A Modest Proposal for the Very Retro Hugo for Genre-Related Work

Hugo Gernsback demonstrating his television goggles in 1963 for Life magazine

By Brian Z: The talk of time capsules and 1000-year M-discs in the Pixel Scroll 8/12/21 discussion of item (16), the Louis XIII Cognac 100-year sci-fi film vault, got me thinking that Worldcon should do Hugos for Best Genre-related Work Created 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 and 40,000 years ago.

Here’s my draft ballot:

1000 years

  • Beowulf (poem)

2000 years

  • The Antikythera Mechanism (computer model of the solar system)

3000 years

  • The Odyssey (poem)

4000 years

Tie between:

Inscriptions that quote the Book of Two Ways

10,000 years

The Chhattisgarh UFOs (sci fi cave art)

20,000 years

Atlantis (sunken city, which the Administrator can’t prove DOESN’T exist)

30,000 years

The Lascaux Dead Bird-Headed Man (fantasy cave art)

40,000 years

Lion-man of the Hohlenstein-Stadel (flint-carved zoomorph)

We could post a Google Doc to add suggestions as the contest (hopefully) approaches.

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10 thoughts on “A Modest Proposal for the Very Retro Hugo for Genre-Related Work

  1. How about ahead? My first novel, published in May, starts about 150 years from now, but mostly takes place 11,000 Years (the title) from now….

    Do feel free to hang around until the ship leaves in 2167, to see how accurate I was….

  2. This is an excellent idea. But how do we determine the anniversary dates precisely enough so we know when a Worldcon will be eligible to give the award?

  3. I noticed that some were sculptural work, that would need a new category. I suppose that does come under best artist. For 4000 BCE, you have one written work. I suspect, a novella. I have read the translation and it was a thinnish paperback. I have seen one of the tablets in the British Museum. Does look like a novella or novelette. The other works for that era, are artistic, two 3-D works, one picture and Gilgamesh.

    We do have some actual dated works available. Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en is a 16th Century CE work of fantasy. There are other contemporary works in that era.

  4. @Tom Baker I would guess they go in the category with the date closest to when they are thought to have been created. If there is a lot of disagreement the Hugo Adminstrator might decide where to put them depending on the academic concensus or where it gets the most nominations.

    @Linda Robinett
    Maybe it’s a Graphic Novel? I had imagined just one award covering all kinds of works from a particular period, but it also be could be done by category.

    16th CE is recent. There could also be one or multiple awards for work produced during the most recent millenium – how would it be broken down?

  5. Here’s my little list of 62 works of speculative fiction from 720 BCE (Homer’s “The Iliad”) to 1624 AD (Francis Bacon’s “Nova Atlantis): http://www.isfdb.org/wiki/index.php/User:Chavey/Ancient
    Several of them deserve nominations, but we’d probably need to go back a century at a time until about 600 A.D. My nominations might go something like this:
    17th century: “The Tempest”, William Shakespeare, 1623
    16th century: “Orlando Furioso”, Ludovico Ariosto, 1516-1523
    15th century: “Le Morte d’Arthur”, Sir Thomas Mallory, 1485
    14th century: “The Divine Comedy”, Dante Alighieri, 1320
    13th century: “F?dil ibn N?tiq”, Zakariya al-Qazwini, 1270 (
    A visitor to earth from a distant planet)
    12th century: “Prophetiae Merlini” (Merlin), Geoffrey of Monmouth, 1135
    11th century: “Katha Sarit Sagara”, Somadeva Bhatta, 1070
    10th century: “Taketori Monogatari (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter)”, unknown, 980
    9th century: “A Thousand and One Nights”, unknown, “early 9th century”
    8th century: “Urashima Tar?”, unknown, 720
    6th century: “Mitologiae”, Fulgentius, 550-600
    1st-5th century C.E.: “The True History”, Lucian of Samosata, 170 C.E.
    1st-5th century B.C.E.: “R?m?ya?a”, V?lm?ki, 500-100 BCE
    6th-10 century B.C.E.: “The Odyssey”, Homer, 700 B.C.E.
    2nd millenium B.C.E.: “Rigveda”, unknown, c. 1400 B.C.E.
    3rd millenium B.C.E.: “The Epic of Gilgamesh”, c. 2100 B.C.E.
    And from there on back, I’ll agree with Brian’s SF art entries.

  6. For the titles that didn’t come through because the software couldn’t handle the diacritical marks, here are the titles with those diacriticals removed:
    F?dil ibn N?tiq = Fadil ibn Natiq
    Urashima Tar? = Urashima Taro
    “R?m?ya?a”, V?lm?ki = “Ramayana”, Valmiki

  7. Oh great! Another list of books I have not read yet! I have trouble enough with the Hugos for last year!

    But seriously folks, this is a great list, and I love it.

    But I have issue with the inclusion of the Antikythera device. It is not a work of speculative art, it is a piece of scientific equipment. Its a computer. It does its job accurately, and there is nothing speculative about it. You had might as well include the Wright Brothers aeroplane or the Jacquard loom.

    –Its also the only physical piece on the list that I have actually seen in person, and it is way more cool than the photo shows.

    I am definitely voting for The Odyssey.

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