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1945 Retro Hugos

(7 posts)
  • Started 3 months ago by CarlGlover
  • Latest reply from Dr. Caligari

  1. CarlGlover

    An interesting lineup, with which I mostly agree.

    But one puzzles me: Rocklynne's "Intruders from the Stars."

    Seeing it, I thought it must be a great lost classic somehow overlooked until now.

    So, I read it.

    A classic? By no means. It's a wildly melodramatic interplanetary tale typical of the uber-patriotism consistently seen in pulp fiction of the WWII era, with cringe-worthy, politically incorrect characterizations of the enemy, juvenile plotting and a magical resolution more typical of 1930 than 1944.

    So, why?

    For one thing, it is written in a sort of pseudo-unusual, quasi-experimental style that Rocklynne sometimes fell prey to, but which often degraded rather than enhanced his work. Was its nomination simply an attempt to recognize the author's efforts to be different from those of the stereotypical sf pulpster?

    But, perhaps more important in terms of the reason why, the principal character is a "strong woman" whose ambitions outstrip those of every man in sight, including the nominal hero of the tale. She has raised herself by her own bootstraps from a vilified and spat-upon slave girl to planetary conqueror.

    One can easily see how this scenario might have considerable appeal to a certain segment of today's Hugo voters. She is initially ambitious to the point of murderous psychosis, with an all-consuming drive for power that would perhaps have said voters cheering "You go, girl!" as they mark their ballots. Yes, I can see that.

    However, there is a caveat, and a really big one, or so it seems to me. The happy ending to the story entirely depends upon a vast sea-change in her personality and view of her place in the universe. She is suddenly transformed from a power-mad lunatic into a rational and humane woman whose ambitions are entirely directed toward enhancing the welfare of the human race. She has been cured of her insane and unwomanly views and is ready to settle into a benign and maternal leadership role in the new order.

    And how does this miraculous transformation occur? According to the modern pc view of such things, by the most unlikely of agents: the Christian religion and the love of a good man.

    I am assuming that the majority of those who voted it onto the ballot did not read it to the end, if they read it at all.

    Anyone have a different take?

    Posted 3 months ago #
  2. Marian

    Here is the link to the winners.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  3. Marian

    Shadow Over Mars by Leigh Brackett won Best Novel. The only novel of hers I've read is post nuclear war The Long Tomorrow. It was quite good though its been decades since I read it. I know she was called The Queen of Space Opera and Shadow Over Mars certainly sounds like that! Has anyone read it? What did you think? Did it deserve the award?

    Posted 2 months ago #
  4. CarlGlover

    I read it in the early 1960s in its Ace incarnation as "The Nemesis from Terra." It made little impression on me and doesn't stick in my memory as anything special. But I was never a fan of Brackett's planetary romances, which I saw as overwritten, soapy and pale Burroughs imitations. (I, too, read "The Long Tomorrow" back in the day, a very different type of Brackett, though for me not really memorable.)

    As to whether it deserved the award, of the other three nominees I've read, I would have chosen Stapledon's "Sirius" for its literary value and substance. It was a more interesting story and had something to say.

    But, my favorite novel from 1944 was Ray Jones's "Renaissance," which curiously was not nominated. Even though it was a little turgid at times and too long for its theme, it was superior as a piece of conventional sf to any others on the ballot.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  5. Dr. Caligari

    For Brackett's planetary romances, I recommend "The Sword of Rhiannon."

    Posted 2 months ago #
  6. CarlGlover

    "The Sword of Rhiannon" was one of the first Ace Doubles I ever bought. I think there is general agreement that it was probably her best work in this area, and maybe it would have made a stronger impression on me had its companion not been the single finest work of sword-and-sorcery ever written, Robert E. Howard's "Conan the Conqueror." There is nothing in the whole of the genre to rival that magnificent opening paragraph, and the rest is almost as good. In this instance, perhaps it was just the luck of the draw for Brackett in terms of my judgment. Very little that has ever been written could stand comparison with Howard's great novel.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  7. Dr. Caligari

    My father, he should rest in peace, owned that Ace Double. It was one of the first ""real" books I ever read, once I graduated from Scholastic books and Tom Swift, Jr.

    Posted 2 months ago #

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