September 13th, 2019

Hugo Logo

Loveing Something to Death?

I have contributed articles to The Drink Tank, a Hugo Award-winning fanzine. Heck, I have a Hugo Award trophy (one of two leftovers from ConJosé, engraved for the two co-chairs). Does that make me a "Hugo Award winner?" Of course it does not. When, back in 2002, I brought that display copy up to show to my mother (who is the person who set me to reading SF/F), she said, "My little boy has a Hugo Award!" and I carefully said that having a display trophy and having an actual Hugo Award were not the same things.

So why is it that a bunch of people who contributed toward a Hugo Award-winning related work have taken it into their heads that they — all of them, thousands of them — are all individually "Hugo Award winners?" (And why have several online news sources repeated this assertion when they should know better.) And when the organizers politely pointed that out, some people seem to interpret it as the Big Bad Meanies Want to Spoil Our Fun. It's not like that at all.

For an award like the Hugo Award to have any meaning, it needs to be something that not everyone can have. That means trying to enforce our service mark. We're not trying to be bad guys. It's not like anyone pays those of us doing it. We're just trying to make sure that it's being used legitimately, so that anyone who has legitimately won the Award is entitled to their legitimate honor.

A certain group of people set out to deliberately destroy the Hugo Awards a few years ago, and they didn't succeed in doing so, thank goodness. It would be terribly ironic that people who celebrate and embrace their corner of fandom having won a Hugo Award would, by excessive exuberance, end up undermining the very award they claim to value.