More about Retro Hugos

Since the finalists for Retro-Hugo are less depressing, let’s spend a little time delving into them:

The best place to see where these works have been published is on ISFDB.

I confess to having never heard of Kallocain, but my knowledge of Swedish dystopian novels of the 1940’s is minimal.  Wondering if it will be included in the Hugo packet since the translation is published by a university press.  The others are all easily tracked down, Ill-Made Knight is part of “Once and Future King”, which surely every bookstore in the world has in stock.  Reign of Wizardry is not as widely reprinted as the others, it’s not going to win but used Williamson paperbacks are generally cheap and easy to find, and this one wouldn’t take too long to read on a Kindle even if you’re generally opposed to that sort of thing.  I’m going to finally get around to reading Slan, and will make an attempt at Gray Lensman, but probably skip the others.

Novella is dominated by Heinlein, I think it’s the first time since 2001 that we’ve had him in the Retro nominees.  The last Retros were for 1938 which was before he started publishing, and the 2004 Retros were for 1953, by which point he’d moved away from short fiction and was doing the juveniles series.  In fact the first Retros in 1996 were for 1945, while Heinlein was serving in World War II, so no stories of his that year either.  I read all 3 a few years ago but don’t remember much about them.  Note that If This Goes On was expanded and updated for its reprintings in Past Through Tomorrow and Revolt in 2100, so as often happens if you’re reading those you’re not reading the original version.  Don’t know which the Hugo packet will contain, if any since Heinlein rights seem to be hard to get.

Novelette is a pretty good sampling, two famous Heinlein’s (The Roads Must Roll is downright iconic, although you’d have to look at it as steampunk to excuse the premise by today’s standards).  The Williamson story was never reprinted until the Haffner Press started collecting everything but the other two are in the Asimov/Greenberg Great SF Stories series and numerous other anthologies.

Short story is more of a mixed bag, Requiem is justifiably famous, Robbie is famous as the first Asimov robot story (under its original title “Strange Bedfellows”) rather than great prose, but its easy to find.  The two Brackett stories are hardly reprinted at all, it makes me wonder how many people actually read them before nominating.  Not really fair to put Borges on this list, I don’t know that he would have been considered fantasy back then, I’m curious if that story can be secured for the Hugo packet.

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