Hugosauriad 3: Jurassic 1972 – 1999

Welcome to part 3 of a our journey through the Hugo Awards via the medium of dinosaurs: a genre of inquiry known as a dinography*.

In the deep past the Jurassic is an age of dinosaur supremacy. An extinction event at the end of the Triassic reduced severely the range of species of large land animals. Meanwhile the super-continent of Pangea was dividing into the two land masses of Laurasia and Gondwana. The Jurassic was warm and wet, fitting closer to how the time of the dinosaurs is often portrayed in fiction: hot, damp jungles filled with giant herbivores.

For the Hugo Awards it was also a period of both change and continuity. In 1983, for example, the finalists for Best Novel include Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein but alongside them are newer voices such C J Cherryh and Gene Wolfe.

Throughout this period the science fiction magazine remains an influential source of stories. However, it is a period of slow declining influence in Best Novel. The very last winner of Best Novel (to date) to have been published by a magazine was Robert J Sawyer’s Hominid in 2003 (published by Analog Science Fiction)**.

It was a period also when more women are both nominated for awards and win them. Ursula Le Guin, Kate Wilhelm, Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Vonda McIntyre, C J Cherryh, Joan D Vinge, Julian May, Lois McMaster Bujold, Sheri S. Tepper, Emma Bull, Connie Willis, Nancy Kress, Elizabeth Moon, Mary Doria Russell, all winning or finalists for Best Novel during this period.

It was also a period with its own controversies. The Church of Scientology made two concerted attempts to win a Hugo Award for their founder L. Ron Hubbard. The second, more successful, attempt was defeated when Worldcon members voted Hubbard’s novel Black Genesis below No Award. A full discussion of Hubbard, Scientology and their relationship with American science fiction is beyond the scope of this project.

Science fiction as a genre continued to broaden. New sub-genres such as cyberpunk became popular. In wider popular culture the success of Star Wars popularized science fiction and modernised the pulp-aesthetic. Book series also became more popular such as Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld or Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels. More sequels began to win Hugo Awards such as Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead (Best Novel 1987) or David Brin’s The Uplift War (Best Novel 1988).

As with the Triassic, I’ll also be looking at stories that not only did not win a Hugo but which didn’t even get nominated. Of course every story has dinosaurs and a connection to the Hugo Awards! So next time we are off on a journey to the mysterious planet of Ireta and Anne McCaffrey’s Dinosaur Planet!

*[known by me, that is]

**[I’ve even considered setting 2003 as my Jurassic/Cretaceous boundary but for balance of works I decided to go with the round number. Geologically the Jurassic/Cretaceous is a more blurry boundary than Triassic/Jurassic so it sort of works to be a bit blurry here also.]