Dublin 2019 Adds Special Hugo Award Category: Best Art Book

Dublin 2019, an Irish Worldcon, the 77th World Science Fiction Convention, (“Worldcon”) taking place in Dublin Ireland in August 2019, announced today that a special Hugo category for “Best Art Book” will be included in the 2019 Hugo Awards, and the Retrospective Hugo Awards for 1944.

The Hugo Awards are the leading awards for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy, and have been presented at Worldcons since 1953. They are voted on by members of each year’s Worldcon.

Art books formerly featured strongly in the Best Related Work Hugo Award category, and its predecessors, Best Related Book and Best Non-Fiction Book, and also in the former Hugo category Best Original Artwork. Finalists and winners included collections of works by significant figures in genre art, and annual anthologies of notable and award-winning art works.

Although fewer art books have appeared on the Hugo ballot in recent years, many genre art books of various types are published annually, and they continue to generate intense interest from both reviewers and the wider fan community. The Hugo Category Study committee is also considering Best Art Book as a potential permanent category.

“The Hugo Awards encourage and appreciate the creation of great SF&F genre work, whether in prose, dramatized or visual form,” said Vincent Docherty, WSFS Division Head for the convention. “Dublin 2019 is pleased to honour the ongoing contributions made by artists to the field of science fiction and fantasy in what will be the 80th anniversary of the first Worldcon – whose sole Guest of Honor was artist Frank R. Paul.”

An eligible work for this special Hugo award is any art book in the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom, appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year or which has been substantially modified during the previous calendar year, and which is not eligible in Best Graphic Story.

[From a press release.]

16 thoughts on “Dublin 2019 Adds Special Hugo Award Category: Best Art Book

  1. I will be interested to see how this works out. Although a sufficient number of art books are released each year to make up a long list, I do not believe that they are widely “read” enough by Hugo nominators to generate significant participation. However, as someone with a great appreciation for speculative art, I would be happy to be proven wrong.

  2. WooT!!!!!! I am very pleased with this announcement and I am very hopeful the the current Hugo Awards Study Committee and the Business Meeting will seriously consider giving an Art Book category a trial run in the near future.

  3. Chris Barkley: I am very hopeful the the current Hugo Awards Study Committee and the Business Meeting will seriously consider giving an Art Book category a trial run in the near future.

    This is a trial run of the Art Book category.

  4. Assume a single-artist book, written by someone else (like Ron Miller’s book on Bonestell). Who actually receives the award — the artist or the writer?

  5. bill on November 30, 2018 at 8:01 pm said:
    Assume a single-artist book, written by someone else (like Ron Miller’s book on Bonestell). Who actually receives the award — the artist or the writer?

    I would imagine it would be both, just like both the translator and the writer get hugos if a translated work wins an award (such as with The Three Body Problem).

  6. I tried to push hard for a Related Work nomination for The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road back in 2016, so I’m for this. However, I think some clarification needs to be made: does “Art Book” mean the collection of an artist/entity’s works or just a collection of art in general? I was going to nominate Dungeons and Dragons Art and Arcana: A Visual History in Related Work and it seems there could be some overlap.

    As a side rec, Robotic Existentialism: The Art of Eric Joyner could fit into this category.

  7. @N

    Thanks for the mention of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Imaginarium. It was published last year in the UK so I’d assumed it wasn’t eligible – but the 2018 publication in the US brings it back into eligibility.

  8. Great idea!

    JJ wrote:

    Although a sufficient number of art books are released each year to make up a long list, I do not believe that they are widely “read” enough by Hugo nominators to generate significant participation.

    But what do I know about editors? Art is something we can all appreciate.

  9. Cathy Palmer-Lister: But what do I know about editors? Art is something we can all appreciate.

    Sure, it is. But I don’t understand what that has to do with my comment.

  10. Goodreads list up. Also put up a list on Lady Business’ spreadsheet; I’ll admit to residual sadness from the dearly departed Best Video Game category’s failure causing some of my gunning for this category. 😛

  11. JJ you wrote: Sure, it is. But I don’t understand what that has to do with my comment.

    I was thinking along the lines of your comment that implied that possible not enough people are familiar with the art books. To me, it seemed you were making a case that the category might not draw many votes, but we do have categories for editors and I suspect rather a lot of readers would not understand the work of editors either. If selections from art books are available to voters, we can all respond.
    BTW, I think it was you who introduced me to the Invisible Library series–Thanks for that! I love it!

  12. Cathy Palmer-Lister: I was thinking along the lines of your comment that implied that possible not enough people are familiar with the art books. To me, it seemed you were making a case that the category might not draw many votes, but we do have categories for editors and I suspect rather a lot of readers would not understand the work of editors either. If selections from art books are available to voters, we can all respond.

    I think there are at least a couple of things to address in this.

    First is that Hugo nominators have to come up with their nominations themselves, which requires them to be aware of what’s been published and (theoretically) to have actually read it. This by its nature reduces the number of nominations which get made. And because the percentage of people who go out and buy art books is much smaller than the percentage of those who buy and read novels and short works, an art book category is going to get a lot less nominations than the fiction categories. And this is why the Art Book Category failed when it was tried in the past, and got discontinued.

    Now, in recent years, fans have started publishing lists of eligible works on the Internet, which at least gives nominators who are aware of those lists a reference (and reminder) source for possible nominations. The downside of that is that there are, sadly, a percentage of nominators who will look at a list and nominate based on name recognition, without actually having read the work. (This is something that I think happens a lot in the Related Work category.)

    And this is where I get to the part of your comment that says “If selections from art books are available to voters, we can all respond.”

    I don’t think people should be nominating works unless they’ve read them. I really dislike the practice of nominating based on name recognition. It causes the same people to be on the ballot again and again, even when the works being nominated are not exceptional, but the author’s reputation is widely-known.

    And that’s the downside of the “here’s what’s eligible” lists that people — including, and especially, me — have been producing. If they’re providing a memory-jogger to nominators of books they’ve read, that’s fantastic, and that’s why I spend so much time and energy creating them — that’s exacly what they’re for.

    But if they’re providing a list whereby nominators just go through and pick out the names with which they’re familiar, then it subverts the Hugo nominating process, and artificially skews what gets recognition.

    But I don’t know how you stop people from nominating based just on name recognition, rather than actually having experienced the work. People are gonna do what they’re gonna do.

  13. JJ: reminds me of what happened with the best artist department–the same artists winning probably based as you say on name recognition.

    I was hoping that if nomination lists were available on line, people would at least look for the books in libraries. I’ve bought a lot of art books over the years, many really don’t have much reading in them! However, appreciating the art might not be the same as appreciating the book, which has more to it than illustrations,now that I think more about it. I love SFF art, I keep hoping more fans will engage, and maybe the Hugo category will help.

    To be honest, I had not fully thought out all the issues of the nomination process, thanks for raising that point.

  14. Pingback: 2019 Hugo Awards Celebrate the Fantasy Existing Among Us - WWAC

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