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.
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 Media Award was created in 1979, when it was won be the original series of the radio show The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In its first three years, the award was won by the first and second series of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio show as well as the record. The award was presented annually until 1992, when the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day won the final award.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was originally a radio show which aired on the BBC from March 8, 1978 to April 12, 1978, with an additional episode (called a fit) airing on December 24, 1978. The show was so popular that a stage show based on the radio show ran from May 1-9, 1979 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. The first four episodes of the radio show were also adapted (with some alterations) for release on a double LP set in 1979 (released in the US and Canada in 1982). The recordings used the original scripts, but cut some sections for timing while adding in alternative lines that were cut from the radio shows (including one that I really enjoy). Most of the original radio cast returned for the record, although Susan Sheridan, who had voiced Trillian, was unavailable since she was recording the voice of Princess Eilonwy for Disney’s animated film The Black Cauldron, and was replaced by Cindy Oswin, who had performed the role in the ICA stage production.
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 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 Short Fiction (later Short Story) award was created in 1980, and Christopher Priest’s “Palely Loitering” won the award in its first year. The award was presented every year until 2017, when it was won by Jaine Fenn for “Liberty Bird.” In 2018, it was replaced with an award for Shorter Fiction.
Originally published by Edward L. Ferman in the January 1979 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, “Palely Loitering” is a time travel story set in a future England that has the feel of a story set in an England of the 1920s. Mykle comes from a wealthy family who goes on an annual picnic to a park where they can cross bridges into either the future or the past. When Mykle leaps from one of the bridges, he finds himself much further in the future than anticipated and can only get home with the help of a stranger, who also points out a beautiful woman, Estyll, who will become a focus for Mykle, who often returns to the park and that future to find her.
“Palely Loitering” is reminiscent of Richard Matheson’s Bid Time Return (filmed as Somewhere in Time) and the film Citizen Kane. The former also deals with a man who travels through time to meet a woman he has become obsessed with. For Richard Collier in Matheson’s novel, it is actress Elise McKenna. For Mykle in Priest’s story, it is the enigmatic Estyll.