1944 Retro-Hugo Winners

Dublin 2019 announced the winners of the 1944 Retrospective Hugo Awards on August 15 as part of Opening Ceremonies.

There were 834 total votes cast (826 online, 8 paper ballots).

Best Novel

  • Conjure Wife, by Fritz Leiber, Jr. (Unknown Worlds, April 1943)

Best Novella

  • The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Reynal & Hitchcock)

Best Novelette

  • “Mimsy Were the Borogoves,” by Lewis Padgett (C.L. Moore & Henry Kuttner) (Astounding Science-Fiction, February 1943)

Best Short Story

  • “King of the Gray Spaces” (“R is for Rocket”), by Ray Bradbury (Famous Fantastic Mysteries, December 1943)

Best Graphic Story

  • Wonder Woman #5: Battle for Womanhood, written by William Moulton Marsden, art by Harry G. Peter (DC Comics)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Heaven Can Wait, written by Samson Raphaelson, directed by Ernst Lubitsch (20th Century Fox)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, written by Curt Siodmak, directed by Roy William Neill (Universal Pictures)

Best Professional Editor, Short Form

  • John W. Campbell

Best Professional Artist

  • Virgil Finlay

Best Fanzine

  • Le Zombie, editor Wilson “Bob” Tucker

Best Fan Writer

  • Forrest J Ackerman

21 thoughts on “1944 Retro-Hugo Winners

  1. Just curious:
    Has there ever been a Retro Hugo Winner who accepted the award himself? Robert Silverberg in 2001 would be my first guess, a few others during the 50-years-later cycle were also still around.

  2. Thanks for the link to the stats! Those are interesting.

    Not all the wins are what I hoped for, but I can understand them all. I do wonder how big a role ease of discoverability plays in people’s voting; some nominees were definitely easier to procure than others.

    I wonder if the person who played the baby in Heaven Can Wait is still alive.

  3. I noticed that Fritz Leiber, Sr, was in Phantom of the Opera (playing Franz Liszt, if I remember correctly.).

  4. ambyr asksI wonder if the person who played the baby in Heaven Can Wait is still alive.

    If you mean the baby Van Cleve, the answer is no. He died in 2005 at age sixty three.

    The nine year old version died from an overdose of barbiturates some fifty years ago. He was thirty eight years old.

    Sam Beckett who played him in early 1954 landed the role of “Winky” in a low-budget SF show called Rocky Jones, Space Ranger which today has become a cult classic.

  5. I can live with those results, though like James, I was also hoping for Margaret Brundage. I’m also wondering about that not very good Wonder Woman comic beating both Flash Gordon and Tintin and the pretty dreadful Frankenstein vs. the Wolf Man winning best dramatic presentation short.

    Regarding 1944 Retro Hugo finalists still alive, Marie Nejar a.k.a. Leila Negra, a black German woman who was a 13-year-old child actress in Münchhausen, is still alive at age 89. Alas, Retro Hugo voters preferred a lesser Ernst Lubitsch film to one of the best German films of the 1930s/40s. And yes, I’m grumpy about that.

    Regarding Marie Nejar, here is an interview with her from 2015. Her memoir is also well worth reading, though probably not available in English.

  6. Goobergunch: I think a few in 1996?

    Just thinking about the ones who attended L.A.con III — Winners Ackerman and Rotsler were presented and accepted their own awards. Nominee Van Vogt was at the con.

    A few more Retro nominees were still alive at the time but I’d have to research who.

  7. I like Brundage’s work, but her output in 1943 (as far as I could tell) was extremely limited. Here’s hoping for better luck in another year where she painted more.

  8. Sadly, Margaret Brundage’s most prolific years were before there were WorldCons and by 1943 she’s about to fade out of SFF art altogether.

  9. @GiantPanda: I have a vague recollection of hearing a report of Silverberg and Freas discussing the lack of substance for their 2001 Retros. (Silverberg was relatively new to fandom; Freas has one 1950 work listed in ISFDB, although I’m not sure it’s conclusive for that far back.) Freas died 4 years later, so he could have been there if health permitted (I forget any reports I heard at the time). Tucker and Bradbury were alive in 2004, but Bradbury didn’t travel much and I’m not sure whether Tucker was still traveling outside the Midwest. (In theory I was present at Noreascon 4; in practice I was preoccupied.)

  10. Silverberg mentioned on a panel on the Retro-Hugos that he was the only winner who was alive at the time.

    Anyhow, not my choice for graphic novel. But I think it was fun and interesting that Conjure Wife won. I love that book, but I don’t think it could have been written today. A bit too much of a boys club for that.

  11. And yet at the time of writing “Conjure Wife” Leiber thought he was writing a novel in praise of strong women and how their contributions aren’t recognised. Did anyone connected to the Retros write anything about Leiber’s editing and rewriting of the story? The version published in book form is not the same as the novella.

    Until he died, Fritz Leiber the actor was “Fritz Leiber” and never “Fritz Leiber, Sr”, while the writer always signed himself “Fritz Leiber, Jr” until his father died. This has caused problems ever since.

  12. And yet at the time of writing “Conjure Wife” Leiber thought he was writing a novel in praise of strong women and how their contributions aren’t recognised. Did anyone connected to the Retros write anything about Leiber’s editing and rewriting of the story? The version published in book form is not the same as the novella.

    Not that I’m aware of. It was, of course, the 1943 “novella” version that was eligible and nominated. I am frustrated by but resigned to the fact that most people were probably reading and judging the 1952/3 novel instead. This is sort of a perpetual problem with the Retro Hugos; in many cases the currently in-print editions are wildly different from what was published in the year theoretically being assessed. (The Magic Bed-Knob was also heavily revised in the 1950s and in my opinion suffered for it.)

  13. @Hampus Eckerman: I don’t know what Silverberg was thinking of, but that wouldn’t be the first time he was wrong — we note 3 other living winners in this thread, and that’s with minimal research.

    @Matthew Davis: And yet at the time of writing “Conjure Wife” Leiber thought he was writing a novel in praise of strong women and how their contributions aren’t recognised. Yes, and Brin thought Glory Season would get him a Tiptree.

  14. Hal Clement won for 1946 short story in 1996, and he lived until 2003. I don’t know if he accepted for himself. Ackerman won for best fan writer and best fanzine that year; he lived until 2008. William Rotsler won for best fan artist and he lived until 1997.

    For 1954, Bradbury and Tucker were still living (as mentioned) in 2004, as was Arthur C Clarke (best short story),
    War of the Worlds won Best Dramatic, short form. The male lead, Gene Barry, lived until 2009, and the female lead, Ann Robinson, is still living (and is about to make an appearance at Cinecon).
    Fred Whipple (along with Wernher von Braun and Willy Ley) won for best related work; the awards were held 2-6 Sept 2004 and he had just passed away on 30 Aug.

  15. Regarding Conjure Wife, I find that it is a surprisingly timeless book, considering its age. That’s probably why it has been consistently in print, alternately marketed as horror, gothic romance and urban fantasy.

    The gender relationships are of course dated, though not nearly as bad as some other books from the same era. And the atmosphere of a bad workplace with backstabbing co-workers still rings true as well. There is even an accusation of sexual misconduct, which is eventually proven false. Also, while Norman may be the POV character, he’s also very much a clueless idiot as are all the other men in the book. Meanwhile, the women are the smart ones – and witches, of course.

    The problem that books, stories, etc… have been expanded and changed in reprints is of course a common one with any older SFF. With the most recent Leigh Brackett reviews for Galactic Journey, I had the issue that one of the two books had been changed almost completely from the middle on, so I had to read both versions. Interestingly enough, my preferred version would have been a mix of the original and the 1964 expansion. Because Eric John Stark falling for a Martian warlord the moment she is revealed to be an attractive woman, even though she had him whipped half to death only days before, didn’t ring true in the old version. However, I preferred the aliens they encounter at the end in the original version.

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