Most unsuccessful Hugo nominations for Best Novel

David Bilek, on rec.arts.sf.written, asked if Robert Sawyer (who Bilek doesn’t like much) holds the record for the largest number of unsuccessful Hugo nominations for Best Novel.

Sawyer’s five unsuccessful nominations so far are The Terminal Experiment aka Hobson’s Choice (1996), Starplex (1997), Frameshift (1998), Factoring Humanity (1999) and Calculating God (2001). I’ve only read the last of these and was not impressed. Having read all of this year’s nominees I have to say it’s likely that Hominids will add to this total rather than lifting him off the list!

Curently level with Sawyer is Greg Bear, for Blood Music (novel version, 1986, as opposed to the novella), The Forge of God (1988), Queen of Angels (1991), Moving Mars (1994), and the execrable Nebula winner Darwin’s Radio (2000). Bear has of course won two Hugos for short fiction (both of which also won Nebulas).

His father in law Poul Anderson was nominated seven times for the Best Novel award and never got it, though he won four for his short fiction; the novels were The Enemy Stars (1959), The High Crusade (1961), Tau Zero (1971), the excellent There Will Be Time (1973), The People of the Wind (1974), Fire Time (1975), and The Boat of a Million Years (1990).

But surprisingly the real answer to the question is Robert Silverberg, who has won three Hugos for shorter fiction, but missed out on Best Novel no fewer than nine (possible ten) times. The Silverberg novels which were nominated but missed out were Thorns (1968), Up the Line (1970), Tower of Glass (1971), A Time of Changes (1972), tower-block novel The World Inside (withdrawn from the 1972 ballot so not sure if it counts), The Book of Skulls (1973), the excellent Dying Inside (also 1973), The Stochastic Man (1976), Shadrach in the Furnace (1977), and Lord Valentine’s Castle (1981).

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