Exploring the Hugo Awards: The 2020 Finalists for Best Related Work

The award for Best Related Work has been part of the Hugos since the 1980s.  It has always been a little bit of a catch-all category, serving to recognise significant contributions to the science fiction community. Typically it goes to works in any media of non-fiction, but it has gone to fictional works that fall outside the classification of other awards. For example, in 2019 it went to the Organization for Transformative Works for An Archive of Our Own, a nonprofit open source repository for fanfiction. 

The 2020 Finalists are as follows:

cover of Becoming Superman. shows superman costume hanging in wardrobeBecoming Superman: My Journey from Poverty to Hollywood, by J. Michael Straczynski is the remarkable auto-biography of J Michael Stracynski, affectionately referred to by fans as JMS.  He’s best known to sci-fi fans for TV shows such as Sense8  and Babylon 5 as well as various comic books.  This is a difficult autobiography to read in parts as JMS has had a rough and complicated life. JMS’s account of his difficult childhood and the highs and lows of his career is incredibly compelling.

Joanna RussJoanna Russ by Gwyneth Jones published as part of the University of Illinois Modern Masters of Science Fiction series, this is a serious academic examination of one of science fiction’s most under-served figures, Joanna Russ. Best known for her work The Female Man, Russ pioneered the field of feminist SF scholarship and recognised the significance of fanfiction (especially slashfic) in the literary field.  Jones’s work is an essential guide to Russ’s legacy.

JeanetteNG“2019 John W. Campbell Award Acceptance Speech” by Jeanette Ng is an example of why Best Related Work is so important; this nomination is literally for Jeanette’s speech at last year’s Hugo Awards. It’s a pretty important moment in Hugo Award history; Ng called out John W Campbell’s legacy by describing him as a ‘****ing facist’, and the speech led to a change in the name of the award; it is now the Astounding Award for Best New Writer.

The Lady from the Black LagoonThe Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick by Mallory O’Meara tells the story of one of Hollywood’s forgotten geniuses. Milicent Patrick gave the world the Creature from the Black Lagoon, a beastie that has inspired generations of horror fans, and yet she is mostly forgotten.  O’Meara dives into rich detail on Patrick’s career, uncovering the untold origin story of one of Hollywood’s most iconic monsters. It’s a rich and detailed investigation that makes for a compelling read as well as a story that’s highly relevant to the movie industry today. 

A Pleasant ProfessionThe Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein, by Farah Mendlesohn
Heinlein is regarded as one of the major names in the world of science fiction and Mendlesohn’s detailed research into Heinlein’s life is a top contender for this year’s Hugo. Straddling the line between academic work and entertaining examination into Heinlein’s life, this is a book that will grace the shelves of many a science-fiction fan for years to come.

Worlds of Ursula K LeGuin

Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, produced and directed by Arwen Curry
Le Guin should need no introduction to fans of science fiction, but it’s still vital that we do not underestimate her influence on the world around us.  Arwen Curry spent over a decade making this documentary about Le Guin and the work she has done. Featuring some memorable moments from Le Guin herself as well as some stunning animated scenes,  Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin is a love letter to the author and essential viewing for any science fiction fan. 

CoNZealand members are able to vote in the Hugos until July 22.

This article was brought to you by Ed Fortune, Promotions.

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