Retrospective Hugo awards may be voted under certain circumstances to fill the perceived gap left by a past World SF Convention at which no Hugos were presented. Besides voting the usual Hugos for the previous year's sf, a Worldcon can optionally allow its members to choose Retro Hugos which might have been but were not presented at the Worldcon of 50, 75 or 100 years previously. These awards have been presented five times: in 1996 for 1945 work, in 2001 for 1950 work, in 2004 for 1953 work, in 2014 for 1938 work and in 2016 awards for 1940 work. Since Hugo presentations have continued without a break since 1954, all the 50-years-ago opportunities have now been taken and Retro Hugos are currently (since 2014) being given for Worldcons 75 years in the past. Initially the presentation option was confined to years in which a Worldcon was actually held, but the rules have since changed to allow Retro Hugos for years when there was no Worldcon, such as the wartime 1943 and 1944: Retro Hugos for these years (covering 1942 and 1943 work) are to be presented at the 2018 and 2019 Worldcons.
Several acknowledged sf and fantasy classics have been honoured in this way, but the influence of hindsight (and of reputations swelled by later work) makes these belated awards a distinctly unreliable guide to the preferences of past Worldcon members. Ray Bradbury, for example, was very far from being either the best or best-liked fan writer of 1938 or 1940, but in the twenty-first century has vastly greater name recognition than other, more plausible candidates. [DRL]
- 1938: John W Campbell Jr, "Who Goes There?" (August 1938 Astounding) as by Don A Stuart
- 1940: Robert A Heinlein "If This Goes On –" (February-March 1940 Astounding)
- 1945: George Orwell, Animal Farm (1945 chap)
- 1950: Robert A Heinlein, "The Man Who Sold the Moon" (in The Man Who Sold the Moon, coll 1950)
- 1953: James Blish, "A Case of Conscience" (September 1953 If)
- 1938: Forrest J Ackerman, editor, Imagination!
- 1940: Ray Bradbury, editor, Futuria Fantasia
- 1945: Forrest J Ackerman, editor, Voice of the Imagi-Nation
- 1950: Science Fiction Newsletter
- 1953: Walt Willis, editor, and James White, art editor, Slant
Special committee award (not a formal Retro Hugo)
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