The Hugo, At Home

Winning a Hugo is great but getting it home if you’re not a local can be a pain — they’re not well-sized for carry-on, and good luck convincing TSA that the rocket is not a bomb. Shipping was in order. LoneStarCon 3 offered to ship my Hugo to me, but I am an anxious sort , so I splurged and paid for overnight shipping (which meant it would arrive Wednesday, because Monday was a national holiday). Well, it’s arrived!

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I’ve noted before that this particular Hugo has an amazing base, created by Vincent Villafranca. But I don’t want you just to take my word for it, so here’s a gallery of images to capture the details on the base. Click on the pictures to bring up a larger image. Enjoy!

51 Comments on “The Hugo, At Home”

  1. John P. Murphy – I'm an engineer and writer living in New England. My research background is in robotics and computer security; my writing is primarily science fiction and mystery.
    John P. Murphy

    That is gorgeous. The cell phone camera photos I saw earlier didn’t do it justice. Thanks for posting these!

  2. The detail on the base is very cool. I love that the award stays the same but the base changes and reflects something of the Con at which it was awarded. It seems much more personal than the same trophy over and over. Plus that design is really cool.

  3. Thank you so much for posting those close-ups of the base. It looked amazing in what I could see of the video of its creation, but Ustream cut out during most of that. I love that it incorporates books–and so many books. I hadn’t realized that the base itself was a book until I saw your pictures. I’m glad you won this year and got such a fabulous version of the Hugo.

  4. So happy for you, man. And so happy I didn’t have to ship this beast home. ;) Beautiful monster, isn’t it? Savor it. You earned every bit of it. :)

  5. John Picacio:

    And you also had a couple of Chesleys, if I recall correctly. That’s a lot of hardware, dude. Glad you could get it home without shipping.

    And thank you! It was a pleasure to win a Hugo with you!

  6. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me

    That’s sexy. Pretty dope! Congratulations!

  7. A well-deserved award! You’re in the company of giants.

    Hey, Scalzi… Do you think there’s any chance that you’ll allow your local library to put that shiny hunk of metal on display? I’d like to see it in person, and I don’t suppose you’d appreciate me knocking on your door asking to see a Hugo.

  8. It’s definitely one of the best bases ever. Lonestarcon and sculptor Vincent Villafranca are to be congratulated. I hope the nifty film we were shown of the casting process is available online for people to see.

  9. Congratulations on winning the (IMHO) best award in all SciFi-dom. It’s like winning the Oscar for Best Picture.

  10. Congratulations!

    By the way, you may remember the bit in your acceptance speech where you talked about going to your first con? You spoke to Krissy on the phone, and she said “How is it?” and you replied, “Honey, I’ve found the Con of Misfit Toys.” …and you got a small laugh at first, and then a second later, a bigger one.

    Well, what happened there was that at that one second later, the video screens cut away from you to a shot of Chris Garcia.

    Points to whoever was running that video, for quick thinking.

  11. Mary Robinette Kowal said she got home, kissed her husband, and put her Hugo on the mantle. In that order. As you do.

    If I ever won one, I wouldn’t ship it. It would go on the plane with me. I would do a big song and dance at the airport to keep it in carry-on. I’d stow it for take off and landing, though — even in years when the base is smaller, the rocket is still pointy.

  12. suecox2013 – I'm a writer of traditional mysteries published by Minotaur Press. The first Theo Bogart mystery, THE MAN IN THE WASHING MACHINE, won the Mystery Writers of America/Minotaur Press First Crime Novel Award. Theo's second outing, THE MAN IN THE MICROWAVE OVEN, will reach bookstores, both virtual and real, in September, 2020.

    It’s great to see this up close–thanks for sharing and huge congratulations (which are different from the regular kind) on a great win. ;-)

  13. Winning a Hugo is great but getting it home if you’re not a local can be a pain — they’re not well-sized for carry-on, and good luck convincing TSA that the rocket is not a bomb.

    I forsee a headline in the future involving a Hugo award, a disgruntled second-place getter, and a tip to the TSA about smuggling morter shells through the post that results in someone’s award being blown sky high by a bomb squad…

  14. Not trying to be a dick, but people will probably take it that way…

    –What are your thoughts on winning a Hugo with a parody?
    –What do you think that says about the genre of SciFi if the best it has to offer is a lampoon of the genre?

    I’m not flaming you or anything. I thought the book was terrific and hilarious. I love Old Man’s War as well. To me, Red Shirts winning a Hugo brings up some interesting questions about the genre of SciFi itself–and maybe even the times (meta self-reflexivity and all).

    Figured, I’d go to the source and ask :)

  15. James McCormick:

    I think “parody” is only one of the things the novel is, and that the book won on the totality of what it is, not only on the parody aspect. But even if it won only for being a parody, I think that’s fine (obviously). Science Fiction wouldn’t be the first industry that has honored a work for looking inward (see: The Artist as a recent example of this in film).

  16. galen dara – Galen used to hang out the dark with her sketchbook, mining the nooks and crannies of her brain. But now nowadays she keeps herself out of trouble by illustrating for books and magazines and dabbling in comics. Her portfolio can be viewed at, and you can follow her on twitter @galendara.
    galen dara

    Congratulations sir! A tremendous and well deserved accomplishment!

  17. I have heard many amusing anecdotes over the years about getting a Hugo home, including the challenges of trying to get through airport security with an object that looks like an RPG. And one year, the Hugo base was so elaborate that several winners’ awards gradually fell apart on the journey home.

  18. Galen Dara:

    Thank you! And to you as well! Your artwork is wonderful.

    Laura Resnick:

    The nice thing about this base is that it’s a single, solid piece of bronze. That makes it heavy, but it also makes it unbreakable.

  19. Thanks for sharing these images. The detail is exquisite…pan-galactic reading! Congratulations on a well-deserved award. I read _Redshirts_ on my own, then insisted my husband and I do it as a read aloud. It was even better shared!

  20. Brian Jay Jones – Maryland – Writer. Biographer. Political hack. Beatlemaniac. Pop culture junkie. I write about guys you know: Jim Henson. Washington Irving. George Lucas. Dr. Seuss.
    Brian Jay Jones

    Warmest congratulations, John — SO well deserved. It’s great when the Good Guys get one.

  21. What do you think that says about the genre of SciFi if the best it has to offer is a lampoon of the genre?

    There’s so many unannounced and unproven assumptions in the above that it’s hard to unpick. Just to sample two:

    1. Is Redshirts only a lampoon?
    2. Is a lampoon an inferior form of art?

    You will be timed during your answer. There is no curve on this test.

  22. Please can we get a close-up of the guy opposite the horned one-eyed serpent-bloke? Oh, and congratulations. I think the codas especially showed how you’ve grown as an author. I look forward to reading Human Division.

  23. Congratulations, John. I don’t think Redshirts is your best or most important work so far–that would be OMW–but it’s a terrific book nonetheless, and I’m so very happy that you finally got a fiction Hugo. You completely deserve it. And I’m certain that it will soon have company!

  24. Michael J. Martinez – the Garden State – Husband, father, writer, homebrewer, half-decent cook, pretty good barbequer, avid traveler, and interested in far too many strange and disparate topics. Most recently, a science-fiction/fantasy author!
    Michael J. Martinez

    What struck me was that there were so many tiny, lovingly crafted details on the base. It’s a phenomenal award for a great book. Congrats, John!

  25. desertdragon42 – I am a science fiction fan. I read it, I watch it, I breathe it, I go to conventions to hang out with others like me. I met my fannish family at my first Worldcon in 1995 in Glasgow. I've been smitten ever since. I am a crafter. I make jewelry and sell it Just your typical bi pagan poly sf/f fan gamer geek! I have an amazing group of friends and chosen family flung all across the US and the world.
    Cheryl Martin

    One of my favorite exhibits is the history of Worldcon one that features sample rockets from previous Worldcons. Even against all of that history, this year’s design stood out!

    Congrats on your win!

  26. The photos of the base are wonderful and I am so grateful you shared them with us, but the photo of the Hugo in its natural habitat, catching the sunlight, was breathtaking!! Thank you for adding some beauty to my day.

  27. Thanks for posting these pics – I’ve been wanting a better look at the base since the first pic I saw over on ML – which gave just enough detail to be tantalising.

    And congrats on the award, of course. I really enjoyed Redshirts.

  28. atfmb – Denver, CO – Patrick Hester is an author, blogger and Hugo Nominated Podcast Producer/Host who lives in Colorado and writes science fiction and fantasy (mostly). His Functional Nerds and SF Signal weekly podcasts have both been nominated for Parsec awards and the SFSignal podcast was nominated for a 2012 Hugo Award. Patrick also produces ‘I Should Be Writing‘, the podcast for wannabe fiction writers created/hosted by 2012 Campbell Award Nominee Mur Lafferty. He writes for,, and

    Congratulations sir! I think you had the right idea by shipping it yourself.


  29. Dear John,

    Up until this very moment, I had no idea that there was fine print associated with getting a Hugo that read, “Some assembly required.”

    pax / Ctein

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