Ranking Science Fiction’s Most Dangerous Awards


Science fiction fandom has created many awards over the years. Go online and you can learn a lot about these awards: the history of the organization, lists of winners, how awards are given. Most of this information is accurate! But there’s one consideration lacking…one inexplicably ignored: How suited is each award trophy to committing mayhem legitimate self-defense?

I cannot be the first person to wonder about this.

The issue does not lend itself to scientific study. Winners do not care to lend out their awards for testing, knowing the trophies would likely end up in a police evidence locker, or at least be returned a bit worse for wear. Volunteers to be whacked or jabbed in the interests of science are scarce, even when credit is offered1.

I have thus been forced to take a purely theoretical approach2. I looked at pictures of the trophies and rated them on apparent heft, pointiness, and durability.

It immediately became apparent that designers of science fiction trophies do not consider ease of weaponization a core criterion. Most awards are woefully unfit as weapons3. Authors with a mantlepiece loaded with award trophies would have few options if, say, they had to ward off an attacker with a handy trophy. But there are a few such options.

Before I list the top candidates for most lethal award trophy4, I should grant an honorable mention to the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award, also known as the Skylark Award. The trophy looks no more dangerous than any random trophy, likely to break as soon as you hit someone with it. However, the trophy is topped by a perfectly functional lens through which sunlight can and has focused to start fires. This is why Skylark Award winner Jane Yolen has advised winners to put the Skylark “where the sun does not shine.” If I were assembling a list of SF trophies most useful for arson, the Skylark would be at the top.

As far as I can tell there are only three or four obvious candidates for most potentially lethal trophy.

The Nebula Award trophy is a transparent cube embedded with planets and a nebula. It does have eight (count them, eight!) pointy corners. But it looks unwieldy. This trophy would not be my first choice of weapon.

Composite photo showing three different versions of the Aurora Award statue

The Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association’s Aurora Award is a borderline case. The design seems to vary from year to year, but a common theme is a slanted upper edge with a nice sharp point on the upper side. That could be useful… However, it does not look very heavy and, like the Nebula trophy, it might be hard to grasp so as to get a good hit. Despite my sentimental attachment to this Canadian SF award, I cannot recommend the Aurora trophy as an impromptu weapon5.

Composite photo showing six different versions of the Hugo Award statue

The World Science Fiction Society/WorldCon’s Hugo Award trophy might well have been designed with violence in mind. The trophy is traditionally a rocket on a cuboid base. Thus, one can use the rocket as a handle and use the base as mace, or grasp the base and use the rocket as a dagger. But…the base makes an unwieldy handle AND there have been some Hugo Award trophies so fragile that they broke during shipping. There is nothing more embarrassing than hitting someone only to have one’s weapon break. I can only recommend Hugo Award trophies of exceptional sturdiness.

Photo of the 2021 version of the Dragon Award statue

The front-runner is, I think, DragonCon’s Dragon Award trophy. The trophy features a transparent teardrop enclosing a symbolic flame. It is mounted on a cuboid base. Like the Hugo Award trophy, the Dragon can be used as either a mace or a dagger. Best of all, the trophy appears to be both hefty and sturdy. Really, if you have to clock someone with an SF award trophy, the Dragon should be your first choice.

Have I overlooked some obviously superior candidate? If so, feel free to illuminate me in the comments below. icon-paragraph-end

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