The Best Novella category was not one of the original Hugo categories in 1953. I twas introduced in 1968, when it was won by Philip José Farmer for “Riders of the Purple Wage” and Anne McCaffrey for “Weyr Search.” Since then, some version of the award has been a constant, with the exception of 1958. In 1980, the awards were presented at Noreascon II in Boston.
The Nebula Award was created by the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) and first presented in 1966, when the award for Best Novella was won by Brian W. Aldiss for “The Saliva Tree” and Roger Zelazny for “He Who Shapes.” The award has been given annually since then.
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 Book Novella Award dates back to 1974, when the short fiction awards were split into Short Fiction and Novella lengths. Frederick Pohl won the first award. In 1980. The Locus Poll received 854 responses.
In January, I wrote about Barry B. Longyear, the winner of the John W. Campbell Award in 1980 and explored the vast amount of fiction he published in 1978 and 1979. At that time, I dismissed his biggest hit with a single line, “His breakout story, of course, was “Enemy Mine,” which will be covered in more depth in the article on that novella’s various awards for the year.” Now is come the time to discuss that story.
Peter Graham is often quoted as saying that the Golden Age of Science Fiction is 12. I was reminded of this quote 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 that were 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 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer was established by the publishers of Analog magazine in 1973 shortly after Campbell’s death. Eligibility for the award begins with an author’s first professional sale and runs for two calendar years. This stipulation has meant that some major authors who didn’t make a splash at the beginning of their career were not eligible for the award when people began to recognize their names. The award may be given out on the bases of either short fiction or novels.
The John W. Campbell Award are currently administered by the Hugo Award committee on the same ballots and is presented at the Hugo Award ceremony at Worldcon, but it is emphatically not a Hugo, to the extent that some joke the awards name is the John W. Campbell-not-a-Hugo Award.
Prior to the establishment of the award, the Hugos did, on occasion, recognize new authors. In 1953, Philip José Farmer won the Hugo Award for New Author and Robert Silverberg won the award in 1956. The award was attempted in 1959, but the (not-insignificant) authors on the ballot, including Brian W. Aldiss, Paul Ash/Pauline/Ashwell (appearing separately under both bylines), Rosel George Brown, Louis Carbonneau, and Kit Reed, lost out to No Award.
Longyear received the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1980, the year he won the Hugo and Nebula Award for his novella “Enemy Mine,” which was turned into a film starring Dennis Quaid and Lou Gossett, Jr. That same year his novelette “Homecoming” also appeared on the Hugo ballot, as did his novelette “Savage Planet” the following year. His stories have twice topped the Analog Reader’s Poll and he has been nominated for the Prometheus Award three times and the Sidewise Award once.
“Collector’s Item” was first published by Stanley Schmidt in the April 27, 1981 issue of Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact. The following year it was translated into German to be reprinted in Analog 2, a German language version of the magazine. Longyear also included the story as the lead off to his collection It Came from Schenectady.
Longyear examines the unenviable task of cleaning out a parent’s belongings after their death. For Jay Hall, who barely knew his father and had little to discuss with him, the natural inclination is to just take everything and sweep it into the garbage. A call with his father’s attorney, however, causes him to look through some of the papers his father has collected over the years. Among those papers are essays written by five of his father’s students in 1955.
The essays were assigned on prosaic topics, “What I Did Last Summer,” “My Favorite Dream,” “Things I Think About.” As Jay begins to read them, however, he finds that these five students all had things in common… notable, references to someone known as the Major. Furthermore, their essays all seemed to indicate that they were being fed knowledge of America’s future involvement in Viet Nam.