Monday, December 14, 2009
1970 Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation – NEWS COVERAGE OF APOLLO 11
On July 20, 1969, two Americans walked on the surface of the moon. It’s still kind of hard to believe. Hugo decided to honor the events by giving the award for dramatic presentation to news coverage of Apollo 11 (over Rosemary’s Baby, Charly (based on Flowers for Algernon), and an episode of the brilliant British television series The Prisoner).
This is a funny choice for a Hugo. Clearly, the landing on the moon was dramatic, and television’s comprehensive coverage of it was an extremely skilled presentation. It’s a pretty brilliant call, failing only to qualify on the level of science “fiction” (unless you believe some of the crazier conspiracy theories). That’s a big problem, but I can see why Hugo would want to acknowledge the event on some level.
Surprisingly, I don’t think this event had as large an effect on science and science fiction as Sputnik. It was the culmination of an awesome effort and a massive achievement. But, the next logical target, Mars, was perhaps too far. Again, you can see why sf authors might be overenthusiastic about future progress into space considering the rapid pace of development up to 1969; no wonder Clarke put a giant rotating space station in 2001 (which, by the way, did a good job of presenting the moon accurately before anyone actually got there). But, as we know, efforts in space tail off from here. The last trip to the moon took place in 1975, and efforts to get a space station into orbit were slow and fitful. Right now, the Apollo project looks more like an end to the Cold War-driven space race than the beginning of humanity’s expansion into solar system. Of course, the future may change that view of events.