International Fantasy Award

(1) The IFA was a British award for excellence within the sf/fantasy field and a precursor of the Hugo Award. It was created and promoted by John Wyndham, Frank Cooper, G. Ken Chapman and Leslie Flood.

The first awards were made at 1951 Eastercon, the Festivention, held in London and named after the then-current Festival of Britain. Like most modern literary prizes, the IFA was awarded by a panel of selected experts in the field.

The award continued — never wholly embedded into British fandom — until 1957. The last winner was J. R. R. Tolkien, for Lord of the Rings. The award was presented at a special meeting of the SF Luncheon Club held during the period of the Loncon, the 1957 Worldcon in London. The presentation was not open to the general membership of the convention.

The IFA Website (http://www.gostak.org.uk/ifa/ifaindex.htm) says: "It is said that the IFA was never designed to be a 'popular' award, in the sense that it was the judgement of the masses that counted, and while there is a lot to be said in favor of the 'informed expert committee' approach one wonders with hindsight whether that did not in fact lead to the award's demise, as there seems to have been little popular support or even interest in it from the general population of British fandom or the wider sf-reading community. The fact that the awards were presented at closed invitation-only events may well have alienated many science-fiction enthusiasts of the day."

Members of the judges panel included: J. M. Walsh, John Carnell, Walter Gillings, Walter A. Willis, Fred C. Brown, Georges Gallet, Theodore Maslowski , Anthony Boucher, J. Francis Mccomas, Everett F. Bleiler, Groff Conklin, Basil Davenport, August Derleth, Judith Merril, Sigvard Ostlund, John Beynon Harris , Wilson Tucker, Willy Ley. Not all of them served every year, and they were recused in years when they had an eligible work.

Year Fiction Non-fiction
1951 Earth Abides by George R. Stewart The Conquest of Space by Willy Ley and Chesley Bonestell
1952 Fancies And Goodnights by John Collier The Exploration of Space by Arthur C Clarke
1953 City by Clifford D Simak Lands Beyond by L. Sprague de Camp and Willy Ley
1954 More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon not awarded
1955 A Mirror for Observers by Edgar Pangborn not awarded
1956 not awarded
1957 Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien not awarded