DisCon III Announces 2021 Hugo Award-Related Policies

DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon, has announced how they will administer this year’s Hugo finalists which have multiple individual creators. They also are creating a Hugo Concierge Team to assist finalists with issues connected with the award.

DisCon III’s Hugo Concierge Team, under the Hugo Administration Subcommittee, consists of Kat Jones, Chris Brathwaite, and Kathy Bond who will “facilitate a smooth experience for Hugo finalists from the composition of the final ballot through the end of the convention and any post-convention wrap-up matters. The Hugo Concierge Team will work with finalists to gather creators’ names and contact information, create and foster connections with program and event teams, provide relevant and timely information to finalists, and ensure clear and constant communication.” More information on the Hugo Concierge Team can be found on the DisCon III website.

DisCon III also says they will be capping the number of names that will appear on the Hugo ballot and the award plaque, but that all creators of Hugo finalists will appear in other publications and on the website, receive related pins and ribbons, and have the same standing when applying to be on con programming.

A press release explains the committee’s plans:

For many categories of the Hugo awards the work itself is the finalist, but the creators have traditionally been listed as part of the final ballot. As more works have become collaborations, and as categories have been added, the length of the final ballot and the award ceremony have increased. This has begun to cause substantial issues with physical space limitations and accessibility. Pre- and post-ceremony receptions have expanded considerably, which impacts accessibility and budget. Long ballot entries require reduced font sizes on ballots and visuals during the ceremony itself, which also impacts accessibility.

All creators named to DisCon III as part of a Hugo Finalist work will be listed in the DisCon III souvenir book, Hugo Award Ceremony program, and the DisCon III and Hugo Awards websites. These are the permanent records of the administration of the Hugo Awards. There will therefore be no restriction on the number of names linked to a finalist in these records.

However, if a finalist has more than four creators, DisCon III will list a maximum of four names for each finalist on the 2021 Hugo Final Ballot (both printed and online), the visuals used during the Hugo Award ceremony, and the plaques on the Hugo trophies. Where a finalist does not wish to limit their list of named persons on the ballot to four or fewer, they will be listed as “[Title] by the [Title] Team” or agreed equivalent.

The format will be as follows, within the aforementioned restrictions:

  • In the Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Novelette, Best Short Story, and Best Series categories: [Title], by [Author(s)], published in/by [publisher].
  • In the Best Semiprozine, Best Fanzine, and Best Fancast categories: [Title], by [Hosts/Editors].
  • In the Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form and Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form categories: [Title, including show name and episode as needed], written by [writer(s)], directed by [director(s)].
  • In the Best Editor Long Form and Best Editor Short Form categories: [Name].
  • In the Best Professional Artist, Best Fan Artist, and Best Fan Writer categories: [Name].
  • In the Best Graphic Story or Comic category: [Work, including volume as needed], by [Writer, artist, inker, letterer], published by [publisher].
  • For Best Related Work, the listing will depend on the types of works that appear on the final ballot but will be consistent with the above. The Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book listing will follow the format for Best Novel. Finalists for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer will be listed by name and each listing will include the writer’s year of eligibility.
  • Best Video Game: [Title], by [Publisher], on [Platform(s)]

The persons named on the ballot will, in principle, be the finalist’s acceptors at the ceremony, with substitutions allowable as appropriate. If a finalist is listed on the ballot as a “team,” they can name up to four acceptors. If they are attending the convention, acceptors will be invited to the pre-Hugo reception and seated within the finalist seating area at the Hugo Ceremony. The winner in each Hugo category will receive up to four (4) Hugo trophies from DisCon III, as appropriate, with the option to purchase more at cost.

All creators, regardless of how finalists are listed on the ballot, will be in the convention souvenir book and Hugo Award Ceremony program, on the DisCon III and Hugo Awards websites, and will receive Hugo finalist pins and ribbons. All finalists who wish to participate in DisCon III programming will be encouraged to apply, and will be considered for inclusion as a Hugo finalist.

“Hugo finalists represent the best of the field of speculative fiction as determined by Worldcon members. Therefore, the individuals who contribute to these works are critical parts of the Worldcon community,” said DisCon III Co-Chair Colette H. Fozard. “DisCon III is committed to recognizing all the individuals that are part of creating the stories, art, and other works that lead the genre.”

[Based on a press release.]

Update 01/11/21: Added information supplied for Best Video Game category

27 thoughts on “DisCon III Announces 2021 Hugo Award-Related Policies

  1. I am against capping the number of names on the nomination ballot & award plaque to four. I appreciate that logistics mean that there will be an upper limit to the number of names able to be included. But this will disproportionately affect the fan & semi-pro awards.

  2. @ Soon Lee

    I am against capping the number of names on the nomination ballot & award plaque to four. I appreciate that logistics mean that there will be an upper limit to the number of names able to be included. But this will disproportionately affect the fan & semi-pro awards.

    Perhaps a compromise can be reached. Is there any way that some sort of customization can be added to any additional Hugos (if purchased)? That way each person on the nomination ballot can have a Hugo of their very own.

  3. I like Rob’s idea. If there are six people on the team and they want to buy the extra two, each Hugo can be individualized: “Person A and the [title] team,” “Person B and the [title] team”….

  4. Oh hey, we would like to honour you with an award…

    …but you have to pay for the privilege of including all your names.

    That would make me feel the opposite of honoured.

  5. DisCon III also says they will be capping the number of names that will appear on the Hugo ballot and the award plaque, but that all creators of Hugo finalists will appear in other publications and on the website, receive related pins and ribbons, and have the same standing when applying to be on con programming.

    I know that each Worldcon has the power to make decisions about the award process that aren’t spelled out in the WSFS Constitution, but I wonder whether this should fall under that discretion. If a nominated work has five creators, it has five creators. Choosing to list only four on the ballot and the award is factually inaccurate. How would the choice of who to exclude be made when the creators of a work insist there are five of them and they don’t support leaving someone out?

    It seems to me that this would be better handled with a proposal to the Business Meeting.

  6. Laura: What about their special Best Video Game Hugo?

    I forwarded your question to the committee and they have now provided that formatting as well —

    Best Video Game: [Title], by [Publisher], on [Platform(s)]

    Thanks for spotting the oversight!

  7. Goobergunch: @bill: No, the 1946 Retro Hugos have already been done.

    Indeed, the first ones ever awarded, by L.A.con III in 1996.

  8. @Soon Lee
    More than two or three statues per category runs into a lot of money – plus the bases, and the plaques, and their engraving.

  9. @ Soon Lee

    I’m just working within the rules they set. I don’t know why they limited the number of awards to four. Maybe they can’t afford all those awards—I get the feeling that Hugo Awards are not cheap. Or maybe they can afford them, I don’t know. In any case, I’m throwing out the idea for further consideration.

  10. I appreciate that the actual trophies are not cheap. And there has to be a limit on how many trophies are handed out.

    In recent years, we have had enough examples of Hugo finalists & winners getting slapped in the face: finalists not being allocated panels during Worldcon, or having their names mispronounced during awards ceremonies. This feels like this it is less about honouring the finalists & winners.

    “Due to logistics and resources, we will also be listing up to four names for each finalist on the Hugo final ballot, the Hugo ceremony visuals, and the Hugo trophy plaques.”

    Pixels, at least, are free. Why not list all the names on the final ballot & ceremony visuals?

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  12. We were asked to submit a limited number of names in 2018 when we were nominated. Then, we came up with the Team Journey Planet name for the nominations, but it really felt like garbage to do so because it erases those folks who worked hard on those issues. We got asked again to limit our nominee list last year and pushed back and we were allowed to list all 7. I think it’s a bad idea, though I understand the financial and logistical problems. The fact is, they’re asking fans, and let’s face it if this were a major impact on pro categories this wouldn’t be happening, to make Sophie’s Choice.

  13. Comments on Twitter have been almost uniformly critical. A few examples (excerpted from longer threads at the links):

    Michi Trota / @GeekMelange:

    I am going to point out that had this rule been in place 5 years ago, I very likely would not have become the 1st known Filipina Hugo Award winner despite my efforts being integral to Uncanny being a finalist. I may not have gotten ANY Hugos for any of the 5x Uncanny won
    It is not lost on me how the “minimal number of categories” affected are those heavily featuring the work of TEAMS of marginalized folks, which means LESS marginalized folks who deserve recognition as Hugo finalists/winners will receive what they’re due.
    Do you know how many ppl work on SFF semiprozines, podcasts, anthologies, etc., to succeed?? Esp in our current economic climate, it takes FAR MORE THAN JUST 4 FUCKING PPL to keep things going! And y’all want to force us to choose who gets a rocket bc “logistics”?

    L D Lewis / @Ellethevillain:

    If you’re going to host award categories that recognize team contributions, should you not be prepared to honor the whole of the team?


    Turning a Hugo nomination into a ‘who gets to be recognized for the work of a team’ Hunger Games is a crap look.

    Renay7 / @renay:

    Guess what? The latest excuse is that it’s for “accessibility”. So now they’re using people who need accessibility accommodations as a shield.

    Susan / @Spindilly:

    OMG I was joking when I said “Is this because of GRRM” but the actual official reason in their announcement post is it’s made the pre- and post-ceremony parties too big and the ceremony too long.

  14. Regardless of whether you agree with the particular cut off point decided upon there must be one. Consider the dramatic presentation categories: without a cut off point there is nothing to stop a finalist citing everyone listed in the end credits as a creator.

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  16. @Soon Lee: Yeah. I didn’t see the problems with the proposal until this discussion explained them – and it’s nice that Discon reacted well to the criticism.

  17. DisCon’s plans seem a good idea to me, but sadly their Hugo team does not seem to have survived the Twitterstorm

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