Thursday, August 23, 2018

1943 Retro Hugo Award Longlist (awarded in 2018)

2018 is the year that I go back to complaining about the Retro Hugo Awards. On the one hand, it is nice to have direct evidence refuting those who claim that "Heinlein could never win a Hugo award today" in the form of Heinlein winning Hugo Awards pretty much every time a Retro Hugo Award ceremony is held. On the other hand, every time the Retro Hugo Awards are handed out, they always seem to end up going to the same four or five people, which the range of individuals nominated is only very slightly broader than that, which seems to call into question their validity.

The problem with the Retro Hugo Awards is that they require looking back over such long distances of time that the works of authors who had lengthy careers after the year the Retro Hugos are associated with are the ones that seem to loom largest in the minds of those nominating and voting on the awards. The end result is the kind of hyper-focused results that are evident in the winners, the finalists, and even the longlisted nominees. The result is that the question that comes to my mind is simply this: Is it worth holding Retro Hugo Award ceremonies if the only thing that is going to happen is handing Heinlein, Asimov, and Campbell another posthumous award? Is there a desperate need to give those individuals yet more recognition? Is that the only purpose this award serves? Because right now, that seems to be the case.

Best Novel

Beyond This Horizon by Robert A. Heinlein [winner]
Darkness and the Light by Olaf Stapledon
Donovan’s Brain by Curt Siodmak
Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright
Second Stage Lensmen by E.E. “Doc” Smith
The Uninvited by Dorothy Macardle

Longlisted Nominees:
The Adventures of Superman by George F. Lowther
Grand Canyon by Vita Sackville-West
Land of Unreason by Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp
Rocket to the Morgue by Anthony Boucher
The Sorcerer's Ship by Hannes Bok

Best Novella

Asylum by A.E. van Vogt
The Compleat Werewolf by Anthony Boucher
Hell Is Forever by Alfred Bester
Nerves by Lester del Rey
The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag by Robert A. Heinlein (reviewed in The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein)

Longlisted Nominees:
Barrier by Anthony Boucher
The Push of a Finger by Alfred Bester
Recruiting Station by A.E. van Vogt
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Best Novelette

Bridle and Saddle by Isaac Asimov
Foundation by Isaac Asimov [winner]
Goldfish Bowl by Robert A. Heinlein
The Star Mouse by Fredric Brown
There Shall Be Darkness by C.L. Moore
The Twonky by C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner [ineligible, nominated in wrong category]

Longlisted Nominees
Child of the Sun by Leigh Brackett
Medusa by Theodore Sturgeon
QRM - Interplanetary by George O. Smith
Runaround by Isaac Asimov (reviewed in I, Robot)
The Sorcerer of Rhiannon by Leigh Brackett

Best Short Story

Etaoin Shrdlu by Fredric Brown
Mimic by Donald A. Wollheim
Proof by Hal Clement
Runaround by Isaac Asimov (reviewed in I, Robot)
The Sunken Land by Fritz Leiber
The Twonky by C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner [winner]

Longlisted Nominees
Child of the Green Light by Leigh Brackett
Deadlock by Leigh Brackett and Henry Kuttner
Funes the Memorious by Jorge Luis Borges
Goldfish Bowl by Robert A. Heinlein
Masquerade by Henry Kuttner
Robot AL-76 Goes Astray by Isaac Asimov
Victory Unintentional by Isaac Asimov
Waldo by Robert A. Heinlein (reviewed in The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein)
The Wings of Night by Lester del Rey

Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form

Bambi [winner]
Cat People
The Ghost of Frankenstein
I Married a Witch
Invisible Agent
Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book

Longlisted Nominees:
The Corpse Vanishes
The Mouse of Tomorrow

Best Professional Editor: Short Form

John W. Campbell [winner]
Oscar J. Friend
Dorothy McIlwraith
Raymond A. Palmer
Malcolm Reiss
Donald A. Wollheim

Longlisted Nominees:
Alden H. Norton
Frederik Pohl

Best Professional Artist

Hannes Bok
Margaret Brundage
Edd Cartier
Virgil Finlay [winner]
Harold W. McCauley
Hubert Rogers

Longlisted Nominees:
Earle Bergey
J. Allen St. John

Best Fanzine

Futurian War Digest edited by J. Michael Rosenblum
Inspiration edited by Lynn Bridges
The Phantagraph edited by Donald A. Wollheim
Spaceways edited by Harry Warner, Jr.
Voice of the Imagi-Nation edited by Forrest J Ackerman and Morojo
Le Zombie edited by Arthur Wilson “Bob” Tucker [winner]

Longlisted Nominees:
The Acolyte edited by Francis Towner Laney
Fanfare by The Stranger Club
Fantasy Fiction Field by Julius Unger
Fantasite by Phil Bronson
Madman of Mars by Forrest J Ackerman

Best Fan Writer

Forrest J Ackerman [winner]
Jack Speer
Arthur Wilson “Bob” Tucker
Harry Warner, Jr.
Art Widner
Donald A. Wollheim

Longlisted Nominees:
Ray Bradbury

Go to previous year's longlist: 1941 (awarded in 2016)
Go to subsequent year's longlist: 1944 (awarded in 2019)

Go to 1943 Hugo Finalists and Winners

Hugo Longlist Project     Book Award Reviews     Home


  1. I suspect those who do like the Retro Hugos enjoy the challenge of finding stuff to nominate more than the rest of the process. I'll stick with the current Hugos where picking things for the nomination stage is often a challenge of too much rather than too little. And the final ballot, winner, and longlist are usually quite satisfying too.

    1. @Laura: That seems like a plausible theory, but it doesn't seem to actually match what happens in practice. If it was the case that people nominating for the Retro Hugos were assiduously hunting for new worthy works, that would probably make the Retro Hugos a lot more interesting. What actually seems to happen is that even though there is the occasional outlier, most of the finalists and longlisted nominees seem to be from the same handful of individuals, which is pretty much why I find them so lackluster as an award.

  2. I have to admit that I was rather disappointed that Heinlein won best novel, because he actually had interesting competition there. Also sad that the Retro Hugos failed to recognise Margaret Brundage once again.

    But then, Retro Hugo votes seem to be mainly due to name recognition. Also see Donald Wollheim finishing in second place in the editor category. Now Donald Wollheim definitely was a fine editor, but in 1942, he was just starting out. I'm also pretty sure that Bambi won mainly because everybody has seen it.

    1. @Cora: You have summed up pretty much all of my complaints about the Retro Hugos. I am pretty sure that Heinlein won because most of the people voting recognized his name over the other authors who were finalists.

  3. And so few people even bother to vote, let alone nominate, in the retro-Hugos that it does not seem worth the bother. Very few Worldcon attendees were old enough to be reading sf in 1942 (they'd have to be at least 85) so they're not really equipped to judge the merits of a editor back in 1942 or (unless they do a lot of research) to know what the best novella or novelette was that year. They might do a bit better on the vote once the nominees are picked, but too often it become a question of what names do people recognize.

    1. @Samuel: Lack of familiarity does seem to be the root of the problem. I've read a decent amount of older science fiction, but I couldn't even begin to put together a reasonable nominating ballot for these Retro Hugos.