Understandably, Steve Feldberg of Audible.com is “ecstatically pleased” about the Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) Hugo nomination for his company’s audiobook METAtropolis. It’s the first audiobook ever nominated, ending the decades-long shutout of audio works in general from the Hugos.
The last audio work up for the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo, in 1979, was BBC Radio 4’s production of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Hitchhiker’s Guide finished second to the movie Superman.
Several record albums received nominations in the Seventies: two in 1971, Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers by The Firesign Theater, and Blows Against the Empire by Jefferson Starship. Later, nominations went to I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus by The Firesign Theater (1972) and Blood!: The Life and Future Times of Jack the Ripper by Robert Bloch and Harlan Ellison (1978).
Another non-movie/tv work nominated in the Seventies was Phil Foglio’s 1976 cartoon slide show The Capture, which was accompanied by live narration and audience participation.
Every nominee after Hitchhiker’s Guide for the next 25 years came from film or TV. The division of the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo category into Long and Short Form, effectively doubling the number of works nominated every year, did little to broaden the types of media represented in the award. What finally interrupted the long-lived movie/tv monopoly was the “Prix Victor Hugo Awards Ceremony (Opening Speech and Framing Sequences)” performed by Paul McAuley and Kim Newman at Interaction, the 2005 Worldcon, which made the final ballot in 2006. It also has the distinction of being the first live stage performance ever nominated.
No audio work has ever won a Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo. If that should happen in 2009 they’ll need a katyusha load of rockets for the writers — John Scalzi, Tobias Buckell, Jay Lake, Elizabeth Bear and Karl Schroeder, and narrators — Battlestar Galactica stars Michael Hogan, Alessandro Juliani and Kandyse McClure, plus Stefan Rudnicki and Scott Brick. Congratulations, Audible.com!