Saturday, April 30, 2016

1941 Retro Hugo Award Finalists--initial whims

Announcement text courtesy File 770

The finalists for the 1941 Retro Hugo Awards were announced on Tuesday, April 26...
There were 481 valid nominating ballots (475 electronic and 6 paper) received and counted from the members of Sasquan, MidAmeriCon II, and Worldcon 75.
BEST NOVEL (352 ballots)
  • Kallocain by Karin Boye (Bonnier)
  • Gray Lensman by E.E. “Doc” Smith (Astounding Science-Fiction, Jan 1940)
  • Slan by A.E. Van Vogt (Astounding Science-Fiction, Dec 1940)
  • The Ill-Made Knight by T.H. White (Collins)
  • The Reign of Wizardry by Jack Williamson (Unknown, Mar 1940)
Mason: The Boye is a dystopian Swedish novel, apparently; Boye perhaps comparable to a combination of Stephen Vincent Benet and Robert Frost in her country, reportedly best and widely known for her poetry.  I'd probably lean toward the White or the Williamson, but haven't yet read either, unless the Boye is very well translated. Reminders of what I need to read. 

BEST NOVELLA (318 ballots)
  • “The Mathematics of Magic” by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (Unknown, Aug 1940)
  • “The Roaring Trumpet” by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (Unknown, May 1940)
  • “Coventry” by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science-Fiction, July 1940)
  • “If This Goes On…” by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science-Fiction, Feb 1940)
  • “Magic, Inc.” by Robert A. Heinlein (Unknown, Sept 1940)
Mason: I have read "The Roaring Trumpet" and "The Devil Makes the Law" (the original of "Magic, Inc."). Between those, it's almost a toss-up. Really should catch up here, too.

BEST NOVELETTE (310 ballots)
  • “Farewell to the Master” by Harry Bates (Astounding Science-Fiction, Oct 1940)
  • “Blowups Happen” by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science-Fiction, Sept 1940)
  • “The Roads Must Roll” by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science-Fiction, June 1940)
  • “It” by Theodore Sturgeon (Unknown, Aug 1940)
  • “Darker Than You Think” by Jack Williamson (Unknown, Dec 1940)
Mason: File 770 readers note correctly that the Williamson in the original is already a novella, so it's weird it's here (the longer form was published as a novel later). I've read all of these, and "It" is it. In the strongest prose field, perhaps. (Bates was the founding editor of Astounding, and this easily his best-known story, perhaps not least as the source of The Day the Earth Stood Still.)

BEST SHORT STORY (324 ballots)
  • “Strange Playfellow” (a.k.a. “Robbie”) by Isaac Asimov (Super Science Stories, Sept 1940)
  • “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” by Jorge Luis Borges (Sur, 1940)
  • “Martian Quest” by Leigh Brackett (Astounding Science-Fiction, Feb 1940)
  • “The Stellar Legion” by Leigh Brackett (Planet Stories, Winter 1940)
  • “Requiem” by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science-Fiction, Jan 1940)
Mason: I have yet to read either Brackett, and it's odd we have so many clumping finalists here...clearly, we see whose work people are nostalgic about. Borges would probably get my nod. But I really like Brackett.

  • Batman #1 (Detective Comics, Spring 1940)
  • Captain Marvel: “Introducing Captain Marvel” by Bill Parker and C. C. Beck (Whiz Comics #2, Feb 1940)
  • Flash Gordon: “The Ice Kingdom of Mongo” by Alex Raymond and Don Moore (King Features Syndicate, Apr 1940)
  • The Spectre“The Spectre”/”The Spectre Strikes! ” by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily (More Fun Comics #52/53, Feb/Mar 1940)
  • The Origin of the Spirit by Will Eisner (Register and Tribune Syndicate, June 1940)
Mason: I loved the 1970s Spectre, and would need to read the Eisner item, before I probably do opt for the Spirit over even Capt. Marvel. Early Batman interesting but crude, as I recall. True comics fans might well agonize over this shortlist.

  • Dr. Cyclops written by Tom Kilpatrick, directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack (Paramount Pictures)
  • Fantasia written by Joe Grant and Dick Huemer, directed by Samuel Armstrong et al. (Walt Disney Productions, RKO Radio Pictures)
  • Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe written by George H. Plympton, Basil Dickey, and Barry Shipman, directed by Ford Beebe and Ray Taylor (Universal Pictures)
  • One Million B.C. written by Mickell Novack, George Baker, and Joseph Frickert, directed by Hal Roach and Hal Roach, Jr. (United Artists)
  • The Thief of Bagdad written by Lajos Bíró and Miles Malleson, directed by Michael Powell, Ludwig Berger, and Tim Whelan (London Films, United Artists)
Mason: I like the Disney and Cyclops is worth a look, but The Thief of Bagdad doesn't need a flying carpet here to outpace the competition.. 

  • Merrie Melodies: “A Wild Hare” written by Rich Hogan, directed by Tex Avery (Warner Bros.)
  • The Adventures of Superman: “The Baby from Krypton” written by George Ludlam, produced by Frank Chase (WOR/Mutual Broadcasting System)
  • The Invisible Man Returns written by Joe May, Kurt Siodmak, and Lester Cole, directed by Joe May (Universal Pictures)
  • Pinocchio written by Ted Sears et al., directed by Ben Sharpsteen and Hamilton Luske (Walt Disney Productions, RKO Radio Pictures)
  • Looney Tunes: “You Ought to Be in Pictures” written by Jack Miller, directed by Friz Freleng (Warner Bros.)
Mason: I guess the third and fourth are shorter than 90'. At the moment, I'd lean "Wild Hare"...

BEST EDITOR – SHORT FORM (183 ballots)
  • John W. Campbell (Unknown Fantasy Fiction, Astounding Science-Fiction)
  • Dorothy McIlwraith (Weird Tales, Short Stories)
  • Raymond A. Palmer (Fantastic Adventures, Amazing Stories)
  • Frederik Pohl (Astonishing Stories, Super Science Stories)
  • Mort Weisinger (Strange Stories, Startling Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories)
Mason: I'd lean McIlwraith. Even given the year Campbell's having (though next year would be better). Pohl for pluck; he's 19 years old and has the lowest-budgeted sf magazines in the field, but happily has his fellow Futurians to solicit stories from, and several of the better established writers of the time seem willing to throw him a bone or at least stories sometimes foolishly rejected by their usual markets.

  • Hannes Bok
  • Margaret Brundage
  • Edd Cartier
  • Virgil Finlay
  • Frank R. Paul
  • Hubert Rogers
Note: Category has 6 nominees due to a tie for 5th place.

Mason: Bok by an elegantly elongated nose. Though Finlay would get my nod perhaps tomorrow, as already doing his best work. Frank Paul is a big No, though oddly his abstracts were rather good, as opposed to any sort of figure drawing (every creature in his universe wears jodhpurs). Brundage limited, if good within her compass. Cartier and Rogers doing excellent work. 
BEST FANZINE (63 ballots)
  • Futuria Fantasia by Ray Bradbury
  • Le Zombie by Arthur Wilson “Bob” Tucker
  • Novacious by Forrest J Ackerman and Morojo
  • Spaceways by Harry Warner, Jr.
  • Voice of the Imagi-Nation by Forrest J Ackerman and Morojo
Mason: Bob Tucker the best fannish writer here.

BEST FAN WRITER (70 ballots)
  • Forrest J Ackerman
  • Ray Bradbury
  • H. P. Lovecraft
  • Arthur Wilson “Bob” Tucker
  • Harry Warner
Mason: I might give it to Warner for his utter openness to every sort of literary fannishness. When Tucker's still the best of these as a fan writer. (And novelist.) File 770 folk note HPL is on the ballot several years after death because his work was still trickling out in the fan press.


Anonymous said...

If you've read The Once and Future King you've read The Ill-made Knight: White incorporated it into the larger book.

Todd Mason said...

I know, but I never got past the THE SWORD AND THE STONE, though I confess I don't remember if I read the standalone version or the omnibus fix-up. I suspect I read a library edition of STONE and eventually picked up the paperback of the bug crusher, and it took up permanent residence in the TBR boxes somewhere.

Todd Mason said...

I now suspect, after a few minutes piercing the murk of memory, that I read the first novel in a Scholastic Book Services edition in our classroom, or possibly borrowed from the school library, sometime around fourth grade or so. I wonder how many even suburban classrooms have small collections of books in them nowadays.

Jerry House said...

1941 voters wold have immediacy; 2016 voters vote have the advantage of retrospect.

If I were a 1941 voter I'd probably go for:

Best Novel: SLAN
Best Novella: "If This Goes On"
Best Novelette: "Farewell to the Master" [only because "It" veers too much to fantasy]
Best Short Story: "Strange Playfellow"
Best Graphic Story: "Captain Marvel"
Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form): THE THIEF OF BAGDAD
Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS [Short Form? Really?]
Best Editor: Campbell
Best Artist: Rogers [Because of his association with Campbell and ASTOUNDING]
Best Fanzine: LE ZOMBIE
Best Fan Writer: Tucker

Todd Mason said...

Yeah, 90 minutes must be the cutoff...RETURNS the film is 81" long. Or so says IMDb.

While "That Hell-Bound Train" set a Hugo precedent early on that the award could go to no-bones-about-it fantasy fiction...though that in part because of Robert Bloch's personal popularity in fandom, along with it being an excellent story. Hardly the only example since...and, as Superman/Kal El whines in the animations these years, Captain Marvel is all about magic. (Though I take it you relax your purism when it comes to comics!)(and film!).

I suspect your list will be closer to the eventual winners.

Michael Kingsley said...

You can find the two Leigh Brackett short stories for free online.

“The Stellar Legion”

“Martian Quest”

Todd Mason said...

81' long, that is. Thanks, Michael...I should seek out the postings for other texts...and other contestants.