An Informal History of the Hugos: A Personal Look Back at the Hugo Awards, 1953–2000

Jo Walton. Tor, $31.99 (576p) ISBN 978-0-7653-7908-5

This history of the Hugos, which novelist Walton (Poor Relations) calls “science fiction’s most important award,” is a valentine to the genre as well as to its fans, whose votes select the annual winners. Limiting her coverage to the award’s first 48 years for the sake of historical perspective, Walton (herself a Hugo Award winner for her 2012 novel Among Others) provides annotated annual listings of the winners and (when they were available) nominees, and includes in most chapters a substantial essay on a single title, such as 1972 nominee The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin, which Walton remembers fondly as “the third grown-up science fiction novel” she ever read and praises for showing “the effect of world-changing on three-dimensional characters.” Walton is not afraid to express candid opinions on the merits of certain winners—for instance, she admits that, despite admiring Robert A. Heinlein, she never liked Stranger in a Strange Land (Best Novel, 1962)—while balancing her personal observations with those from other science fiction specialists, including author Gardner Dozois and editor David G. Hartwell, who responded to her “Revisiting the Hugos” posts on, where this book began. The result is an essential guide to 20th-century science fiction literature. Agent: Jack Byrne, Sternig & Byrne Literary Agency. (Aug.)