Friday, September 10, 2010

The Hugos

One of the most prestigious awards that any author of science fiction or fantasy can win is the Hugo. The Hugo is named after Hugo Gernsback, a pioneer of science fiction publishing with his magazine Amazing Stories.
The award is voted for by supporting or attending members of Worldcon and it is presented at Worldcon. The first award was presented in 1955, although there are retrospective winners going back to 1946. The winners list reads like a whos who of science fiction and fantasy. When people talk about the Hugo they generally mean the final award of the night, which is for Best Novel, but there are 15 Hugos awarded for achievement in science fiction and fantasy and they range from Best Fan Artist to the Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form (usually a feature film).

One of the great things about being a full attending member at Worldcon is that you get to see the Hugos being awarded. This is basically the Academy Awards of science fiction and fantasy. If you ever get the opportunity to attend I recommend you take it.

The 69th Hugo Awards, presented at Aussiecon IV looked like being a good one and would be hotly contested. The MC was Australian YA author Garth Nix. I felt he was an odd choice. I hadn't read any of Nix's work, but he wasn't known for his humour, and he did not look like the most entertaining of people. However most authors do seem to be speak very well in public and Nix was no exception. His work as MC sparkled, and he even got a dig in at George R.R Martin relating to the delay in the eagerly awaited 5th novel in his epic A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series.

The first few awards were fan awards and as such were awarded by other prominent fans, some of whom had won the award in the past. Best Fan Artist was won by Brad Foster, Best Fanzine was taken out by Tony Smith's Starship Sofa and the best Fan Writer was interestingly enough the highly respected author Frederick Pohl. That award was accepted on the veteran author's (he's 90) behalf by his long time friend and fellow author Robert Silverberg. He gave a very amusing acceptance speech.

They then moved onto the professional or semi professional awards. First was Semi Prozine, Clarkesworld was awarded that by Bruce Gillespie. Best Professional Artist was the home town favourite; Shaun Tan, he was also one of the Con's guests of honour and he received the award from fellow local artist Nick Stathopulos, who was also responsible for designing the award's uniquely Australian base.

Ellen Datlow took out Best Editor, Short Form, which was her second consecutive one.

Robert Silverberg was welcomed back to the stage to present the Hugo for Best Editor, Long Form and gave a very funny speech in which he compared editors to wombats and not at all favourably. Tor books' Patrick Nielsen Hayden got his 2nd rocket ship and disqualified himself from next year's contest so another editor could have a chance at it.

Doctor Who writer Paul Cornell (Father's Day, Human Nature, Family of Blood) presented the award for Best Dramatic Presentation - Short Form. As Doctor Who had been nominated 3 times there was little doubt that the long running British science fiction series would win another rocket ship. Waters of Mars won the award, and this was, I felt deserved. I'd seen the other nominations and Waters of Mars had it hands down even over the other 2 episodes of that show. Paul Cornell was pretty chuffed because he's been involved in the show and he's close friends with both Russell T Davies and Stephen Moffatt. This also gave Doctor Who the record for the award over any other TV show, including Star Trek in all it's various forms.

George R.R Martin awarded the Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form. He really, really wants another Hugo, he's still smarting from 2001 when Harry Potter and the Goblets of Fire beat Storm of Swords. Moon won and that was the one film that I hadn't actually seen. I would have given it to District 9, but the majority of voters preferred Moon. George was tickled that the note said: 'accept on our behalf'. He trotted off the stage with the Hugo tucked under his arm, smiling impishly. I hope they checked his luggage before he left.

Best Graphic Story, presented by Best Artist Shaun Tan, went to a comic I'd never heard of: Girl Genius, Volume 9: Agatha Heterodyne and the Heirs of the Storm by Kaja and Phil Folio, who were on hand to accept it. I would have liked to see Fables Vol 12: The Dark Ages get it, but that's just because I love Fables, and they've got a bunch of awards anyway.

The veteran writer Jack Vance took out Best Related Work This Is Me, Jack Vance! (Or, More Properly, This Is "I") this award will be remembered for presenter Cheryl Morgan's quirky way of reading the titles complete with punctuation marks. It will also probably be Vance's last one.

Then we got into the actual fictional published work. Best Short Story, presented by Sean Williams and won by the interestingly titled Bridesicle by Will McIntosh. Terry Dowling presented the Best Novelette award (what exactly is the difference between a novelette and a novella?) to Peter Watts for The Island. Watts did not think he had any chance, so came dressed in a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers, it was rather funny. Aussie author and martial artist Sean McMullen gave out the Best Novella award. Charles Stross took this for Palimpsest, which Sean McMullen couldn't pronounce, and it was also confusing, as Catherynne M.Valente had been nominated for the Best Novel award with an indentically titled work.

The Guest of Honour Kim Stanley Robinson presented the evening's premier award. I actually hadn't read any of the nominated works, although I do have Robert Charles Wilson's Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd Century America, on my to be read pile. As I had seen Cat Valente numerous times throughout the event and quite liked her I was hoping she would win. It was a tie and unfortunately Cat wasn't one of the winners, that honour went to the high priest of New Weird; China Mievelle for The City & The City and Paolo Bacigalupi for The Windup Girl. Next year I'm going to have read all the nominated works so I can make a better educated vote.

There was one other award I must mention. The John W. Campbell award for Best New Writer. It was presented by the very casual Jay Lake (author of Green and former winner of the award). It went to Seanan McGuire. Seanan was another writer I became acquainted with at the Con, she's a very cool person. After the event I picked up a copy of Rosemary & Rue, her first Toby Daye book. Seanan is the first urban fantasist to win the award. She got the traditional tiara, she cried, she thanked the Great Pumpkin, and as she proudly proclaims on her blog she is now officially the Princess of the Land of Poison and Flame.

That was pretty much it for the 2010 Hugos in my experience. I get to vote next year, and I will and I hope to once again be in attendance, this time in Reno.

1 comment:

  1. For more information on Hugo Gernsback check out a recent biography available on Amazon.

    I found this document when we closed down Gernsback Publications in 2003. It was an old ms that I edited and produced as a book.

    Follow the link and you can go to the book and thanks to Amazon’s “look inside” feature, you can even get an idea of what it covers.
    Also at

    Hope you find it interesting.

    The book is also available as an E-book for the Kindle or your PC or Mac at Amazon. Here is the link:

    Other Hugo Gernsback Titles available at Amazon as e-books for Kindle or your PC:

    100 Radio Hookups E-book

    The Collected Works of Mohammed Ullyses Fips
    A collection of April Fools Articles by Hugo Gernsback

    1933 Official Auto Radio Service Manual

    Radio Service Man’s Handybook

    Radio-Cracy & Mini Radio Craft

    For more information feel free to contact me, Larry Steckler, at