The Hugo Award, the most prestigious award in Science Fiction, is named after Hugo Gernsback, publisher of the first all-stf magazine Amazing Stories. The Hugos are fandom’s highest honor to its members and others whose work fans admire. Hugo winners are selected annually by the members of the World Science Fiction Society and the presentation ceremonies are central to fandom's most important event, the World Science Fiction Convention.
Regular categories are Best Fanzine, Best Fan Writer, Best Fan Artist, Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Novelette, Best Short Story, Best Related Work, Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. Best Editor, Long Form, Best Editor, Short Form, Best Professional Artist, Best Semiprozine, Best Graphic Story, Best Fancast, and Best Series, with others being considered (but probably not "Best Fannish Cat," at least not yet) from time to time. The Worldcon Committee can and sometimes does name a Committee Special Award each year.
The Hugo Trophy consists of a silvery cast-metal Hugo rocket, which is the same from year to year, mounted on a Hugo base which each Worldcon designs specially.
Despite some filthy pros' efforts to use the Hugo as a marketing tool, ithe awards are entirely a fannish endeavor. While pros who pay for membership in WSFS may vote, the administration of the awards, counting of the ballots and production of the awards ceremony are all done by volunteer fans.
To even be nominated (be a finalist on the ballot) is considered a great honour, and unlike other awards, we record that here.
See Hugo Rules for more information and Hugo voting process if you really want the gory details. See also Campbell Award (now renamed the Astounding Award), Special Committee Awards and Retro Hugos.
History of the Hugos
The First Hugos
Fans first awarded the Hugo at Worldcon in 1953. The first Hugos were called the Science Fiction Achievement Awards and were announced in Philcon II's PR 3. They seem to have hoped that the SFAA would become a permanent award, since they called them the "First Annual". (The following Worldcon, SFCon did not award the Hugos in 1954, but the Clevention did in 1955 and that made them a Hallowed Tradition.
The Hugo rocket was first created for the 1953 awards by Jack McKnight (who spent most of the convention in his workshop turning them out by hand!). It was modelled on an automotive hood ornament.
The informal name “Hugos” stuck, and in 1992 was made the official (trademarked, even) name.
The Hugo has been called "the tail that wagged the dog": the first awards were given out more than a dozen years after the first Worldcon, but at present the WSFS Constitution that governs the Worldcon lists the giving of the Hugo as the primary function of the convention.
The Hugo Award started out in 1953 as a one-step process; there was no separate nominations phase prior to voting, but, instead, simply a vote among all the works that were considered eligible. Voting was very low. Over the next few years each Worldcon committee invented its own process and its own set of categories, with Loncon in 1957 going its own way entirely.
For the first time, Detention in 1959 provided a nominations ballot followed by a separate vote among the nominees on a final ballot. The nominators weren't required to be members of the Worldcon (or any Worldcon) -- nominating ballots were freely distributed. In fact, on pg 167 of the May 1962 Analog, there's an open solicitation for nominations as part of P. Schuyler Miller's "The Reference Library" column (the book reviews section of Analog).
Voting was somewhat open (the final ballot went out in the convention Progress Report, but there was little or no attempt to limit voting to members) until 1961, when the rules were changed to limit voting to current Worldcon members.
1960 Pittcon saw the first largish Hugo controversy with claims of Nefarious Activities.
The rules adopted in 1961 formally limited nominations to the members of the current Worldcon, although that procedure had been followed since 1959. The procedure stayed unchanged until 1988, when Worldcon members from the previous year were added to the group that could nominate. And so the current two-step process wasn't fully in place until 1963.
The WSFS Constitution itself didn't exist until 1963. There were a set of WSFS Business Meeting resolutions, but they hadn't all been collected, or determined as to which were binding, and how, prior to then. The WSFS Constitution was put together by a committee appointed by the 1962 (Chicon III) WSFS Business Meeting, headed by George Scithers, and was adopted by the 1963 Worldcon.
From 1963 on, the WSFS Constitution specified what the categories were.
See also: Retro Hugos.
|From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959|
|(Madle) The International Fantasy Award, named after Hugo Gernsback & by analogy with mundane Oscars, Emmys, etc. Hal Lynch and Bob Madle brainstormed this annually presented set of commendations at the Philcon II; they are presented by a committee to top fanzines, proz, artists, ktp, at the Worldcon. The poll selecting winners in the various categories is perhaps the only fan poll which still produces results reflecting general fan attitudes, thanks to its size.|
Hugo Category Timeline
1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021
|This is an award page. If you know something about it, such as who awarded it, who the winners were, what the criteria were, and when it was awarded, please add it! See Standards for Awards.|