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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hugo Awards: The Results
The Hugo Award winners were announced late on Sunday, and since I've been following along, I naturally had some thoughts on the winners. Also of interest were the final ballot details, which had some interesting information for statistics wonks... I don't claim to be an expert in such matters, but I still found many details interesting. So without further ado, here are some assorted thoughts on the results:
  • Ancillary Justice, by Anne Leckie, took the best novel award, surprising no one, as this novel has already swept every other major SF award (including the Nebula, Locus, Clarke, and BSFA awards, among others). While this was not my first choice, I don't have any real objection to it, it's got plenty of crunchy ideas worthy of exploration, even if it is a bit short on plot. Also of note, it absolutely stomped the competition, with 1335 first place votes, versus only 658 for The Wheel of Time. Speaking of which, that series of novels, while garnering the second most first place votes, fell to fourth place overall thanks to the Hugos' use of an Instant Runoff voting system. While many feared a Wheel of Time win, I was not surprised because this sort of voting system discourages love it/hate it nominees, and while the Wheel of Time was indeed popular, it had plenty of haters and conscientious objectors who didn't think that a 14 book series deserved to be considered as a single nomination (like, uh, me).
  • My first place vote for Best Novel, Charles Stross's Neptune's Brood came in second place, which is basically what I was expecting. Plus, it turns out that Stross won the Best Novella award with "Equoid", which I found mildly surprising, since it had a high squick factor (according to Scalzi, the story's genesis came out of a two word phrase, "unicorn bukkake", which gives you an idea of what you're in for with this story). Indeed, looking at the details, it appears to have been a somewhat close race, with Six Gun Snow White (which I had thought was going to win) nipping at Stross' heels the whole way. I wonder if Stross got the edge because everyone knew he would lose the Novel race, and thus shifted their votes accordingly.
  • No huge surprises for the other fiction awards, though it didn't go exactly as I had predicted either. I was a little surprised that Game of Thrones took Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (over Doctor Who), though since I voted for it, I'm obviously fine with that.
  • So, the Sad Puppy slate. It's a tough thing to judge, because the way Correia went about his campaign was designed to provoke a backlash, so that he could then go and proclaim that the awards were biased. Which everyone already knew. The Hugos have always been a popularity contest. I guess you could say that Correia demonstrated how crappy politics are when introduced to a situation like this (and make no mistake, most of the people taking a hard line on this were pretty crappy about it, on both sides), but that's a decidedly Pyrrhic victory. Anywho, all but one of the Sad Puppy nominees basically came in last place, with the only exception being Editor, Long Form, where Toni Weisskopf actually had the most first place votes, but wound up in 4th overall thanks to the voting process. Amusingly and entirely unsurprisingly, Vox Day's story came in 6th place out of 5 (meaning that he was beaten by No Award). In the end, I hope this doesn't happen again next year. Correia has proven his point, so while I assume he'll mention that his Monster Hunter book is eligible next year and encourage his readers to participate, he hopefully won't do so in a way intended to alienate the normal voting base the way he did this year.
  • Speaking of the Sad Puppy slate, there was a lot of speculation when the nominees were announced that those who got these things nominated were blindly voting for the entire slate. Looking at the nomination details, this was pretty clearly not the case. Correia's novel garnered the most votes, with 184, while Vox Day's story only captured 69 votes. So there are at least 115 people who didn't do a straight vote. I suppose it's possible that there were 69 people who did so, but I also find that unlikely. My assumption, shockingly enough, is that the people who nominated were still actual human beings and only voted for things they read and liked.
  • While I was not fond of the way that The Human Division ended, I absolutely loved several of the individual stories, so I was surprised that none of them were even close to being nominated in the short fiction categories. I guess the fact that there were so many of them may have spread out the love to the point where no individual work got enough votes to come close to being nominated. On the other hand, Scalzi's Mallet of Loving Correction (which I believe is just reprints of select blog posts, in book form) did show up on the Best Related Work category nominations, albeit relatively low on the list...
  • In terms of near misses, one of the novels I would have nominated if I had participated in that part of the process was The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, which fell only 2 votes short of making it onto the ballot, which makes me feel a little bad. On the other hand, Upstream Color just barely made the nomination sheet for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form and was far from being nominated, which makes me sad, but I guess it's understandable. The Eye With Which The Universe Beholds Itself did not appear at all, which is a bit sad (you should read it anyway, I loved it).
Since I've got a supporting membership this year, that means I can nominate and vote in next year's awards, which means I should probably start reading some 2014 books (so far, I've not really read anything worth nominating, but I'm hoping to change that in the next few months). Any recommendations are welcome!

This basically concludes the 2014 Hugo Awards posting. I will probably write up a quick review of the second Wheel of Time book at some point (I liked it better than the first book, but it's still a bit of a repetitive, bloated, repetitive mess), but otherwise, you should be free of Hugo posts until next year. Stay tuned, lots of other stuff coming, including another patented SLIFR quiz and the quickly approaching Six Weeks of Halloween Horror Movie Marathon...
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This post is part of the Kaedrin Weblog. It's been categorized under Science Fiction and was originally published in August 2014.

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I gotta disagree a bit on Correia proving his point and what that means for next year. His goal was to demonstrate that politics is *already* a major part of the Hugo Awards, not "what happens when you make the Awards political". He wanted to get the normal voting base riled up and bring new people into the voting process. In that regard, I hope he keeps doing what he did this year. It's the first time in a long time I've even paid attention to the Hugo Awards. And I don't mean from the point-of-view of watching a train wreck, I mean from the point-of-view of actually wanting to know what's nominated and why, and why people vote for this or that.

I have to hand it to you, Mark. You're one of the few bloggers I follow who talked about this Hugo Awards mess who actually judged the books and stories without making assumptions or decisions based on the politics involved. Most of the bloggers I read immediately discounted Correia or others based on political opinions, and about half the articles I read were about how awful Scalzi is.

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