A Hugo for Wallace Stevens?

By John Hertz:  Since the 2018 Worldcon, in addition to the current Hugo Awards i.e. for 2017, is presenting Retro-Hugos i.e. for 1942, I’ve been reviewing that year.  You probably have too.

Details about the Hugos and Retro-Hugos are in Article 3 of the World Science Fiction Society Constitution, printed in Progress Report 2.0, which you can find here. The Retro-Hugo ballot is here. It says who is eligible to nominate.  Nominations must be received by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Friday March 16, 2018.

There was lots of good work in 1942.

You may have already found helps like Isaac Asimov’s 1980 anthology (novellas, novelettes, short stories), Vincent Di Fate’s 1997 anthology of visual art with commentary and color reproductions (there’s a review by me on the sidebar), Harry Warner’s history of s-f fandom in the 1940s (see the 2004 revision), and the images of 1942 fan-published material which have just recently been produced by volunteers and made available electronically.

Of course these things are neither complete nor conclusive.  Let me add that even if you’re so knowledgeable you could have written them better yourself (hello, Joe, it’s good of you to drop by and read this), they’re worth looking at.

I’ve been struck by the 1942 Wallace Stevens poem “Connoisseur of Chaos”. In fact I’ve nominated it.  That’s somewhat strange (as you might expect of me).  It’s less than 500 words.  I think it’s a wonder.  But is it a story?  Is it a Related Work?  Is it – better I shouldn’t ask the next question; but Theodore Sturgeon (“always ‘Theodore’ in print, please”) in a really excellent pun said “Science fiction is knowledge fiction.”

After all the pretty contrast of life and death
Proves that these opposite things partake of one,
At least that was the theory, when bishops’ books
Resolved the world.  We cannot go back to that.
The squirming facts exceed the squamous mind,
If one may say so.  And yet relation appears,
A small relation expanding like the shade
Of a cloud on sand, a shape on the side of a hill.

Brother Stevens, I couldn’t have written it better myself.

2 thoughts on “A Hugo for Wallace Stevens?

  1. Isn’t “Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction” eligible? It definitely has fantastical elements! (And it’s the source of the title of Karen Joy Fowler’s story “The Lake Was Full of Artificial Things”.)

    Not sure what category … Short Story (it’s about 4000 words, though it takes a lot longer to read (in my opinion) than the average short story)? Best Related Work (after all, it’s about creating fictions)? Or maybe the (alas, non-existent) Retro-Rhysling for “Best Long Poem”?

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