Category Archives: hugo

The Retro Hugo Awards for 1941 at MidAmeriCon II

Next summer at MidAmeriCon II–the 74th World Science Fiction Convention–among the awards given out will be the Retro Hugo awards for 1941. The award will cover stories published in 1940. I have a particular interest in this award because a few years ago, when I was taking my Vacation in the Golden Age, I read, and wrote about, every story that appeared in Astounding Science Fiction from July 1939 – November 1942. That means that I read and commented on every story that appeared in 1940 issue of Astounding.

Many of these stories are likely unfamiliar to modern audiences who will be voting for the Retro Hugos, so I wanted to call attention to my Vacation in the Golden Age, specifically for 1940, in the chance that folks would want to read what I thought of the stories published that year. And if any of them pique your interest, you might look them up in a collection or anthology.

Here are the 12 issues of Astounding that appeared in 1940. Clicking on the issues will take you to my review of that issue. I comment not only on the stories, but on everything in the magazine, letters, editorials, and sometimes even the advertisements.

Astounding 1940

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Episode 7: Jan ’40 Episode 8: Feb ’40 Episode 9: Mar ’40
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Episode 10: Apr ’40 Episode 11: May ’40 Episode 12: Jun ’40
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Episode 13: Jul ’40 Episode 14: Aug ’40 Episode 15: Sep ’40
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Episode 16: Oct ’40 Episode 17: Nov ’40 Episode 18: Dec ’40

Unlike 1939, where from July – December Astounding published stories by 3 different women, there were no stories published by women in 1940, at least not in Astounding. That’s too bad, because in 1939, one of my favorite stories was “Greater Than Gods” by C.L. Moore.

There was still some excellent fiction published in the 1940 issues of Astounding. And if you are wondering what my particular favorites were, I’ll list them for you below, along with the issue in which they appeared, in case you want to read more about them.

My favorite stories for 1940

  1. “Final Blackout” by L. Ron Hubbard1 (April, May, June 1940)
  2. “Requiem” by Robert A. Heinlein (January 1940)
  3. “Cold” by Nat Schachner (March 1940)
  4. “The Stars Look Down” by Lester Del Rey (August 1940)
  5. “The Mosaic” by J. B. Ryan (July 1940)
  6. “If This Goes On–” by Robert A. Heinlein (February 1940)
  7. “Butyl and the Breather” by Theodore Sturgeon (October 1940)
  8. “Fog” by Robert Willey2 (December 1940)
  9. “One Was Stubborn” by Rene La Fayette3 (November 1940)

Of course, A. E. van Vogt’s famous novel Slan was serialized in Astounding in 1940 and you may note that it didn’t make my list of favorite stories. I suspect this one will be high on the list for other people, primarily because it is still fairly well known today. But while the first part of Slan was extraordinary, I think it got weaker with each subsequent part. Not true for another serial, like Final Blackout. This is just my opinion.

Astounding was not the only magazine publishing science fiction in 1940. There were others, including Unknown, John Campbell’s other magazine, and Amazing Stories. But it was a time when it was still possible to read just about everything published in the year.

It will be interesting to see how the voting turns out for the Retro Hugo because it is a 2016 audience voting for stories published generations earlier. At the very least, it would be fascinating to look at the results of the Retro Hugos for 1941 and compare them to Campbell’s analytical laboratory (for those stories that came from Astounding at least) to see how much our literary judgments align with fans from generations past.


  1. This was a decade before Hubbard published his infamous “Dianetics” essay in the May 1950 issue of Astounding.
  2. A pseudonym for science writer Willy Ley
  3. A pseudonym for L. Ron Hubbard

To my friends and fellow fans who might not be able to afford a Worldcon membership

Earlier today, Mary Robinette Kowal offered 10 (now 20) supporting (voting) memberships to the World Science Fiction Convention in 2015 to fans who might not otherwise be able to afford a supporting membership. The membership allows fans to vote for the Hugo Award, which is often considered to be the most prestigious award in science fiction.

I know that I have friends and fellow fans out there who can’t afford a supporting membership, and so, taking a page from Mary’s book, I am offering 5 supporting memberships for Worldcon for people who can’t otherwise afford one.

Part of the fun of the World Science Fiction Convention is being able to vote on your favorite works from the previous year, and that $40 supporting membership is difficult for some folks. If you can afford, it, I encourage you to get a supporting membership. If you can’t afford one, shoot me an email at feedback [at] jamietoddrubin [dot] com with your contact information. Also, because of the controversy surrounding the Hugo Awards this year, I want to be clear that for folks who get these supporting membership: please don’t feel constrained in your vote. Participation in the fan process is all that I am hoping for.

Next week, I’ll pick the 5 names randomly from the requests that I get, and buy the memberships through the Sasquan website on their behalf.

ETA (4/15): All 5 supporting memberships have been given out to folks making requests. As it turned out, I had exactly 5 requests for a membership through today, so that made things easy.

George R. R. Martin on Guilt by Association

From George R. R. Martin’s Not A Blog:

I do not believe in Guilt by Association, and that’s what we’d be doing if we vote against every name on the Puppy slates simply because they are on the slate. That was a classic weapon of the McCarthy Era: first you blacklist the communists, then you blacklist the people who defend the communists and the companies that hire them, then you blacklist the people who defend the people on the blacklist, and on and on, in ever widening circles. No. I won’t be part of that.

I completely agree.

To All the Hugo Award Winners: Thank You! You Saved Science Fiction for Me

Congratulations to all of the Hugo Award winners. You all saved science fiction for me. I had been slowly drifting away from the genre, in part because of new writing opportunities in other directions, but in part because I was frustrated by the lack of inclusion I saw, and the voices arguing for status quo. Those voices are not new in the genre, but the accumulated weight of their historical grinding was finally getting to me.

I served as Nebula Awards Commissioner this last year, and while I was pleased with the results of the awards, some of the campaigning I saw turned me off to the notion of awards in general. It wasn’t rampant, but it was there. I know that campaigning happens, but for me, it makes the awards seem more like baseball’s All-Star game. I guess I was in the unenviable position of seeing how the sausage was made, and didn’t like what I saw.

The Hugo Awards, with their associated controversies this year, had the potential to do a lot of harm to the genre. But these awards are voted on by fans, and the fans voices were loud and clear this year. The result was an incredible slate of winners that not only represent the best the genre has to offer, but that restored my faith in the fans, writers, and the genre itself.

Sometimes when I watch a movie or TV show, I’ll sit there and think, “Wow! I wish I was a [doctor | lawyer | baseball player | Superman].” The drama draws me in and I want to be just like the person I see on the big screen. Yesterday, as award after award was announced, I kept thinking to myself, “Gosh, I want to be a science fiction writer just like them!” That was when I knew that this year’s Hugo Awards saved science fiction for me.

A few notes on some of the specific awards and winners:

Ann Leckie for Ancillary Justice

In Chicago in 2012, I sat at the hotel bar one evening with a bunch of people coming and going, including a quite a few SFWA board members. Ann was one of them, and she and I were among the last people at the table that evening. I’ve grown pretty disciplined about talking about the stories that I’m working on, while I’m working on them, but I lose that discipline around other writers, sometimes, and Ann is particularly easy to talk to. I think I remember her telling me that she was working on her first novel–the novel that turned out to be Ancillary Justice.

Ancillary Justice has gone on to do something no other science fiction novel has, to my knowledge, done before: it has won the Hugo, Nebula, Clarke, BSFA, and Locus Award for best novel all in the same year. Originally, I likened this to a baseball player hitting for the cycle, but I realize more and more, that an achievement like this is much more like a pitcher throwing a perfect game. I think there is a spot in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame waiting for Ann to fill it.

Charles Stross for “Equoid”

I met Charles Stross at Boskone in 2008. We spoke only briefly, but I learned we had a few things in common: he was pharmacist for a time, and I worked in a pharmacy. He also did some system administration, and so had I. We also had similar thoughts on DRM, or the lack thereof.

Stross has been one of those writers that challenges me. He writes far above my head on topics that I barely have a grasp upon, but I think that is a good thing. He sets the bar very high for other writers. I also admire his work ethic, which, at least from what he exposes on his blog, demonstrates that even for the best writers out there, writing is hard work. None of us phone it in. Few of us could get away with that. Stross’s writing reflects his work ethic, and it is no surprise that so many people like it.

Mary Robinette Kowal for “The Lady Astronaut of Mars”

I first worked with Mary when she was SFWA’s secretary, helping out with various technical work as a volunteer. The most time I spent with her was when I gave her a ride from Boston’s Logan airport to Readercon’s hotel several years back. Mary is one of the nicest people in science fiction. Up-and-coming writers would be hard pressed to find a better model to emulated on panels. And, of course, she is a brilliant writer, and her win for “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” is greatly deserved.

John Chu for “The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere”

I don’t think I’ve ever met John Chu in person, but his story, which completed TOR.com’s sweep of the short fiction awards, is fantastic, and his “little story that could” speech last night was a highlight of the acceptance speeches.

Continue reading To All the Hugo Award Winners: Thank You! You Saved Science Fiction for Me

Award Season FAQ

It’s award season, with the Hugo Awards now open for nomination, and the Nebula Awards now halfway through its nomination period. I’ve been asked a few times about my own stories, so let me say two things about my stories and the awards:

  1. I don’t promote my own stories during award season. My own philosophy, which I apply solely to myself and my stories, is that if the stories don’t create enough buzz on their own they are not worth nominating. Because of this, I don’t create buzz on their behalf. I realize that some might view this as strange behavior, but it’s how I feel. I will happily sing the praises of other people’s stories that I’ve read. But I want my own stories to be good enough to create their own buzz.
  2. My stories published in 2013 are not eligible for the Nebula awards. I am the Nebula Award commissioner this year and that makes my stories ineligible for that award.

Happy nominating, everyone!

(ETA 1/7: If you are simply looking for what I’ve published, can’t recall a title, or something like that, I do have a bibliography page.)

The Hugo Award-Winning SF Signal!

I’m still catching up on a few posts I’ve wanted to write since heading home from Chicon. I realize I haven’t yet got to say how thrilled I was when SF Signal won the Hugo Award for Best Fanzine. It was a highlight of the convention to see John DeNardo take the stage and accept the award.

I have been extraordinarily fortunate to be affiliated with SF Signal over the last several years. I sometimes feel like it has been entirely to my benefit. I remember noting sometime in 2008 that a blog post I had written had been picked up by SF Signal’s “Tidbits” and I was so excited by that, I think I talked about nothing else all day. I turn to SF Signal each morning to see what’s happening in the world of science fiction and I’m never disappointed.

And I probably owe a large part of my blog audience to SF Signal. More than a year ago, John got in touch with me to tell me that he liked the posts I wrote on science fiction, and asked if I’d like to write a column for them. That became the Wayward Time Traveler column, which I wrote for nearly a year and which I had a blast doing. It was a difficult, sad, decision to have to stop doing that column–with two kids and other obligations, it just became too much for me. But that column, and the other opportunities the John and the SF Signal folks gave me, lead to one of two big, sustained spikes in my audience here at this blog and so I am indebted to SF Signal not just for the opportunities they have given me, but also for the audience.

The best part of my affiliation with SF Signal, however, has been the friends I have made. This includes, of course, John DeNardo and Patrick Hester. It also includes people like Paul Weimer and Fred Kiesche and several others. Chatting with these folks online is like having a mini-convention. They are some of the biggest fans I know, but they are also among the nicest people I’ve met in science fiction.

What is remarkable about SF Signal is the scope of the genre that it embraces. Not just science fiction, but fantasy and horror. And not just written science fiction (my particular favorite), but movies, television, podcasts, art, music and gaming. Whatever your interest in the uber-genre, SF Signal has managed to cover it. Their tidbits keep you up-to-date. Their mind-melds provides a wide cross-section of viewpoints on countless topics. They have fantastic interviews. They point you to places you can find free fiction online. They highlight new writers and artists. They encourage burgeoning bloggers. They plug their contributors, but are remarkably humble about themselves. They reach out into every part of the science fiction/fantasy/horror genre and they are always a good fit.

I am just so thrilled that SF Signal won a Hugo Award and it was a pleasure to finally get to meet John and Patrick and others affiliated with SF Signal in person in Chicago.

Congratulations to all of the Hugo nominees!

I spent a quiet weekend with the family and wasn’t online much. That said, I did manage to see that the Hugo nominees for 2012 were announced. I’ve seen various comparisons to the Hugos made. Some liken them to the People’s Choice awards; others to the Oscars. In prestige, they are among the tops awards in science fiction because they are voted on by the fans; the people who pay out good money to read the books and stories and blogs and listen to the podcasts. I think these are fair comparisons. In some ways, the Hugos also remind me of baseball’s All Star nominations. They are all around fun and this year we are fortunate to have such a great list of nominees on the final ballot.

I’ve been focusing on short fiction this year, so I have not read any of the novels that were nominated (although I’ve made it about 1/5th of the way through A Dance With Dragons). I have read much of the short fiction on the list and it is all deserving of nomination.

I was delighted to see Apex magazine and Lightspeed get a nomination for best semiprozine.

I am especially glad to see SF Signal get not one but two Hugo nominations: one for best fanzine and the other for best fancast. John DeNardo and his folks do a wonderful job over at SF Signal and it is really deserving of both nominations.

There is always some debate attached to awards in science fiction, but for me, the Hugos remind me that science fiction is a fun genre. They bring out the fan in me and you can bet I’ll be eagerly awaiting the results of this outstanding ballot later this year.

Congratulations to all the nominees this year!

A plug for other writers: my Hugo nominations

I finally got around to making my Hugo nominations this morning, after I realized that I’d moved on to 2012 reading and wasn’t planning on doing anymore reading for 2011. I’m listing my nominations below because these writers wrote some outstanding stories and deserve recognition for them. If you haven’t made your nominations yet, or not sure what to nominate, you should consider these folks below.

Best short story

Best novelette

  • “Therapeutic Mathematics and the Physics of Curveballs” by Gray Rinehart (Analog, Septmber 2011)
  • The Observation Post” by Allen M. Steele (Asimov’s September 2011)

Best novella

Best novel

  • 11/22/63 by Stephen King (Scribner)
  • Firebird by Jack McDevitt (Ace)

Best fan writer

All of these stories are, in my opinion, award-worthy and they made for a great year of reading for me.

Hugo nominations are open

Hugo award nominations are now open. If you attended last year’s WorldCon (attending or supporting) and/or are attending Chicon this year, you are eligible to make nominations.

Because I’ve gotten the question, here are my eligible publications for the year:

Since my first pro story was published back in 2007, I am not eligible for the Campbell Award this year.

ETA: It was brought to my attention that I am also eligible for the Fan Writer nomination for:

There were lots of great stories published this year. Go forth and nominate!