Hugo Geekery

And now, the Hugo post.

* To begin, I can say with some authority that winning a Hugo feels as good the second time as it does the first. Will it feel the same the third, fourth or seventh time? I don’t know, but I am willing to find out.

* Second, I am absolutely delighted to have won the Best Related Book Hugo. As I mentioned in my acceptance speech, I came to science fiction having worked in newspapers and magazines and having written non-fiction books, so having won this one feels very appropriate to me. And as I didn’t mention in my acceptance speech, when I found out that they gave out Hugos for things other than Best Novel, this is the category that always appealed to me the most. I think because some part of my brain went, wow, this category is just random enough that one day I may have a shot at it. So you may take me at my word when I tell you that in a very real way, one of my life goals has been checked off.

Don’t get wrong, one day I wouldn’t mind a Best Novel Hugo, too. But this award speaks to me. I’m hugely chuffed to have gotten it.

* A couple of people asked me if I was at all disappointed that Zoe’s Tale didn’t nab the trophy. The short answer is no, although I fully admit that such a sanguine attitude is easier to have when you get to walk away with another Hugo entirely.

The longer answer is: Dude, did you see this year’s ballot? Allow me to recap: Neil and Neal and Cory and Charlie. So, yeah, really. I took Zoe’s presence on the ballot as very much the equivalent of Juno being on the Best Picture Oscar ballot a couple of years ago: A notation that the work did its own thing very well indeed, and on that grounds deserved some recognition, even if there was only a slim chance it would get the gold in the end. Mind you, I would have taken the award if it’d been sent my way. Trust me. But as a reader and a fan, I loved Anathem and Graveyard and Saturn and Little Brother. There was no bad choice among them. And I’m fond of the people who wrote the books. I was going to be happy with whoever won, no matter which of us did.

* I am in fact disappointed that METAtropolis did not win its category, mostly because it would have been a kick to share a Hugo with Jay Lake, Toby Buckell, Elizabeth Bear and Karl Schroeder (and Steve Feldberg, who produced the entire project for In fact, this was the only category in which I had an actual acceptance speech planned, which would have read thusly: “Somewhere in Hollywood, a very pissed-off robot is on the phone with his agent.” Alas, that same robot stomped us rather well. What can you do.

* One thing I was delighted to see this year at the Hugos was the number of winners encouraging Hugo voters to spread the wealth a bit. Repeat winners Frank Wu and David Hartwell both admonished the voters (gently) to look beyond them to the others in their category, Hartwell going so far as to remove himself from the category entirely, while Cheryl Morgan, winning the Fan Writer category this year, echoed what I said last year, which was “thanks, I love this award, give it to someone else next year.” Good on all three of them.

* I was also generally delighted with all of the winners in the categories, but especially with the Campbell Award, because out of the terrific class this year, David Anthony Durham took the tiara (which looks great on him, much better than it did on me). I’ve been a fan of David’s since Acacia first came out, and for fun I show people my ARC of the book’s sequel The Other Lands just to watch them salivate. Also, like me, he did his time in Fresno. So there’s a spirit of comradeship there.

That said, and with no slight at all intended toward the winners this year, I’m personally looking forward to seeing John Picacio and Paolo Bacigalupi up there on the stage, clutching their own rocketships. Both are at the top of their forms (art and short stories, respectively) and I’m continually blown away with what comes out of their brains. Hopefully it won’t be too long now, and I suspect not. Work as good as they do eventually wins out.

* To get back to me, I’ve been asked if, given my apparently peripatetic wandering through the Hugo categories (four different categories in four years, plus the Campbell), if I’m trying to win one in each possible category. The answer: Oh, maybe.

Now, as a practical matter, every visual artist in the world would have to die before I could even be considered for those categories; there are members of the lower orders of primates who draw better than I do. So I’ll never get a full set, at least not this side of the apocalypse. But as a philosophical matter, I rather like the idea of popping up in various categories, provided my output is genuinely worthy of recognition. I’m not going to make a systematic effort on the matter, not in the least because, as you may have heard, it’s not up to the writer to decide whether he or she wins any category.

Also, of course, it’s also entirely possible I never get nominated for anything again — people who assume they’re going to be a regular staple of any award slate are just asking for a life of grave disappointment. I’m just going to write what I want to write and we’ll see what happens from there.

* As a final note, let me talk about this year’s actual Hugo. In a word: Gorgeous. In another two words: ZOMG heavy. Mine, with its solid granite base, has got to weigh at least ten pounds and I suspect more like twelve. I carried it around all night on Sunday and definitely felt it the next day. I had considered bringing to my autographing session on Monday, but the thought of trekking it from the Delta Centre-Ville hotel to the convention center (several city blocks) and back again just made me take it down to Worldcon ops to get shipped home instead. Yes, because I am a wimp. I have Krissy for all the heavy lifting. I thought everyone knew that.

Be that as it may, artist Dave Howell has every right to be immensely proud of his design this year; he’s made the Hugo that future awards are going to find themselves matched against. It’s a high bar to cross. I’m glad I got a Hugo, but I’m also really glad I got this Hugo. It’s a keeper.

(Photo treatment taken from the original, here, shot by “Takieya,” who has a whole Anticipation set here.)

39 Comments on “Hugo Geekery”

  1. Don’t be too quick to rule out the Art categories. I notice that the back flap of Hate Mail’s dustjacket says: “Dustjacket Artwork ©2008 by John Scalzi.”

    Weird-Ass Photoshoppery™ can be an art form, too.

  2. GW Herbert:

    Well, Pixar is now owned by Disney, which is in Burbank. And anyway, everyone knows Wall-E now has got this righteous Malibu lovenest. Just him and 60,000 toasters. All going pop.

    Also, you know. I think most people get this particular joke without the need for nitpicky clarification.

  3. There needs to be a “Best Audiobook” category. Comparing Metatropolis to Wall-E is very much an Apples and Oranges thing, plus I suspect that more because audiobooks have a more limited audience, fewer voters actually listened.

  4. I suspect there would need to be substantially more original SF/F audiobooks to make that category fly. But also, I think the right audiobook project could win the category. It’s a simple matter of making sure the Hugo voters got to hear it.

  5. To quote Hugo:

    “In passing, we might say that success is a hideous thing. Its false similarity to merit deceives men…They confuse heaven’s radiant stars with a duck’s footprint left in the mud.”

    And for the consideration of the cats in the Scalzi household:

    “Everybody has noticed the way cats stop and loiter in a half-open door. Hasn’t everyone said to a cat: For heavens sake why don’t you come in? With opportunity half-open in front of them, there are men who have a similar tendency to remain undecided between two solutions, at the risk of being crushed by fate abruptly closing the opportunity. The overprudent, cats as they are, and because they are cats, sometimes run more danger than the bold.”

    Oh, wait, sorry. Wrong Hugo.

  6. I think Pixar’s position on the purchase is that they aquired a marketing engine and theme park somewhere down south-ish, and that Jobs will take care of running it for them.

    Wall-E would probably start trying to compress Disney execs and make a large pyramid out of them if they let him in HQ, so I think they’re content for him to hang around the Bay Area waterfront trying to seduce container cranes while he waits for Apple to get into the probe robot business.

  7. First off, the victory picture is crazy awesome.

    Secondly, congratulations on the Hugo. Really cool read to on the human side of winning an award actually as I think most people don’t assume modesty + pay-it-forward thinking in terms of congratulating other winners or those that hopefully will win next round from artists when they win their own honors.

    However, with all your Hugos, pretty sure you should make a giant necklace out of one of them and just wear it out when you get groceries.

  8. When I mentioned that ‘Hate Mail’ had won the Hugo, my wife heard the title as ‘Your Hate Mail Will Be Grated’. She thought that was an excellent way to treat hate mail. I wonder how many others have mis-heard similarly?

  9. Big congrats on the Hugo! Yay! It was such an amazing line up of nominees this year.

    Also, I second Brandon @12’s necklace suggestion. ;)

  10. Chiming in a bit late to say:

    1. Congrats! on the Hugo
    2. Envy! for the con
    3. Welcome! home…

    … and let’s hope Krissy’s science experiments while you were gone didn’t leave any strange, time/space/species distorting surprises.

  11. Well, to be fair, Athena really likes the Denver base, so there’s love there.

    I do tend to refer to it as “A Hugo, on top of a Hugo, stuffed into a man named Hugo,” given its size, but I’ll tell you what: When it was handed to me, it was the most beautiful thing in the world.

  12. I know it’s been said a few times already, but congrats John, we are all happy for you and as always are looking forward any new work.

    I hope your 3rd Hugo won’t be any less exciting.

  13. I think there is a good chance that Elizabeth Bear nabbed the Hugo as a result of a Seeking Avalon backlash. The attacks against Bear got so nasty that they must have triggered a considerable sympathy vote. She is a good writer, but that wasn’t her best story.

    Just go to show that trying to crucify a public figure is tricky business.

  14. I was bummed that y’all didn’t win it for Metatropolis, too. But I think that was a top-heavy category, just like Best Novel. All of the entries were excellent.

    While I haven’t seen it in person, the photos of the award makes it look gorgeous, as is the new logo.

    All around, this seems to have been a winning con.

  15. Dear comrade Scalzi, John (essayist).

    Congratulations from Eastern Europe.

    A few minor recommendations. We approve of the granite base. The rocket, we’re not so hot about. It could be melted (in a Nuclear Plant) and the resulting goo modeled by a People’s Artist to symbolize (in a rather obvious way) the Hammer and Sickle. And then put the granite base (without altering it’s esthetics) inside a 500 ton block of grey cement (with the aforementioned H&S sticking out on the top) and place it in the middle of your hometown.

    With a marble plaque at the base.

    For your consideration.

    The Littlest Brothers.

  16. My wife has a good suggestion for the next time you want to transport your most excellent rocket. We have a couple of really cool baby slings that we use to carry a 10 pound baby. I’m sure they would hold a 10 pound trophy comfortably.

    Also, congratulations!!

  17. John, although I told you about my Hugo fund-raising routine, I didn’t tell you how my evening ending. I’ll just say that Hugos and gendarmes are not necessarily a good match.

    I also woke up in the middle of the night with my arm spasming as the muscles relaxed after toting the Hugo. I’m glad I don’t have to pay to ship the three rockets to Emeryville.

  18. I’m glad that you enjoyed the photo enough to use it on your blog. I was wondering why that photo in particular had almost 500 views this morning. :P Congratulations on winning the Hugo!

  19. Good to see you again (briefly) at Anticipation, and congratulations on the well-deserved Hugo! (However, I’m afraid you’re only runner-up in the lesser-known “how to have fun using the Hugo as a prop” competition; Frank Wu wins that one. :-)

  20. Rather late, but congratulations :) I was happy to hear you won for “Hate Mail.” Though I would have been upset, if “Zoe” won for best novel. I really like “Zoe” but it was in competition with “The Graveyard Book,” which I lovelove.
    Btw. Maybe you can get some pics of cats with Hugos? I mean, cats are very cool and Hugos are awesome, so yes, please take pictures of cats with Hugos?

  21. #28 “I didn’t know Hugos were awarded on a catch and release basis”.

    Legally they have to be above a certain size for you to keep them, so no problem there.

  22. For what it’s worth, I think you got robbed on METAtropolis. It totally rules the S in SF compared to any of the other nominees, and the voice acting was so much better than in any movie. I’m sorry to see that the mass media concept of what “dramatic presentation” means is so limited among a science fiction audience.

  23. “Mine, with its solid granite base, has got to weigh at least ten pounds and I suspect more like twelve.”

    Would you care to lay a wager on that guess? I’ll bet “Less than ten pounds, and a very high probability of ‘below eight.'” Make it really interesting: I’ll bet you a Hugo. Heh heh heh.

    And on a related note, I know you didn’t *intend* to be Evil Incarnate, and a Torturer Ne Plus Ultra when you told me before the ceremony that your wife was going to punish you in some fashion if you didn’t win one, but I’d helped to assemble the components the night before, so I was one of about six people in the room who already knew the results, and trying to avoid Spilling The Beans in the face of your enthusiasm was excruciating!

  24. You were robbed, I enjoyed META-tropolis much more than I did Wall-E. I found Wall-E boring and it’s message crudely delivered.

    Or, to quote my four year-old. “Is movie over yet?”

    Now had you lost to UP, that would have been OK.

  25. Re: METAtropolis, I felt that it was highly impressive that a sufficient number of Hugo nominators agreed that an audiobook could qualify for the Dramatic Presentation category. Many that I talk to have been of the mindset that that category was for movies only. Just getting an audiobook to the final ballot was a victory for the format.

  26. Congrats on your Hugo. It was a great pleasure to meet you and your wife at the worldcon this year. I tried to sign up for your Kaffeeklatsche, but it was full. I then tried to get to some of your panels and it was SRO. Thanks you for siging my copy of Zoe’s Tale on the last day of the con. Will you be going to the NASFiC in Raliegh, NC next year? Or is it to early to plan that far ahead? I was very pleased that Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book won the Hugo for best novel. I thought Neal Stephenson’s Anathem was going to get it. By the way, I had the chance to talk to Nancy Kress at the con and I think she is soooo HOT!!!