Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Decade in Review: 1950s

Before I start with the 1960 winner, Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein, I thought it would nice to do a quick review of the 1950’s Hugos. I plan to do a decade in review before starting on new decade.

Honestly, I was a bit disappointed with the 50s. Out of the 5 winner, there were only 2 I liked, The Demolished Man and Double Star, while the others ranged from ok to terrible. The 1950s were part of the “Golden Age of Science Fiction” so I was expecting more. Instead A Case of Conscience was ok, The Big Time was well written but nonsensical, and They’d Rather Be Right was just flat out terrible.

What was strange was that the books didn’t really fit with the stereotypes of 1950s sci-fi. Sure there were rockets and men of science but they were hardly as dominate as I expected. Perhaps that vision of science fiction was more closely related to the pulps and comics books then to the more “literary” variety chosen by the Hugo Awards committee. In fact, Double Star may be the pulpiest of the stories I read and it was my second favorite.

Despite my disappointment, there was at least one good thing I stumbled upon here: The Demolished Man. I won’t give a full review here but I was surprised at how interesting a book it was, the depth of the characters, and the quality of the writing. If I hadn’t started on this goal of reading all the Hugos I probably never would have come across that book and that would have been a shame. In fact that might be one of the reasons that the 50s was a letdown: its first book was the best of the decade.

Now that the 50s are over I’m excited for the 60s (I never thought I would say that). The 60s contains 11 books (there was a tie one year) of which I have read two already. It should be a fun decade. Stay tuned for Starship Troopers.

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