WorldCon is currently underway in London, and the festivities for the venerable sci-fi convention kicked off with the announcement of the 1939 Retro Hugo Awards. Because the Hugos were not created until 1953, but WorldCon started in 1939, organizers are now giving Retro Hugo awards to the titles that deserved the award before it existed.
This year’s winners are as follows:
- Best Novel: The Sword in the Stone – T.H. White.
- Best Novella: Who Goes There? – John W. Campbell, writing as Don A. Stuart.
- Best Novelette: Rule-18 – Clifford D. Simak.
- Best Short Story: How We Went to Mars – Arthur C. Clarke.
- Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): The War of the Worlds – Written by Howard Koch & Anne Froelick; Directed by Orson Welles.
- Best Editor (Short Form): John W. Campbell.
- Best Professional Artist: Virgil Findlay.
- Best Fanzine: Imagination! edited by Forrest J Ackerman.
- Best Fan Writer: Ray Bradbury.
- Special Committee Award: Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster.
Of these, the only one I’ve read is Who Goes There?, although I have seen Disney’s wonderful adaptation of The Sword in the Stone. Who Goes There? should be familiar to modern sci-fi fans as the basis for John Carpenter’s horror classic, The Thing. Scientists in Antarctica discover an ancient spaceship and its frozen pilot, then proceed to thaw the alien. It then starts replicating everyone on the base, leading to a paranoid, claustrophobic showdown where no one knows exactly who is human and who isn’t. If you’ve seen Carpenter’s film, you know how it turns out, he was remarkably faithful to the original.
Congratulations to all the winners, I wish they could have been alive to receive their awards – although in truth, they all received plenty of other accolades in their lifetimes.