The official rules
The official definition of the rules for the Hugo Awards can be found in Article III of the Constitution of the World Science Fiction Society. What follows is a plain English interpretation of those rules. In case of any ambiguity, the Constitution does, of course, take precedence.
Types of category
There are three main types of Hugo Award category:
Year of eligibility
All Awards are given for work in a given year. Individual works are eligible only in their first year of publication. For people and serial publications the Award is given for all achievements in the year in question. Works first published in a language other than English are also eligible in their first year of publication in English translation. Please note that if a book is first published in hardback and then later in softback then it is eligible only for the year in which the hardback was published. If you want to vote in the Hugos and can't afford hardbacks, try your local library. They may well be able to help.
Length of work
Several of the category definitions are based on the length of a work. Don't worry if you have not counted the number of words in a story that you want to nominate. Firstly you can check with some recommendation lists such as the one on this site. If the story is listed there it will almost certainly be in the right category. And if that doesn't help, guess. The people who administer the voting are there to help, and they will generally move your nominations into the correct category if you have them wrong.
Hugo categories are sometimes divided by whether the work done was professional, semi-professional or fannish. The definition of "professional" work is something that has a print run of at least 10,000. See the Best Semiprozine category for the definition of semi-professional.
The current list of Hugo Award categories is as follows:
Best Novel: Awarded for a science fiction or fantasy story of forty thousand (40,000) words or more.
Best Novella: Awarded for a science fiction or fantasy story of between seventeen thousand five hundred (17,500) and forty thousand (40,000) words.
Best Novelette: Awarded for a science fiction or fantasy story of between seven thousand five hundred (7,500) and seventeen thousand five hundred (17,500) words.
Best Short Story: Awarded for science fiction or fantasy story of less than seven thousand five hundred (7,500) words.
Best Related Book: This award can be given to a book which is related to science fiction, fantasy or fandom but does not qualify for any of the fiction categories. The type of works eligible include comics, graphic novels, collections of art, works of literary criticism, books about the making of a film or TV series, biographies and so on.
Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form): This Award can be given a dramatised production in any medium, including film, television, radio, live theatre, computer games or music. The work must last 90 minutes or longer (excluding commercials).
Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): This Award can be given a dramatised production in any medium, including film, television, radio, live theatre, computer games or music. The work must be less than 90 minutes long (excluding commercials).
Best Professional Editor: This is the first of the person categories, so the Award is given for the work that person has done in the year of eligibility. Note that the Award is not just for magazine editors. Books get edited too. And the Award goes to the Editor, not to the magazine, the book, or the publisher. Remember that the works that nominees are judged by must qualify as "professional".
Best Professional Artist: Another person category, this time for artists and illustrators. Again the work on which the nominees are judged must class as "professional".
Best Semiprozine: This is the most complicated category because of the need to define semi-professional. A lot of science fiction and fantasy magazines are run on a semi-professional basis, that is they pay a little, but generally not enough to make a living for anyone. The object of this category is to separate such things from fanzines, which are generally loss-making. To qualify a publication must not be professional and must meet at least two of the following criteria:
This is also the first of the serial publication categories. To qualify the publication must have produced at least 4 issues, at least one of which must have appeared in the year of eligibility.
Best Fanzine: The other serial publication category. This Award is for anything that is neither professional nor semi-professional. The publication must also satisfy the rule of a minimum of 4 issues, at least one of which must have appeared in the year of eligibility.
Best Fan Writer: This is another person category. Note that it does not just apply to writing done in fanzines. Work published in semiprozines, and even on mailing lists, can be including when judging people for this Award. Only work in professional publications should not be considered.
Best Fan Artist: The final category is also for people. Again note that the work by which artists should be judged is not limited to material published in fanzines. Material for semiprozines or material on public displays (such as in convention art shows) is also eligible. Fan artists can have work published in professional publications as well. You should not consider it when judging this award, and also any artists who make the final ballot for Best Professional Artist may not also be on the final ballot for Best Fan Artist.
The John W. Campbell Award
The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer is not a Hugo. It is voted for and presented alongside the Hugos, but the eligibility rules are not governed by the WSFS Constitution. For further details of the Campbell see is own web site.
Worldcon Committees have the right to add one extra Hugo Award category each year. This rule is not intended for regular use, but rather for special circumstances. Generally no additional awards are used.
Some Worldcons give out special awards during the Hugo Awards ceremony. These awards are at the committee's discretion, rather than by general vote. Such special awards may not use the Hugo Award rocket, and are not considered Hugo Awards, but are sometimes included in lists of Hugo Awards because they were presented at the same ceremony.
Emerald City Hugo Awards Section
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