Here is the text of Connie Willis’ speech given during the Hugo Awards ceremony during Sasquan in Spokane, WA.    You can view the livestream of the ceremony here.

Emceeing the Hugo Awards ceremonies is a much tougher job than most people realize.
You have NO idea how many things can go wrong.

I mean, like you might forget an entire category.
Or the name of the wrong winner’s in the envelope.
Or the right name’s in the envelope,
but a completely different name is on the screens behind you.

Or the tech doesn’t work,
and you have to improvise for 45 minutes
while they try to fix it.

Or the tech DOES work,
only the slides somehow get out of order somehow
so that as you’re announcing Best Fan Artist,
the screens are showing the name of the Best Novel Winner.
Or the Hugo Awards fall completely apart.
I’m not talking about the ceremony.
I’m talking about the awards themselves.

This one year they had these great Hugos,
with sort of a modernist sculpture look,
a big angled ring of Saturn thing with the rocket ship sticking up through it
and marbles representing planets,
and brass nuts and bolts and stuff.

They looked great,
but they weren’t glued together very well,
and by the time Samuel R. Delaney got off the stage,
his Hugo was in both hands
and his pockets
and on the floor,
and mine had lost several pieces altogether.

“Did you lose your marbles?” I whispered to Gardner backstage.

“No,” Gardner whispered back in that voice of his
that can be heard in the back row,
“My balls didn’t fall off, but my toilet seat broke!”

I told you, emceeing’s a tough job.

So many things are out of your control.
One of the winners can trip coming up the steps.
Or pass out at the podium.

Or make a speech that goes on and on and on,
and just when you think they’re finished,
they go off on some tangent,
and you think they’re never going to shut up.
So anyway, it’s a really hard job,
which is why I’m here to give the emcees a big hug,
and tell them they’re doing great!

Though you can do a great job
and still have everything go to hell.

Like that time in Baltimore
where somebody thought it was a good idea
to have a crab feast before the awards,
which meant everyone in the audience had a wooden mallet!

And then there was the time I was emceeing,
and I had to present an award to H…um…Never mind.

My POINT is, that no matter how well-prepared you are–
this year, for instance,
I wrote down my speech so I wouldn’t go off on a tangent
and shortened my skirt so I wouldn’t trip over it
and got my rabies shots in case I got bitten by a bat again
like I did when I was emceeing at the Locus Awards.

Well, I didn’t actually get bitten at the Locus Awards.
I was at home.
In bed.
Two days before I was supposed to leave for the Locus Awards.
And this bat bit me.
While I was asleep!
Just like Dracula!

Only it bit me on the ankle,
and I didn’t turn into a vampire…
although the last few days I’ve had this insatiable desire
to read all the TWILIGHT books.
Which are the best-written, most literary novels I have ever read,
and I don’t know why they didn’t ALL win Hugos!

Where was I?

Oh, yes, giving the emcees hugs.

They deserve them.
Because no matter what you do to plan a well-ordered Hugo ceremony,
things can get out of control.

Like this year, for instance,
you could be bitten by a rabid marmot.
Or an old man could come up to you and make you sing “Hare Krishna.”
Or the smoke could get so bad they tell us to evacuate–
and there’s only one taxi in this entire town!

Or there could be some kind of problem with the ballot.

I don’t know if you’ve heard about what’s been going on recently,
but down in Brazil
there are all these spiritualists
claiming their books were dictated to them
by the ghosts of Victor Hugo
and Charles Dickens.

None of them have claimed they’re channeling SF authors yet,
but what if they do?
Who do we give the Hugo to, the medium or H.G. Wells?
And if we’re giving it to Wells, HOW do we give it?
Do we have to send somebody to the other side to deliver it?
And if so, who should we send?

As I was SAYING,
emceeing is a thankless job.

So thankless our emcees not only deserve a hug
but a medal of valor.

conniewvalor (produces medals)

And let’s hope I don’t stab them
as I try to pin the medal on,
or suddenly feel an insatiable desire to bite them on the neck…
umm, maybe I’d better let them pin it on themselves.

Let’s hear it for our terrific emcees,
David and Tananarive!

conniewdavidandtduePhotos courtesy of John O’Halloran

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