The 1941 Retro Hugo

I’m pulling this out of comments, with thanks to Mike S, in case any of you find it interesting or helpful:

Mike says:

This year’s Hugos also include the 1941 Retro Hugos, for works published in 1940. Those include

The Wheels of If – L. Sprague de Camp (seminal alternate history/parallel world story)

Three stories by Heinlein: Requiem (especially appropriate in the age of Musk and Bezos), , The Roads Must Roll (a trademark Heinlein look at the social and political ramifications of a technology), and If This Goes On– (to which every SFnal revolution-against-repression down to The Hunger Games owes a debt)

Robbie – Isaac Asimov (first of his robot stories)

Gray Lensman – E.E. Smith (the prototypical space opera, and still one of the best)

Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius – Jorge Luis Borges (surreal and difficult to describe, but classic Borges)

File 770 has links to ebook anthologies of short stories and novelettes now in the public domain that are eligible for nomination.


Thanks, Mike! Looks like the links go to free collections of stories, suitable for epub or Kindle.

Also provided: tables of contents for the collections.

Although these stories are historically interesting and I’d probably like many of them, I doubt I’ll have time to do more than dabble a toe in the shallow end of these collections. For me, the Retro Hugo pretty much falls under So Much To Read, So Little Time.

If any of you want to specifically recommend particular stories, though, I’ll try to take a look at a least a couple, because I do like the *idea* of the Retro Hugo Awards.

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6 thoughts on “The 1941 Retro Hugo”

  1. I’m also nominating for the 1941 Hugos, but instead of stories, I’d like to highlight something else: there were some great comics in 1940, enough to justify a Best Graphic Story category. All it needs is at least 5 ballots to not get dropped. After extensive research and reading, I’ve compiled a list of what I’ve deemed to be the best SFF comics of 1940:

    Captain America Comics #1
    Written by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
    Illustrated by Jack Kirby
    Timely Publications (Timely Comics?)

    It’s the one with Cap punching Hitler on the cover. It says March 1941 but the comic came out in December of 1940. One of the finest of the Golden Age, and quite possibly one of the most important. It publicly denounced the Nazis BEFORE the US entered WWII, and while there was still some strong pro-Nazi sentiment in the states. Simon and Kirby’s creation, for all its Golden Age goofiness, still stands out as a work of bravery.

    The Spectre!/The Spectre Strikes! (More Fun Comics #52/#53)
    Written by Jerry Siegel
    Illustrated by Bernard Baily
    National Allied Publications

    A shockingly mature story for the 40’a that holds up pretty damn well. Joe Corrigan being denied heaven after his death and being forced to eradicate all evil is an excellent backstory, and makes all his actions understandable.

    Batman #1
    Written by Bill Finger
    Illustrated by Bob Kane, Sheldon Moldoff, and Jerry Robinson
    National Allied Publications

    There’s a reason historians call this the best single issue of the Golden Age…well, two reasons, actually: the Prince Clown of Darkness and the Princess of Plunder. Not only was this Batman’s first solo comic, it also had the first appearances of The Joker and Catwoman, in stories that perfectly demonstrate why they’ve had lasting appeal. There’s also a pretty good Hugo Strange story here.

    Introducing Captain Marvel! (Whiz Comics #2)
    Written by Bill Parker
    Illustrated by C.C. Beck
    Fawcett Comics

    The first appearance of Billy Batson and his older Captain Marvel alter-ego. It’s an engaging, simple story executed really well, with underpinnings of mysticism that only reveal themselves upon re-reading. It just works.

    The Origin of the Spirit
    Written by Will Eisner
    Illustrated by Will Eisner and Joe Kubert
    Register and Tribune Syndicate

    Why would I forget Eisner? This is probably the one that’s aged the best, with the art looking strikingly modern, even well into the 21st century. While not at the height of its post-war years, The Spirit still came swinging from day one, with its chronicling of Denny Colt’s rebirth as the titular character that gradually became a superhero. Extremely influential to the medium. (Also, Ebony White’s only in it for one panel. So there’s that.)

    If people saw this and nominated them for Best Graphic Story, it’d be awesome.

  2. Thank you, Nana. I’ll send Mike and Craig a head’s up about this; they’re far more knowledgeable about comics than I am.

  3. I think a worthy contender for Best Graphic Story would be HORTON HATCHES THE EGG. It was the only story published by Dr. Seuss in 1940. It is an illustrated story about the birth of an elephant-bird (sounds like fantasy to me), and profound for allowing young readers/listeners to consider moral implications, as well as a great introduction into poetry.

  4. Hampus Eckerman

    Prince Valiant: The Legion of Hun-Hunters will get my vote. Was one of my absolute favourites as a kid. The drawings are fabulous.

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