Charles Vess was ready with a speech — just in case.

He had earlier this year won an award from Locus Magazine, a leading publication in the world of science fiction and fantasy art.

Vess, 68, who maintains a Main Street studio in Abingdon, Virginia, had put together some words to make a speech while on a weeklong trip to Ireland to attend the World Science Fiction Convention.

There, the artist had been nominated for a couple of Hugo awards.

Originating in 1953, the Hugo carries worldwide acclaim. It’s a literary award, voted on by attendees of the World Science Fiction Convention.

This is the biggest award in the world for artists like Vess, who lives in rural Washington County, Virginia, grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia, and has thousands of drawings to his credit.

Turns out, Vess won not one but two awards on Aug. 18!

He was named “Best Professional Artist.”

Vess also won a “Best Art Book” for “The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition” in collaboration with author Ursula K. Le Guin.

The actual awards are made of metal, stand 2 feet high and are shaped like a rocket.

But, when it came to give an acceptance speech, well, that’s another story. Backstage with other nominees, Vess had to come up with some fast words.

“I had two very nice speeches. And I left them in my hotel room,” Vess said with a laugh.

Never mind: The thrill and the energy of the convention proved incredible, he said.

“This was the first time I had ever been to a World Con, and this was the first time I had ever been nominated,” Vess said.

About 6,000 people attended the event — writers, artists, editors, publishers “and lots and lots of fans,” Vess said. “The awards are voted on by the people who attend the convention.”

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jtennis@bristolnews.com | 276-791-0709 | @BHC_Tennis

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