Log in

No account? Create an account

February 11th, 2018

My tweets


Second paragraph of third chapter:
In some indefinable way the black face thus flashed upon me shocked me profoundly. It was a singularly deformed one. The facial part projected, forming something dimly suggestive of a muzzle, and the huge half-open mouth showed as big white teeth as I had ever seen in a human mouth. His eyes were blood-shot at the edges, with scarcely a rim of white round the hazel pupils. There was a curious glow of excitement in his face.
Dr Moreau is one of the earliest mad scientists in sf history, and possibly the first to experiment on living creatures via surgery (Frankenstein's subjects are dead, at least when he starts working on them). It's one of Wells' early huge successes, published in 1896, the year after The Time Machine and the year before The War of the Worlds. The plot is rather basic - protagonist is shipwrecked, and ends up on an island where Dr Moreau is engaging in horrendous experiments to instill humanity into animals; it all goes wrong, Moreau is killed by his creations, and only the narrator escapes to tell us (and, scarred by the experience, he ends up fearing his neighbours in a passage reminiscent of Gulliver after the Houyhnhnms). It's short and taut; the central point is laid on pretty thick, but not for very long; the thrust of the story is a critique of the idea that science will inevitably improve life for us all (and if anything it is Moreau, the villain, who is identified with imperialism). You can get it here.

This was both my top unread book acquired last year and my top unread sf book. Next on those lists are Dark Matter by Blake Crouch and, stretching a point, Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner.

Best Series Retro Hugo 1943

This year's Worldcon, Worldcon 76, has decided to award Retro Hugos for 1943 (celebrating work of 1942) as well as the regular Hugos for 2018. For the first time, this means that we voters will be nominating Retro Hugos in the Best Series category, since it was added to the permanent list by last year's Business meeting.

The Best Series category is defined as follows:
3.3.5: Best Series. A multi-installment science fiction or fantasy story, unified by elements such as plot, characters, setting, and presentation, appearing in at least three (3) installments consisting in total of at least 240,000 words by the close of the previous calendar year, at least one (1) installment of which was published in the previous calendar year, and which has not previously won under 3.3.5. Previous losing finalists in the Best Series category shall be eligible only upon the publication of at least two (2) additional installments consisting in total of at least 240,000 words after they qualified for their last appearance on the final ballot and by the close of the previous calendar year.
Obviously, since this category has not been awarded before, the strictures on previous winners and finalists are not relevant. But even so, the pickings are very slim. There are a number of series which started in 1942 but had not published 3 installments by the end of the year (eg Asimov's Foundation). There are other series with many installments which however do not amount to 240,000 words (eg the Via and Adam Link sequences by Otto Binder, and I think also the Professor Jameson stories by Neil R. Jones). What I am left with is the following rather brief list:

  • Oz, by L. Frank Baum, Ruth Plumly Thompson and John R. Neil, qualifying installment is Lucky Bucky in Oz by John R. Neil. This series was long past its glory days by 1942.

  • Pellucidar, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, qualifying installments "Return to Pellucidar", "Men of the Bronze Age" and "Tiger Girl", all published in Amazing Stories and collected much later in Savage Pellucidar. Again, a series that had been going for decades.

  • Amtor / Venus, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, qualifying installment "War on Venus", published in Fantastic Adventures, which later became the last part of the fourth book of the series, Escape on Venus.

  • The Ki-Gor series, by John Peter Drummond, qualifying installments "Blood Priestess of Vig N'Ga" / "Slaves for the Renegade Sultan" / "The Cannibal Horde" / "The Devil's Death Trap", which were the twelfth too fifteenth stories in the series. The first three collected Ki-Gor volumes, the thrid of which includes three of the above stories (but not "The Devil's Death Trap") total almost 1100 pages, so it surely qualifies on length.

  • Captain Future, by Edmond Hamilton, qualifying installments Quest Beyond the Stars / 10 Outlaws of the Moon / The Comet Kings / Planets in Peril. These are the ninth to twelfth installments of the series, each of them about 80 magazine pages; so they may fall short of the required word count

  • The James Armitage trilogy, by Franklyn Kelsey, qualifying volume The Prowlers of the Deep. Total pagecount well over 800, which probably means it qualifies on length.

  • Edited to add: oops, forgot The Lensman series, by E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith, qualifying installments parts 3 and 4 of Second Stage Lensmen as first published in Astounding. Again, pagecount for Galactic Patrol, Gray Lensman and Second Stage Lensman is over 800 so it’s probably OK.

  • Edited again to add: someone else points out the eligibility of Doc Savage, whose 107th-118th installments were published in 1942; it certainly satisfies the length criteria.

  • Edited once more to add: An anonymous commenter below suggests the following additions, which all have sfnal elements, though I feel some only barely scrape into being sf:
    • The Shadow by William Walter B. Gibson: Qualifying installments: The Room of Doom\The Book of Death\Vengeance Bay. I believe this was around the 16th novel length Shadow story
    • The Avenger by Paul Ernst: Qualifying installments: The Green Killer\The Happy Killers\The Black Death\The Wilder Curse. I believe this is the 24th novel length Avenger story
    • The Spider by Grant Stockbrige: Qualifying installment: Death and the Spider. This had around 30 novel length installments by this point as well as various pieces of short fiction so should be eligible.
    • Jules de Grandin by Seabury Quinn: Qualifying installment: Stoneman's Memorial. This had around 50 installments (mostly novelette length) by this point so I think this is fine.
    • Jorkens by Lord Dunsany: Qualifying installments: The Khamseen\ The Welcome\ On the Other Side of the Sun. There were around 67 pieces of short fiction by this point, probably reaching around 1000 pages by the size of the collections.

  • Edited yet again to add: Cora, below, alerts me to G-8 and His Battle Aces, a WWI aviation pulp with plenty of SFF and horror elements such as zombies, sentient gorillas, ray guns, masked masterminds, etc... The 100th issue was published in 1942, featuring a Japanese scientist who had found a way of making planes invisible.

The Heirs and Assigns series by [James] Branch Cabell includes the 1942 novel The First Gentleman of America: A Comedy of Conquest and appears to meet the length criteria, but apparently the stories are not really fantasy but straightforward historical novels. The ISFB listing of the Green Ghost stories by G.T. Fleming-Roberts seems incomplete, but I suspect that even if it were complete, there would be insufficient word-count for 1942.

My anonymous commenter below proposes another two that I think do not qualify - Torminster by Elizabeth Goudge: 1942 Installment: The Blue Hills/Henrietta’s House, which I don’t think has sufficient word count (and the series as a whole appears to be insufficiently sfnal), and the Cthulhu Mythos, where the only potential 1942 instalment is “The Black Bargain” by Robert Bloch, a story that refers to the book De Vermis Mysteriis but not to any of the Elder Gods, which I think makes it only marginally part of the Cthulhu series.

That's not a lot - if my count is right, only six seven eight eligible series for six available ballot places, with two of them (Ki-Gor and James Armitage) distinctly obscure, and the best-known of them (Oz) well past its best-before date.

I don't envy the decision of this year's Hugo administrators on whether or not to go ahead with the ballot in this category.

Latest Month

March 2018


Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by yoksel