Friday 14 July 2023

Trivia is Latin for "Three Roads"

One of the ongoing projects of this blog has been to compile fun facts about Hugo Award finalists. To date, we’ve been publishing trivial tidbits mostly on Twitter, but recent developments indicate that it’s worth sharing them here as well.

Isaac Asimov collected trivial facts, and even 
published a book of trivia. 
(Photo by Jay Kay Klein via Calisphere)
As such, we’re going to start posting trivia about Hugo Awards on the blog.

A couple of quick notes:
  • There are eight authors who were Hugo finalists for whom we have no biographical information. These include some who publish under pseudonyms like “Juan Tabo” or “Chuck Tingle,” as well as some recent finalists such as Ren Qing and Simone Heller.
  • We do not compile data about ethnicity because it is often not possible to know how individual authors self-identify, and it would be inappropriate to make assumptions.

International Hugos:
  • The 2023 Hugo Award shortlist in the five prose categories (novel, novella, novelette, short story, and series) includes authors who were born in nine different countries: the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, China, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Taiwan, and New Zealand. By this measure, it is the most international Hugo Award shortlist ever.
  • The previous record for the most international Hugo Award shortlist in the five prose categories was 2022, when authors born in six different countries had works on the ballot: the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Nigeria.
  • In the first 40 years of the Hugo Awards combined (1953 to 1992), the Hugo ballot included works from authors born in only eight different countries: the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Angola, Germany, Russia, Thailand, and France.

Sibling Rivalry:

  • There are three pairs of siblings in which each has separately been on the Hugo Award shortlist (I.E. they are not credited as collaborating on the same Hugo-finalist work.)
    • 1953 Best Editor finalist H.L. Gold was the brother of 1956 Best Book Reviewer finalist Floyd C. Gale.
      Hugo-finalist editor H.L. Gold
      (image via Wikipedia)
    • Seven-time prose fiction Hugo finalist C.J. Cherryh is the sister of 11-time professional artist Hugo finalist David A. Cherry.
    • 1972 Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo finalist Steven Spielberg is the brother of 1989 Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo finalist Anne Spielberg.

The 10 Hugo Nominations Club:
  • There are only 25 authors who have authored at least 10 works that were finalists for a Hugo Award in one of the prose fiction categories (novel, novella, novelette, short story, and series).
  • The youngest author to do so was George R.R. Martin, who was 14 days shy of his 34th birthday in 1982 when he had “Guardians” on the ballot.
  • Interesting to note that Martin only narrowly beat the record set by John Varley the year previous; Varley was only two days shy of his 34th birthday when he had his 10th appearance on the Hugo ballot in 1981.

The 20 Hugo Nominations Club:
  • Only six authors have each written 20 works that were shortlisted for a Hugo Award in one of the prose categories:
    • Mike Resnick (30 Hugo-shortlisted works),
    • Connie Willis (24 Hugo-shortlisted works),
    • Seanan McGuire (24 Hugo-shortlisted works),
    • Robert Silverberg (22 Hugo-shortlisted works),
    • Michael Swanwick (21 Hugo-shortlisted works), and
    • Ursula K. LeGuin (20 Hugo-shortlisted works)
  • Of these six, the youngest to do so was Seanan McGuire, who was 44 years and eight months old when she reached the 20-Hugo-nominations mark in 2022.
The Hugo Hat Trick:
  • There are only three authors who have won a Hugo Award in each of the four long-established prose fiction categories (novel, novella, novelette, and short story). They are Fritz Leiber, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Connie Willis.
  • Connie Willis was the youngest person to accomplish this when she won her third and fourth Hugo Awards at the age of 47 in 1993. Interestingly, her first four Hugo wins were each in different categories.

Span of time between Hugo Awards:
  • The longest period between first time shortlisted for a Hugo Award in the five prose categories (novel, novella, novelette, short story, or series), and most recent belongs to George R.R. Martin. Thirty-eight years passed between his first Hugo nomination (With Morning Comes Mistfall in 1974) and his most recent (A Dance With Dragons in 2012).
  • Isaac Asimov has the second-longest period between first and last prose Hugo nod, having gone 36 years between his first nomination (The End of Eternity in 1956) and his last (Gold in 1992).
  • James White waited the longest time between two Hugo nominations with none in the intervening years. He was on the shortlist in 1962 and had to wait 15 years to appear on the ballot again in 1977, and had to wait another 20 years for his third and final appearance on the ballot in 1997.
The Longest And Shortest Titles:
  • The Hugo-Award-winning work of prose fiction (novel, novella, novelette, short story or series) with the longest title is “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” by Alix E. Harrow at a length of 69 characters.
  • If one excludes parentheticals or subtitles, the longest is “The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World” by Harlan Ellison, though that is a comparatively svelte 53 characters long.
  • The Hugo Award-shortlisted work of prose fiction with the longest title is the 84-character behemoth “Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island” by Nibedita Sen.
  • There have been seven Hugo-shortlisted works with three-letter titles: Kin by Bruce McAllister, Jem by Frederick Pohl, TAP by Greg Egan, Rat by James Patrick, ARM by Larry Niven, Sky by R.A. Lafferty, and Sur by Ursula K. LeGuin.

The Ages Of Editors:
  • The oldest finalist for a best editor Hugo Award was Jerry Pournelle, who was 82 years and eight months old when he was on the ballot in 2016.
  • The youngest finalist for a best editor Hugo Award was Liz Gorinsky, who was just shy of her 29th birthday when she was on the ballot for the first time in 2010.
  • The youngest non-American finalist for a best editor Hugo Award was Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki who was 31 when he was a finalist for the first time.
The Power of Nouns
  • Excluding determiners, pronouns and prepositions, the most popular words in Hugo-finalist fiction titles is the word “time.” Thirty-three Hugo finalist works of fiction mention “time” in their title.
  • The word “man” comes in a close second, with 31 titles.
  • By comparison, the word “war” only appears in 11 titles, “dragon” in only 16, “night” in only 17, and “shadow” in only 7.
    (Image via Wikipedia)
  • Most popular planets of the solar system to visit in science fiction? Mercury, Pluto, Jupiter, or Uranus are not named in the titles of any prose-category Hugo finalists. Two Hugo finalists mention Neptune in the title, two more mention Saturn. Only one mentions Venus. Six mention the Moon. Eight works have titles that list the Earth. But Mars is the destination of choice, with 11 Hugo-finalist works referencing the Red Planet in their titles.

If you are interested in us figuring out any other interesting Hugo Awards trivia, please let us know in the comments.

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