The Seiun Awards are often described as the “Japanese Hugo Awards” since they are voted on by the membership of annual Japanese Science Fiction Convention. This description almost invariably is followed up by pointing out that Seiun is Japanese for Nebula. A Seiun Award for Best Foreign Novel and Best Foreign Short Fiction has been presented since 1970, although in 1980, the year being explored in this series, no Short Fiction Seiun was awarded. The first Seiun Award for Best Novel was presented to J.G. Ballard’s The Crystal World (originally published in 1966) and the first award for Short Fiction was presented to Thomas M. Disch for “The Squirrel Cage,” published in the same year. Because the awards are presented for works in translation, there is generally a lag of a few years from first publication. For many years, the Seiun Award foreign categories were presented at Worldcon as part of the Hugo Award ceremony.
Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama was first published in 1973 and by the time it was translated into Japanese, it had won the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, the Locus Award, and the BSFA Award. In a Locus Poll in 1975, it was ranked the 20th best novel in science fiction history.
Peter Graham is often quoted as saying that the Golden Age of Science Fiction is 12. I was reminded of this last year while reading Jo Walton’s An Informal History of the Hugo Awards (Tor Books) when Rich Horton commented that based on Graham’s statement, for him, the Golden Age of Science Fiction was 1972. It got me thinking about what science fiction (and fantasy) looked like the year I turned twelve and so this year, I’ll be looking at the year 1979 through a lens of the works and people who won science fiction awards in 1980, ostensibly for works published in 1979. I’ve also invited Rich to join me on the journey and he’ll be posting articles looking at the 1973 award year.
The Hugo Award was first presented at the 11th World Science Fiction Convention (sometimes called Philcon II), held in Philadelphia from September 5-7, 1953. That year the award for Best Novel, not yet known as a Hugo Award, was given to Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man. The awards were not perceived as an annual event at that time and, in fact, no awards were presented the following year. They were presented again in 1955 and have been presented annually since, although in 1957, the Best Novel category was not included. The Best Novel Awardhas been referred to, with some tongue in cheek, as “the Big One” and is generally the last one announced at the ceremony. The Hugo Awards are nominated and voted on by the members of the World Science Fiction Convention. Clarke won the Hugo Award for Best Novel twice, for Rendezvous with Rama in 1974, and for The Fountains of Paradise in 1980. In 1980 the Hugo Award was presented at Noreascon Two in Boston, Massachusetts on August 31.
The Nebula Award was created by the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) and first presented in 1966, when the award for Best Novel was won by Frank Herbert for Dune. It has been presented annually since then, with a tie in 1967 when it was won by Samuel Delany for Babel-17 and Daniel Keyes for Flowers for Algernon. Clarke won the Nebula Award for Best Novel twice, for Rendezvous with Rama in 1974 and for The Fountains of Paradise in 1980.
It has been several decades since I read The Fountains of Paradise, and re-reading it I realized that I had no real memories of it at all. I remembered that the central point of the book was to build a space elevator from a peak in Sri Lanka (repositioned and renamed Taprobane in the novel), but absolutely nothing else.
Arthur C. Clarke was born on December 16, 1917 in Minehead, England and died on March 19, 2008 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Clarke won the Hugo and Nebula Awards three times each. Rendezvous with Rama and The Fountains of Paradise both won for best novel (and also both won the British SF Association Award). His novella “A Meeting with Medusa” won the Nebula in 1973 and the short story “The Star” won the Hugo in 1956. He also won the Retro Hugo for his short stories “The Nine Billion Names of God” and “How We Went to Mars.” Both “A Meeting with Medusa” and Rendezvous with Rama won the Seiun Award and Rama also won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, and Jupiter Award. Clarke won the Geffen Award for Childhood’s End. His novel Imperial Earth was inducted into the Gaylactic Spectrum Hall of Fame in 2001. He received the International Fantasy Award for his non-fiction book The Exploration of Space.
Clarke was the guest of honor at NYCon II, the 14th Worldcon, held in New York in 1956. He received a Forry Award from LASFS in 1982 and was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1986. In 1997 he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. He won a Gallun Award in 2001, was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 2002 and in 2004 received the Robert A. Heinlein Award. The Arthur C. Clarke Award, sponsored by the BSFA, the Science Fiction Foundation, and the SCI-FI LONDON Film Festival, was established in 1987 to honor science fiction published in the UK.
Clarke collaborated on fiction with Gregory Benford, Gentry Lee, Stephen Baxter, Mike McQuay, Michael P. Kube-McDowell, and Frederik Pohl. His story “The Sentinel” formed the basis for his novel and the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the sequel of which, 2010, was also turned into a film. His novel Childhood’s End was adapted into a television mini-series.
“Let There Be Light” was initially published on September 5, 1957 in the Dundee Sunday Telegraph. It was first reprinted in February 1958 in Playboy magazine. It would eventually be reprinted in the Playboy Press science fiction anthology Transit of Earth in 1971. Clarke included it in his collection Tales of Ten Worlds in 1962 and it also appeared in The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke in 2000. The story appeared in German in the 1963 collection Unter den Wolken der Venus. In 1980 it was translated into Croatian for the March issue of Sirius #45. A French translation of the story appeared in the Arthur C. Clarke collection Le Livre d’or de la science-fiction: Arthur C. Clarke (a.k.a. Et la lumière), in 1981. Guido Zurlino and Beata Della Frattina translated the story into Italian for inclusion in the January 1987 issue of Urania #1039. It appeared in French again in 2013 as part of the collection Odyssées: l’integrale des nouvelles. Although the story fits into Clarke’s Tales from the White Hart series, it was not included in that collection, which was first published eight months before the story first appeared.