Robots Have No Tails (Lancer, 1973). Cover by Ron Walotsky
Try this one on for size…you go to sleep one night and have a lively dream. You see yourself doing wonderful things, creating new devices based on principles so advanced you can’t even image how they could be. You don’t question the fact that it is a dream because you know that, normally, you could never build such fabulous, world-changing technologies. It’s all kind of fuzzy though — what you’re building, the people you’re interacting with, everything.
When you wake in the morning you discover any number of strange devices in your house. You have no idea what they are, how they work, or where they came from. The phone rings. Apparently, there are several people to whom you now owe a lot money. You’ve never met any of them before but they seem to know you. Is it a scam? You hope so because one of them is suing you for breach of contract. Another is taking you to court for assault and battery. What happened? Could your dreams have been real somehow? Regardless, it seems that you’re now morally responsible for a whole lot of trouble.
This is essentially the premise of Henry Kuttner’s five Galloway/Gallegher stories: “Time Locker” (1943), “The World Is Mine” (1943), “The Proud Robot” (1943), “Gallegher Plus” (1943), and “Ex Machina” (1948).
The World Fantasy Award was established in 1975 as part of the World Fantasy Convention. Seen as a fantasy version of the Hugo and the Nebula Awards (neither of which are strictly for science fiction), the nominees and winners are selected by a panel of judges, although currently, two positions on the ballot are opened up to nominations from members of the World Fantasy Convention. The Anthology/Collection Award was presented from 1977, when it was won by Kirby McCauley for Frights, through 1987 when James Tiptree, Jr. won it for Tales of the Quintana Roo. For two years prior to the award’s establishment, a Best Collection Award was presented. In 1988, Best Collection and Best Anthology were each split out into their own categories and remain so until this day. Originally, the trophy was a Gahan Wilson created grotesque bust of H.P. Lovecraft. In recent years as more and more authors, fans, and winners of the award spoke out against Lovecraft’s misogyny and racism, the trophy was replaced by a sculpture of a tree created by Vincent Villafranca. In 1980, the award was won by Jessica Amanda Salmons for the anthology Amazons!
Salmonson’s introductions to each of the stories are lengthy and provide insight not only into the stories that follow, but also her process in creating the anthology. She discusses her motives for putting the book together, her reasons for selecting the specific stories, related anecdotes about how the stories came to her and, in the case of Charles Saunders’ story, addresses the fact that only one story by a male writer appears in the anthology.
Following the general introduction by Salmonson, in which she discusses both historical and mythological warrior women, the book presents the short story “The Dreamstone,” by C.J. Cherryh, which the author would eventually combine with her novella “Ealdwood” and publish as the novel The Dreamstone in 1983.
The Rhysling Awards, named for Robert A. Heinlein’s poet from “The Green Hills of Earth,” were established by the Science Fiction Poetry Association in 1978. Both the association and the award were founded by Suzette Haden Elgin. Each year, awards are given for Short Form poetry and Long Form poetry. The first award for Long Form poetry was won by Gene Wolfe for “The Computer Iterates the Greater Trumps.” In 1980 Andrew Joron won the award for “The Sonic Flowerfall of Primes,” first published in New Worlds #216, September 1979, edited by Charles Platt.
Poetry often does not lend itself to literal interpretation, and Andrew Joron’s “The Sonic Flowerfall of Primes” is an excellent demonstration of that. Even just trying to understand the poem’s title in a literal or concrete manner is setting the reader up for failure since the words, when taken together, seem to lack any cohesion or coherence.
In fact, Joron seems to revel in the ambiguity of the title and the poem itself, which is narrated by unidentified beings which might be aliens, possibly some form of fauna, or an artificial intelligence, although the narrator does seem to identify variations of gender. The poem, which has numerous stanzas, begins by painting a picture, vague though it may be, of the world in which it takes place. This is followed by lyrical language which incorporates imagery of music as two lovers meet, again, ambiguous as to their identities.
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. Harry Warner, Jr. won the last of the original run of FAAN Awards for Best LoC Writer. He won the first award and also won the award in 1979. The category wasn’t revived until 1998, when it was called Best Letterhack and Warner won the first two. Following his death in 2003, the category was renamed the Harry Warner, Jr. Memorial Award.
Harry Warner, Jr. was known as “The Hermit of Hagerstown,” for his dislike of attending fannish events. He rarely attending science fiction conventions, only agreeing to be the guest of honor at Noreascon I in 1971 when he was promised tickets to attend a Boston Red Sox game. When the first FanHistoriCon was run by Peggy Rae Pavlat (later Sapienza), Joe Siclari, and Bruce Pelz and Hagerstown was selected as the location for its proximity to Warner, Warner refused to attend. Richard Lynch worked with Warner to arrange to bring small groups of attendees over to Warner’s home to allow them to meet him.
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. 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 a #1 Fan Personality Award was presented in the first year, to Forrest J Ackerman and a Best Actifan was awarded to Walt Willis in 1958, the Best Fan Writer Award wasn’t created until 1967, when it was won by Alexei Panshin and has been awarded ever since. The Hugo Awards are nominated and voted on by the members of the World Science Fiction Convention. Bob Shaw won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer Award twice, in 1979 and 1980. He was also nominated for the Best Short Story award in 1967 and the Best Novel award in 1987. In 1980 the Hugo Award was presented at Noreascon Two in Boston, Massachusetts on August 31.
The Doc Weir Award was established in 1963 in memory of Arthur Weir. Selected by the membership of Eastercon, the award is presented to individuals who are seeing as making a significant contribution to fandom who have largely gone unrecognized. The first Doc Weir Award was presented to Peter Mabey. The award takes the form of a silver cup with names of early winners engraved on the base. The cup comes with a presentation box which has plaques on it that contain the names of the winners since the cup’s based was filled. A new box was created by John Wilson in 2019. The winner is responsible for having their own name engraved and running the following year’s voting process.
The Best Fan Artist category was not one of the original Hugo categories in 1953, not introduced until 1967, when it was won by Jack Gaughan. The award has been presented every year since then. Gilliland was nominated for the Hugo every year between 1978 and 1985, winning that award in 1980 and for three years running from 1983 to 1985. While several fan artists have won the award more times than Gilliland, his three year streak ties those of Tim Kirk and Brad W. Foster for consecutive wins.
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. Alexis Gilliland won the last of the original run of FAAN Awards for Best Fan Artist—Humorous, his third sequential win. The first winner was Bill Rotsler. The category was not revived after the hiatus, being combined with the Best Fan Artist—Serious category and replaced by the Best Fan Artist category. Gilliland was nominated for The FAAN Award for Best Humorous Art in three consecutive years from 1978 through 1980.
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.
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.
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.
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.”