1980's, Best Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Sci-Fi & Fantasy Award Winners, Science Fiction

The Most Award Winning Science Fiction & Fantasy Books Of 1981

May 12, 2017

“What are the most award-winning Science Fiction & Fantasy books of 1981?” We looked at all the large SFF book awards given, aggregating and ranking the books that appeared so we could answer that very question!

A note on our grading system: We give 5 points for every nomination a book received and an additional 5 points for each win. These values are purely arbitrary, easy to add up, numbers. For more info on our super scientific grading system visit our Info page. For a full list of the awards and award winners can be found below our rankings at the bottom of the page.

Before we take a look at the top Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 1981, let’s set the scene for those awards by taking a look at what else was happening that year:

1981

Ronal Reagan is sworn in as 40th president of US. Iran releases hostages. Greece enters European Community. First DeLorean is produced. The first camcorder introduced. Reagan shot by John Hinckley Jr. Pope John Paul II is shot. Sandra Day O’Connor becomes the first Woman of the Supreme Court. Donkey Kong is released. MTV is launched. Hosni Mubarak becomes president after Anwar Sadat is assassinated. Iran-Contra affair begins. El Mozote massacre. First American Test Tube baby is born. Crack cocaine is first reported as being used in the United States. Deaths – Bob Marley, Joe Lewis, Edith Head, Natalie Wood, Lotte Lenya, etc. Additional Entertainment released – Raiders of the Lost Ark, An American Werewolf in London, The Evil Dead, Das boot, The Road Warrior, Hill Street Blues, Chariots of Fire, Scanners, Time Bandits, Quest for Fire, etc. Other Non-SFF books – Red Dragon, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, The Mismeasure of Man, etc.

And now, on to the list…

 



29 .) Ariosto by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Ariosto by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Award Points
The World Fantasy Awards 5 ( Nomination )

Total

5

In an alternate-world Italian Renaissance where the Italian states have formed a federation, the great epic poet Ludovico Ariosto is writing a fantasy adventure set in the New World that reflects the difficulties besetting his patron, Damiano de’ Medici. While the Cerrochi in Ariosto’s fantasy battle the evil wizard Anatrecacciatore with the help of a heroic version of Ariosto himself, politics and skullduggery plague the Florence-based court of Italia Federata, in which Ariosto becomes enmeshed when he chooses to support the Medicis against those seeking to fracture the Italian union.

Learn More / Purchase



28 .) The Affirmation by Christopher Priest

The Affirmation (The Dream Archipelago #1) by Christopher Priest

Award Points
BSFA 5 ( Nomination )

Total

5

“Peter Sinclair, a 29-year-old Londoner, is reeling after losing his father, his girlfriend, his job and his flat. Taking refuge in a friend’s rural cottage, he tries to make sense of things and figure out where his life began to go wrong by writing an autobiography. But it is possible that none of this is true …

Peter Sinclair is a 31-year-old native of the city of Jethra in Faiandland who has just won the grand prize in a lottery: a trip to the Dream Archipelago, a neverending series of idyllic islands, where he will undergo a medical procedure that gives him immortality. Because the process also results in total amnesia, Peter must first set down all the details of his life in a manuscript in order to recover the memories afterwards. But it is also possible that none of this is true … “

Learn More / Purchase



27 .) The Dreaming Dragons by Damien Broderick

The Dreaming Dragons (The Faustus Hexagram #1) by Damien Broderick

Award Points
John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel 5 ( Nomination )

Total

5

Selected as one of the top 100 science fiction novels of the century! Updated and revised edition of award-winner The Dreaming Dragons. An anthropologist travels to the central Australian desert to search for the source of an aboriginal myth; he suspects the terrible “Rainbow Serpent” is connected to the sacred Uluru rock formations. The holographic “Gate” he discovers with his nephew explains not just the origin of a legend, but the origin of man, and the true fate of the dinosaurs.

Learn More / Purchase



26 .) Sundiver by David Brin

Sundiver (The Uplift Saga #1) by David Brin

Award Points
Locus New Novel 5 ( Nomination )

Total

5

No species has ever reached for the stars without the guidance of a patron–except perhaps mankind. Did some mysterious race begin the uplift of humanity aeons ago? Circling the sun, under the caverns of Mercury, Expedition Sundiver prepares for the most momentous voyage in history–a journey into the boiling inferno of the sun.

Learn More / Purchase



25 .) The Northern Girl by Elizabeth A. Lynn

Northern Girl (Chronicles of Tornor #3) by Elizabeth A. Lynn

Award Points
Locus Awards Fantasy 5 ( Nomination )

Total

5

The visions begin when Sorren is only 13. Too numb to be frightened, Sorren eventually learns that this gift to travel places in her mind is called Far-travelling, and she is marked as a member of the White Clan of Arun. But this honor of being a witch frightens Sorren and she does not want to come within the Tanjo and serve. So instead, Sorren is determined to keep this gift a secret for as long as she can, whatever the cost may be.

Learn More / Purchase



24 .) Hello America by J. G. Ballard

Hello America by J.G. Ballard

Award Points
BSFA 5 ( Nomination )

Total

5

Following the energy crisis of the late twentieth century, America has been abandoned. Now, a century later, a small group of European explorers returns to the now climatically mutated continent. But America is unrecognizable―the Bering Strait has been dammed and much of the country has become a desert, populated by isolated natives and the bizarre remnants of a disintegrated culture. The expedition sets off from Manhattan on a cross-country journey, through Holiday Inns and abandoned theme parks, to uncover a shocking new power in the heart of Las Vegas.

Learn More / Purchase



23 .) The Grey Mane of Morning by Joy Chant

The Grey Mane of Morning by Joy Chant

Award Points
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award 5 ( Nomination )

Total

5

The Khentors, on their great Horned Horses, had wandered the Great Plain for longer than memory, and in all that time the magnificent Golden People, with their red metal spears and walled towns, had been Masters of the Khentorei. That the Golden Ones should take women as tribute was not unusual. But now they had taken Nai, a priestess — and not just a prestess– for Nai, Chosen of the Gods, was the Luck of her Tribe and sister to Mor’anh, named for the Lightning Spear of the Sky.

Learn More / Purchase



22 .) Beyond Rejection by Justin Leiber

Beyond Rejection by Justin Leiber

Award Points
Locus New Novel 5 ( Nomination )

Total

5

Ismael Forth wakes up to find that his mind is now implanted in the body of a beautiful woman, his own body has been stolen, and he is reported to have died on a distant planet he has never visited

Learn More / Purchase



21 .) Lion of Ireland by Morgan Llywelyn

Lion of Ireland (Brian Boru #1) by Morgan Llywelyn

Award Points
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award 5 ( Nomination )

Total

5

“King, warrior, and lover Brian Boru was stronger, braver, and wiser than all other men-the greatest king Ireland has ever known. Out of the mists of the country’s most violent age, he merged to lead his people to the peak of their golden era.

His women were as remarkable as his adventures: Fiona, the druidess with mystical powers; Deirdre, beautiful victim of a Norse invader’s brutal lust; Gormlaith, six-foot, read-haired goddess of sensuality.”

Learn More / Purchase



20 .) Firelord by Parke Godwin

Firelord (Firelord #1) by Parke Godwin

Award Points
The World Fantasy Awards 5 ( Nomination )

Total

5

Enslaved for centuries, used and then abandoned by the Roman conquerors, Britain is a shattered land — with petty warlords and tribal leaders fighting over its pieces like mongrel dogs. The time is ripe for a warrior-king who will unite this wounded realm — and a young centurion courageously answers the call. name is Artorius

Learn More / Purchase



19 .) The Gates of Heaven by Paul Preuss

The Gates Of Heaven by Paul Preuss

Award Points
Locus New Novel 5 ( Nomination )

Total

5

At Project Cyclops, a room filled with scientists and military personnel is plunged into stunned silence. Above the crackling static coming from the star Tau Ceti, they hear a voice. A human voice. To answer the signal from reaches of the universe unknown, an expedition embarks on a journey across warped dimensions of time and space… Through a Black Hole in the cosmic vastness… To a paradise dying on the other side.

Learn More / Purchase



18 .) Shadowland by Peter Straub

Shadowland by Peter Straub

Award Points
The World Fantasy Awards 5 ( Nomination )

Total

5

“Come back. To a dark house deep in the Vermont woods, where two friends are spending a season of horror, apprenticed to a Master Magician.

Learning secrets best left unlearned. Entering a world of incalculable evil more ancient than death itself. More terrifying. And more real.”

Learn More / Purchase



17 .) Where Time Winds Blow by Robert Holdstock

Where Time Winds Blow by Robert Holdstock

Award Points
BSFA 5 ( Nomination )

Total

5

“A planet where eerie time displacements, like winds, can dump alien artefacts from the past and future into now, or sweep things away from now into anywhen.’

‘A planet that attracts both scientists and fortune hunters, rummaging among the strangenesses, risking oblivion, carrying with them their own hang-ups, desperations, odd urges and searches.”

Learn More / Purchase



16 .) Changeling by Roger Zelazny

Changeling (The Changeling Saga #1) by Roger Zelazny

Award Points
Locus Awards Fantasy 5 ( Nomination )

Total

5

wo stories by the Hugo and Nebula Award winning author Roger Zelazny following the development of an evil wizard’s baby taken to earth unaware of his dark magic past. He returns to his home land and is a powerful sorcerer, but he has many enemies and one want him dead…In ‘Changling’, the people had long suffered under Det Morson’s power…lived in terror of his dragons and other minions.

Learn More / Purchase



15 .) The Mist by Stephen King

The Mist by Stephen King

Award Points
The World Fantasy Awards 5 ( Nomination )

Total

5

It’s a hot, lazy day, perfect for a cookout, until you see those strange dark clouds. Suddenly a violent storm sweeps across the lake and ends as abruptly and unexpectedly as it had begun. Then comes the mist…creeping slowly, inexorably into town, where it settles and waits, trapping you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world. The mist is alive, seething with unearthly sounds and movements. What unleashed this terror? Was it the Arrowhead Project—the top secret government operation that everyone has noticed but no one quite understands? And what happens when the provisions have run out and you’re forced to make your escape, edging blindly through the dim light?

Learn More / Purchase



14 .) The Beginning Place by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Beginning Place by Ursula K. Le Guin

Award Points
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award 5 ( Nomination )

Total

5

Fleeing from the monotony of his life, Hugh Rogers finds his way to “the beginning place”–a gateway to Tembreabrezi, an idyllic, unchanging world of eternal twilight. Irena Pannis was thirteen when she first found the beginning place. Now, seven years later, she has grown to know and love the gentle inhabitants of Tembreabrezi, or Mountaintown, and she sees Hugh as a trespasser. But then a monstrous shadow threatens to destroy Mountaintown, and Hugh and Irena join forces to seek it out. Along the way, they begin to fall in love. Are they on their way to a new beginning…or a fateful end?

Learn More / Purchase



13 .) Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien

Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien

Award Points
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award 10 ( Win )

Total

10

Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth concentrates on the lands of Middle-earth and comprises Gandalf’s lively account of how he came to send the Dwarves to the celebrated party at Bag-End, the story of the emergence of the sea god Ulmo before the eyes of Tuor on the coast of Beleriand, and an exact description of the military organization of the Riders of Rohan and the journey of the Black Riders during the hunt for the Ring. It also contains the only surviving story about the long ages of Númenor before its downfall, and all that is known about the Five Wizards sent to Middle-earth as emissaries of the Valar, about the Seeing Stones known as palantíri, and about the legend of Amroth.

Learn More / Purchase



12 .) Inherit the Stars by James P. Hogan

Inherit the Stars (Giants #1) by James P. Hogan

Award Points
Japan Seiun Translated 10 ( Win )

Total

10

The man on the moon was dead. They called him Charlie. He had big eyes, abundant body hair, and fairly long nostrils. His skeletal body was found clad in a bright red spacesuit, hidden in a rocky grave. They didn’t know who he was, how he got there, or what had killed him. All they knew was that his corpse was fifty thousand years old — and that meant this man had somehow lived long before he ever could have existed.

Learn More / Purchase



11 .) Wizard by John Varley

Wizard (Gaea Trilogy #2) by John Varley

Award Points
Hugo 5 ( Nomination )
Locus Awards Sci-Fi 5 ( Nomination )

Total

10

One of the greatest science fiction epics ever written, John Varley’s Titan, Wizard, and Demon comprise a groundbreaking trilogy that will live forever. Human explorers have entered the sprawling mind of Gaea. Now they must fight her will. For she is much too powerful…and definitely insane.

Learn More / Purchase



10 .) The Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven

The Ringworld Engineers (Ringworld #2) by Larry Niven

Award Points
Hugo 5 ( Nomination )
Locus Awards Sci-Fi 5 ( Nomination )

Total

10

Over twenty years after returning to Earth from the Ringworld, Louis Wu is kidnapped, along with a warrior kzin named Chmeee, by a Pierson’s puppeteer, a brilliant 2-headed alien who calls himself the “Hindmost”. The puppeteer hopes to regain status with his fellow citizens by traveling to the Ringworld to bring back treasures. Upon reaching the vast and mysterious Ringworld, Louis and his companions encounter many surprises, including that the Ringworld is unstable. Its billions of inhabitants will die within months if Louis and his companions do not find a way to locate the Control Center of its mysterious builders, the Ringworld engineers, and fix the problem.

Learn More / Purchase



9 .) Dragon’s Egg by Robert L. Forward

Dragon's Egg (Cheela #1) by Robert L. Forward

Award Points
Locus New Novel 10 ( Win )

Total

10

In a moving story of sacrifice and triumph, human scientists establish a relationship with intelligent life forms–the cheela–living on Dragon’s Egg, a neutron star where one Earth hour is equivalent to hundreds of their years. The cheela culturally evolve from savagery to the discovery of science, and for a brief time men are their diligent teachers.

Learn More / Purchase



8 .) The Orphan by Robert Stallman

The Orphan (Book of the Beast Trilogy #1) by Robert Stallman

Award Points
Nebula 5 ( Nomination )
Locus New Novel 5 ( Nomination )

Total

10

The werewolf is a creature of the night, a solitary, fur-covered thing. A wild-eyed, five clawed beast with a taste for blood and the soft crunch of bone between the teeth. But as little Robert, the werewolf has been adopted by a kindly farmer and his wife. Neither Robert nor the monster could control the shifting of its form, and always, the emerged beast lurked within, ready to spring for the throat.

Learn More / Purchase



7 .) Mockingbird by Walter Tevis

Mockingbird by Walter Tevis

Award Points
Nebula 5 ( Nomination )
Ditmar Award 5 ( Nomination )

Total

10

Mockingbird is a powerful novel of a future world where humans are dying. Those that survive spend their days in a narcotic bliss or choose a quick suicide rather than slow extinction. Humanity’s salvation rests with an android who has no desire to live, and a man and a woman who must discover love, hope, and dreams of a world reborn.

Learn More / Purchase



6 .) Beyond the Blue Event Horizon by Frederik Pohl

Beyond the Blue Event Horizon (Heechee Saga #2) by Frederik Pohl

Award Points
Nebula 5 ( Nomination )
Hugo 5 ( Nomination )
Locus Awards Sci-Fi 5 ( Nomination )

Total

15

The story begins when the hero of Gateway finances an expedition to a distant alien spaceship that may end famine forever. On the ship, the explorers find a human boy, and evidence that reveals a powerful alien civilization is thriving on a transport ship headed right for Earth

Learn More / Purchase



5 .) Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg

Lord Valentine's Castle (Lord Valentine #1) by Robert Silverberg

Award Points
Hugo 5 ( Nomination )
Locus Awards Fantasy 10 ( Win )

Total

15

“He is a man with no past— a wanderer without memory of his origins. He calls himself Valentine. As a member of a motley group of entertainers, he travels across the magical planet of Majipoor, always hoping he will meet someone who can give him back what he has lost.

And then, he begins to dream–and to receive messages in those dreams. Messages that tell him that he is far more than a common vagabond—he is a lord, a king turned out of his castle. Now his travels have a purpose—to return to his home, discover what enemy took his memory, and claim the destiny that awaits him”

Learn More / Purchase



4 .) The Wounded Land by Stephen R. Donaldson

The Wounded Land (The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant #1) by Stephen R. Donaldson

Award Points
Locus Awards Fantasy 5 ( Nomination )
Ditmar Award 5 ( Nomination )
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award 5 ( Nomination )

Total

15

Four thousand years have passed since Covenant first freed the Land from the devastating grip of Lord Foul and his minions. But he is back, and Convenant, armed with his stunning white gold magic, must battle the evil forces and his own despair..

Learn More / Purchase



3 .) The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge

The Snow Queen (The Snow Queen Cycle #1) by Joan D. Vinge

Award Points
Nebula 5 ( Nomination )
Locus Awards Sci-Fi 10 ( Win )
Hugo 10 ( Win )
Ditmar Award 5 ( Nomination )

Total

30

The imperious Winter colonists have ruled the planet Tiamat for 150 years, deriving wealth from the slaughter of the sea mers. But soon the galactic stargate will close, isolating Tiamat, and the 150-year reign of the Summer primitives will begin. Their only chance at surviving the change is if Arienrhod, the ageless, corrupt Snow Queen, can destroy destiny with an act of genocide. Arienrhod is not without competition as Moon, a young Summer-tribe sibyl, and the nemesis of the Snow Queen, battles to break a conspiracy that spans space. Interstellar politics, a millennia-long secret conspiracy, and a civilization whose hidden machineries might still control the fate of worlds all form the background to this spectacular hard science fiction novel from Joan D. Vinge.

Learn More / Purchase



2 .) The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe

The Shadow of the Torturer (The Book of the New Sun #1) by Gene Wolfe

Award Points
Nebula 5 ( Nomination )
Locus Awards Fantasy 5 ( Nomination )
BSFA 10 ( Win )
The World Fantasy Awards 10 ( Win )
John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel 5 ( Nomination )

Total

35

The first volume of The Book of the New Sun. The Earth is old and the sun is dying. In the great Citadel of the City Imperishable, Severian – apprentice to the torturer’s guild – betrays his oath. Exiled, he begins his phantasmagoric odyssey through the perilous world of the deep, distant future.

Learn More / Purchase



1 .) Timescape by Gregory Benford

Timescape by Gregory Benford

Award Points
Locus Awards Sci-Fi 5 ( Nomination )
John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel 10 ( Win )
Nebula 10 ( Win )
Ditmar Award 10 ( Win )

Total

35

The author of Tides of Light offers his Nebula Award-winning SF classic–a combination of hard science, bold speculation, and human drama. In the year 1998, a group of scientists works desperatey to communicate with the scientists of 1962, warning of an ecological disaster that will destroy the oceans in the future–if it is not averted in the past.

Learn More / Purchase



The 1981 Award Nominations & Winners

(Winners Highlighted)


 

Nebula Award – Best Novel

Book Author
Timescape Gregory Benford
Beyond the Blue Event Horizon Frederik Pohl
Mockingbird Walter Tevis
The Orphan Robert Stallman
The Shadow of the Torturer Gene Wolfe
The Snow Queen Joan D. Vinge

 

Hugo Award – Best Novel

Book Author
The Snow Queen Joan D. Vinge
Lord Valentine’s Castle Robert Silverberg
The Ringworld Engineers Larry Niven
Beyond the Blue Event Horizon Frederik Pohl
Wizard John Varley

 

Locus Award – Best Science Fiction Novel

Book Author
The Snow Queen Joan D. Vinge
Beyond the Blue Event Horizon Frederik Pohl
The Ringworld Engineers Larry Niven
Wizard John Varley
Timescape Gregory Benford

 

Locus Award – Best Fantasy Novel

Book Author
Lord Valentine’s Castle Robert Silverberg
The Shadow of the Torturer Gene Wolfe
The Wounded Land Stephen R. Donaldson
Changeling Roger Zelazny
The Northern Girl Elizabeth A. Lynn

 

Locus Award – Best First Novel

Book Author
Dragon’s Egg Robert L. Forward
The Orphan Robert Stallman
Sundiver David Brin
Beyond Rejection Justin Leiber
The Gates of Heaven Paul Preuss

 

BSFA (British Science Fiction Association) – Best Novel

Book Author
The Shadow of the Torturer Gene Wolfe
Hello America J. G. Ballard
Where Time Winds Blow Robert Holdstock
The Affirmation Christopher Priest

 

The World Fantasy Award – Best Novel

Book Author
The Shadow of the Torturer Gene Wolfe
Ariosto Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Firelord Parke Godwin
The Mist Dark Forces Stephen King
Shadowland Coward Peter Straub

 

Seiun (Japanese) Award – Best Translated Novel

Book Author
Inherit the Stars James P. Hogan

 

John W. Campbell Memorial Award – Best Science Fiction Novel

Book Author
Timescape Gregory Benford
The Dreaming Dragons Damien Broderick
The Shadow of the Torturer Gene Wolfe

 

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award – Adult Literature

Book Author
Unfinished Tales J.R.R. Tolkien
The Grey Mane of Morning Joy Chant
The Wounded Land Stephen R. Donaldson
The Beginning Place Ursula K. Le Guin
Lion of Ireland Morgan Llywelyn

 

The Ditmar (Australian) Award – Best International Long Fiction

Book Author
Timescape Gregory Benford
Mockingbird Walter Tevis
The Snow Queen Joan D. Vinge
The Wounded Land Stephen R. Donaldson

You Might Also Like