1971 BDP: No Award Really Did “Win”

David Klaus commented that Wikipedia’s entry about Jefferson Starship’s album “Blows Against the Empire”, nominated for the 1971 Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo, makes the claim:

Although the album garnered the most votes for the award, no award was given in 1971 for this category.

The article gives no cross-reference. That outcome should have been impossible under the 1971 rules (or today’s) where voters must rank “No Award” along with the nominated works. I wondered if the statement had a basis in reality or if it was sheer nonsense? Fortunately, the person best able to answer the question was easy to find: Tony Lewis. He replied:

Mike, I was chair [of Noreascon, the 1971 Worldcon] and also Hugo administrator. I ruled that Jefferson Starship’s Blows Against the Empire was eligible. Some people disagreed because it was a record (remember them) and thus not been performed on tv, film, or radio. I told them it had been played publicly. Another argument was that it was just singing with brief narrative threads to connect them; well, that’s Grand Opera also.

It received the largest number of votes for actual items in that category but No Award received a majority of the votes–I seem to remember that that happened on the first round.

The statement in Wikipedia might be considered true in some sense but it is certainly incomplete and misleading.

Thanks Tony. Add me to the list of people who are glad you broke down the walls in the Best Dramatic category. A friend of mine played the album for me in 1970 and when I saw it on the Hugo ballot I remember thinking it was exciting that sf music could compete for the award.