Hugo Awards FAQ

This page contains answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) relating to the Hugo Awards.

For a comprehensive guide to the Hugos, including the full history of the awards, rocket designs, winners lists and a guide on how to vote, there is an official site at

We have included an index of all the questions on this page to help you find the one you want quickly.

Q:    What are the Hugos?
A: The Hugo Awards are awards for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy. A list of the current award categories and definitions is available here. Hugos are awarded each year by the World Science Fiction Society, at the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon).
Q: Who Votes?
A: The Hugos (and Retro Hugos, when given) are voted on by fans - specifically the members of that year's Worldcon. You can have a say in determining which works and individuals receive the coveted rockets, by nominating and voting. With some specific exceptions (defined in the WSFS Constitution), works eligible for the Hugos are first published or released in the year prior to their award (so, 2012 for the Hugos to be presented at LoneStarCon 3).

You are eligible to vote in the nominating ballot if you were a member of Chicon 7, or if you are a member of LoneStarCon 3 or Loncon 3 as of January 31, 2013. Only members of LoneStarCon 3 are eligible to vote in the final ballot. (In general this right is extended to all members who join the convention prior to the closing date of the ballot, which is expected to fall at the end of July 2013.)


Q: Why are they called Hugos?
A: 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 recognized as the "Father of Magazine SF" and has a crater on the Moon named after him.
Q: What does a Hugo look like?
A: The basic design of the Hugo (see picture above) 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. A photographic archive of many of the Hugo designs is available here.

By tradition the design of the 2012 Hugo award base will not be made public until the Hugo ceremony itself.

Q: How do I vote for the Hugos?
A: 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 on the Hugo Award web site.
Q: Who can nominate and vote?
A: The nomination process is open to everyone who is an attending or supporting member of LoneStarCon 3 or Loncon 3 as of January 31, 2013, and to all members of the preceding Worldcon (in this case Chicon 7).

The final ballot is only open to attending and supporting members of LoneStarCon 3. You do not have to attend the Worldcon in order to vote (but we'd love to see you in Texas!). 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 receive all of the official Worldcon publications for that year, and to participate in the vote to select the site for the 2015 Worldcon. For more details about registering and memberships, go here.

Q: Who runs the ballot?
A: Each Worldcon is responsible for administering and counting votes for the year in which it takes place. A Hugo Administrator is appointed to oversee this process. He or she, together with a small number of key staff, is designated as the Hugo Award Subcommittee, with final and complete authority over the Hugos to be presented at LoneStarCon 3. It is their job to see that the process takes place efficiently and fairly, and they are therefore ineligible for any Hugo that will be awarded in 2013.
Q: What categories of awards are there?
A: The most famous awards are given to novels and movies. However, there are many other Hugo Awards available, including some for shorter 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. A full list of the current award categories is available here.
Q: What works or persons are eligible?
A: 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.
Q: Are non-American works eligible?
A: 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.
Q: Aren't Hugos just for Science Fiction?
A: Have you ever tried to define science fiction?

Jack Williamson, who wrote for over 75 years and was responsible for creating the terms "terraform" ("Collision Orbit", Astounding, July 1941) and "genetic engineering" in Dragon's Island (1951), was once 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.

Q: Are works published electronically eligible?
A: 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.
Q: Why are there Hugos for fan activity?
A: Without fandom there would be no Hugo Awards, and the fans of today are often the rising stars of tomorrow.
Q: Do I have to nominate/vote in every category?
A: No. You need only vote in areas where you feel competent to judge. If you never read novels, just ignore that category.
Q: What are Retro-Hugos?
A: 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.