Oscars Copy Hugos

The instant runoff voting system that the Hugo Awards use for their final ballot (often known as an Australian Ballot) has come in for a fair amount of criticism in its time. People complain that it is too complicated and they can’t understand it. However, we have stuck with it, because we believe that it produces better results. A certain other well known set of awards has always used a first past the post (plurality) system, but it was announced recently that from now, at least for Best Picture, on the Oscars will use an instant runoff system very similar to the one we use. Apparently the folks in charge of the Oscars think the change will produce better results (better here meaning fewer people yelling, “how come that won?”).

Tied in with this decision is the move to expand the nominee list for Best Picture to 10 films. Once you know that, the instant runoff system decision becomes obvious. With first past the post voting it is possible to win with a (1/N) + 1 share of the vote, where N is the number of nominees. With 5 nominees it was theoretically possible to win Best Picture with 21% of the vote; with 10 nominees you could win with 11%, so the chances of an upset win are much greater. The instant runoff system, however, will always produce a compromise winner that is least disliked by all voters.

There is just one problem for the Oscars. The members of the Motion Picture Academy are complaining that the new voting system is too complicated and they can’t understand it. Perhaps we could get some experienced Hugo voters to help them cast their votes.

2009 Hugo Award Winners Announced

2009 Hugo Award Trophy Presented at: Anticipation, Montréal, Quebec, August 6-10, 2009

Toastmaster: Julie Czerneda, with translation by Yves Meynard

Base design: Dave Howell

Awards Administration: Diane Lacey, Ruth Lichtwardt, Jeff Orth and Rene Walling


  • Best Novel: The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)
  • Best Novella: “The Erdmann Nexus”, Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2008)
  • Best Novelette: “Shoggoths in Bloom”, Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s Mar 2008)
  • Best Short Story: “Exhalation”, Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
  • Best Related Book: Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008, John Scalzi (Subterranean Press)
  • Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones, Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio, art by Phil Foglio, colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: WALL-E Andrew Stanton & Pete Docter, story; Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon, screenplay; Andrew Stanton, director (Pixar/Walt Disney)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Joss Whedon, & Zack Whedon, & Jed Whedon, & Maurissa Tancharoen, writers; Joss Whedon, director (Mutant Enemy)
  • Best Editor Short Form: Ellen Datlow
  • Best Editor Long Form: David G. Hartwell
  • Best Professional Artist: Donato Giancola
  • Best Semiprozine: Weird Tales, edited by Ann VanderMeer & Stephen H. Segal
  • Best Fan Writer: Cheryl Morgan
  • Best Fanzine: Electric Velocipede edited by John Klima
  • Best Fan Artist: Frank Wu

And the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (presented by Dell Magazines): David Anthony Durham

The full order of finish in each category and links to the nomination and voting details are available on the 2009 Hugo Awards page.

The 2009 Trophy

Pictures of the 2009 Hugo Award trophy, designed by Dave Howell, are now online here. Be sure to check out the top-down view of the base, which shows the blast pit as the Hugo rocket lifts off from the asteroid base.

Logo Contest Winner

We were delighted with the level of interest in the logo contest. We received 390 entries from 215 different people and 24 different countries. Deciding on a winner proved very difficult.

The jurors were impressed with the standard of submissions, and of the many very different conceptions of the award, and were thrilled by how many of the submissions made their shortlist.

In making their decision our expert jury took a wide range of factors into account. Many very attractive pieces of art were rejected because they were too complex to be effective when added to a book or DVD cover. In other cases excellent images were let down by weak typography. The winner, designed by Jeremy Kratz of Arkansas, combined both the necessary simplicity to fulfill our requirements with a good choice of text and pleasing combination of the various elements of the design.

We would like to thank all of the people who entered the contest, and congratulate Jeremy on his win.

Here is the winning design.

Hugo Award Logo

What’s Happening Tonight

The Hugo Award ceremony is due to begin at 8:00pm Montreal time. There is a pre-ceremony reception beginning at 6:00pm. As the people responsible for updating this site are all involved in the ceremony we won’t be able to update this site as quickly as we might like, but we are planning to send out news on our Twitter Feed. A full list of winners, together with a photo of the trophy, our brand new logo and the usual plethora of voting data should appear here some time between 11:00pm and midnight, Montreal time.

Hugo Award Rules Changes

At today’s Business Meeting at Worldcon the members of the World Science Fiction Society voted on three motions concerning the Hugo Awards that were passed in Denver last year and required ratification.

A motion to remove the Best Semiprozine category was not ratified, so the category will remain in effect.

A motion clarifying how and where material published on the Internet is eligible for Hugo Awards was ratified and comes into effect next year.

The motion creating the best Graphic Story category was ratified. That category is therefore in effect until at least 2012, when it is due to be revisited to check it is working well.

A more detailed post about the effects of these changes will be made after Worldcon is over.

Logo Contest Winner Selected

The judges have selected a winner in the Hugo Awards Logo Contest. We have informed all other entrants by e-mail that their entries were not the judges’ choice. The winning entry will be unveiled at this year’s Hugo Awards Ceremony at Anticipation, the 67th World Science Fiction Convention, on the night of Sunday, August 9, 2009.

There were 390 entries from 24 countries. We thank everyone who entered for submitting their designs to the contest.

Logo Contest Update

We have been receiving a few inquiries asking if we have a winner in the logo contest yet. The answer is that our judges are still deliberating. We had a lot more entries than we expected, many of very good quality. When we have chosen a winner we will post here and email the unlucky entrants. As previously announced, we do not plan to unveil the new logo before this year’s Worldcon at the beginning of August.