Transwarp Tuesday! The Hugo Awards 2014

And the winner is…

 

The 2014 Hugo Award winners will be announced later this week. The Hugo is one of the two big awards in fantasy and sci-fi – the other being the Nebula. As well as awards for the current year’s ‘Bests’, occasionally a retrospective set of awards is given for a year before the Hugos began (1953). This year Retro-Hugos are being awarded for the year 1939.

So I thought I’d look at one of the nominations in the Best Short Story category from each year for this week’s…

TRANSWARP TUESDAY!

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The Faithful by Lester del Rey

 

Today, in a green and lovely world, here in the mightiest of human cities, the last of the human race is dying. And we of Man’s creation are left to mourn his passing, and to worship the memory of Man, who controlled all that he knew save only himself.

First published in 1938, the story is clearly influenced by the shadow of the coming war. Some time earlier, a man had worked out how to surgically modify dogs so that they could talk and learn, and operate specially modified equipment. Through careful breeding, there are now thousands of these Dog-People. Our narrator is Hunger, one of the Dogs who survive when Man, their masters, destroy themselves in war. But although the Dogs can cope well enough to live, there are tasks they cannot do without hands; and, more importantly, without Man to worship they find their lives empty and meaningless. Until, one day, the last human survivor turns up and tells the Dog-People of another experiment that had taken place on the other side of the world – to create Ape-People, not as intellectually advanced as the Dogs, but walking on two legs and modified to have human-like hands…

So I picked the only sci-fi classic with no illustrations. But Gromit's pretty much Dog-People, isn't he?
So I picked the only sci-fi classic with no illustrations. But Gromit’s pretty much Dog-People, isn’t he?

An imaginative story, but I found the ‘message’, if there is one, too obscure for my simple mind. On the one hand it seems like a timely warning about the annihilation of humanity through war. But it also seems to have rather a hopeful strain – as if the Dogs and Apes are the natural inheritors of Man, perhaps? There’s also a bit of a religious tone at points but for the life of me I have no idea where del Rey was going with that! However, the story struck me as original and inventive, and given its dating I’m sure would have resonated with its contemporary audience. The writing itself is a bit simplistic, but nonetheless the story is well told. I haven’t read any of the other shortlisted stories, but would be quite happy to see this one win the Retro-Hugo. You can download it here, though it’s pretty badly formatted (I did, and so far my computer hasn’t caught a virus…).

Little Green Men Rating: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

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hugo header

 

If You were a Dinosaur, My Love by Rachel Swirsky

 

If we lived in a world of magic where anything was possible, then you would be a dinosaur, my love. You’d be a creature of courage and strength but also gentleness. Your claws and fangs would intimidate your foes effortlessly. Whereas you—fragile, lovely, human you—must rely on wits and charm.

Nominated for this year’s Hugo, I will say very little about this story and instead urge you to read it for yourself. You will find it here.

Rachel Swirsky
Rachel Swirsky

I’m not convinced that this is either sci-fi or fantasy, but it is one of the most powerful shorts I’ve read in years – filled with love and rage and sorrow. Add to that a beautifully imaginative premise, a lovely structure and some gorgeously emotive writing and this story is worthy of any awards going. In fact, it has already won the Best Short Story Nebula for 2013. I’ve read it twice three times now and each time it has left me in tears. A tale told in under a thousand words with more impact than many a 500-page novel.

Little Green Men Rating: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

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Tune in next week for the winners – unless of course these two win, in which case…tune in next week for…er…something else…

27 thoughts on “Transwarp Tuesday! The Hugo Awards 2014

  1. FictionFan – Oh, I simply must go read that second story. I’m very much enjoying this feature of yours. I don’t know enough about scifi; I’ve read a bit of it, but I’m not well-versed in the genre at all. It’s good to learn more about it, especially when you have a trustworthy friend to cherry-pick for you ;-).

    • Thanks, Margot! 🙂 Not that I know much about it myself, but I’m enjoying finding out more. And the great thing about sci-fi is that so many of the stories are available on the internet.

  2. Of course Gromit counts, but I’m not sure Wallace does, you know. Count for a human, I mean. Maybe for an ape-person. That’s mean. I really do like Wallace.

    But don’t you suppose it’s possible that the T-Rex might roll over and crush her, if she was to make her bed on the ground next to him? You must admit, it’s a possibility, for sure. I’d like to have a T-Rex.

    • *chuckling* Yes, Gromit is definitely the star, and far more talented than the Dog-People in this story.

      *laughing loads* Reading between the lines, I take it Mr Heartless was not moved to tears by the story?? He wouldn’t have rolled on her, because he loves her, you unromantic old Professor, you. You must have a popsicle for a heart! When they invent time travel, I’ll pop back and get you a T-Rex…

      • *laughs* Well! The T-rex never said he loved her. All we heard was that she loved him. (How can you love a t-rex anyway?) I say, it’s just not possible. And it’s true. I’m horribly unromantic. You would be too if you lost your heart in a war!

        • Tchah! Spit-tooey! Of course he loved her, dadblameit – she sang him lullabies! (If You were a Dinosaur, you’d still be my C-W-W, wouldn’t you?? Huff-hum!!) Only sometimes – other times, as we know, you’re just a big sweetie pumpkin pie… *stomps off*

          • Yes, I know she did…but he never said he did! She did encourage his killing instincts, which I thought was really good. (Of course! I mean, I’d want to be. But do you suppose I’d think the same? You see, well…dadblameit! Haven’t you seen Jurassic Park?) Is it possible to fall in love with a T-Rex? You see, I don’t believe her…it was a lie!

            • But he was going to marry her!! Yes, I thought you’d like that bit. (Does this mean that if you wake up tomorrow and discover you’ve turned into a spinosaurus, I won’t be your FEF any more? *sobs inconsolably*) It would depend on whether the T-Rex was sweet or not!!! *plans a course of romantic reading for the Professor*

          • Spino is my favorite! No…of course not! That’d be different. I’d be a professor trapped in a frightfully fantastic spino body! Cool!!! T-Rex isn’t sweet at all! He was a killer, scavenger…and…he wasn’t like King Kong, you know.

            Romantic reading? *gags* Not even you read that sort of thing! You or BUS!

            • See, If You were a Spinosaur, My Prof, you wouldn’t be able to roll over and crush her anyway, ‘cos you’d break your spiny thing! So there!! I bet you’d be a fantastic dinosaur though, all talony and growly and stuff – and instead of singing you could play clarinet – that’d wow them on Broadway!

              Well…you mustn’t have noticed the book I’m reading at the moment… you’ll love it!

            • Oh! I get it! The whole point was that she loved him even though he was a T-Rex! Is that it? That has to be. But, still… That would be awesome! Imagine Spino’s lungs! I could blow, and blow, and blow, and blow!

              *does a double take* Is it actually called the Cotillion? Couldn’t see past the pink and glitter! I won’t believe it.

            • Yes! And that if he was a dinosaur he’d be a fierce warrior who could beat the evil guys! See, it’s really your sort of story after all! *giggles wickedly* Yes!!! It would be amazing!! Though not having any hands might be a tiny problem…

              *laughing and laughing and laughing* (Oh, no, head’s wobbling again!) It is! One of my favourite books of all time – and, d’you know, I’ve just realised that the hero is soooo like the Professor – it’s added an extra 250% to the chuckleworthiness of the whole book!

            • Aha! I see. But I still think the T-rex didn’t like her. He didn’t say so, at least! I have claws! Massive claws!

              *laughs* (Keep it safe, please!!!) You’ve read it before?? I’m in it? You’re kidding. What’s the hero’s name? I’d refuse to dance. I bet he doesn’t!

            • He was in a coma!!! *growls* But could you balnce on your back legs? It’d be so embarassing if you rolled over mid-performance…

              Millions of times! Zillions, in fact. I know nearly every word off by heart! Haha! His name’s Freddy and he’s just the loveliest hero – imagine Darby and add a big dose of cute and adorable. And he loves to dance (just like the Professor!). And he gets so…so…huff-hummy every time anyone says anything romantic. And yet he’s so sweet…and soooo heroic! The perfect man… *quickly returns to book*

            • He was? I wonder why she put up with him, then. I wouldn’t roll over! They have strong legs, I think.

              Goodness me. I don’t like to dance! That is…romantic stuff. So he can’t be a full warrior, you know. Does he marry in the end?

  3. I remember the Del Ray Story. There was quite a fashion for “alternative evolution” stories in the thirties. Asimov wrote a great one called “No connection!” where the protagonists were bear-descended.The modern one sounds interesting having something to say and not padding it is always a big plus for me.

    • Yes, I felt he’d got the imagination all right, and it was well told, but I just didn’t feel he’d decided what, if anything, he was trying to say. But the other story is very good.

  4. Wallace and Gromit. Love them, still have my fridge magnets….and my mugs ….

    I feel quite lazy. I so enjoy reading about all these stories, yet am hopelessly on my own reading treadmill. Still, things to keep in mind for the future. 🙂

    • Yes, there’s nothing like plasticine people to brighten up the day… 😉

      Oh, I know – we’re all the same! I must spot at least three books a day that sound good – but even if I could, I wouldn’t want to spend more time reading than I already do…

  5. The Lester Del Ray story sounds like the love child of Kirsten Bakis’s ‘The Lives of the Monster Dogs’ and Pierre Boulle’s ‘Planet of the Apes. However those two novels came after Lester Del Rays. Sounds interesting.

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