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John W. Campbell

Discovering the Award Winners: 1955

by Paul

The 1955 Worldcon in Cleveland revived the idea of an award ceremony from two years before. But they did rather change the awards. In 1953, there had been awards for Best Novel, Professional Magazine, Cover Artist, Interior Illustrator, Excellence in Fact Articles, New Author or Artist and No 1 Fan Personality. When the Hugo Awards […]

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Discovering the Award Winners: Birth of the Hugos

by Paul

The organizers of the 1953 Worldcon, known as PhilCon II, were looking for a centrepiece event for their convention. They decided on an award ceremony. The awards would be known as the Science Fiction Achievement Awards, and would be voted on by members of the convention. At the time there was no plan to continue […]

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A History of Space Opera in 5 Titles

by Paul

Space opera is big again, what with Tor promising a summer of space opera, and the fuss accompanying the announcement that Jo Walton’s new book, due in February next year, is a space opera, Poor Relations. But space opera hasn’t always been popular. In fact, since it first appeared, about 90 years ago, space opera has […]

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How to Build Your SF Reference Library 2, Histories

by Paul

If you want to build up a reference library on science fiction, the first thing you need is context. In other words, there are certain very basic things you need to be able to find out. When did A happen? Did B occur before C, or after it? How does D relate to E? What […]

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10 essential sf books of the 1930s

by Paul

Continuing our occasional history of science fiction, we drop back in time to the 1930s. In America, the pulp magazines were now going strong with a host of space operas by writers who are now often forgotten. It was only at the end of the decade, when John W. Campbell took over the editorship of Astounding, […]

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10 Essential SF Titles from the 1940s

by Paul

And our ongoing history of the key sf works takes a step backwards to the 1940s. Two extraordinary events of 1939 had a profound effect on the science fiction of this decade. In the first instance, John W. Campbell became editor of Astounding. He didn’t just turn Astounding into the most important sf magazine of the period, […]

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1941 Retro-Hugo Award Winners

by Paul

Awards Categories: Awards

Also at MidAmericon, the Retro-Hugos for 1941 were presented. the winners were: BEST NOVEL Slan by A.E. Van Vogt (Astounding Science-Fiction, Dec 1940) BEST NOVELLA “If This Goes On…” by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science-Fiction, Feb 1940) BEST NOVELETTE “The Roads Must Roll” by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science-Fiction, June 1940) BEST SHORT STORY “Strange […]

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An Introduction to Science Fiction Readings: Where to Start

by Paul

There are people out there who insist that you cannot write science fiction unless you know the history of science fiction. Yeah, I know, ludicrous, isn’t it. It’s impossible for any one person to read all the sf being published in any one year, so getting to grips with everything that has been written in […]

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Book Review: The Thing Itself by Adam Roberts

by Paul

Read a lot by Adam Roberts and the thing you notice is how much of his work is in conversation with other science fiction. There’s the Russian sf of Yellow Blue Tibia, the golden age sf of Jack Glass, the talking animal fantasies of Bete and so on. But I don’t think he has written anything that wears […]

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