Hugo Awards: The Results

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.

6 thoughts on “Hugo Awards: The Results”

  1. If that was his goal, it’s a decidedly pyrrhic victory and not exactly in the spirit of the awards. Neither is voting No Award for everything (even things you like), for what it’s worth. Like I said, what matters is next year. If we can’t all be grownups, I’m out. (Looking at the stats above, only about half of voters were acting like grownups.) I’ve got better things to read. (Seriously, after writing the above post, I sat down with Greg Egan’s Quarantine, a book that is better than anything I read last year. So far, at least.)

  2. That was Hoyt’s point; he got what he wanted, most likely to the detriment of the whole shebang. Whether he proved a point is entirely in the mind of the observer; I doubt any side of the arguments changed any minds.

    It sounds like Paulk is devoted to increasing the vote participation in an attempt to crowd out the people who just want to fight. I don’t know if that’ll work (I don’t know if the resources are there), but I wish her luck.

  3. I also doubt minds were changed, but there was a definite polarization that went on which doesn’t help. I haven’t seen much about Paulk’s plans, but if it’s a mostly participation play, then maybe things will calm down (unless Vox goes and posts a slate on his own – will be curious to see differences between Rabid vs Sad next year).

    I just want to get back to reading good SF, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask. All this victimization and bad faith is really annoying.

  4. Hi Mark! File 770 picked you up! 🙂

    I’m with you – I hope we can all move past the polarization and the nastiness next year. If we all just sit down and think about it, we’ll remember that our tastes overlap a lot more than the trolls would have us think. Your example of Three-Body Problem is what I’ve been thinking about a lot too. It would not have won without a lot of support from both puppies AND the rest of fandom. LOTS of us loved it, from all different stripes and spots, canine, feline, ursine, whatever. The margin of victory over Goblin Emperor was VERY close – only 200 votes. Three-Body Problem won because we ALL liked it. It’s a perfect example of the problem with slates – even though the slate-writers loved it, it almost wasn’t on the ballot because they just hadn’t gotten to it yet. Without the slate, the rest of us would have put it on the ballot. I just want to shake some people. “Lots of us loved it! LOTS of us loved it! We’re not so very different – we’re all out to reward what we love, and our tastes aren’t completely mutually exclusive!”

    I, for one, would encourage you to stick around. The SP4-in-chief is saying she will not put forward slates – in fact, she’s saying she plans to do something very similar to what you’re recommending here.

    Even if that turns out to not be true in the end, if she or the troll party pushes a slate and takes over a lot of the ballot again, I think next year will be the last year that can happen so easily. Two alternative nomination systems passed their first Worldcon business meeting this year, and they’ll both address the problem to various degrees. They need only to ratify one of them next year, and they’ll be the new rules. E Pluribus Hugo will make sure slates get fair representation on the ballot, but cannot take over the entire ballot. So if this year’s puppy nominations were 20% of the nominations, with EPH they’d get about 20% of the ballot slots. If there IS a secret cabal secretly voting secret slates as some puppies claim, EPH will limit THAT slate’s influence exactly the same as any other slate. And normal nominating will pretty much get through as normal.

    tl;dr – this next year is pretty much at the mercy of trolls and others who may or may not choose to game the system again. After that, it WILL get better.

    Meanwhile, let’s keep reading some awesome stuff!!

  5. It’s funny to see all the speculation about how SP4 will be run next year. It almost sounds like… the regular Hugo nomination process. Whatever, it looks to be an improvement, though I’m sure we’ll all be tied up in knots over some aspect of it or another… The rule changes might help, but the rules aren’t the problem. The problem is that some people seem incapable of realizing, as you point out, that there’s some overlap in taste, and they want to drive a wedge into fandom. Or something. I don’t really get it.

    I think I’m just worn down and cranky right now. I’ll probably perk up by the time next year’s nomination period opens, and it helps that my two favorite authors will have eligible works this year (Stephenson and Bujold).

    Since the voting period closed, I’ve been freed up to read lots of stuff that is fantastic but not recent. For instance, I just finished Greg Egan’s Quarantine (1992). I enjoyed it more than literally anything on the last few Hugo shortlists. It’s the sort of thing that makes it hard to pick up some unknown new book when there are things I know I want to catch up with that I will probably enjoy much more. We’ll see. There’s obviously a bunch of new stuff I want to read too. Got the new Scalzi to read on vacation. Got the new Clive Barker to read for Halloween season (I guess not traditional Hugo fare, but it’s pretty fantastical, I don’t see why not!) Will probably check out the last Ancillary book, the Dark Forest, and maybe even the latest Marko Kloos. Phew, maybe I will have lots to nominate!

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