As reported on Monday, the 2012 Hugo Awards for excellence in science fiction and fantasy were announced Sunday night at WorldCon in Chicago. The ceremony was MC'd by bestselling author John Scalzi, who just published his latest, Redshirts, to widespread acclaim. Jo Walton's coming-of-age faery novel Among Others took top honors for best novel. The list of winners in all categories can be found here, but it's worth reminding readers of the full list of novel nominees.
Among Others, by Jo
A Dance With Dragons, by George R. R. Martin (Bantam Spectra)
Deadline, by Mira
China MiÃ©ville (Macmillan / Del Rey)
Leviathan Wakes, by
James S. A. Corey (Orbit)
So what's it like to attend the Hugos for the first time?
My coauthor on The Steampunk Bible, S.J.
Chambers, attended the ceremony since we were up for a Hugo in the Best Related Work category. We didn't win, but Chambers, who hadn't been to WorldCon or the Hugos before, gave Omnivoracious a fresh perspective on the proceedings.
For nominees in attendance, the Hugo ceremony actually starts with a run-through
beforehand. "When you got there, you were instructed on how to walk on and off
the stage," Chambers said, "and most importantly how to hold the sculpture and
pack it if you were lucky enough to have to send it home. This last bit was
pretty funny, as the instructions came from the sculptress, Deb Kosiba, who
wasn't afraid to manhandle the sculpture, holding it from the chrome rocket
like a club. Her main request was that we didn't walk around stroking the
rocket, despite how much affection we felt for it."
Then comes the reception for nominees, about which Chambers remembered "sitting at a
table watching everyone schmooze, get drinks, pick over the buffet, and feeling
like I was at a wedding reception, with every bit of awkwardness/mirth those
things tend to have. That comparison made it less surreal for me. It might have
been more of a surreal experience if I had had to actually stand up in front of
people and speak, but mostly it was just a fancy party I somehow had been able
to crash." Like many of the nominees and other attendees of the ceremony,
Chambers was dressed to the nines, having picked out a dress and shoes
specially for the event.
The ceremony itself went off without a hitch, although the UStream live video feed
was cut off in mid-ceremony because of a supposed copyright violation in
showing clips during the Best Dramatic Work award presentation. UStream has
since apologized, citing an automation glitch.
Scalzi did an excellent job as master of ceremonies, and part of that surely came from his enthusiasm for the Hugos. As he noted on his blog, "Being the guy who gets to give Hugos to people who are creators you admire and/or people who are your friends is one of the coolest gigs ever, and I recommend everyone try it at least once in their life."
Highlights of the ceremony itself for Chambers included things the video stream
wouldn't have picked up on. "My husband and I sat in a row in front of writer
(and nominee) Christopher J. Garcia, who by the way is one of the friendliest
and warmest people I've ever met at a con. During the first award for Best
Fanzine Artist, Christopher was so happy for the winner, Maurine Starkey (who
it turns out he encouraged) that he got up and met her at the stage, almost
knocking her over with a huge hug. That probably was caught on film, but what
wasn't was probably the audio behind me of his continued glee that may or may
not have been ecstatic giggles or weeping. I thought that was quite touching
and emphasized something I'd been picking up from the Hugos, which was all the
attendees were very close and in this together."
Scalzi did a comedy bit about the stages of being a Hugo nominee that Chambers called "brilliant and pretty spot on." One of those stages is nervousness. "My
nervousness was alleviated while laughing, but I was pretty much a bundle of
nerves until my category was over."
Chambers also noted that "If you are the least bit timid, the Hugo reception scene can be daunting. All the nominees and attendees are mostly established
professionals who have been at this game for a while, and as a result have been
working that game together. As a new nobody, I felt a little like an impostor
being there. I didn't really have anyone to introduce me around, and as a
result I had to suck it up and be social. That was okay except when Neil Gaiman came on the scene. I pretty much babbled myself into a puddle introducing
myself to him.
"Right after the ceremony ended I ran into my friend the editor and designer Stephen H. Segal who commiserated with me at the bar while we waited for the elevator line to thin out. At the bar were where friends were, and people came by and
consoled me, and we all cracked jokes. It was fun. Then I went to a party that
had a lot of the winners, so I still got to congratulate everyone, catch up
with some old friends, and meet neat people. I did head over to the traditional
Hugo Losers party later, but by the time I got there it had dwindled to one, no
one was checking badges, and there were two sleepy people finishing up a
Was the experience worth it? "I think any experience a writer can expose herself to is worth it. I am grateful to have had it so early in my career. I'm not sure what
my final take away from it is. I'm still processing it. But to answer off the
cuff, right now I've been thinking about how tribe-oriented it seemed to me,
which is both a beautiful but daunting thing to a newbie. Everyone was
absolutely friendly and delightful, but I do have to say I felt a bit like an
outsider, and it has had me thinking a lot about 'finding one's tribe' and
whether awards like the Hugos are indicative of that or not."