An Informal History of the Hugos

"In 2010, for the third time in history, there was a tie for the Best Novel Hugo Award. China Miéville’s The City & the City and Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl had both won. Naturally, this caused discussion of the two other times there had been a tie. Mike Glyer posted on the File 770 website, saying that everyone agreed that Frank Herbert’s Dune was a better book than Roger Zelazny’s This Immortal, and Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book was better than Vernor Vinge’s A Fire upon the Deep. He said this with casual assurance, as if nobody could disagree—but I disagreed strongly, in both cases. After I was done defending Zelazny and Vinge, I started thinking about the Hugos.

They’re science fiction’s most important award—and they’re entirely fan voted and fan administered. I care about them passionately, not just as a writer but also as a fan. I have voted for them every time I’ve gone to a Worldcon and therefore been entitled to vote. There’s no financial prize, but I’ve been told that it’s the only genre award that actually affects sales of a book. The winner gets a distinctive rocket ship trophy, instantly recognizable although the inscribed bases are different every year."