Thursday 20 August 2020

Re-Watching The Hugos (Intro)

Best Dramatic Presentation is a Hugo category with a long history: Of the 17 current awards categories, only Novel, Novella, Short Story, Fanzine and Pro Artist awards have been handed out in more calendar years. Since Dramatic Presentations were first recognized by the WSFS, silver chrome rocket ships have been handed out to movies and TV shows at 57 different awards ceremonies.

However, the category does not seem to warrant the same cache as most of the other categories; often the recipients skip the awards ceremony, there are no podcasts dedicated to revisiting past winners, and Jo Walton repeatedly disparages the category in her Informal History of the Hugos. It is also the category in which Hugo voters have chosen to present no award on the most occasions, voting for “no award” in 1959, 1963, 1971 and 1977, and neglecting to even nominate a shortlist for the category in 1964 and 1966.

It might also be noted that movies are rarely (if ever) marketed using the Hugo Award as a credential. Did
Galaxy Quest director Dean Parsiot (front row,
second from right) showed up to accept his 
Hugo Award. (Image via Locus)
you know that Hugo-winning director Dean Parsiot has a big-budget movie hitting cinemas on August 28? The lack of using Parsiot’s Hugo trophy in the marketing of Bill & Ted Face The Music is telling, especially considering that Parsiot’s Hugo-winning movie Galaxy Quest is often held up by fans as the exemplar of why the Best Dramatic Presentation category exists.

In the past, this blog has questioned whether the Dramatic Presentation category continues to serve any purpose. In order to answer this question, contributors to this blog including Olav Rokne, Tim Klassen, Paul Senior, Daniel Calder, Christy Foley and Earl Prusak have begun re-watching works from Hugo shortlists from previous years to see how well they hold up, to consider whether other works should have been considered, and to ask whether the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo has made any impact on how well these works are remembered.

Blog Post 1 - The dawn of the Best Dramatic Presentation (1958)
Blog Post 21 - TO COME (1978)


  1. I missed this. It looks like it was the same time as NASFiC 2020.

    I will defend the Best Dramatic categories. When I was a young boy, I saw on the cover of a Star Trek book "Hugo" as in "Based on the Hugo Winning Series". I thought well if Star Trek won a Hugo other stuff that won a Hugo must be as good. Soon after, I started reading Hugo novels and Asimov's anthologies.

    I hope there are future young fans who will see Hugo Winning on The Good Place, Arrival, The Expanse, Wonder Woman, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse and maybe do something similar. (For causal readers do not go back further than 5 years to start, something older might be a bit creaky).

    1. You commented something similar on Twitter a few months back. It prompted me to start thinking about the category and the history of the category at the Hugos ... and to start re-watching them to see how well they hold up over time.