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An Informal History of the Hugos

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  87 ratings  ·  21 reviews
The Hugo Awards, named after pioneer science-fiction publisher Hugo Gernsback, and voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Society, have been given out since 1953. They are widely considered the most prestigious award in science fiction.

Between 2010 and 2013, Jo Walton wrote a series of posts for, surveying the Hugo finalists and winners from the award’s i
Hardcover, 576 pages
Published August 7th 2018 by Tor Books
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3.95  · 
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 ·  87 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
Did you know that in 1953 a Hugo Award was given out for "Excellence in Fact Articles"? (The winner was Willy Ley.) Or that Brian W. Aldiss was up for a Hugo in 1958 for "Best New Author"--and lost (to "No Award"!)? Did you know that one year the Hugo for "Best Dramatic Presentation" was given to . . . news coverage? (It happened in 1970, for coverage of the Apollo XI mission.)

Trivia aside, if you care at all about the history of science fiction and how the tastes of the field's community of rea
Krista D.
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a fascinating series!

Plus, this works as a massive Jo Recommends series, too; Walton doesn't shy from expressing her opinions (which improves the book, I think) and you can find a lot of books to read because of the comments.

One thing that annoyed me was how many of the shorter works are impossible to find now. What a reprint anthology series opportunity there could be!
Aug 23, 2018 rated it liked it
I bought this book immediately upon publication because I loved What Makes This Book So Great, also by Walton and of a similar format, so much. I was looking forward to great SFF recommendations and book reviews from Walton. This book definitely has that, but it also has lists. Hundreds of pages of lists. And that's fine. I realize I came into this book expecting to find what it was never going to be. For what this truly is, An Informal History of the Hugos, it is a comprehensive look back at th ...more
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Originally published at Reading Reality

I read these in reverse order. I started reading An Informal History of the Hugos while I was at Worldcon, anticipating the upcoming Hugo Awards ceremony. I was also looking for something big that I wouldn’t have to write up in the middle of the con, because that just wasn’t happening.

But once I finished the book, especially after attending a panel hosted by the author that covered which great books in 2017 did not make the Hugo Ballot, I wasn’t ready to qu
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Second time that I have to thank Jo Walton for a wonderful tribute to what I love about science fiction. Her Among Others captured that joy in astounding fiction, and her she has given us another love letter to science fiction by reviewing the Hugo Awards and wondering whether they really capture the field in each year. I expected to be reminded of old friends, human and literary, but I found myself drawn back into celebration of some of my favorite writing and memories of Worldcons.

Walton cover
Peter Tillman
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
As always, you should read the publishers blurb (top of page) first, before you read my review, or any other. In this case, it’s an unusually good preview.

There are (at least) two good reviews here, which I shall now bring to your attention:
* Short & sweet, by Mitchell Friedman :
* Long and detailed, by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro:
I'll wait....

I could almost stop writing here! Walton says that she stopped at the year 20
Pedro L. Fragoso
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't stop reading this book! How odd is that? Wonderful, amazing service to any lover of science-fiction.

Jo Walton stopped in the year 2000, the year prior to her becoming a party to this narrative when she got her first award nomination, for the John W. Campbell (she would get that one the following worldcon). I'd be here for more, and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone, but as it is, the book makes perfect sense. The contributions of others, as selected, are also consistently stellar.

I have l
Exhausting. And I'm glad to be done with it. But was it good. Was it readable. Mostly it was a book of lists. Lists of nominees and winners for the hugo. Lists of books that got nominated for the nebula and locus and eventually other awards. It was definitely better at the beginning of the book. As time went on and more recent times were reached, it was just less interesting. And then there's the shorter works. I have read a bunch of shorter sf and fantasy work, I've got a whole book case of the ...more
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jo Walton's review of what won the Hugo (and several other awards) and what else could have been nominated, from 1953 - 2000.

This book contains a series of blog posts along with some of the comments that were made in response to them. I loved it! It felt like a knowledgeable, opinionated (in a good way) person taking my hand and leading me through all the good stuff that was out there. Jo's writing is so easy to read and enjoy - it feels like a chat with the author. I've read pretty widely in sc
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
So, this is one I’ve been meaning to get to for a while since it was published last July, around the time of the Hugo Worldcon. (I know, I’ve been busy.)

As most of you reading this will know, the Hugo Awards have been awarded, almost annually, since 1953. The Hugos are voted for by fans, unlike the Nebula Awards, which are voted for by the Writers of Science Fiction in America. (That process is more like the Oscar voting than the Hugos are.) When I was younger, they were seen by many readers and
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For fans of science fiction, this should be on everyone's Christmas list. It is many things at once: a history of the Hugo Awards, science fiction's most coveted prize. A history of the genre as a whole. A glimpse into the writers and personalities who have shaped the genre. A critical study of the best (and worst) science fiction has to offer. An essential reading list of novels, novellas, novelettes, and short stories. As an added bonus, you get Jo Walton's compelling opinions about the novels ...more
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
It is not so much a history of the Hugo awards, but rather a history of Hugo winners and nominees (and about what else might have been worthy of nominating).

There have been very many books and stories I have somehow missed. There also are many books I have read, enjoyed and almost forgotten and which are ripe for a reread - I tried to be selective, but I ended up with a fairly long list of books to read and reread. The author has a tendency to abandon any author if the first book she read has be
Sarah Guldenbrein
Nov 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, non-fiction
Well, this wasn't as wonderful and affirming as What Makes This Book So Great, which arguably helped me go from feeling a little embarrassed about my sci-fi reading habit, to fully and loudly embracing my love of the genre. However, my "to-read" list was finally, almost going to be shorter than my "read" list, and this book totally ruined that possibility for several more years. So it's still a win, I'd say.

Also, adding so many books to my "to-read" list in such a short period of time exposed to
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
So, 5 stars for the content I wanted, which was Jo Walton's take on the Hugos and intermittent book essays. 0 stars for the crap I didn't want, which was all the blog comments from all those guys. Ugh. Not only were they dull--it is a skill to make non-fiction pleasurable to read, which Walton has--but after pages of commentary from these guys (Rich Horton in particular), it started coming off as one long, "Well, actually...", pointing out things that Jo had "missed", or "might not have known". ...more
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's not a history of the Hugos, informal or otherwise. It's just a compilation of Waltons' columns for essentially listing the books, stories, people nominated for Hugos, year by year, with Walton's opinions on whether the awards given were justified. Useful as a reference on what books and stories were considered worthy each year, but Walton has little actual history to impart. Unless you're specifically dying to know what Walton thinks about certain books you could save time and money ...more
Sep 06, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a fun read strolling down the memory lane of Hugo awards. However, I wanted a lot more from this book. I was expecting more literary analysis. It's really just lists and lists of titles with some annotation from memory Jo Walton's memories. What really adds to the book are the comments by Gardner Dozois and Rich Horton.

An Informal History of the Hugos is mostly interesting if you like to think about how novels and stories are remembered. Which I do.
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very entertaining listing and critiques of Hugo (and other) award winners from 1953 to 2000. Includes several essays on Hugo winners and comments from others to Walton's original posts. I think at least one author/title index, and preferably novel and non-novel indices, would be useful for browsing old favorites and new want-to-reads, and for referring back to comments.
Erin Boyington
Just as with ‘What Makes This Book So Great,’ there’s an overwhelming number of good old books to track down. There are also many MANY long lists of titles with zero context, which I find less useful. But maybe someday I’ll be as well-read as Walton and her commenters....

All I have to add is thank God for interlibrary loan!
Kieran McAndrew
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a good exploration of the development of the Hugo Awards, which is all the better for Walton's analysis of not only why she likes the nominees but why she doesn't - even to the point of not reading them at all.

Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
a lot of very insightful, amusing, and enlightening commentary from so many readers - gathered by the brilliant Jo Walton. if you've missed some of the greats (and not so greats but moderately entertaining or worth reading for some obscure reasons) this is what you need.
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jo and I aren't always on the same page vis a vis our favourites and tastes but this is a fabulous social document showing the evolution of the genre and it's trends.
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Ryan Ward
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Jo Walton writes science fiction and fantasy novels and reads a lot and eats great food. It worries her slightly that this is so exactly what she always wanted to do when she grew up. She comes from Wales, but lives in Montreal.
“James Davis Nicoll, on the 1962 nominees: "Terry Pratchett has his own sword forged by his own hands from meteoric iron, which must be of considerable utility when negotiating contracts.” 1 likes
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