INFOGRAPHIC: Everything You Need to Know about the Hugo Award

We at SF Signal were thrilled by the news that this little site had secured not one but 2 Hugo Award nominations. So thrilled, in fact, that once we had finished happy dancing, we took a close look at the fascinating history of the award. Its story has been one of change, evolving with the genre from the days of pulp, through the golden age, and finally into the mainstream. So many personalities, great books and memories are associated with the award, it seemed only natural that we take time here to reflect on its influence.

So here it is, everything you need to know about the Hugo Award in 3,672,420 specially selected pixels.

[Click to embiggen]

14 thoughts on “INFOGRAPHIC: Everything You Need to Know about the Hugo Award”

  1. “Nominees and winners are selected by supporting members of that year’s Worldcon”

    I appreciate that you’re trying to cram a lot of information into a small space, but this is non-trivially incorrect in two ways.

    First, winners are selected by all members of that year’s Worldcon, supporting and attending.

    Second, finalists (“nominees”) are selected by members of that year’s Worldcon, plus members of the previous and subsequent year’s Worldcon.

    A more trivial error: “In 1984 the rocket design solidified and every trophy awarded since then has varied only in the base.” Not so; the 1991 trophy used a different design and was cast from a transparent material.

    Finally, an entertaining fact you might include in your squib about Robert Silverberg is that he is the only person who has attended every single Hugo Awards ceremony.

  2. Other tidbits: Dramatic Presentation morphing into two categories; the hubbub over the Harry Potter book winning; the Del Rey declining in Atlanta; The changing rules of No Award.

    Also, you should print this and hand it out at Chicon, or at least make it available as an insert in the program.

    1. “the hubbub over the Harry Potter book winning”

      Locus Online had lots of letters from people who were shocked, just shocked that not only did a *shudder* fantasy novel win, but that it was a book for children (surely a sign of the collapse of Western civilization).

      Interestingly, since Worldcons have their membership lists online, one would discover that pretty much all of the unhappy letter writers were not members of the convention.

      Every vote counts. One voter changing their mind in 2010 for the novel category would have altered the outcome of the tie.

  3. @Jeff, I didn’t include the rule changes or the bit about the Del Rey dismissal, but check the category heading for Dramatic Presentation and the timeline entry for 2001 :)

  4. Before reading further, one common and obvious error leaps out at me: asserting that Ron Smith’s INSIDE & FANTASY ADVERTISER isn’t one fanzine, but is two, and it tied itself. Um, no.

    http://zinewiki.com/Inside_and_Science_Fiction_Advertiser

    The winner of the Best Fanzine Hugo at Clevention in 1955 was Fantasy Times, ed. by James V. Taurasi, Sr. and Ray Van Houten.

    http://www.nesfa.org/data/LL/Hugos/hugos1955.html

    http://www.locusmag.com/SFAwards/Db/Hugo1955.html

    The graphic also makes up its own definitions of what and who is eligible; it’s understandable in trying to be a short graphic, but the descriptions are a bit misleading at times; this is probably non-obvious if one hasn’t lived through the various years’ screaming fights to revise the actual language.

    Then there are all the unmentioned Hugo Awards for categories that no longer exist, the Special Hugos, the committee awards, the Campbell, and the semi-forgotten Gandalf.

    But, oh, god, you have no idea of the can of worms opened by the statement that “the WSFS is formed to oversee the Worldcon Committee” in 1961. This is… problematic.

    I’d have gone with mentioning the transparent lucite Hugos in 1967, and the introduction of the Pongs, promptly renamed the Fan Hugos, myself.

    Bob Silverberg will be surprised to find out he was writing during the Golden age of ’38 through the late Forties.

    Excellent first draft!

    1. Gary, Thank you for the very informed correction. I certainly mistook the ’55 Fanzine award. I’ve updated the graphic and sent off the correction. I certainly taken liberties in shortening the eligibility requirements to a bite sized snippet. There wasn’t room for much nuance as you yourself pointed out. I expect that, as with most things, boiling down a broad and historical subject like the Hugo Awards leaves those who know it best a bit dry. My hope was to wetten the uninitiated, myself included. Thanks again.

  5. The 1953 Worldcon committee did not consider the award to be a “one off”. They called it “The First Annual Science Fiction Achievement Awards”. See: http://fanac.org/fanzines/Philcon/Philcon2r3-03.html

    As to why the 1954 Worldcon did not do it …. no one really knows. Mike Glyer specualtes:

    “Sometimes I wonder if the 1954 committee, having heard how Jack McKnight missed the Worldcon to finish the trophies, found no one would touch the project with a 10-foot-pole. But I haven’t found any evidence to support my speculation.”
    http://file770.com/?p=779

  6. My late husband, Jack L. Chalker, was nominated for his fanzine in 1963, when he was 18 years old. I wonder if there have been any Hugo nominees younger than that?

    1. Not younger, but Lisa Tuttle was 20/21 when nominated for the 1973 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and 21/22 when she won in 1974.

      Alan Brennert was also 20/21 when nominated for the 1975 Campbell.

      (While I will have to leave it to others more inclined to look at hard data, it looked like the average age for Best New Writer nominees was certainly 30+ and perhaps 40.)

      The youngest Campbell nominees in recent history appears to Felicity Savage (born 1975, nominated 1995) and Tobias S. Buckell, born 1979, nominated 2002.

      Last year, Tor.com did take a look at the age of the Best Novel nominees:

      http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/05/we-were-so-much-older-then-were-younger-than-that-now

      Hugo Short Story:

      http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/06/life-is-short-art-is-long-a-statistical-look-at-the-hugo-awards-for-best-short-story

      In a series that went on to look at the ages for the Nebula Best Novel nominees as well:

      http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/06/it-takes-a-long-time-to-become-young-a-statistical-look-at-the-nebula-awards-for-best-novel

      And also that charty-graphy look at the Campbell nominees:

      http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/07/a-statistical-look-at-the-campbell-awards

      Maybe you can convince the author to look at the other awards and confirm that “youngest nominee” status?

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