Engaged, passionate, and consistently entertaining, An Informal History of the Hugos is a book about the renowned science fiction award for the many who enjoyed Jo Walton's previous collection of writing from Tor.com, the Locus Award-winning What Makes This Book So Great.
The Hugo Awards, named after pioneer science-fiction publisher Hugo Gernsback, and voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Society, have been presented since 1953. They are widely considered the most prestigious awards in science fiction.
Between 2010 and 2013, Jo Walton wrote a series of posts for Tor.com, surveying the Hugo finalists and winners from the award's inception up to the year 2000. Her contention was that each year's full set of finalists generally tells a meaningful story about the state of science fiction at that time.
Walton's cheerfully opinionated and vastly well-informed posts provoked valuable conversation among the field's historians. Now these posts, lightly revised, have been gathered into this book, along with a small selection of the comments posted by SF luminaries such as Rich Horton, Gardner Dozois, and David G. Hartwell.
"A remarkable guided tour through the field—a kind of nonfiction companion to Among Others. It's very good. It's great."—New York Times bestselling author Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing on What Makes This Book So Great
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
This history of the Hugos, which novelist Walton (Poor Relations) calls "science fiction's most important award," is a valentine to the genre as well as to its fans, whose votes select the annual winners. Limiting her coverage to the award's first 48 years for the sake of historical perspective, Walton (herself a Hugo Award winner for her 2012 novel Among Others) provides annotated annual listings of the winners and (when they were available) nominees, and includes in most chapters a substantial essay on a single title, such as 1972 nominee The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin, which Walton remembers fondly as "the third grown-up science fiction novel" she ever read and praises for showing "the effect of world-changing on three-dimensional characters." Walton is not afraid to express candid opinions on the merits of certain winners for instance, she admits that, despite admiring Robert A. Heinlein, she never liked Stranger in a Strange Land (Best Novel, 1962) while balancing her personal observations with those from other science fiction specialists, including author Gardner Dozois and editor David G. Hartwell, who responded to her "Revisiting the Hugos" posts on Tor.com, where this book began. The result is an essential guide to 20th-century science fiction literature.