The funny thing about the Hugo Awards, the most prestigious award for science fiction and fantasy writing, is that most geeks I know have heard of them but know very little about them. We see “Hugo Award-winning” or “Hugo Award-nominated” on a book jacket and take it as a general signal that a book has been deemed Pretty Good by some sort of jury of experts, like with the Oscars or the Pulitzers.
The reality is that the Hugo Awards, despite how well-known they are, are still run at a very grassroots level. Without getting into gory details, the Hugos are both nominated on and voted on by supporters of the World Science Fiction Convention, or WorldCon. It only costs 40 bucks to get a membership, and anyone is eligible.