1959 Hugos

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Awarded September 7, 1959, by Detention, the Detroit Worldcon. Another year, another change of categories! The committee retained some of Solacon's changes (film category, what else…?), rolled back others (reinstating Fanzine; re-separating Novel from "Novelette" – NB this was used in the modern sense of Novella, i. e. "text just shorter than a novel", not the modern "longer than a short story"; unifying "Outstanding" titles to Best), and managed to come up with eight Hugo categories which looked more like the set used starting in the late 60s than any other of the pre-1967 Worldcons. (Of these, best newbie was no-awarded and abandoned forever… to return from the dead as the Campbell Award fourteeen years later.)

For the first time, there was a nomination ballot. It was circulated widely through fandom, anyone was allowed to nominate, and then the final ballot was distributed as usual in a PR. (See Early Hugo voting.) Howard DeVore reported in Lynn Hickman’s fanzine JD-Argassy 41 (January 31, 1959, p. 8):

The Detention Committee have announced a new system for awarding the “HUGO’S” for ’59. ALL of fandom will be allowed to make nominations and to vote on the nominations. Probably the first time that fandom as a whole has had a voice in naming the people who are considered for the awards. A copy of the initial ballott will appear here shortly and all readers are urged to vote whether they have joined the convention proper or not. IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO JOIN THE CONVENTION TO VOTE *** but, it takes money to pay for the trophys and your two dollars to JAMES BRODERICK, 12011 KILBOURNE ST./DETROIT 13, MICHIGAN will buy you a membership and help pay for the trophies.

The modern rules were not yet in place, so categories had as many as ten nominees plus No Award on the final ballot. The committee noted that when the nomination ballot showed there was no clearly preferred nominee, they added No Award as a choice. Additionally, the category titles had not yet been standardized, so "Best STF or Fantasy Movie" on the nomination ballot became "Best Hollywood Movie of 1958" on the final ballot, perhaps in recognition of the extremely low offer as well as interest – except that "The Horror of Dracula" was actually a British Hammer import.

Isaac Asimov was the toastmaster at the Hugo Ceremony and was joined by Robert Bloch. According to Asimov, Bloch opened the envelope with the name of the winner of the Short Story Hugo and was so surprised, Asimov had to read over Bloch's shoulder that Bloch had won.



1958 Hugos 1960 1959
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