What is the Hugo Worth?

A private conversation with a well placed and influential editor in the New York publishing house was rather eye opening to me. It seems the Hugo, at one time, predictably bumped up sales for a work that won by a thousand books sold. Now, thirty.

Hmm. Let us say you get the normal cut of the profit after selling through, for a $20 cover price of a hardback, this nets you roughly 2.50 per unit, or 75 bucks all told.

I spent more on tickets to take my children to see THE LAST AIRBENDER in 3D, which was a terrible movie in any dimension, and the reason why I pray daily to the Erinyes to punish M. Night Shyamalan with emerods.

Think of that. The Hugo might, might, give you extra money enough for an evening at the cinema, if that. No one is buying a replacement washing machine by selling thirty extra books.

For short works, the financial benefit is zero.

The financial benefit is small (in the case of novels) or zero (in the case of short works) because and only because the fans no longer regard the Hugo as a sign of worthwhile work. It used to be a trustworthy trumpet calling lovers of science fiction toward books and stories guaranteed to quicken the imagination, open casements to new worlds, throw wide the shining gates of the future.

It used to be the award that paid homage, for example, to Frank Herbert for DUNE. To this day, many if not most, science fiction fans regard as this as the best SF novel ever penned. Look at the sales for DUNE just this year. Look at the Amazon rating.

Now the Hugo Award has become a leper’s bell telling the wary to stay away from stories about nonbinary genderless nonheteronormative were-seals, murderous priests, and political statements of dreary leftwing dreck.

The fans do not know about the Hugo Awards or do not care, save for a small and ever more irrelevant cadre.

This means the Hugos mean nothing, represent nothing, and are no longer a sign of read-worthy work.

Until this year.

My fellow gentleman, shuggoths, dark lords, masterminds, countesses, impalers, sith, and beautiful but wicked queens of the Evil Legion of Evil Authors, delightful as it is to go all Death Star on the Hugos and blow it into asteroids (and what true science fiction fan does not delight in seeing cities nuked and worlds fried like eggs?) more delightful, to me, at least, would be to rip the award from the greasy pale fingers of the Morlocks, give a good spit shine, and make it mean again what it once meant.

I feel I owe Frank Herbert the attempt.