In case you missed it, a storm of controversy recently kicked up over the 2014 Hugo Awards. Professional Television rent-a-mouth Jonathan Ross was to be Master of Ceremonies at LonCon3, the site of this year’s Hugos. Sadly this upset a great many of devoted genre fans. Despite an impressive list of geek related credentials and an encyclopaedic level of knowledge on many cult and genre related things, Jonathan Ross was seen as a relatively controversial figure due to past activities that have upset women, the gay community, disabled persons and members of the Conservative party. After a great many angry exchanges on Twitter, Ross pulled out. This has left the World Science Fiction Society (the people responsible for the Hugos) without a host. We humbly suggest a possible top-ten.
We’re rather perplexed as to why the Hugo’s were only going to have Jonathan Ross on his own, rather than pairing him up with someone equally well qualified. Jane Goldman is a sci-fi and fantasy novelist with a sharp eye for parody. She has also worked on the screenplays for Stardust, Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class and happens to be Jonathan Ross’s wife. Why they weren’t planned as a double bill in the first place is a mystery we may have to ponder another day.
Master of horror, world famous author and excellent public speaker, Gaiman is the gentleman who encouraged Jonathan Ross to volunteer to host The Hugo’s in the first place. Though softly spoken he is always a pleasure to listen to and undeniably one of the most popular and talented genre specialists in the world today. He could also arrive as a double act as he’s married to none other than…
Amanda Palmer is a relatively controversial figure in the music industry and very good at making impassioned speeches. The singer/songwriter/performer is not terribly genre savvy when compared to others on this list but is guaranteed to make a potentially dry awards ceremony something fantastic and memorable. If all else fails, she can whip out her ukulele.
Another friend of Neil Gaiman’s is Doctor Who director Steven Moffat. He has brought his wry Scottish wit to ceremonies like this in the past and though he is perhaps the least experienced public figure on this list he does know the territory very well indeed.
Though hardly in the public eye these days, Lenny Henry is a confirmed member of the Geek tribe, with credits that include producing the cult TV series NeverWhere (written by Neil Gaiman, no less) and has also written his own comic book stories in the past, as well as being a shrunken head in the Harry Potter movies. If he can take a break from being a voice in the new Postman Pat movie we’re sure he’d make a fine fit.
Since playing Captain Mal in a short lived sci-fi show that was on so long ago we’ve almost forgotten about it, this Canadian actor always seems to come up when genre lovers are picking names out of a hat (either him or Bruce Campbell). Fillion is better known to the general public as the face of fictional crime novelist Rick Castle from the TV show Castle, and there’s a pleasing symmetry in having him host the awards.
Another name that comes up is Brian Blessed, a man with the world’s most impressive set of lungs. Blessed has a huge body of work and this does include TV shows like Blake’s 7 and Doctor Who as well as cult move Flash Gordon. More importantly he’s an incredibly experienced actor and public speaker and will ensure that things won’t get boring.
Dara Ó Briain
Though not exactly a geek, this professional comedian and TV host is most certainly a huge nerd and that’s close enough. In additions to a keen interest in Astronomy and Maths, he has dipped into geek culture more than once or twice and delighted Live Action Role Players by creating a routine specific to them on very short notice and without being terribly offensive, and he’s proven many a time that he can be funny and edgy with causing huge numbers of fans to spit their collective dummies out.
Of course, maybe it’s controversy the World Science Fiction Society seek, after all it would certainly hit the headlines. Boyle is a huge comics and sci-fi geek as well as being comedy equivalent of a dirty bomb. If you’re going to run the risk of upsetting people then you may as well upset everybody and this Scottish wit’s uncompromising stance on everything is absolutely guaranteed to unite the community in collective outrage.
Or, more accurately, regular members of the World Science Fiction Society. After all, celebrities aren’t that special and a little bit of advanced warning and some public speaking training can turn any willing person into a great co-host. It would place the event firmly in the hands of the fans and help break down the growing ‘Us Vs Them’ feeling that established events suffer from.
Of course, these are just ten suggestions? Who would you like to see host The Hugos?