This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

22 August, 2011



   So, on Saturday August 20 2011 the Hugo Awards were handed out at the 2011 Worldcon, Renovation, in Reno, Nevada.
   Including those honoured was the Doctor Who season 5 finale "The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang". There is however a rather big problem with this award, namely the rules of the Hugo awards. I quote Article 3, Section 3, Paragraph 8 (3.3.8):

3.3.8:   Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. Any television program or other production, with a complete running time of 90 minutes or less, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during the previous calendar year.

(This is from 2009, but I assume that if the rules were changed last year they would have had time to get them online. EDIT: I found the 2010 rules, they are linked to further down in the article, they still say the same.)

    The important part of 3.3.8 is of course "with a complete running time of 90 minutes or less". According to Doctor Who - The Complete Guide the episodes are 50+55 minutes. It was hard to find something online, but I managed to find out these actual running times: The Pandorica Opens at 48:43 and The Big Bang at 53:14. Making for a total of 101:57, or almost 12 minutes more than the Hugo Award rules allow for. (The running times I quote supposedly includes credits, and a few seconds before and after each episode according to my source. But that does not even come close to 12 minutes.)

   So why was I even checking this? I was thinking that a double episode of Doctor Who was longer than an animated movie. And it did not make sense to me that Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon were considered long form when a double episode of Doctor Who was considered short form. I also know that animated movies are frequently as short as 75-80 minutes, so I wanted to see where the Hugo Award rules drew the line.  And that line is 90 minutes, as you can see from the excerpt from the rules above.
(For clarification, Toy Story 3 is 103 minutes, and How to Train Your Dragon 98 minutes according to IMDb.)

   I find it absolutely incredible if this has passed through the verification test for Hugo Award ineligibility. I thought maybe the rules were changed last year, but there's no rule change according to this. (The link will take you to the 2010 WSFS Constitution, that for some eason is not up on the WSFS website.)
   That this has slipped through unnoticed, it is a scandal. And for the Hugos to retain any credibility at all, they should immediately ban the person responsible, at least from serving in any sort of official capacity for the Hugos/Worldcon, preferably from attending for a few years. The same if multiple persons are responsible. This is not something that should happen in even the most amateur organisation, and certainly not to a prestigious Award.

  I'm waiting to see what happens now. And I would love to get a comment from anyone associated with the Hugos. 
   From what I can see the Hugo Award for "Dramatic Presentation, Short Form" has to be changed. And I have no idea how they plan to do that.

   Lastly, it seems the real winner in this category is: Doctor Who, season 5, episode 10: Vincent and the Doctor. Unfortunately for the Hugo Awards, this episode has a different director and scriptwriter.

UPDATE: After trying to find out if an exception has been made I found out that there is a rule that would allow this double episode in the short form category: 

"3.2.10: The Worldcon Committee may relocate a dramatic presentation work into a more appropriate category if it feels that it is necessary, provided that the length of the work is within twenty percent (20%) of the new category boundary."

   I have tried to find evidence online that this rule was used. So far as I was able to ascertain no move from long form to short form was made, and if it was there is no record of it online. (This includes any note on the voting form about it.) And I must assume that my initial findings that the winner is ineligible stands.


  1. Perhaps it gets through because individually they are less than 90 minutes?

  2. @Daniel, the rules clearly states "with a complete running time of 90 minutes or less". So either the written rules are actually guidelines and there's and "inner circle" who actually decides what the rules are. Or double episodes of UK shows are not eligible. US shows usually have episodes of under 45 minutes, making a double episode under 90 minutes, and I assume that is why this has slipped by.

  3. Nope. Have tweeted link to this to two people who are in Reno at the moment.
    And actually I don't think it's my job to make them aware of this, they should have caught it at the nomination stage, before the shortlist was presented.
    It's online now, so we'll see what happens.

  4. The travesty in all of this is that Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury still wouldn't have won.

  5. I'm not sure I would want "Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury" to win this category. But I do think they should have given it a special Hugo. Something along the lines of "Special Hugo for promoting reading Science Fiction in a humorous way". It deserved some form of Hugo in my opinion.

  6. 'Lastly, it seems the real winner in this category is: Doctor Who, season 5, episode 10: Vincent and the Doctor. Unfortunately for the Hugo Awards, this episode has a different director and scriptwriter.'

    Ah, there's your real beef. Should have put it at the beginning. That's a few seconds of my life gone I'll never get back. Congratulations to Steven Moffat by the way. Well deserved.

  7. @Anonymous I have no interest in who won this Hugo. I didn't even check who wrote the script for Vincent and the Doctor before I had finished writing the rest of the article.
    And if you have to know, I think The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang is better than Vincent and the Doctor.
    This is simply about a winner that according to the Hugo rules is ineligible. I think that if you have rules, you should stick to them.

  8. A Christmas Carol has the same writer and director...

    Although you're making a mountain out of a molehill anyway.

  9. @Anonymous
    "Although you're making a mountain out of a molehill anyway."

    I'd say that a definition of what was Dramatic presentation short form and long form is pretty important for an award that is considered to be one of the highest in the SFF field.

    That the Hugos actually follow their own rules should be important too. If the Hugo comittee does not think so, then that is a much bigger problem than defining categories.

  10. There's a rule to cover it. As you said. Just because YOU don't know they used it doesn't mean they didn't.

  11. If they used the rule to move the double episode to another category and there is absolutely no record of it anywhere online, including on the voting forms, then they have a huge communication problem.
    Any open organisation would have information like that readily available online.

    It doesn't matter how many times you try to excuse the Hugos for what has happened. They have a problem, and they have obviously decided to cope with it by ignoring it and hoping it will go away.

  12. Will that work on you?

  13. Weirdmage:

    Although I am not one of the Hugo Award administrators, I have been one in the past, and I'm pretty familiar with the Hugo Award rules. I'm also one of the people who was involved with drafting the current wording of the Best Dramatic Presentation categories.

    It seems very likely to me that most (maybe all) of the nominations for "The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang" were made in the Short Form category. Assuming the running length of 102 minutes is correct, that means there is no reason for the Administrator to do anything but go with the voters' preferences.

    Because of the leeway between the categories, Short Form is actually anything less than 118 minutes while Long form is actually anything greater than 72 minutes, and by the principle of vox populi vox dei (the voice of the people is the voice of ghod), Administrators are strongly encouraged to not move a work between categories if it's legal for it to be in that category (which is it in this case) and if the voters put it there.

    So there's no scandal and no reason to get so excited. The work was eligible in the category where most of the voters placed it, so the administrator left it alone.


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