Who Really Runs the Hugo Awards?

In a surprising development, the dispute among “Trufans” “SMOFS” “Sad Puppies” and “Rabid Puppies” has produced a result: We now know exactly who runs the Hugo Awards. It turns out to be Mrs. Gladys Knipperdowling, of Grand Rapids, Iowa.

Mrs. Knipperdowling, 81, came forward yesterday to reveal that she has personally chosen all Hugo winners and nominees since 1971 when her aunt Betty “got too old and cranky,” as she put it in an exclusive interview. “I wouldn’t have said anything about it,” she added, “but then I heard there was all of this trouble.”

Asked about the people usually accused of picking the Hugo winners, Mrs. Knipperdowling became confused. She claimed never to have heard of the Nielsen Haydens at all, and when John Scalzi was mentioned, she asked, “Is he the nice young man in the bow tie?”

Asked about social justice issues and diversity, and whether those had any influence on her choices, Mrs. Knipperdowling did not appear to understand. After some explanation of various issues, we tried to explain “Gay” “Bi” and “Trans,” at which point she told our interviewer, “Oh, we don’t talk about that.  Or race.  Or religion.  People just are who they are, God bless them.”

We wanted to know, when she completes the list, what does she do with it?  “I just mail it, you know.  To the Post Office box.  The one in Schenectady.”

Asked how she ended up in the position, she replied, “I guess I sort of inherited it.  One day Aunt Betty just said, ‘Oh, I’m tired of this.  You do it.’  She used to spend hours reading that stuff so she could pick what was best, and then she’d just send the list along, you know.  But I do it different. I don’t like to read. Except Cosmopolitan and The Economist.”

What is her method for deciding who gets on the ballot and who wins?

“Well, I try to find nice people,” she said.

Gladys Knipperdowling says she sometimes asks her neighbors who should win a Hugo, especially, “that dear Mr. Choudhury next door.”

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27 thoughts on “Who Really Runs the Hugo Awards?”

  1. That mail box was where Fred Pohl would get his ideas. Maybe it was Azimov. But was a very busy mailbox.

  2. Pastrychef. Memory aided by Web-search suggests that it was a golden-oldy Harlan Ellison quotation:

    ‘When some jamook asks me this one (thereby revealing him/herself to be a person who has about as much imaginative muscle as a head of lettuce), I always smile prettily and answer, “Schenectady.”

    And when the jamook looks at me quizzically, and scratches head with hairy hand, I add: “Oh, sure. There’s a swell Idea Service in Schenectady; and every week I send ’em twenty-five bucks; and every week they send me a fresh six-pack of ideas.”‘

    Rick Moen

  3. Eventually everyone got their ideas from Schenectady – or so they said at all the US East Coast conventions I attended in the 1970s.

  4. Thanks-that sounds like and idea for the Internet age. Who wants six impossible ideas before breakfast?

  5. Yeah, if only nice old ladies with no predjudices and no preferences were responsible for handing out awards, instead of a group (or groups) of people who have both. SF writers need to turn their backs on this horse and pony show anyway, as there area a lot of good authors out there producing great stuff without an antiquated flying dildo on the cover.

  6. Re: Schenectady

    I always associate that quip with Barry Longyear, who titled a short story collection “It Came from Schenectady” and explained the origin in the preface. I do not recall him mentioning Ellison or any other author as originating that response, so I always attributed it to Longyear.

  7. Thank you. I knew there had to be a rational explanation, and at last I’ve found it!

  8. I’m quite sure it was Mrs. Knipperdowling who stole my stuffed kitten one year at Disclave when I’d passed out in an elevator.

    Or maybe it was Gladys Scharfennson, who does the Nebulas…

  9. Rev. Bob, the “Schenectady” meme long predates Barry Longyear’s activity in the field.

  10. “Mrs. Gladys Knipperdowling, of Grand Rapids, Iowa.”

    IOWA. Which is bordered to the north by Minnesota, the grounds of noted SMOF/Trufen nest 4th St Fantasy…and to the south by Missouri, which was voted to host next year’s Worldcon in Kansas City…


  11. Orangemike: That’s as may be, but that does not change the fact that Longyear’s introduction to his own collection was my first exposure to it.

  12. Yes, she says she tries to pick nice people.

    If every writer who wanted to look nice would send her a plate of gingerbread she could have a gingerbread house.


  13. So late to this post but I wanted to mention that I had a roommate who only regularly read two weekly magazines- Us and The Economist. (And yes I know that technically The Economist is a newspaper. It’s in magazine format and thus the word fits.)

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