The Hugo Awards are fan-voted awards presented annually for achievement in science fiction writing, TV, moviemaking, art, and fan writing. The fact that a Hugo is won by reader (fan) voting, and not just by other writers, makes this a highly coveted award within science fiction. The nominees are voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS), and the awards are presented annually at the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon).
The Hugos are named for the pioneering science fiction editor Hugo Gernsback. The first ones were presented in 1953. There were none the next year, but Hugos have been presented every year since.
The Hugo trophy is in the shape of a rocket. The rockets are manufactured at the foundry of longtime science fiction fan Peter Weston. Each Worldcon comes up with its own base design.
The awards ceremony is held Saturday or Sunday night at Worldcon, and is traditionally followed by a reception for winners, and a parallel "Hugo Losers' Party" for nominees who were not so lucky.
Awarded to a work of fiction of 40,000 words or longer. This is the best-known of the categories, and people less familiar with the awards may refer to "the Hugo Award" as though it were the only one.
Awarded to a work of fiction between 17,500 and 40,000 words long.
Awarded to a work of fiction between 7,500 and 17,500 words long.
Best Short Story
Awarded to a work of fiction of less than 7,500 words.
Until 2006, there was just one award for "Best Professional Editor". As of the 2006 awards, it was split into the following two categories.
Best Editor, Short Form
Awarded to a editor who has edited at least four short story collections or magazines, at least one being in the previous year.
Best Editor, Long Form
Awarded to an editor who has edited at least four works which don't qualify under Short Form, at least one being the in the previous year.
Nonfiction and fan writing
Best Related Book
Awarded to a non-fiction book whose topic is related to science fiction or its fandom.
Awarded to a fanzine which meets any two of these five criteria:
- An average run of 1000 copies per issue.
- Pays any contributors or staff in anything other than copies of the publication.
- Provides at least half the income of one person.
- Has at least 15% of its total space occupied by advertising.
- Has declared itself to be competing as a semiprozine, rather than a fanzine.
Awarded to a fanzine which doesn't meet the definition of a semiprozine.
Best Fan Writer
Awarded a person whose work has appeared in fanzines or semiprozines in the previous year.
Best Professional Artist
Awarded to a person whose art has appeared in a professional publication in the previous year.
Best Fan Artist
Awarded to a person whose art has appeared in fanzines, semiprozines, or other public display, and is not nominated for Best Professional Artist.
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
Awarded to a work longer than 90 minutes.
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
Awarded to a work of 90 minutes or less.
In practice, the Long Form category applies to feature films, and the Short Form to TV shows and short films, although theatrical productions can also qualify for either, depending on length.
Individual Worldcons are permitted to add one extra category of their choosing.
The awards are for works of science fiction in the broad sense of the genre, which includes fantasy and alternate history. Any work published for the first time in the previous year is eligible. Works which were previously published in other languages are eligible again the first time they are published in English.
Candidates can be nominated by any member of the World Science Fiction Society (i.e., anyone registered as a member of Worldcon). Each member can nominate up to five people or works in each category. The nominating deadline is usually around March.
The nominees are the five candidates with the highest number of nomination votes. In the event of a tie for fifth place, all candidates which are tied for fifth place are included on the ballot.
Voting for the winner
All members of WSFS can vote on the winners, although only a small percentage do. The ballot uses preferential voting, with a choice in each category for "No Award". If a voter ranks "No Award" ahead of any nominees, their votes for those nominees are not counted.