The Hugo Awards

The Hugo Awards are administered and run by the WorldCon of Science-Fiction & Fantasy and the World Science Fiction Society. They bill themselves as the most prestigious award for these genres. As befitting of the WordCon association, this is an international award. The process is actually kind of cool, but could easily degenerate into a popularity contest in the “bad sense” of the word, not in the recognizing greatness sense that all awards should strive for. Here’s how it works:

1. members in good standing nominate works in over 15 categories.

2. Nomination lists are sent out to members and association members, which rank their choices to create 5 finalists in each category.

3. Over 1000 folks vote with the final ballot, again ranking things 1-5 for a preferential vote.

The author or publisher is NOT allowed to submit work for consideration, and authors are encouraged NOT to campaign too much. Really, word of mouth is your best shot here. For a list of winners click HERE; the award’s homepage is HERE.

Here’s the ginormous list of categories:

  • Best Novel:Awarded for a science fiction or fantasy story of forty thousand (40,000) words or more.
  • Best Novella:Awarded for a science fiction or fantasy story of between seventeen thousand five hundred (17,500) and forty thousand (40,000) words.
  • Best Novelette:Awarded for a science fiction or fantasy story of between seven thousand five hundred (7,500) and seventeen thousand five hundred (17,500) words.
  • Best Short Story:Awarded for science fiction or fantasy story of less than seven thousand five hundred (7,500) words.
  • Best Related Work:Awarded to a work related to the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom, appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year or which has been substantially modified during the previous calendar year. The type of works eligible include, but are not limited to, collections of art, works of literary criticism, books about the making of a film or TV series, biographies and so on, provided that they do not qualify for another category.
  • Best Graphic Story:A science fiction or fantasy story told in graphic form, such as a comic book, graphic novel, or webcomic.
  • Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form):This Award can be given a dramatized production in any medium, including film, television, radio, live theater, computer games or music. The work must last 90 minutes or longer (excluding commercials).
  • Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form):This Award can be given a dramatized production in any medium, including film, television, radio, live theater, computer games or music. The work must be less than 90 minutes long (excluding commercials).
  • Best Editor (Long Form):This is the first of the person categories, so the Award is given for the work that person has done in the year of eligibility. To be eligible the person must have edited at least 4 novel-length (i.e. 40,000 words or more) books devoted to science fiction and/or fantasy in the year of eligibility that are not anthologies or collections.
  • Best Editor (Short Form):To be eligible the person must have edited at least four anthologies, collections or magazine issues devoted to science fiction and/or fantasy, at least one of which must have been published in the year of eligibility.
  • Best Professional Artist:Another person category, this time for artists and illustrators. The work on which the nominees are judged must class as “professional”.
  • Best Semiprozine:This is the most complicated category because of the need to define semi-professional. A lot of science fiction and fantasy magazines are run on a semi-professional basis: that is they pay a little, but generally not enough to make a living for anyone. The object of this category is to separate such things from fanzines, which are generally loss-making hobbyist pursuits. To qualify a publication must not be professional and must meet at least two of the following criteria:
    1. had an average press run of at least one thousand (1000) copies per issue;
    2. paid its contributors and/or staff in other than copies of the publication;
    3. provided at least half the income of any one person;
    4. had at least fifteen percent (15%) of its total space occupied by advertising;
    5. announced itself to be a semiprozine.

    This is the first of the serial publication categories. To qualify, the publication must have produced at least 4 issues, at least one of which must have appeared in the year of eligibility (this being similar to the requirements for magazine editors in Best Editor, Short Form).

  • Best Fanzine:This is the other serial publication category. This Award is for anything that is neither professional nor semi-professional. The publication must also satisfy the rule of a minimum of 4 issues, at least one of which must have appeared in the year of eligibility.
  • Best Fan Writer:This is another person category. Note that it does not just apply to writing done in fanzines. Work published in semiprozines, and even on mailing lists, blogs, BBSs, and similar electronic fora, can be including when judging people for this Award. Only work in professional publications should not be considered.
  • Best Fan Artist: The final category is also for people. Again note that the work by which artists should be judged is not limited to material published in fanzines. Material for semiprozines or material on public displays (such as in convention art shows) is also eligible. Fan artists can have work published in professional publications as well. You should not consider it when judging this award, and also any artists who make the final ballot for Best Professional Artist may not also be on the final ballot for Best Fan Artist.

The John W. Campbell Award

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer is not a Hugo. It is voted for and presented alongside the Hugos, but the eligibility rules are not governed by the WSFS Constitution. For further details of the Campbell see its own web site.

Additional Hugo Award categories

Worldcon Committees have the right to add one extra Hugo Award category each year. These extra Hugo Award categories are not permanent. This rule is not intended for regular use, but rather for special circumstances. Generally no additional awards are presented.

Special Awards

Some Worldcons give out special awards during the Hugo Awards ceremony. These awards are at the committee’s discretion, rather than by general vote. Such special awards may not use the Hugo Award rocket and are not considered Hugo Awards, but they are sometimes included in lists of Hugo Awards because they were presented at the same ceremony.

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