Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hugo Awards Late 60's Recap

And so we've come to the turmoil of the late-sixties and I'm actually kind of surprised at the general lack of reaction in science fiction. There's signs and traces but the big issues that were making the news every night weren't showing up yet.

A perfect example is Viet Nam and the anti-war movement. Stand On Zanzibar had obvious parallels to Viet Nam but there is no conflict yet with it. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Lord of Light, and Dune all featured wars but they were "righteous" ones with clear "good guys" and "bad guys" with no one pushing for peaceful resolution. I suspect that the science fiction publishing industry at that point was following the example of much of the rest of the media and trying to politely ignore the situation and hope it went away. That changed, of course, but the I feel that the shift in outlook isn't really visible for another ten years.

It's a similar situation with the racial strife that the United States was going through at that point and once again Stand On Zanzibar reflects the year it was written. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress did, at least, include a protagonist that was not Caucasian and the vast cast in The Wanderer included a few token characters but race is generally a non-factor.

Disaster novels are the big thing this time. The Wanderer and Stand On Zanzibar are both slice of life novels (coincidently I didn't like either of them but for different reasons) showing the reactions of a huge cast to their respective disasters. This Immortal is more about recovery from a disaster. Even The Moon is a Harsh Mistress has the characters dealing with the fallout from overpopulation.

My current tally of liked versus didn't like stands at:

Liked: 11
Didn't Like: 5

This time around I enjoyed This Immortal, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Lord of Light while I didn't care for The Wanderer, Dune, and Stand On Zanzibar.

This weekend I plan on starting to fill in some of the short fiction so the next three days will feature brief reviews of the first few years worth of short fiction Hugo award winners.