1998, he also won the Gandalf Award as Grand Master of Fantasy, and he received numerous other awards including the Mythopeic Award and the Prometheus Award. His best known novel might be Tau Zero (which finished second for the Hugo in 1971). His extended Future History sequence collectively called the Technic Universe probably represents his best-known and best-received set of stories, and his most famous characters, Nicholas Van Rijn and Dominic Flandry, appear in that series.

“Goat Song” is a pure standalone story, not part of any series. It appeared in F&SF for February 1972. As noted in the title of this essay, it won both the Hugo and Nebula for Best Novelette. I would have read it first in Nebula Award Stories 8. At the time I remember being tremendously impressed, but on this most recent rereading its force had diminished. (I reread it in my paperback edition of Anderson’s very fine 1975 collection Homeward and Beyond, which includes one very significant and lesser known story, the historical “The Peat Bog.”)

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 Nebula Award for Best Short Story: “When it Changed,” by Joanna Russ

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019 | Posted by Rich Horton

Nebula Award Stories 8-small Nebula Award Stories 8-back-small

Steven Silver has been doing a series covering the award winners from his age 12 year, and Steven has credited me for (indirectly) suggesting this, when I quoted Peter Graham’s statement “The Golden Age of Science Fiction” is 12, in the “comment section” to the entry on 1973 in Jo Walton’s wonderful book An Informal History of the Hugos. You see, I was 12 in 1972, so the awards for 1973 were the awards for my personal Golden Age. And Steven suggested that much as he is covering awards for 1980, I might cover awards for 1973 here in Black Gate.

Joanna Russ (1937-2011) was a playwright, critic, and a very important writer of nonfiction and fiction, that latter primarily SF. She was one of the first prominently “out” Lesbians in the SF field, and perhaps the leading feminist voice in the field during much of her lifetime. She was a favorite writer of mine, especially for short fiction such as her Alyx stories (including “The Second Inquisition”), “Nobody’s Home,” “Souls,” “My Boat,” and many more. She also wrote several strong novels, most famously The Female Man. Her best known and most significant extended critical work might be How to Suppress Women’s Writing. Her writing career was hampered late in her life by a long illness. She won the Hugo Award in 1983 for “Souls,” and the Nebula Award in 1973 for “When It Changed.”

In 1972 I began reading SF from the adult section of the library – that’s why it’s my Golden Age, really! – and one thing I discovered there was the Nebula Award anthologies, published each year and featuring the previous years Nebula winners in short fiction, and a few more nominated stories. I read them all out of the library, and eagerly awaited the appearance, in 1973, of Nebula Award Stories 8, edited by Isaac Asimov. The Nebula winner for short story was “When it Changed,” by Joanna Russ. I read it, and I thought, “So, a planet inhabited by women, and the men show up. I’ve seen that before. What’s the big deal?”

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist, and the 1973 Locus Awards for Best Magazine Artist and Best Paperback Cover Artist: Kelly Freas

Sunday, February 24th, 2019 | Posted by Rich Horton

Weird Tales November 1950-small Astounding Science Fiction October 1953-small Analog February 1975-small

Steven Silver has been doing a series covering the award winners from his age 12 year, and Steven has credited me for (indirectly) suggesting this, when I quoted Peter Graham’s statement “The Golden Age of Science Fiction” is 12, in the “comment section” to the entry on 1973 in Jo Walton’s wonderful book An Informal History of the Hugos. You see, I was 12 in 1972, so the awards for 1973 were the awards for my personal Golden Age. And Steven suggested that much as he is covering awards for 1980, I might cover awards for 1973 here at Black Gate.

As I began reading the SF magazines, and buying SF paperbacks, there was really no doubt who the most popular artist was: Kelly Freas. (This is not to deny the excellence of the likes of John Schoenherr, Jack Gaughan, and many more.) Kelly Freas was one of the most regular artists at Analog, and he did covers for many book publishers, at that time perhaps most often DAW. (Later he was the cover artist for every one of the Laser Books line.) His art was very colorful, very recognizable. His work was often humorous, but also could be dark and gritty. He was also an excellent interior illustrator.

Freas was born Frank Kelly in 1922. He took his stepfather’s last name after he was adopted. (His artwork was signed both Kelly Freas and Frank Kelly Freas.) He served in the second World War right out of High School, doing reconnaissance camera work and painting bomber noses. He spent some time in advertising. His first painting in the SF field was the cover for the November 1950 issue of Weird Tales (above left). One of his most famous paintings in the field was the 1953 cover of Astounding, illustrating Tom Godwin’s “The Gulf Between” (above middle). He later repainted it (with slight changes) for use as the cover of Queen’s album News of the World. Outside of SF he may have been best known for his work at Mad Magazine – he was the originator of the Alfred E. Neumann character.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Saturday, February 9th, 2019 | Posted by Rich Horton

Analog December 1971 A Spaceship for the King-small The Mercenary Jerry Pournelle-small The Mote in God's Eye-small

Steven Silver has been doing a series covering the award winners from his age 12 year, and Steven has credited me for (indirectly) suggesting this, when I quoted Peter Graham’s statement “The Golden Age of Science Fiction” is 12, in the “comment section” to the entry on 1973 in Jo Walton’s wonderful book An Informal History of the Hugos. You see, I was 12 in 1972, so the awards for 1973 were the awards for my personal Golden Age. And Steven suggested that much as he is covering awards for 1980, I might cover awards for 1973 here in Black Gate.

It seems appropriate in a year that represents my dawning as an SF reader, I should cover the dawning of an award that since then has celebrated the dawning of what we (as fans) think might be a significant career. This is the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Some people think the full name of the award includes a parenthetical addition: (Not a Hugo). This is because the award is sponsored by Dell Magazines (publisher of Analog, where John Campbell was the long time Editor), but administered by the World Science Fiction Society, and as such voted on using the same process and schedule as the Hugo Awards.

The very first Campbell Award, in 1973, went to Jerry Pournelle. Writers are eligible for the award for the two years after their first professional SF/Fantasy publication. While Pournelle had published a thriller, Red Heroin, in 1969 under the name Wade Curtis, his first SF story was “Peace With Honor,” under his own name, in the May 1971 Analog. This was the first story in his Co-Dominion future history, and the first to feature John Christian Falkenberg, one of his primary heroes. His nomination was based on that story, on another Falkenberg story, “The Mercenary,” and on the novel A Spaceship for the King (set much later in the Co-Dominion universe), as well, perhaps, on three stories that appeared in Analog under the “Wade Curtis” name: “Ecology Now!”, “A Matter of Sovereignty,” and “Power to the People.”

I first encountered Pournelle with some stories in Analog in 1974, such as “Extreme Prejudice.” I soon searched out his earlier stories in back issues of Analog borrowed from my library, and I remember reading, with particular enjoyment, the serialized version of A Spaceship for the King.

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Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 Phoenix Award

Saturday, January 19th, 2019 | Posted by Rich Horton

The Weirwoods-small The Dolphin and the Deep-small Day of the Minotaur-small

Ace edition covers by Gray Morrow

Steven Silver has been doing a series covering the award winners from his age 12 year, and Steven has credited me for (indirectly) suggesting this, when I quoted Peter Graham’s statement “The Golden Age of Science Fiction is 12″, in the “comment section” to the entry on 1973 in Jo Walton’s wonderful book An Informal History of the Hugos. You see, I was 12 in 1972, so the awards for 1973 were the awards for my personal Golden Age. And Steven suggested that much as he is covering awards for 1980, I might cover awards for 1973 here in Black Gate.

And, indeed, 1972 is when I discovered Science Fiction in the adult section of Nichols Library in Naperville, IL. Mind you, I’d already read and loved The Zero Stone by Andre Norton, and read and kind of liked Robert Silverberg’s Revolt on Alpha C, and read and loved a ton of fantasies such as the Narnia books, The Hobbit, and George MacDonald’s The Princess and Curdie and At the Back of the North Wind. But I found all those in the children’s section. When I was 12 two things happened. In my seventh grade class we were introduced to a variety of books via a huge set of large folded cards, each of which had a substantial extract from a book. You were supposed to read the extract and answer a quiz about it, but the real motive of the developers was to try to get kids interesting in reading the whole of some of these books.

I read a bunch of things – Exodus by Leon Uris is one I recall – but I quickly realized it was the Science Fiction that lit me up. Books I recall reading because of that class include The Currents of Space, by Isaac Asimov; Against the Fall of Night, by Arthur C. Clarke; The Universe Between, by Alan E. Nourse; Time is the Simplest Thing, by Clifford Simak; and Galactic Derelict, by Andre Norton. And, of course, to find those books I had to go the adult section of the library. Where I quickly also found other stuff by those authors, and then other authors, and perhaps more important, anthologies. The Science Fiction Hall of Fame was a revelation. And so were the Nebula anthologies. And Anthony Boucher’s Treasury of Great Science Fiction. So I was hooked forever.

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Amazing Science Fiction, November 1959: A Retro-Review

Sunday, December 9th, 2018 | Posted by Rich Horton

Amazing Science Fiction November 1959-small Amazing Science Fiction November 1959-back-small

Here’s an issue of Amazing from Cele Goldsmith’s first year as editor. Indeed, this was probably on the newsstands the day I was born (October 5, 1959). So, no, I didn’t read it when it came out!

The cover is by Leo Summers. The interiors are by Summers and Virgil Finlay. Norman Lobsenz’ editorial is about the real-life basis of one of the aspects of the cover novel, Robert Bloch’s Sneak Preview. There is a feature article by Poul Anderson called “Science and Superman: An Inquiry,” which takes a rather skeptical view of the idea that humans might be evolving into “supermen.”

E. Cotts’ book review column covers One Against Herculum, by Jerry Sohl; Tomorrow Times Seven, by Frederik Pohl; and Secret of the Lost Race, by Andre Norton. She gives some mild praise to Sohl, raves about Pohl’s collection, and is a little disappointed with the Norton novel.

The letters in “… Or So You Say” are by Claire Beck, Chris Roe, Craig Wisch, Kenneth E. Cooper, Clayton Hamlin, Michael Carroll, Jonathan Yoder, Richard C. Keyes, Billy Joe Plott, and James W. Ayers. The only name familiar to me is Billy Joe Plott.

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Time Travel, Shoggoths, and the Land of the Witches: The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2018 edited by Rich Horton

Thursday, August 9th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2018-smallI always enjoy Rich Horton’s introductions to his annual Year’s Best collection, and this one doesn’t disappoint. I was especially delighted to see him select one of my favorite stories of last year for this year’s volume, and to see him call it out in the intro:

One source of originality is new voices, and thus I am excited every [year] to see new writers producing excellent work… But one of the reasons I choose stories by some writers over and over again is that they are always fresh. What story this year is stranger than C.S.E. Cooney’s “Though She Be But Little?”

This year’s volume is dedicated to Gardner Dozois, who passed away in May, and I was particularly touched by Rich’s thoughtful reminiscence.

As for Gardner Dozois, who was closer to me in a personal sense — I was really shaken by news of his passing. He was one of the greatest editors in the field’s history (an argument can be made — and I’ve made it — that he ranks at the top); and he was also a very significant science fiction writer…

We who produce these similar books, the best of the year volumes, never regard ourselves as rivals. Our books are paragraphs in a long conversation about science fiction. I talked with Gardner about science fiction for years, in different ways — face to face, or on message boards, discussing our different ideas about who should have won the Hugo in 1973 or whenever; month by month in our columns in Locus; or in the tables of contents of these books, each of us proposing lists of the best stories each year. I always looked eagerly for Gardner’s “list,” and his stories for me represented a different and completely interesting angle on what really mattered each year.

I already miss that voice.

Rich’s 2018 volume is so crammed with fiction that the publisher had no room for the traditional “About the Authors” and “Recommended Reading” sections in the print edition; instead they’ll make them available online for free at the Prime Books website (and in the ebook version). They’re not available yet — and in fact the Prime website looks like it hasn’t been updated since 2016? — but presumably they will be soon.

This year’s volume has stories by Samuel R. Delany, Rich Larson, Sarah Pinsker, Michael Swanwick, Peter Watts, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Charlie Jane Anders, Robert Reed, Maureen McHugh, Sofia Samatar, Yoon Ha Lee, Kameron Hurley, and many others. Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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A Pair of Gonzo Mysteries from a Fantasy Master: Rich Horton on Pink Vodka Blues and Skinny Annie Blues by Neal Barrett, Jr.

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Pink Vodka Blues-small Skinny Annie Blues-small

Neal Barrett, Jr. received a Hugo and Nebula Award nomination for his 1988 story “Ginny Sweethips’ Flying Circus,” and in 2010 he was named Author Emeritus by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. A discussion of his four Aldair novels — which Fletcher Vredenburgh called “a blast of strangeness and adventure” — broke out in the comments section of my 2013 post about Mark Frost’s The List of 7. And in his 2014 review of The Prophecy Machine, Fletcher wrote:

The late Neal Barrett Jr. wrote around thirty novels and seventy short stories. I’ve only read a little bit from his works, which include sci-fi and fantasy as well as crime fiction and magic realism. He seems to have slipped under the radar of most genre readers. On the other hand, everything I’ve read about the man marks him as one of those special authors held in high esteem by other writers.

As usual, Fletcher is bang on in his assessment. I haven’t read any of Barrett’s crime fiction either, and I’ve always been very curious about it.

But that’s why we have Rich Horton. Over at his website Strange at Ecbatan Rich reviews two of Barrett’s mid-90s mystery novels, Pink Vodka Blues (1992) and Skinny Annie Blues (1996), calling them ‘funny’ and ‘wild.’ That qualifies them for a closer look in my book.

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Imaginative Tales, July 1957: A Retro-Review

Sunday, May 6th, 2018 | Posted by Rich Horton

Imaginative Tales July 1957-small Imaginative Tales July 1957-back-small

Imaginative Tales was the adventure oriented companion magazine to William Hamling’s Imagination. Imagination (often called Madge) is still affectionately remembered by some older fans — it was a fun magazine, though I can’t say it published much really memorable fiction. Imaginative Tales arguably tried to be even funner, but I think less successfully, based on my limited exposure.

(Hamling, by the way, is a controversial figure, not really remembered, I gather, as affectionately as his magazine. He lived to be 95, dying in 2016. He is reported to have rather gruffly rebuffed any attempts to discuss his SF publishing career over the past few decades of his life. He started Rogue magazine in 1955, as a competitor to Playboy, and much of his latter-day publishing efforts were in the “adult” genre.)

The cover is by Malcolm Smith. The interiors are uncredited, though I recognize a signature for “Becker,” and the ISFDB suggests W. E. Terry for another. The interiors are 2 color, by the way.

This issue features a novella, “World of Never-Men,” by Edmond Hamilton, and five short stories. One is by Robert Moore Williams, “The Red Rash Deaths,” and the other four are by some combination of Randall Garrett and Robert Silverberg, who, as I recall, were working together at the time, producing reams of fiction for the likes of Hamling.

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Birthday Reviews: Steven H Silver’s “Doing Business at Hodputt’s Emporium”

Thursday, April 19th, 2018 | Posted by Rich Horton

Galaxy's Edge March 2018-smallSteven H Silver was born on April 19, 1967. Despite allegations that the H stands for Hodputt, Horatio, or Horseshoes, in fact the initial is his entire middle name.

Silver has been nominated for the Best Fan Writer Hugo 12 times, putting him in contention for the Susan Lucci Award in that category. He is the long-time editor and publisher of Argentus. He has edited three anthologies for DAW in collaboration with Martin H. Greenberg, celebrating the first sales of prominent SF, Fantasy, and Horror writers. His first story appeared in Helix magazine in 2008, and he has published several further stories in anthologies such as Zombie Raccoons and Killer Bunnies; and Little Green Men — Attack! He is widely regarded as the primary heir to the legacy of the great Jerome Walton.

“Doing Business at Hodputt’s Emporium” was published in the March 2018 issue of Galaxy’s Edge magazine. Shockingly, the story has not been reprinted since.

As the titles of the anthologies mentioned above might hint, many of Silver’s stories are comical in nature. So it is with “Doing Business at Hodputt’s Emporium.” The narrator, Garoa, is an alien who has come to the title location, a notorious black market. He’s planning to sell his crop of hydroponically grown Brussels Sprouts, which evidently are a prized drug to a certain category of aliens.

He is accosted by a thug working for a gangster with whom he had done business, accusing him of cheating his boss before. He denies this, and things might get tricky, but the huge Hodputt intervenes. However, when Garoa unwisely agrees to leave the premises with a prospective customer, he is beaten up by the aforementioned thug, and on reviving, realizes that all his valuables are gone, including the key to his spaceship. He makes his way back there and begins to take revenge — but the prospective customer instead makes him an offer…

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