First and Last Hugos?

Were the Hugo Awards meant to begin and end with the presentation of Jack McKnight’s handmade rockets at the Philadelpha Worldcon of 1953?

That’s the view expressed in a comment on the official Hugo website:

Because the awards presented in 1953 were initially conceived as one-off awards…

However, Michael J. Walsh points out that the 1953 Worldcon’s announcement of the award in its third progress report describes it as “the First Annual Science Fiction Achievement Awards” — not first and last…

When I redraft the official site’s Hugo history I will have to deal with this question.

Esther Cole, chair of the San Francisco committee which failed to reprise the Hugos in 1954, said on a panel in 1993 that she believed they were one-off awards, making the discussion yet another of those faanish theological controversies. We can wonder why she believed that. However, I’m not aware that anyone has shown she didn’t believe that.

Sometimes I wonder if the 1954 committee, having heard how Jack McKnight missed the Worldcon to finish the trophies, found no one would touch the project with a 10-foot-pole. But I haven’t found any evidence to support my speculation.

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2 thoughts on “First and Last Hugos?

  1. While the 1953 committee may have wanted a continuing award, following committees didn’t have to follow their lead. Take a look at this page advocating that the 1956 convention keep the award going. It’s from Clevention’s (1955) 4th Progress Report. So far as I know there was no WSFS Constitution at the time which mandated how the awards were done.

  2. You’re right — the WSFS was incorporated sometime after the 1955 Worldcon, and presumably the constitution came later, too. So there would not have been constitutional rules about the Hugos at that time. I’m trying to find out more about this.

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