1941 Retro Hugo Ceremony Report

by Adrienne Foster

Charlene Piper, granddaughter of the late A.E. Van Vogt, barely entered the room for MidAmeriCon II’s Retro Hugo Ceremony last Thursday evening when Hosts Kevin Roche and Marissa Pelot announced that Van Vogt won in the best novel category for Slan. Piper had driven 25 hours from northern Idaho to represent him.

Seventy-five years after the release of the works being honored, several of the winners had no agents there to accept their awards. The intent of the Retro Hugos, however, is to make up for those years when previous Worldcons missed recognizing the work of their time.

Swing music, humorous sketches and old time radio featured prominently during MidAmeriCon II’s ceremony to fill in the gap from 1941. Dave Robinson served as an old-time radio announcer, introducing the hosts and live-music band, Black Crack Revue (aka BCR) throughout the show.

The Best Fan Writer and Fanzine categories were announced first, with the Retro Hugo going to Ray Bradbury in both cases. BCR played “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” with Roche doing the vocals and two couples dancing popular steps from the Big Band period.

Afterward, First Fandom Awards were given to Ben Bova and Joseph Ross. Keith Stokes, Olon F. Wiggins, and Roy V. Hunt were admitted to the Fandom Hall of Fame for their work on the first Denvention in 1941.

The Sam Moskowitz Archive Award went to Ned Brooks Jr. and its counterpart for someone still living went to David Korshak, who was there to accept it for himself.

After that, the winners for Best Professional Artist; Editor, Short Form; Dramatic Presentation, Long Form; and Graphic Story were announced, respectively going to Virgil Finlay, John W. Campbell, Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Batman #1. BCR then played “It Don’t Mean a Thing.”

Amongst the audience, Jo Playford and Elizabeth Gooch did a sketch where one was accused of stealing technology from the future and apprehended.

The ceremony then went onto present the last of the Retro Hugo Awards for Best Short Story, Novelette, Novella and Novel, which went to “Robbie,” by Isaac Asimov; “The Roads Must Roll,” by Robert Heinlein; “If This Goes On…,” by Heinlein; and Slan. Accepting the Hugos for Heinlein was Keith G. Kato, of he Heinlein Society.

Deanna Sjolander produced MidAmeriCon II’s Retro Hugo Ceremony and it was scripted by Jay Smith.