Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The least-well-known Hugo-winning novel

As a best-novel Hugo Award-winner myself (not to mention a current nominee in that category), I like to think that winning SF's big one ensures immortality for the book.

But one book is sometimes called the "lost" Hugo winner, because it's rarely been in print since its win: They'd Rather Be Right by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley took the second-ever best-novel Hugo Award in 1955 (following Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man and preceding Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star).

But now the good folks at have made They'd Rather Be Right as an ebook, in all standard formats (what they call Multiformat, with no DRM). You can get it here.

(I know ebooks don't really have covers, but I will point out that in their mocked-up cover art for this book, they left co-author Frank Riley's name off ... making him, sadly, the forgotten author of the forgotten Hugo winner ...)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


At May 28, 2008 6:18 PM , OpenID dalehemery said...

I recently gave myself a goal to read every novel that has won both the Hugo and the Nebula. There are fourteen. Twelve of them were easy to find in local bookstores. These two I couldn't find: Arthur C. Clarke's The Fountains of Paradise and Vonda N. McIntyre's Dreamsnake.

Harumph. You'd think that winning a Hugo or a Nebula, even if it doesn't confer immortality, would at least guarantee shelf space. But even winning both isn't enough.

I eventually found The Fountains of Paradise on Fictionwise. And I got a lovely signed copy of Dreamsnake from Ms. McIntyre herself.

At May 28, 2008 6:36 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Hi, Dale. THE FOUNTAINS OF PARADISE is my all-time favourite Clarke novel.

At May 29, 2008 10:11 AM , Blogger Jim Harris said...

Well, the Hugo isn't alone in this regard. There's plenty of Pulitzer, National Book Award, Booker and other famous prize winners that are out of print too. Evidently waiting just one year to decide the best novel of the previous year isn't enough time to spot the classics. The real question would be, what were the SF books from 1954 that have survived and are still in print?

At May 29, 2008 10:22 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Hi, Jim. I'm not sure about 1954 (the Hugo Award website doesn't list the other nominees for that year), but the previous year, no Hugos were given, and so "Retro Hugos" were presented 50 years later. The final ballot from that year is full of books we still fondly remember:

* Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury [Ballantine, 1953]

* Childhoods End by Arthur C. Clarke [Ballantine, 1953]

* Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement [Astounding Apr,May,Jun,Jul 1953]

* The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov [Galaxy Oct,Nov,Dec 1953]

* More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon [Farrar, Straus & Grioux, 1953; Ballantine, 1953]

(Bradbury won.)



At May 29, 2008 3:46 PM , Blogger Jim Harris said...

Evidently The Caves of Steel and Mission of Gravity got published in 1954 as books, so along with A Mirror for Observers by Edgar Pangborn, they would be the true SF classics for 1954. See

The Caves of Steel recently came out on audio, so that's a good sign that story is still doing well. Maybe Fictionwise will rekindle interest in They'd Rather Be Right.


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