Friday, July 31, 2020

1945 Retro Hugo Award Finalists (awarded in 2020)

Location: CoNZealand, Wellington, New Zealand.

Comments: The Retro Hugo Awards are a joke.

There I said it. It's a shame, and they didn't have to be a joke, but they are.

I've highlighted all the flaws inherent in the way these awards are structured and administered over the years, and every year the awards seem bound and determined to demonstrate these flaws over and over again, and this year was no exception - and this year even managed to find ways to be flawed in ways I hadn't even considered. Look at the Best Series category, where The Cthulhu Mythos won. This is such a vaguely defined "series' that its victory could possibly have made literally hundreds of works and dozens of authors Hugo winners. Just how far does this award extend? Charles Stross has written some Chtulhu pastiches. Is he a Hugo winner for those stories now? Tamsyn Muir has written some clearly Cthulhu-inspired fiction. Is she a Hugo winner for her stories now? Just how many people are now Hugo winners? Does anybody know? More to the point, since this is a Retro Hugo, does anybody care?

From a certain perspective, the debacle of the 1945 Best Series is just another side effect of trying to jam classic material into modern categories, but it is emblematic of the thoughtless and haphazard way in which the Retro Hugos were conceived and the careless way in which they are handled. No one really thought through what this nomination meant, and no one really seems to care about its implications. Its just another case of a badly designed award being badly run, and the drive to smear nostalgia all over the lens blurring away any kind of care or reason.

The Retro Hugos didn't have to be this mess. They could have been a vehicle for highlighting lesser known but excellent works from an older era. I am even willing to believe this was what the creators of the award had in mind when they first put forward the proposal for them. The reality, however, has been nominations and wins for the often mediocre early work of the tiny handful of authors that everyone remembers because they were famous for years long after the years these award supposedly apply to. That and the voters handing John W. Campbell yet another Hugo for editing.

The Retro Hugo isn't an award for good science fiction from the past. It is a way for a tiny fraction of Worldcon attendees to exercise their nostalgia. It could have been more, but it isn't. And that make the Retro Hugos a joke.

Best Novel

Shadow Over Mars (The Nemesis from Terra) by Leigh Brackett

Other Finalists:
The Golden Fleece (Hercules, My Shipmate) by Robert Graves
Land of Terror by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord by Olaf Stapledon
The Wind on the Moon by Eric Linklater
The Winged Man by A.E. van Vogt and E. Mayne Hull

Best Novella

Killdozer! by Theodore Sturgeon

Other Finalists:
The Changeling by A.E. van Vogt
A God Named Kroo by Henry Kuttner
Intruders from the Stars by Ross Rocklynne
The Jewel of Bas by Leigh Brackett
Trog by Murray Leinster

Best Novelette

City by Clifford D. Simak (reviewed as part of the fix up novel City)

Other Finalists:
Arena by Fredric Brown
The Big and the Little (The Merchant Princes) by Isaac Asimov
The Children’s Hour by C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner
No Woman Born by C.L. Moore
When the Bough Breaks by C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner

Best Short Story

I, Rocket by Ray Bradbury

Other Finalists:
And the Gods Laughed by Fredric Brown
Desertion by Clifford D. Simak
Far Centaurus by A. E. van Vogt
Huddling Place by Clifford D. Simak (reviewed as part of the fix up novel City)
The Wedge (The Traders) by Isaac Asimov

Best Series

The Cthulhu Mythos by H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth, and others

Other Finalists:
Captain Future by Edmond Hamilton
Doc Savage by Kenneth Robeson (mostly Lester Dent)
Jules de Grandin by Seabury Quinn
Pellucidar by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Shadow by Walter B. Gibson

Best Related Work

The Science-Fiction Field by Leigh Brackett

Other Finalists:
’42 To ’44: A Contemporary Memoir Upon Human Behavior During the Crisis of the World Revolution by H.G. Wells
Fancyclopedia by Jack Speer
Mr. Tompkins Explores the Atom by George Gamow
Rockets: The Future of Travel Beyond the Stratosphere by Willy Ley
The Works of H.P. Lovecraft: Suggestions for a Critical Appraisal by Fritz Leiber

Best Graphic Story

Superman: The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

Other Finalists:
Buck Rogers: Hollow Planetoid by Dick Calkins
Donald Duck: The Mad Chemist by Carl Barks
Flash Gordon: Battle for Tropica by Don Moore and Alex Raymond
Flash Gordon: Triumph in Tropica by Don Moore and Alex Raymond
The Spirit: For the Love of Clara Defoe by Manly Wade Wellman, Lou Fine and Don Komisarow

Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form

(tie) The Canterville Ghost screenplay by Edwin Harvey Blum from a story by Oscar Wilde
(tie) The Curse of the Cat People written by DeWitt Bodeen

Other Finalists:
Donovan’s Brain adapted by Robert L. Richards from a story by Curt Siodmak
House of Frankenstein screenplay by Edward T. Lowe, Jr. from a story by Curt Siodmak
The Invisible Man’s Revenge written by Bertram Millhauser
It Happened Tomorrow screenplay and adaptation by Dudley Nichols and René Clair

Best Professional Editor: Short Form

John W. Campbell

Other Finalists:
Oscar J. Friend
Mary Gnaedinger
Dorothy McIlwraith
Raymond A. Palmer
W. Scott Peacock

Best Professional Artist

Margaret Brundage

Other Finalists:
Earle K. Bergey
Boris Dolgov
Matt Fox
Paul Orban
William Timmins

Best Fanzine

Voice of the Imagi-Nation edited by Forrest J. Ackerman and Myrtle R. Douglas

Other Finalists:
The Acolyte edited by Francis T. Laney and Samuel D. Russell
Diablerie edited by Bill Watson
Futurian War Digest edited by J. Michael Rosenblum
Shangri L’Affaires edited by Charles Burbee
Le Zombie edited by Bob Tucker and E.E. Evans

Best Fan Writer

Fritz Leiber

Other Finalists:
Morojo (aka Myrtle R. Douglas)
J. Michael Rosenblum
Jack Speer
Bob Tucker
Harry Warner, Jr.

Go to previous year's finalists: 1944 (awarded in 2019)
Go to subsequent year's finalists: 1946 (awarded in 1996)

What Are the Hugo Awards?

1945 Retro Hugo Award Longlist     Book Award Reviews     Home

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