Back to the Past

The year: 1958. Sputnik reentered orbit, and the US put up their first satellite. Laika gets sent into orbit to die in the dark of space. NASA is created. It was the early stages of the space race, and a fine time to rejoin the Great Hugo Read already in progress. With the 2013 nominees completed and the awards next weekend, it’s time to look ahead to where we’re looking back to for the rest of the year:


Primary Read: The Big Time by Fritz Leiber. This is the first of the Hugo Winners that ended up in another form near and dear to my heart. Yes, in 1961 it was collected and republished as an Ace Double, paired with a collection of Leiber short stories. However, it won the Hugo back in 1958 after its serialization in Galaxy Magazine.

Secondary Read: Non-Stop by Brian Aldiss. I’ll admit, I’ve wanted to read this book for awhile. When I learned that the British Science Fiction Association looked back at 50 years of science fiction and picked Non-Stop over The Big Time, I had my excuse pegged down. It’s a generation ship story, hence my interest, and Aldiss’s first published work.


Primary Read: The 1959 Hugo went to James Blish for his novel A Case of Conscience, and is the story of a Jesuit who is trying to reconcile an alien race’s lack of religion with their morality. Three of the last six books for this year have a theme of religion running through them.

  • Print: In print, available from Amazon or check your local independent (or at least brick-and-mortar) bookseller.
  • Electronic: Not Available. What the hell, Del Ray Impact?
  • Audio: Available from Audible, narrated by Jay Snyder.

Secondary Read: We’re dipping our toes into the first Retro Hugo winner. Banned Books Week is in late September this year, so we’ll be a little late when getting to Ray Bradbury’s classic Fahrenheit 451.

  • Print: In print. Oh my in print. In print everywhere.
  • Electronic: Bradbury assented to digital publishing shortly before his death, so it’s available on Kindle and Nook.
  • Audio: Available from Audible with your choice of narrators: Stephen Hove, Christopher Hurt, or Bradbury himself.
  • Film: Released in 1966. Which I point out only as an excuse to point it out again with the next book…


Primary Read: Starship Troopers was the first Hugo Heinlein won on his way to becoming the most decorated writer in the award’s history. He does have one Retro Hugo that predates Troopers, but that’ll come up in 2014. It’s a book whose reputation precedes it, but that I’ve never actually read.

  • Print: In print.
  • Electronic: Available for Nook and Kindle.
  • Audio: Available from Audible, narrated by Lloyd James.
  • Film: Oh lord. I love this movie. I understand it takes a LOT of liberties with the book, and can be seen as a satire of the book rather than an adaptation of it. I’ve seen it several times, which should make reading the book…interesting?

Secondary Read: John Scalzi started his epic military sci-fi series with Old Man’s War, about soldiers recruited from the elderly of earth given new bodies and sent to fight the most creative array of aliens I can remember reading.

  • Print: In print.
  • Electronic: Available from Nook and Kindle.
  • Audio: Available from Audible, narrated by William Dufris.
  • Film: Likely to get fast tracked if Ender’s Game performs well at the box office.


Primary Read: We’re back to themes of religion with Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz. I’ve tried for a cohesive theme for December, with this book looking at religion in a post apocalyptic future, and the next looking at a dystopic future caused by religion. I try to be equal opportunity.

Secondary Read: I’ll admit, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into when I thought to put The Handmaid’s Tale in the spot, but the more I learn about the book, the more interested I am to read it. It’s certainly a book that people have Opinions about. The kind of opinions that necessitate capitalization.

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