07 February 2012

The Hugo Awards

1956 Hugo Award Trophy
Well, I got sick this week so instead of running tonight, I think I’ll talk a little bit about The Hugo Awards.   

The Hugo’s are given out at the World Science Fiction Convention (WSFC) and anyone who is a member can nominate and vote.  Essentially this means the Hugo’s are chosen by fans.  This contrasts with some other literary awards, like The Nebula Awards which are awarded by the Science Fiction Writers of America, in which winners are chosen by their peers.  It’s up for debate which is more indicative of excellence, but in my opinion they both have their own value and it’s important that they each exist.

The results of this difference over time are pretty interesting.  For instance, this week’s author, Robert A. Heinlein, has won the Hugo Award for best novel 4 times, but has never won the Nebula Award (though he has been nominated).  Of course, this kind of phenomenon works both ways and then, there are those books which have won both.

Once nominations have been made, free versions are occasionally made available to the public (or at least members) through various sources, especially for the other categories.  There are even awards for Best Dramatic Presentation (for both short and long forms).  This year, Doctor Who dominates the short form nominations.  Who knows though, maybe “Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury” will pull out an upset win (obviously, you don’t follow the link expecting something other than what is advertised!).  Currently a new category, best graphic story, is undergoing a trial period until 2012, which is pretty boss.

Some criticisms of the Hugo Awards include that it is voted on by too few people (limited to paying members of WSFC), the winners tend to be populist picks, or establishment picks.  I’m too new to really have an opinion on any of this yet, but I hope that as I near the end of this project, I will have something quasi-intelligent to say about it.  For now…back to my book.

EDIT: "FM,RB" was actually a nominee last year and didn't win.  That's just me paying attention to what I'm doing.


  1. What an interesting exercise, especially that you are recording your journey of the experience.

    The Hubs went through and read all of the Hugo winners. He was pretty...er, unexcited by them. Last year he signed up as a Member and read all of the nominees and voted. He felt disenfranchised by the process, so much so that my 1-book-every-three-days hubby hadn't read a single book in over six months. Interesting.

    But it galvanized both of us to become paying members early enough to be part of the NOMINATING process, not just the voting portion.

    The summation? There's a lot of interesting and monumental works that aren't even acknowledged by the Hugos. It's fascinating to me how this can happen, as you say, perhaps its a popularity contest.

    I'm interested to "watch" you read through these.

    1. Thanks. Sorry to hear he had a bad experience. I see a lot of criticism about the nominating/voting process I am a little curious where I'll end up at the end of this project, especially since I'm forcing myself to read and review 1 each week. Has participating in the nominations helped any?

      I'm just about done with the 1950's right now and I find it hard to believe that many of them were really "the best" SF from their respective years. That kind of goal though is kind of doomed to fail in my opinion and you've really got to take it for what it's worth. Kind of like the Academy Awards, there's a hell of a lot out there that will never be recognized. I am pretty amazed that Red Mars never won though!

      I really only chose the Hugo Awards because the time frame was close to what I was looking for and I had only read a few already, so they'd mostly be new. Hope you enjoy!


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