TSAR4$ Sunday, 26-Aug~79
The September 9, 195'3? issue of FAN-
TASY TIMES, a mimeographed newzine,
deemed Phicon 2 "a dull success."
Yet Philcon 2 originated the awards
which have since become the highlight
of annual worldcon programming.
The Hugos have their genesis in controversy, and have seldom been without it during their existence. None
of the early efforts to create awards
for the field, such as the "Committee
of Awards and Commendation for Meritorious Work in the Production of
Science, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction,"
dated 1943, was able to overcome its
critics to unify fans and pros behind
a given awards concept.
Four British fans, Leslie Flood, John
Bcynon Harris, G. Ken Chapman, and
Frank Cooper, did create the "Annual
Award for Artistic Merit in Creative
Fantasy," popularly called the International Fantasy Award, in 1951•
There was no direct connection bctxfeen
the IFA and the Hugos. The Hugos were
markedly different in diversity of
categories and method of selection.
But it is interesting that the IFA
trophy consisted of a spaceship 20
inches high, imitating the one on the
Boncstell cover of the February,1951?
GALAXY. There was one for fiction,
chromiurn-platcd on an oak base, and
one for nonfiction, bronzed on a
mahogany base. The IFA rocket had
stubby wings in addition to wide
tailfins, and in a photo doesn't
closely resemble later Hugos except
that any chrome rocket on a plinth
resembles any other. None of the
available sources (see bibliography)
state that the IFA (defunct after
1957) was a direct inspiration for
the Hugo design, but perhaps readers
of this newzine attending SeaCon can
supply a definitive answer.
The trophy is just about the only
point of similarity botwrocn the two
awards. Unlike the IFA, which was
selected by an international panel of
pros, the "Achievement Awards11 created
by Philcon 2 were selected by popular
vote of the membership. Voters' options were not limited in any way,
because the idea of a nominating ballot
was not introduced until 1959* NTor did
a large number of voters participate in
the first Hugos, to judge by Warner's
statement in WEALTH OF FABLE that no
award was given in some of the planned
categories (no short story award, for
example). Consequently, early Hugo winners may have had only a fistful of
votes in their favor, with the rest of
the ballots spread all over creation.
Orig£n?,l winners were? Willy Ley (cx-r
cellence in Fact Articles), Philip Jose
Farmer (Best Nov; SF Author or Artist),
Forrest J. Ackerman (No. 1 Fan Personality), THE DEMOLISHED MAN (Best Novel),
ASTOUNDING and GALAXY (tie for Best
Professional Magazine), Virgil Finlay
(Best Pro Artist).
Philcon 2 neither adopted a nickname
for its awards, nor described the trophy in its publications. Warner credits
Bob Madle for naming the awards after
Gernsback, and Hal Lynch for doing much
of the spadework for the award idea.
Philcon 2 expected succeeding committees to continue the awards — but the
very next year's committee completely
ignored them, and SFCon's publications
never said why. It fell to the 1955
Clevention committee to revive the
Hugos. Their PR 2 announced that they
would keep the statuette design used
by Philcon, the first indication that
Philcon's awards had been rocket-shaped.
nSpci,ce precludes telling you the entire
story of how these Hugos came into being," PR 4 tantalizes historians, "but
suffice it to say that during the process, two of the committee were nearly
jailed, many heartbreaking setbacks
were surmounted (these include both
financial and technical ones) and that
there were two or three times when the
committee almost threw in the towel."
A photo shows Horecn Falasca, co-
chairman, holding the bulky award.
The 1955 Hugos consisted of a %olid
bronze, double-plated chrome rocket,
13«5 inches tall on a mahogany base
6.5 inches high — total weight nine
pounds. The committee underwrote the
(continued on page 3)