Sunday, September 4, 2016

1941 Retro Hugo Award Longlist (awarded in 2016)

"Robert Heinlein could not win a Hugo Award today." - John C. Wright on May 7, 2014

On August 18, 2016, Heinlein won not one, but two Retro Hugo awards. He was nominated four more times. His work appeared on the longlist another three times. In summary, Heinlein is so disfavored by modern Hugo voters that his work appears on this list nine times.

"Sadly, I suspect the only way Heinlein could get on the ballot today would be if my horde of uncouth barbarian outsiders got involved and put him on our suggested slate." - Larry Correia on April 9, 2015

Three of Heinlein's works that received 2016 Retro Hugo nominations were notably absent from this year's Sad Puppy list. None of Heinlein's works that appear on the longlist were on the Sad Puppy list. Heinlein seems to have had no trouble at all getting on this year's ballot without any help from Correia's "uncouth barbarians".

"Makes you wonder if Robert Heinlein could get a Hugo Award today. (Answer: Probably not.)" - Glenn Reynolds on April 28, 2014

Since 2000, Heinlein has won five Retro Hugos (for the stories Farmer in the Sky, If This Goes On . ., The Man Who Sold the Moon, and The Roads Must Roll, as well as one for the movie Destination Moon, which he cowrote). This means that Heinlein has won more Retro Hugo Awards than he won actual Hugo Awards. In short, there is not only no evidence for the proposition that Heinlein could not win a Hugo today, the available evidence directly and comprehensively refutes this assertion. Not only could Heinlein win a Hugo Award today, Heinlein has won Hugo Awards today, and is enjoying more success on that front today than he ever did in his lifetime.

Most people don't take the complaints of the various Puppies seriously. This is a decent illustration why: They make claims that are complete bullshit, and which are pretty easily shown to be complete bullshit. Time and again, the Puppies and their fellow travelers have made clear that their claims have absolutely no relationship to reality. No one takes the Puppies' complaints seriously because anyone with even a little bit of knowledge on the subjects of science fiction history or the current state of science fiction knows that the Puppies are simply talking out of their ass whenever they opine on any subject.

Heinlein can win Hugo Awards today. This is a demonstrably true fact. This was a demonstrably true fact when Wright, Correia, and Reynolds made their pronouncements. Given that they are dead wrong on this, a point on which the actual evidence completely disproves their assertions, why should anyone take the evidence-free Puppy claims - such as their claims that there is a secret cabal controlling the Hugo voting, or that the Hugo voters are biased against conservatives - seriously? From my perspective, there is simply no reason to do so.

Looking at the longlist, the fact that Heinlein won isn't surprising, but it is clear that Heinlein had substantial competition, and it wasn't just from the other finalists. All of the short fiction categories had excellent selections that didn't even make the finalist list. The novel category was a little weak, but the science fiction novel was still in an embryonic stage in 1941 - with many books now called "novels" being the result of pieces of short fiction stitched together as "fix ups". Both of the Dramatic Presentation categories were filled with strong choices, although the fact that many works were nominated in the incorrect category highlights just how difficult it is to nominate works seventy-five years after they were originally released.

One thing that this longlist makes clear about the Retro Hugos is that information decay is a problem. Many of the categories were either dropped entirely due to the lack of fan interest in the nomination process (where "lack of fan interest" essentially means that an insufficient number of people nominated works in that category) or there simply were not very many total nominees - Best Fan Writer only has one name on the longlist, Best Fanzine only has six, and Best Graphic Story only has four. One could say that graphic stories were still finding their feet as a medium, but even so one would think that more than ten total examples of worthwhile nominees could have been found. The problem is that from such a distance in time, it is often difficult for someone who is not a historian focused on pop culture of the era to come up with options. A persistent and valid criticism of the Retro Hugo awards is that fans from decades later are likely to select finalists and winners that are very different from those that would have been chosen by fans of the era. To that it seems that one can add the criticism that fans from later decades may not have the depth of knowledge in certain categories to be able to nominate at all.

Best Novel

Gray Lensman by E.E. Doc Smith
The Ill-Made Knight by T.H. White
The Incomplete Enchanter by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt [ineligible]
Kallocain by Karin Boye
The Reign of Wizardry by Jack Williamson
Slan by A.E. van Vogt [winner]

Longlisted Nominees:
Captain Future and the Space Emperor by Edmond Hamilton
Final Blackout by L. Ron Hubbard
The Man Who Went Back by Warwick Deeping
A Million Years to Conquer by Henry Kuttner
Synthetic Men of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Twenty-Fifth Hour by Herbert Best
Twice in Time by Manly Wade Wellman
Typewriter in the Sky by L. Ron Hubbard
The Wonder City of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Best Novella

Coventry by Robert A. Heinlein
If This Goes On . . . by Robert A. Heinlein [winner]
The Mathematics of Magic by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt
The Roaring Trumpet by L. Sprague DeCamp and Fletcher Pratt

Longlisted Nominees:
But Without Horns by Norvell Page
By His Bootstraps by Robert A. Heinlein
Darker Than You Think by Jack Williamson
Fear by L. Ron Hubbard
The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares
The Mound by H.P. Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop
Soldiers of the Black Goat by Marian O'Hearn
The Sun Maker by Jack Williamson
Universe by Robert A. Heinlein
The Wheels of If by L. Sprague de Camp

Best Novelette

Blowups Happen by Robert A. Heinlein
Darker Than You Think by Jack Williamson [ineligible in this category]
Farewell to the Master by Harry Bates
It by Theodore Sturgeon
The Roads Must Roll by Robert A. Heinlein (reviewed in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Volume I, 1929-1964 ) [winner]
Vault of the Beast by A.E. van Vogt

Longlisted Nominees
All is Illusion by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore
Cargo by Theodore Sturgeon
Fruit of Knowledge by C.L. Moore
Half-Breed by Isaac Asimov
The Hardwood Pile by L. Sprague de Camp
Into the Darkness by Ross Rocklynne
John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Voyage That Lasted 600 Years by Don Wilcox
Voyage to Nowhere by Alfred Bester
The Warrior Race by L. Sprague de Camp

Best Short Story

Martian Quest by Leigh Brackett
Requiem by Robert A. Heinlein
Robbie by Isaac Asimov (reviewed in I, Robot) [winner]
The Stellar Legion by Leigh Brackett
Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges

Longlisted Nominees
The Automatic Pistol by Fritz Leiber
The Bleak Shore by Fritz Leiber
Clerical Error by Clifford D. Simak
Dark Mission by Lester del Rey
Hindsight by Jack Williamson
Homo Sol by Isaac Asimov
Let There Be Light by Robert A. Heinlein
Quietus by Ross Rocklynne
Song in a Minor Key by C.L. Moore
The Tapestry Gate by Leigh Brackett

Best Graphic Story

Batman #1 by Bob Kane [winner]
Captain America Comics #1 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby [ineligible]
Flash Gordon: Ice Kingdom of Mongo by Don Moore and Alex Raymond
Introducing Captain Marvel! by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck
The Origin of the Spirit by Will Eisner and Joe Kubert
The Spectre! The Spectre Strikes! by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily

Longlisted Nominees:
Flash Comics #1 by Gardner Fox, Sheldon Moldoff, and Harry Lampert
Flash Gordon
Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss
Prince Valiant by Hal Foster

Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form

Dr. Cyclops
Fantasia [winner]
Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe
One Million B.C.
Pinocchio [ineligible in this category]
The Thief of Bagdad

Longlisted Nominees:
Black Friday
The Great Dictator
The Invisible Man Returns
The Invisible Woman
Mysterious Doctor Satan
The Shadow
Son of Ingagi

Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form

The Adventures of Superman
Dr. Cyclops [nominated in long form category]
Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe [nominated in long form category]
The Invisible Man Returns
Pinocchio [winner]
The Shadow [ineligible in this category]
A Wild Hare
You Ought to Be in Pictures

Longlisted Nominees:
Buck Rogers
Ghost Wanted
The Invisible Woman
The Milky Way
Night on Bald Mountain
One Million B.C.
Puss Gets the Boot
Scrappy Man of Tin
Son of Ingagi
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Weltraumschiff 1 Startet

Best Professional Editor: Short Form

John W. Campbell, Jr. [winner]
Dorothy McIlwraith
Raymond A. Palmer
Frederik Pohl
Mort Weisinger

Longlisted Nominees:
Mary Gnaedinger
Martin Goodman
Charles D. Hornig
Malcolm Reiss
Farnsworth Wright

Best Professional Artist

Hannes Bok [winner]
Margaret Brundage
Edd Cartier
Virgil Finlay
Frank R. Paul
Hubert Rogers

Longlisted Nominees:
Earle Bergey
Howard V. Brown
Robert Fuqua
Charles Schneeman
Alex Schomburg
J.W. Scott
J. Allen St. John

Best Fanzine

Futuria Fantasia edited by Ray Bradbury [winner]
Novacious edited by Forrest J. Ackerman and Morojo
Spaceways edited by Harry Warner, Jr.
Voice of the ImagiNation edited by Forrest J. Ackerman and Morojo
Le Zombie edited by Arthur Wilson "Bob" Tucker

Longlisted Nominees:
Detours edited by Russ Chauvenet
Futurian War Digest edited by J. Michael Rosenblum
The Phantagraph edited by Don Wollheim
Snide edited by Damon Knight
YHOS edited by Art Widner

Best Fan Writer

Forrest J. Ackerman
Ray Bradbury [winner]
H.P. Lovecraft
Bob Tucker
Harry Warner

Longlisted Nominees:
Art Widner

Go to previous year's longlist: 1939 (awarded in 2014)
Go to subsequent year's longlist: 1943 (awarded in 1996)

Go to 1941 Hugo Finalists and Winners

Hugo Longlist Project     Book Award Reviews     Home


  1. Thoughts:
    Damn. I would unhesitatingly have voted for "By His Bootstraps" over any of the 3 Heinleins that made the ballot in that category.

    I am convinced that when someone says "Heinlein couldn't win a Hugo today", what they mean is that a story exactly like Heinlein's most popular / Hugo-winning works couldn't win a Hugo against contemporary competition. And my answer to that comes in two parts:

    1) I should certainly HOPE not! There are very few stories by any author from Heinlein's heyday which would hold up well against contemporary SF. Like it or not, the field has moved on, in terms of both the sophistication of the subject matter and the skills of the writers. We recognize Heinlein as one of the outstanding writers of his time, but for most of the stories written in that time, if I were coming to them fresh (without the rosy glow of nostalgia and familiarity), I would find them dated and clunky. Sometimes even the rosy glow isn't enough to save them, if the Suck Fairy has paid a visit.

    2) If Heinlein were still alive and writing today, he would not be writing stories like the ones he wrote in the 1940s, or even in the 1980s. He was too good a writer to have stagnated like that (as witness the difference between what he wrote in the 1940s and what he wrote in the 1980s), and he too would have moved on. I strongly suspect that what he'd be writing now would not be to the taste of the people who make that plaint.

    1. @Lee Billings: Yes, By His Bootstraps was a far more interesting story than the ones that made the ballot.

      As far as your points (1) and (2) are concerned, I can only say that I mostly agree, although I still find many of his stories to be enjoyable regardless of the Suck Fairy's machinations.

  2. I would have picked "If This Goes On"

    Here were my nominations, more accurately what I missed.

    1. @Gary: If This Goes On . . . did win. I listed the finalists and longlisted nominees here in alphabetical order. Maybe I should flag the winners in some way in these posts.

  3. Strong agreement with Lee Billings on all points.

    Except that "Universe" was also a presumptive finalist. Nearly all stories included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame anthologies are natural and obvious Retro Hugo winners.

    I was surprised to see "Nightfall" by Asimov on the longlist. It was published in 1941, and the year of eligibility was 1940.

    1. @dolphintornsea: I generally agree that the stories that appear in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame anthologies certainly have a leg up on the competition, if for nothing else, for their elevated profile as a result of their inclusion in those books.

      As far as Nightfall goes, the Hugo Administrators normally only check the finalists for eligibility, which means they probably didn't check Asimov's story one way or the other. One of the limitations of this project (and the longlists as presented) is that I am limited by the data that the Hugo Administrators from each Worldcon issue.