How are the Hugo Awards voted on?

Voting for the awards is open to all members of the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) as of July 31, 2004. To become a member of WSFS, all you have to do is buy a membership in Noreascon Four by July 31.

Why are they called Hugos?

The Hugo Awards are named after Hugo Gernsback, a famous magazine editor who did much to bring science fiction to a wider audience. Gernsback founded Amazing Stories, the first major American SF magazine, in 1926. He is widely credited with sparking a boom in interest in written SF. In addition to having the Hugo Awards named after him he has been recognised as the "Father of Magazine SF" and has a crater on the Moon named after him.

Hugo rocketWhat does a Hugo look like?

The basic design of the Hugo is a chrome rocket ship created by Jack McKnight and Ben Jason. The design of the base on which the ship is mounted is left up to each individual Worldcon, so each year's Hugos look slightly different. You can view a photographic archive of many of the Hugo designs.

Noreascon Four's Hugo bases are designed by Scott Lefton, a Boston-area fan and engineer. Our Retro Hugo bases are designed by Patrick J. and Leah O'Connor, of Chicago.

To see Noreascon Four's Hugo and Retro Hugo awards (rockets and bases!), make your plans now to join us in Boston over Labor Day Weekend.

How do I vote for the Hugos?

Voting for the Hugos is a two-stage process. In the first stage voters may nominate up to five entries in each category. All nominations carry equal weight. The five entries that get the most nominations in each category go forward to the final ballot. In the final ballot voting is preferential. Voters rank the candidates in order of preference. The system for counting the votes is quite complicated but it is designed to ensure that the winner has support from the majority of voters. A full description of the counting procedure is available in How to Vote.

Who can nominate and vote?

Nominations for the Hugos to be awarded at Noreascon Four were open to people who were Noreascon 4 members by January 31, 2004, and to members of Torcon 3.

The final Hugo ballot is open only to members of Noreascon 4. You do not have to attend the Worldcon in order to vote (but we'd love to see you in Boston!). A special category of Supporting Membership is available for people who wish to vote but cannot attend the convention. Supporting Membership also entitles you to all of the official Worldcon publications for that year, and entitles you to participate in the vote to select the site for the 2007 Worldcon. You can get more details at Registration and Memberships.

Who runs the ballot?

Each Worldcon is responsible for administering and counting votes for the year in which it takes place. Noreascon 4 has appointed Rick Katze as Hugo Administrator. He, together with Mark Olson, and Deb Geisler have been designated as the Hugo Award Subcommittee, with final and complete authority over this year's Hugos. It is their job to see that the process takes place efficiently and fairly, and they are therefore ineligible for any Hugo or Retrospective Hugo that will be awarded in 2004. If you have any questions about the Hugos, the first thing to do is to ask the Hugo Administrator.

What categories of awards are there?

The most famous awards are Best Novel and Best Dramatic Presentation. However, there are many other Hugo Awards available, including some for short fiction, for artists, for editors and some for fannish activities. An additional award, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, is voted for and presented alongside the Hugos but is not an official Hugo Award. We have a full list of the current award categories.

What works or persons are eligible?

Generally speaking, works are eligible if they were published in the calendar year preceding the year in which the vote takes place. Some awards are given for a body of work rather than for a single item, in which case it is all work produced in the calendar year in question that is considered. See the list of award categories for full details of eligibility rules.

Are non-American works eligible?

Yes. Any work is eligible, regardless of its place or language of publication. Works first published in languages other than English are also eligible in their first year of publication in English translation.

Aren't Hugos just for Science Fiction?

Have you ever tried to define science fiction?

Jack Williamson, who's been writing for 75 years and who's responsible for creating the terms "terraform" ("Collision Orbit", Astounding, July 1941) and "genetic engineering" in Dragon's Island (1951), was recently asked about the difference between science fiction and fantasy. "It's all fantasy," he proclaimed. "Science fiction is fantasy you can convince yourself might happen."

Anne McCaffrey won a Hugo in 1968 for her novella Weyr Search, which we now know to be science fiction masquerading as a fantasy. McCaffrey made it quite clear in later books that the planet Pern was settled by space-faring human colonists and the famous dragons are a result of genetic engineering experiments by early colonists. Yet most people still assume that McCaffrey's Pern books are fantasy.

Boundaries are treacherous! The Hugo Awards are open to works of both science fiction and fantasy.

Are works published electronically eligible?

Yes they are. The definitions of the Hugo award categories refer only to the nature of the work, not the medium in which it is published. A novel is a novel, regardless of whether it is published in hardback, softback, as a serial in a magazine, or on disk.

Why are there Hugos for fan activity?

Without fandom there would be no Hugo Awards, and the fans of today are often the rising stars of tomorrow.

Do I have to nominate/vote in every category?

No. You need only vote in areas where you feel competent to judge. If you never read novels, just ignore that category.

What are Retro Hugos?

Science Fiction has been going a lot longer that the Hugos, so many famous works never got the chance to win an Award. The WSFS Constitution gives Worldcons the right to award Hugos for a year 50, 75 or 100 years in the past, provided only that there was a Worldcon in that year but no Hugos were awarded. Noreascon 4 is awarding Retrospective Hugos for work done in 1953.

Noreascon Four's web team thanks Cheryl Morgan for her willingness to allow us to borrow at will from her Hugo FAQs and other Hugo-related materials.