EDIT: Time has moved on and nominations for the 1945 Retro Hugo Awards have now closed. If you are looking for how to find the finalists online, click here.
The deadline for nomination to this year’s Hugo Awards is fast approaching. As well as works from 2019, people can also nominate works from 1944 for the 1945 Retro Hugos.
Much of the short fiction eligible for the Retro Hugos is available on the Internet Archive, where scans of the 1944 magazines can be read online or downloaded as PDFs. On his SF Magazines blog, Paul Fraser has posted links to a vast number of 1944 works eligible for the 1945 Retros. Cora Buhlert has been posting reviews of Retro eligible material on her Retro Science Fiction Reviews blog and has also compiled a monster spreadsheet of eligible material, with some links to where the items can be read.
One approach to nomination, if you have the time, is to browse through Internet Archive scans of magazines such as Amazing Stories, Astounding Science Fiction, Planet Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories, and Weird Tales and see if anything takes your fancy. Aside from the stories themselves, that will also expose you to the bizarre products advertised to 1940s fans.
It can be difficult to see the wood for the trees when there is so much fiction eligible for the Retro Hugos. I have below posted links to material that has been frequently reprinted and anthologised, as this means people are more likely to have read it and be in a position to nominate. However, the items below are not necessarily the best science fiction and fantasy items of 1944. Trawling through the lists linked to above or through the Internet Speculative Fiction Database may well yield other undiscovered gems.
One anthology that has shaped opinion regarding the key stories of 1944 is Isaac Asimov Presents The Great SF Stories 6 (1944), edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg. Items appearing in this collection are flagged below.
1944 Short Stories
For Hugo Award purposes a short story must be less than 7,500 pages in length. Here are a selection of 1944 science fiction and fantasy short stories, with links to scans of the magazines they appeared in where these are available.
A. E. van Vogt produced a lot of fiction in 1944. His short story “Far Centaurus” (Astounding Science Fiction, January 1944) appeared in the Isaac Asimov Presents anthology and has been extensively reprinted. Other 1944 short stories of his include “The Rulers” (Astounding Science Fiction, March 1944), “The Harmonizer” (Astounding Science Fiction, November 1944), “A Can of Paint” (Astounding Science Fiction, September 1944), and “Juggernaut” (Astounding Science Fiction, August 1944).
Fritz Leiber is particularly known for his horror and fantasy work. His short story “Sanity” (Astounding Science Fiction, April 1944) appeared in the Isaac Asimov Presents anthology and has been extensively reprinted. In 1944 he also published the following short stories: “Ervool” (The Acolyte, Fall 1944), “Taboo” (Astounding Science Fiction, February 1944), “Thought” (Astounding Science Fiction, July 1944), and “Business of Killing” (Astounding Science Fiction, September 1944).
John R. Pierce appears to have published just one short story in 1944, this being “Invariant” (Astounding Science Fiction, April 1944). It appears in the Isaac Asimov Presents anthology.
Clifford D. Simak has two of his 1944 short stories in the Isaac Asimov Presents anthology: “Huddling Place” (Astounding Science Fiction, July 1944) and “Desertion” (Astounding Science Fiction, November 1944). Both of these would subsequently be incorporated into his City novel. In the same year he also published the standalone short story “Lobby” (Astounding Science Fiction, April 1944).
Lester del Rey‘s short story “Kindness” (Astounding Science Fiction, October 1944) is another widely reprinted story that subsequently made its way into the Isaac Asimov Presents anthology.
Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore were a married couple who sometimes wrote together and sometimes separately. Completely disentangling who wrote which work is not always easy, as Moore sometimes published works under her husband’s name (he commanded better page rates). They also both used an array of pseudonyms. Writing together in 1944 they published “Housing Problem” (Charm, October 1944 (online source not found)) under Kuttner’s name. Writing as Scott Morgan, Kuttner himself published “Trophy” (Thrilling Wonder Stories, Winter 1944) and, as Kelvin Kent, “Swing Your Lady” (Thrilling Wonder Stories, Winter 1944). Under his own name he also published “The Eyes of Thar” (Planet Stories, Fall 1944).
There are no stories by Isaac Asimov himself in the Isaac Asimov Presents anthology, perhaps due to modesty on his part. Nevertheless, 1944 saw him publish the short story “The Wedge” (Astounding Science Fiction October 1944), which as “The Traders” found its way into his novel Foundation. Meanwhile the robot story “Catch That Rabbit” (Astounding Science Fiction, February 1944) was subsequently included in the anthologies I, Robot and The Complete Robot.
Ray Bradbury also did not make it into Asimov & Greenberg’s anthology, perhaps because his 1944 short stories are more weird than science fiction; weird is nevertheless still eligible for the Retro Hugos. He wrote a lot in 1944. His short stories “The Sea Shell” (Weird Tales, January 1944), “The Lake” (Weird Tales May 1944), “I, Rocket” (Amazing Stories, May 1944), “There Was an Old Woman” (Weird Tales, July 1944), “Bang! You’re Dead!” (Weird Tales, September 1944), “The Jar” (Weird Tales, November 1944), and “Undersea Guardians” (Amazing Stories, December 1944) have all been extensively reprinted. Less reprinted are his stories “The Monster Maker” (Planet Stories, Spring 1944), “Morgue Ship” (Planet Stories, Summer 1944), “Lazarus Come Forth” (Planet Stories, Winter 1944), “And Then—the Silence” (Super Science Stories, October 1944), and “Reunion” (Weird Tales, March 1944).
Robert Bloch is another writer of weird fiction, known today for his much later novel Psycho and his association with H.P. Lovecraft. In 1944 he had two short stories published in Weird Tales, both of which have reappeared in a good few anthologies:
“The Devil’s Ticket” (Weird Tales, September 1944) and “The Bat Is My Brother” (Weird Tales, November 1944).
Another associate of H.P. Lovecraft active in 1944 was August Derleth. His short stories “A Gentleman from Prague” (Weird Tales, November 1944) and “Pacific 421” (Weird Tales, September 1944), have also found their way into a number of anthologies.
Malcolm Jameson‘s science fiction writing drew on his experience in the US Navy. His short story “Tricky Tonnage” (Astounding Science Fiction, December 1944) has been extensively reprinted in both collections of the author’s work and in anthologies of vintage science fiction. The “Hobo God” (Astounding Science Fiction, September 1944) has also been picked up by other anthologists.
Fredric Brown had a novelette included in the Isaac Asimov Presents anthology, of which more later. In 1944 he also published the three short stories “The Yehudi Principle” (Astounding Science Fiction, May 1944), “Nothing Sirius” (Captain Future, Spring 1944), and “And the Gods Laughed” (Planet Stories, Spring 1944), all of which have been reprinted through mostly in anthologies of Brown’s work.
Like many science fiction writers Frederik Pohl started out as a fan, one of the New York Futurians. By 1944 he was writing his own fiction. His short story “Double-Cross” (Planet Stories, Winter 1944), published under the pen name James MacCreigh, has not been widely reprinted, but it does have its admirers. The year also say his story “Darkside Destiny” printed in the June issue of the Canadian version of Super Science Stories. That issue is not available online, but the story was reprinted in the April 1949 issue of Super Science Stories.
Other pieces of 1944 short fiction that did not appear in magazines but which people may previously have encountered include Lord Dunsany‘s short stories “A Cricket Problem” & “By Command of Pharaoh” (which both appeared in the London Evening News in 1944 before later making their way into anthologies of Dunsany’s work). Elizabeth Bowen meanwhile wrote the short stories “Mysterious Kôr”, “The Inherited Clock”, “The Happy Autumn Fields”, & “Green Holly”, which appeared in various locations in 1944 before being collected in the anthology The Demon Lover and Other Stories and other collections of her work.
For Hugo Award purposes a novelette is a science fiction or fantasy story between 7,500 and seventeen 17,500 words. 1944 was something of a bumper year for novelettes: readers should not struggle to find material worth nominating here.
Cleve Cartmill‘s novelette “Deadline” (Astounding Science Fiction, March 1944) appeared in the Isaac Asimov Presents anthology. It is famous as the story that caused the FBI to raid the offices of Astounding and investigate Cartmill and some of his associates, because the details of a city-destroying bomb were a bit too similar to what was then being developed in Los Alamos. Cartmill was however not a nuclear spy, his technical information sourced from unclassified scientific journals.
Fredric Brown‘s “Arena” (Astounding Science Fiction, June 1944) inspired the Star Trek episode of the same name, so much so that Brown was given a writing credit.
Leigh Brackett is now perhaps most famous for her work on the script of The Empire Strikes Back. In 1944 she was more of a crime than a science fiction author, but 1944 saw her publish the novelette “The Veil of Astellar” (Thrilling Wonder Stories, Spring 1944), which was subsequently included in the Isaac Asimov Presents anthology. She also published the novelette “Terror Out of Space” (Planet Stories, Summer 1944).
Clifford D. Simak‘s novelette “City” (Astounding Science Fiction, May 1944) subsequently became the first full chapter in his novel City and is another story compiled by Asimov & Greenberg in their anthology. In 1944 as part of the City series he also published the novelette “Census” (Astounding Science Fiction, September 1944).
Lester del Rey‘s novelette “Though Dreamers Die” (Astounding Science Fiction, October 1944) was not blessed by inclusion in the Isaac Asimov Presents anthology but has seen extensive reprinting, particularly in anthologies dealing with robots and thinking machines.
Lewis Padgett was a pseudonym used by C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner. Their novelette “When the Bough Breaks” (Astounding Science Fiction, November 1944) appears somewhat reminiscent of their 1943 classic “Mimsy Were The Borogoves”, with its account of parents increasingly baffled as their child develops in untoward ways. Moore also wrote the novelette “No Woman Born” (Astounding Science Fiction, December 1944), an early exploration of how someone holds onto their humanity when their brain has been transferred into a robot body. Both of these were included in the Isaac Asimov Presents anthology. Henry Kuttner’s novelette “The Black Sun Rises” (Super Science Stories (Canadian version), June 1944 (reprinted in Super Science Stories, January 1949)) and their jointly written (as Lawrence O’Donnell) “The Children’s Hour” (Astounding Science Fiction, March 1944) are less widely reprinted.
Isaac Asimov‘s novelette “The Big and the Little” (Astounding Science Fiction, August 1944) subsequently became “The Merchant Princes”, closing chapter of his novel Foundation.
Robert Bloch produced a swathe of novelettes in 1944, of which the most reprinted are “Iron Mask” (Weird Tales, May 1944) and “The Beasts of Barsac” (Weird Tales, July 1944). Less reprinted are “It’s a Small World” (Amazing Stories, March 1944) and the two 1944 novelettes Bloch published in his more lighthearted Lefty Feep series, “Lefty Feep’s Arabian Nightmare” (Fantastic Adventures, February 1944) and “Lefty Feep Does Time” (Fantastic Adventures, April 1944).
August Derleth‘s two Cthulhu Mythos themed novelettes “The Trail of Cthulhu” (Weird Tales, March 1944) and “The Dweller in Darkness” (Weird Tales, November 1944) have been extensively reprinted, with the former lending its title to several collections of Derleth’s work (and more recently a roleplaying game).
Malcolm Jameson‘s novelettes “Alien Envoy” (Astounding Science Fiction, November 1944), “Blind Man’s Buff” (Astounding Science Fiction, October 1944), and “The Bureaucrat” (Astounding Science Fiction, April 1944) have all enjoyed a degree of anthologisation.
Writing as Dick Wylie, Frederik Pohl gave us the novelette “Highwayman of the Void” (Planet Stories, Fall 1944), which, like his 1944 short stories, has not seen much reprinting but has nevertheless received its share of praise.
Olaf Stapledon is best known for his brainy SF novels, but in 1944 he published the novelette “Old Man in New World”. It can be found in collections of Stapledon’s writing.
A Hugo eligible novella is a science fiction or fantasy story of between 17,500 and 40,000 words.
Theodore Sturgeon‘s novella “Killdozer!” (Astounding Science Fiction, November 1944) tells of a bulldozer possessed by a murderous alien intelligence. It is the penultimate story in the Isaac Asimov Presents anthology.
A.E. van Vogt‘s novella “The Changeling” (Astounding Science Fiction, April 1944) appears to be another of his books about people with amazing powers. It was subsquently published as a short standalone novel.
Leigh Brackett‘s novella “The Jewel of Bas” (Planet Stories, Spring 1944) has appeared in many collections of her work.
Henry Kuttner‘s 1944 novella “A God Named Kroo” (Thrilling Wonder Stories, Winter 1944) has not been as widely reprinted as some of the other works by him or C.L. Moore.
The children’s writer Enid Blyton produced the novella Tales of Toyland. This story of living toys is not available online in its entirety but the Enid Blyton Society website has a summary and some illustrations. As with much of Blyton’s work, it appears to be a curious mixture of charming and magical elements combined with aspects that are extremely problematic to a modern reader.
Murray Leinster (the pen name of William Fitzgerald Jenkins) was a prolific author who wrote science fiction but also literature in other genres. In 1944 he published the novella “Trog” (Astounding Science Fiction, June 1944).
Ross Rocklynne was another prolific author of science fiction’s Golden Age, who many years later made a post-retirement foray into New Wave SF for one of Harlan Ellison’s anthologies. In 1944 he published two novellas, “The Giant Runt” (Thrilling Wonder Stories, Summer 1944) and “Intruders from the Stars” (Amazing Stories, January 1944).
Hugo-eligible novels must be at least 40,000 words. Here are just some of the science fiction and fantasy novels published in 1944.
Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord, by Olaf Stapledon, deals with a dog who has had his intelligence raised to the level of people and his interactions with his human friends and enemies, a considerably more domestic tale than the author’s other cosmic novels.
Dorothy B. Hughes is primarily known as a crime writer, with several of her novels adapted into film noirs. Her novel The Delicate Ape strays into science fictional territory, dealing as it does with an imagined post-war future, with a sudden murder threaten to disrupt the international force overseeing the occupation of Germany.
Land of Terror is the thrill-powered title of the penultimate novel in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Pellucidar series. The novel is out of copyright in Australia and can be read on that country’s Project Gutenberg.
Writing as Kenneth Robeson, the author Lester Dent continued to produce a prodigious number of Doc Savage novels: According to Plan of a One-Eyed Mystic, Death Had Yellow Eyes, The Derelict of Skull Shoal, The Whisker of Hercules, The Three Devils, The Pharaoh’s Ghost, The Man Who Was Scared, The Shape of Terror, Weird Valley, Jiu San, Satan Black, and The Lost Giant. The summary of these stories on Wikipedia suggests they are tales of unparalleled thrill power, but perhaps also displaying some of the more problematic attitudes prevalent in the 1940s.
René Barjavel’s Le voyageur imprudent was much later translated into English as
Future Times Three. It has been claimed as the first story in which someone travels back in time to become their own ancestor.
Robert Graves is perhaps most famous as the author of I, Claudius, but in 1944 he published The Golden Fleece (subsequently reprinted as Hercules, My Shipmate), a comic retelling of the story of Jason and the Argonauts.
Aldous Huxley is most famous to science fiction fans as the author of Brave New World. 1944 saw his novel Time Must Have a Stop roll of the printing presses. It has a ghost in it so might tenuously count as fantasy literature.
David V. Reed wrote for Batman in the 1950s and 1970s. In 1944 he brought out two novels with science fiction and fantasy themes. Murder in Space deals with a murder, in space, and can be read in the pages of Amazing Stories, May 1944. The Metal Monster Murders (subsequently reprinted as I Thought I’d Die and The Thing That Made Love) deals with a strange bay dwelling monster that may or may not be preying on local women; Dan Stumpf reports that the book is curious in its use of meta-narrative devices and far less lurid than its covers suggest.
In 1944 E. Mayne Hull and A. E. van Vogt were married to each other and together they wrote The Winged Man, which was serialised in the May and June issues of Astounding Science Fiction. The novel concerns the crew of a submarine who travel 23,000 years into the future and find themselves caught up in a war between bird people and fish people.
As well as her short fiction Leigh Brackett also found time to write her first novel, Shadow Over Mars, which first saw print in Startling Stories, Fall 1944. Dealing with a Martian revolt against human agents of “the Company”, the book appears to have an anti-colonial theme and to echo the anti-corporate themes of later SF.
Renaissance, by Raymond F. Jones, has been reprinted (sometimes as Man of Two Worlds) and translated into many foreign languages. In 1944 it was published in serial form in the July, August, September, and October issues of Astounding. Opening in a computer-organised utopian society, the reader soon discovers that things are somewhat more dystopian than they initially appear.
Days of Creation appeared first in the pages of Captain Future, Spring 1944, before subsequently appearing as The Tenth Planet. Published as by Brett Sterling, it was actually written by Joseph Samachson, who usually wrote as William Morrison. This is a pulpy tale of space travel, detective work, memory loss and mistaken identity.
Eric Linklater’s The Wind on the Moon is a British children’s novel about two girls getting up to magical and fantastical scrapes while their father is away at the war. The book won the Carnegie Medal in its year of publication.
William Croft Dickinson’s Borrobil is a children’s book about some youngsters who stumble into a magical world. While it has barely been reprinted and is long out of print, it appears to have had an effect on at least some of its readers.
And that’s it. Good luck and have fun nominating! Nominations close on 13 March 2020 at 23:59 Pacific Daylight Time (02:59 Eastern Daylight Time, 06:59 UTC/Irish Time, and 19:59 14 March 2020 New Zealand Daylight Time). To nominate you need to either have been a member of last year’s Worldcon in Dublin or have been a member of the CoNZealand prior to the start of this year. Eligible nominees should already have received instructions on how to go about nominating.
Isaac Asimov Presents The Great SF Stories 6 (1944), cover illustration by Oliviero Berni: Wikipedia