Voting for the Hugo Awards kicked off in earnest on Jan. 6, when this year's nomination period officially began. Some people call the Hugos the Oscars of science fiction, while others have never heard of them.
Suffice it to say that this is the time when interested partiesthose who are eligible to win an awardsubtly or not remind their friends and family that voting might be a good idea. And it's a time when people start speculating on whether an enterprising but not necessarily ethical person could buy their way onto the ballot.
The talk is theoretical, of course, but fun to indulge in. We're not suggesting anyone try it, or even that anyone has tried it, just that it certainly seems possible. After all, last year it only took 17 votes to get on the ballot if you happened to have an eligible short story, and anyone can vote as long as they pay the fee to join the World Science Fiction Convention. This year it costs $50, so if you do the math (17 votes x $50), that adds up to a cost of just $850 if you want to fund voting privileges for you and 16 friends. (That assumes voting levels stay the same as they have been for the last two years.)
Once you've theoretically bought your way onto the ballot, buying a win would (also theoretically) be harder, but still seemingly within the realm of possibility. It costs about 10 times as much as a nomination, though, and presumably is more difficult to both organize and conceal, since more votes are involved. In 2008, you would have needed 176 in the "cheapest" category of Best Fanzine for a win (and you would have to have been eligible in that category). That adds up to a more sizable $8,800.
The good news for prospective Hugo buyers is that those costs are inclusive, not additive. So in the short story example, the $850 to buy votes for the nomination would theoretically be counted toward the $8,800 for final ballot votes, since the same membership buys you voting privileges in both the nomination and final ballot voting periods.
Based on the 2008 Hugo Award voting and nomination statistics, we've included a helpful list on how much it would (theoretically, don't try this at home) take to buy a nomination and a win in every category:
Best Novel: Nomination $2,000, Win $18,640
Best Novella: Nomination $1,700, Win $15,750
Best Novelette: Nomination $1,050, Win $14,640
Best Short Story: Nomination $850, Win $16,250 (BEST NOMINATION VALUE)
Best Related Book: Nomination $900, Win $11,750
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Nomination $2,200, Win $19,100 (SUPER BARGAIN!)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Nomination $1,200, Win $16,850
Best Editor, Long Form: Nomination $900, Win $12,900
Best Editor, Short Form: Nomination $1,750, Win $14,000
Best Professional Artist: Nomination $1,000, Win $15,300
Best Semiprozine: Nomination $1,900, Win $13,550
Best Fanzine: Nomination $1,300, Win $8,800 (BEST WIN VALUE)
Best Fan Writer: Nomination $1,200, Win $11,900
Best Fan Artist: Nomination $950, Win $9,250
And in the unlikely event you happen to have written a novel, a novella, a novelette, a short story, a related book and a fanzine article, edited a book and a short story, produced both professional and fan art, published a semiprozine and a fanzine, and written a movie and a TV show, you could win all the Hugos for the super bargain price of $19,100. Since every voter can vote in every category, you only have to buy enough to win in the most expensive category and you've automatically got all the others covered.
(We should also mention that membership in one year gives you nominating privileges for the next year, so you could get a head start on your diabolical plan for free, but you'd still have to pony up when the final vote came around.)