The Hugo Award winners were announced last night, and since I’ve been following along, I figured I should at least cobble together some thoughts on the subject. Also of note, the full voting breakdown in case you wanted to figure out how instant-runoff voting works. In short, this year’s awards were a clusterfuck, and no one’s coming away happy. “No Award” happens in several categories, and those voters were clearly the dominant force in the final voting. You can blame this whole thing on the puppies if you like, but to my mind, it’s a two way street. Plenty of blame to go around. Action and reaction, it’s a thing.
- The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (Ken Liu translator) wins Best Novel. As predicted, this one had the most rounded support because it wasn’t on either Puppy slate (which allowed Noah Ward voters cover to vote for it), but it was endorsed by the dread Vox Day (which allowed Puppy voters to vote for it). That being said, it was my favorite book on the ballot (and indeed, the only one I actually nominated that made it to the final ballot). The Goblin Emperor came in second place, but was my least favorite novel on the ballot.
- Looking at the stats for Best Novel nominations, a few things jump out. The two next in line were Trial by Fire and The Chaplain’s War, both Puppy nominees (though it seems likely that Torgersen would have turned down his nomination, had it come to that). After that were two non-pups in Lock In and City of Stairs. I didn’t particularly love Lock In, but it probably would have come in third on my ballot had it been there (which says something about last year’s crop of favorites, I think). Interestingly, The Martian showed up next, though I’m not sure if they screened it for eligibility. It was on my nominating ballot and it may very well have been my favorite novel of last year (eligibility issues aside).
- Chaos Horizon has a detailed initial look at the stats, of course, and estimates the influence of various factions as such:
Core Rabid Puppies: 550-525
Core Sad Puppies: 500-400
Absolute No Awarders: 2500
Primarily No Awarders But Considered a Puppy Pick: 1000
That sums up to 4600 hundred voters. We had 5950, so I thin the remaining 1400 or so were the true “Neutrals” or the “voted some Puppies but not all.”
For what it’s worth, I would put myself into one of the 1400 “Neutrals”.
- The only other fiction to win an award was the Novelette “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, which basically won by default since it was the only non-Puppy nominee in that category. It was also my least favorite story, by a wide margin. “No Award” takes Novella (which I was kinda expecting, since even I was ranking No Award in that category, though not in the highest place. It seems that nominating one writer for three stories isn’t the best approach.) and Short Story (more surprising, I guess), trouncing all competition in the first pass of voting.
- So the Puppies did not do so well in the final voting. I was basically expecting this, though perhaps not to this flagrant extent (the 2500 Absolute No Awarders number is pretty eye opening). More evidence for my Action and Reaction theory, and I stand by most of what I said there. One thing I hope I’m wrong about is “No Award” being the worst possible outcome. It’s always been clear to me that the current Puppy approach does not work (assuming you’re actually trying to get your nominees an award and not, say, burn the whole thing down). My recommendation for Kate Paulk: Please, for the love of God, do not put together a slate. Focus your efforts on garnering participation and emphasize individuality. If you’re dead set on listing out nominees, go for a long reading list as opposed to a blatant slate. Brad Torgersen called for nominees early this year, and the grand majority of them didn’t make his slate (and some things appeared on the slate that weren’t discussed? I think? I don’t really feel like digging through that.) Perhaps coordinate that effort and be inclusive when you list out eligible nominees. We’re all fans, let’s write this year off and try not alienating everyone next year (that goes for everyone, not just the Puppies). Forbearance is a good thing.
- The notion that voting on the current year gives you the ability to nominate next year is a brilliant one that might actually keep me participating. That being said, if there’s anything like this year’s clusterfuck brewing, I’m out. I can forgive this year because I think even the Puppies were surprised at how successful their slate approach was. I can understand the Noah Ward voters too. But if the same thing happens next year… I don’t know, why bother?
I’m not particularly looking forward to the upcoming teeth gnashing, gloating, and/or whining that is inevitable in the coming week. If a worthwhile discussion emerges, maybe I’ll roundup some links, but I’m not particularly sanguine about that prospect.