Today, we delve into the fantastical world of the Hugo Awards.
Though primarily a sci-fi playground, over the years we’ve seen a few notable gems from the fantasy genre that have managed to claim the best novel prize.
What are the Hugo Awards, and why do they matter?
Established in 1953, the Hugo Awards recognise the best works in science fiction and fantasy literature. Named in honour of Hugo Gernsback, the founding father of science fiction magazines, these awards are presented annually at the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon).
It’s not just about the honour, though—winners can also expect a rocket-shaped trophy, which we imagine makes quite the conversation starter.
While sci-fi tends to dominate the Hugo Awards, a handful of fantasy novels have managed to swoop in and snatch the prize.
So, today I want to share five of the best fantasy novels that have won the Hugo Award.
1. “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” by Susanna Clarke (2005)
In an alternate history where magic once existed and is now all but forgotten, enter two magicians: the reclusive Mr Norrell and his ambitious pupil, Jonathan Strange. This enchanting tale of their rivalry, friendship, and the rediscovery of English magic is as thick as the ancient tomes they study (literally—it’s a hefty 800 pages). But fear not, for Susanna Clarke weaves a spellbinding narrative that will have you turning pages faster than you can say “Wingardium Leviosa.”
2. “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman (2002)
Neil Gaiman, the master of modern myth-making, brings us an epic road trip through the hidden heart of America. The story follows Shadow, an ex-con who finds himself entangled in a war between old gods, brought to America by immigrants, and new gods born from modern obsessions. With a cast of characters that includes leprechauns, trickster gods, and an undead wife, “American Gods” is a fantastical, mind-bending experience that proves Gaiman’s status as a literary god himself.
3. “The City & The City” by China Miéville (2010)
Imagine two cities, occupying the same geographical space but completely invisible to one another. Citizens of each city must “unsee” the inhabitants and buildings of the other, or risk the wrath of a mysterious force known as Breach. When a murder investigation forces Inspector Tyador Borlú to traverse the border between these cities, he uncovers a conspiracy that threatens the delicate balance between the two. Miéville’s mastery of blending fantasy, mystery, and political intrigue makes “The City & The City” a truly unique and captivating read.
4. “A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin (1997)
Ah, “A Game of Thrones”–the book that launched a thousand memes (and an incredibly popular television series). In this first instalment of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, George R.R. Martin transports us to the brutal and treacherous realm of Westeros, where noble houses vie for power, control, and ultimately, the Iron Throne. With a dizzying array of characters, intricate plotlines, and a penchant for killing off fan favourites, “A Game of Thrones” is an epic, blood-soaked fantasy that keeps readers on their toes and their hearts in their throats.
5. “The Stone Sky” by N.K. Jemisin (2018)
In this triumphant conclusion to the “Broken Earth” trilogy, N.K. Jemisin takes us back to the Stillness—a continent plagued by catastrophic climate events, oppressive social structures, and the occasional earth-shattering superweapon. As mother and daughter Essun and Nassun face off to determine the fate of their shattered world, Jemisin weaves a masterful tale of power, sacrifice, and the lengths people will go to survive. “The Stone Sky” not only won the Hugo Award, but also completed Jemisin’s hat trick, as each book in the trilogy took home the prize.
Fantasy for the WIn!
While science fiction may be the star of the Hugo Awards, these five fantasy novels have proven their worth by winning the coveted rocket trophy.
With their rich worlds, unforgettable characters, and spellbinding stories, they have earned their place among the stars of speculative fiction.
So, brew yourself a cuppa, grab a cosy blanket, and escape into the fantastical realms of these award-winning novels. Happy reading!