The science fiction of 1967

Over at Mike Glyer's File 770, there has been extensive discussion of this year's Hugo nominations every day for the last seven weeks, varying from erudite to lyrical to argumentative. A couple of days ago several contributors took a neat digression to look at the Hugo awards for the year of their birth. So I'm doing that here, with the caveat that I was born in 1967 so the relevant Hugos are those awarded in 1968; and I am adding in the Nebulas for 1967 as well.

Jo Walton also did this back in 2011. She likes the works from 1967 very much less than I do, and has also read a lot more of them. She concludes that the shortlists do give a good picture of where sf was that year, though regrets the omission of a number of worthy contenders from the shortlists. Of those that she mentions, I can see that the conclusion of John Christopher's Tripods trilogy, and Alan Garner's The Owl Service, would have fallen through the cracks as YA and British; I must also shout out for Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman, published a year after the author's death in 1966 and one of my favourite books of all time.

Best Novel
On both lists:
Lord of Light, by Roger Zelazny (won the Hugo)
The Einstein Intersection, by Samuel R. Delany (won the Nebula)
Chthon, by Piers Anthony
Thorns, by Robert Silverberg
Hugo only:
The Butterfly Kid, by Chester Anderson
Nebula only:
The Eskimo Invasion, by Hayden Howard

Lord of Light is one of my favourite books by one of my favourite authors, and while I admit it has dated in a lot of ways, I still go back to it as comfort reading every now and then. I guess most people would agree that it was one of Zelazny's best, indeed possibly his absolute best.

I found The Einstein Intersection more accessible than a lot of Delany's later writing. I'm not a huge Delany fan, but I can see that there's something there to be impressed by. Stylistically it makes the more recent nominees look very staid.

I read Thorns as a teenager and remember being somewhat mindblown, but no more detail than that. I have a copy on the to-read shelves. I haven't read ChthonBest Novella
On both lists:
"Riders of the Purple Wage" by Philip José Farmer (joint Hugo winner) [Dangerous Visions]
"Weyr Search" by Anne McCaffrey (joint Hugo winner)
"Hawksbill Station" by Robert Silverberg
Hugo only:
"Damnation Alley" by Roger Zelazny
"The Star Pit" by Samuel R. Delany
Nebula only:
"Behold the Man" by Michael Moorcock (Nebula winner)
"If All Men Were Brothers Would You Let One Marry Your Sister?" by Theodore Sturgeon [Dangerous Visions]

This of course was the year of Dangerous Visions, the anthology edited by Harlan Ellison which got nine nominations and took four out of seven short fiction awards; it supplied "Riders of the Purple Wage" and "If All Men Were Brothers…" in this category. Of the three winners, the Farmer is probably the least remembered (I complained in 2005 that I found it incomprehensible), with Moorcock's drastic revision of the Crucifixion and the first of many many stories of Pern displaying more staying power. As McCaffrey pointed out in her acceptance speech, she was the first woman ever to win an sf award.

I confess that, Zelazny geek though I am, I had forgotten that Damnation Alley started life as a shorter piece.

Best Novelette
On both lists:
“Gonna Roll the Bones” by Fritz Leiber (won both Hugo and Nebula) [Dangerous Visions]
“Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes” by Harlan Ellison
Hugo only:
“Wizard’s World” by Andre Norton
“Faith of Our Fathers” by Philip K. Dick [Dangerous Visions]Nebula only:
"Flatlander" by Larry Niven
"This Mortal Mountain" by Roger Zelazny
"The Keys to December" by Roger Zelazny

Back in the days of my long-abandoned attempt to write up all joint winners of the Hugo and Nebula, I had a detailed look at the winning story in this category, complaining that it wasn't quite as new and cutting-edge as editor Harlan Ellison claimed. It's still a better story than Ellison's own contribution to this category, but the standout piece in Dangerous Visions for me was Dick's "Faith of Our Fathers", bringing together Vietnam, drugs and God. I love the two Zelazny stories as well; I can't remember reading either the Norton or the Niven.

Best Short Story
On both lists:
“Aye, and Gomorrah” by Samuel R. Delany (won the Nebula) [Dangerous Visions]
Hugo only:
“I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison (Hugo winner)
“The Jigsaw Man” by Larry Niven [Dangerous Visions]
Nebula only:
"Earthwoman" by Reginald Bretnor
"Driftglass" by Samuel R. Delany
"Answering Service" by Fritz Leiber
"The Doctor" by Theodore Thomas
"Baby, You Were Great" by Kate Wilhelm

A bit of an imbalance here, with only three finalists for the Hugo and six for the Nebula. Both winners are memorable and shocking short pieces. Of the rest, I think I have read the Niven and Delany's "Driftglass", but am not at all sure about the rest.

Other Hugo categories

Best Dramatic Presentation
Star Trek: “The City on the Edge of Forever” (winner)
Star Trek: “The Trouble with Tribbles”
Star Trek: “Mirror, Mirror”
Star Trek: “The Doomsday Machine”
Star Trek: “Amok Time”

Anyone who complains about Doctor Who dominating the Hugos in recent years should be asked to reflect on this list. Having said that, it's interesting that all of these classic Trek episodes were by writers who were or became established sf writers (Ellison, Gerrold, Bixby, Spinrad, Sturgeon), and are now better known for other things.

Best Professional Magazine
If ed. by Frederik Pohl (winner)
Analog Science Fiction and Fact ed. by John W. Campbell, Jr.
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction ed. by Edward L. Ferman
Galaxy ed. by H. L. Gold
New Worlds ed. by Michael Moorcock

If had four stories on the Nebula lists and two on the Hugos. Galaxy also had two Hugo finalists but only one for the Nebula. Analog had "Weyr Search", on both lists; F&SF had one Nebula shortlisted story ("Earthwoman") and nothing on the Hugos; New Worlds had published two on the Nebula list in 1966, but they were eligible for the 1968 Hugos due to publication in Wollheim and Carr's Best Science Fiction of the Year 1967. One story was published in a men's magazine and the rest came from anthologies, Dangerous Visions suppying six stories with nine nominations, and the Nebulas also included two from the Orbit 2 anthology edited by Damon Knight.

Best Professional Artist
Jack Gaughan (winner)
Frank Kelly Freas
Chesley Bonestell
Frank Frazetta
Gray Morrow
John Schoenherr

Best Fanzine
Amra ed. by George H. Scithers (winner)
Australian Science Fiction Review ed. by John Bangsund
Lighthouse ed. by Terry Carr
Yandro ed. by Robert Coulson and Juanita Coulson
Odd ed. by Raymond D. Fisher
Psychotic ed. by Richard E. Geis

Nice to see the Australians getting a look-in.

Best Fan Writer
Ted White (winner)
Ruth Berman
Harry Warner, Jr.

This was the second year that this category was awarded. Both Alexei Panshin and Harlan Ellison were nominated but declined.

Best Fan Artist
George Barr (winner)
Bjo Trimble
Johnny Chambers
Steve Stiles
Arthur “ATom” Thomson

This was the second year that this category was awarded, and was also Steve Stiles' second time as a finalist in this category. He is on the ballot again in 2015, for the 14th time. He has never won (and I'm afraid I'm not voting for him this year either).


Those who complain about left-wingers who have abandoned traditional science fiction taking over the Hugos would have had much firmer grounds for complaint in 1968 than they do now. Evil diversity struck that year as for the first time a woman won a Hugo and a black writer won two Nebulas! Worst of all, six of the nine fiction awards went to writers who had signed the advertisement in Galaxy opposing US participation in the Vietnam war (the other three going to Moorcock, Zelazny and Mccaffrey); only two of those who took the pro-war side even got nominated (Larry Niven and Thedore L. Thomas).

But the other thing that must strike anyone who has browsed the short fiction of that year, and compared it to the Hugo finalists of 2015, is how very much better and varied it is. I will never be a fan of "Riders of the Purple Wage", but at least it is aiming high, and for a lot of readers it clearly achieved it at the time (and continues to do so for some). It is a hugely different story from "Weyr Search", with which it shared the Hugo, and the Nebula-winning "Behold the Man" is hugely different from both. This year the slate-mongers have given us three short fction ballots of conformity, conservatism (in a literary sense) and lack of ambition. I don't know about you, but I am rejecting them all.

2015 Hugos: Initial observations | Voting No Award above the slates | How the slate was(n’t) crowdsourced | Where the new voters are | Considering 1967
Best Novel | Short fiction | Best Related Work | Best Graphic Story | Pro and Fan Artist