Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's that time again

We're coming up on that fabulous and exciting time of year: awards season. Soon our televisions will be exploding with a host of Hollywood style spectacle showcases punctuated by speeches. In the book world, things are less flashy, but no less all encompassing. I thought I'd take a look at some of the different awards that are specific to SFF, and give you a brief who's who and what's what of the major awards. Who knows? Now you may know what all that stuff on an Author Bio really means! I'm also planning on trying to track these awards all the way through the year, so stay tuned for nomination announcements and the awards themselves. Also realize that book awards take up more of the year than movies or music. While some of these awards are in finale judging as I post this, others have not yet entered voting phases. Therefore, awards in the book world stretch from February through October. I'll be making an attempt to follow the results of the following awards:
  1. Presented annually since 1955 by the World Science Fiction Society at each year's World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon), the Hugo is one of the most prestigious awards in the SFF genre. The award is named for Hugo Gernsback, who founded America's first science fiction magazine in 1926. Nominations can be made by any member of WorldCon, and are accepted January through March. A shortlist of finalists is posted in April, and voting is open to all members until sometime in July. Awards are announced at a special awards ceremony at the convention. This year, WorldCon is at Chicon in Chicago, Ill. during the first weekend in September. Awards include Best Novel, Novella, Short Story, and many more.
  2. Awarded annually at WisCon in May for the previous year, this award recognizes SFF works that expand our understanding of gender. Founded in 1991, the award is named for Alice B. Sheldon, who wrote under the pseudonym James Tiptree Jr. for many years. The discovery of her real gender prompted a great deal of discussion as to the role of gender in writing. Recommendations to the award council are encouraged from the public through December, with the award, honor, and short lists all being released in May.
  3. The Campbell Award honors authors who's debut work in SFF was professionally published in the previous two years (authors are therefore eligible for the award for two years). The award is named for John Campbell, longtime editor of Astounding Science Fiction (now Analog Science Fiction and Fact). While this award follows Hugo nomination and voting procedures and is presented at WorldCon, it is not a Hugo, and has only been around since 1973. Amusingly enough, as well as a niffty plaque, the winner is also presented with a tiara!
  4. Presented by Locus Magazine, these awards are voted on by the readers of Locus and are presented at the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle. A recommended reading list is published in the February issue, with a finalist list of the top five finishers in each category published before the final announcement. This is also an older award, dating the to 1970s, and features several categories.
  5. These awards are presented and voted on by the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA), a professional organization of writers in the SFF genre, and have been given out annually since 1965. Nominations are due by mid February, with finalists selected by a jury. The Nebula's are awarded in May at the Nebula Awards Weekend. Award categories are similar to the Hugo Awards, with the Ray Bradbury award specific to film, and the Andre Norton award specific to young adult.
  6. This award is presented by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society in association with the Philip K. Dick Trust with additional sponsorship by the Northwest Science Fiction Society. It rewards innovation in science fiction in the paperback market. Unlike many other awards, this award is strictly for new releases in the United States in paperback form. Works that had previously been released in hardback are ineligible. You may wonder why; Phillip K. Dick's novels were typically published first in paperback format, and only later were released in more expensive versions. Publishers provide copies of eligible books to a panel of judges, with nominees announced in January. The award itself is announced in April at NorwesCon. Like the Nebula, awards are presented for the previous calender year, and has been given since 1983.
  7. Also known as the E. E. Smith Memorial Award, the Skylark is given out by the New England Science Fiction Association to a person the NESFA believes has contributed significantly to science fiction, both in their body of work and in their personal qualities. The Skylark is jointly named for E. E. Smith, "the father of space opera", and his Skylark series (first volume is The Skylark of Space, published in 1928). The award is decided by a membership vote, and is awarded at the NESFA's annual convention, Boskone, in February. This is also an old award, having been presented every year (with one exception) since 1966.
  8. Created in 1975 as a counterpart to the Hugo and Nebula, this award is targeted only towards fantasy works, and is given out at the World Fantasy Convention in October. Like WorldCon, the World Fantasy Convention travels around, and will be in Toronto this year. Winners are selected by judges, with some help from con attendees, and features similar categories to its science fiction counterparts. Unlike the Hugo or the Nebula, it always features a Lifetime Achievement award.


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