Predicting the Hugos

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I found an interesting blog called Chaos Horizon where proprietor Brandon Kempner predicts the winners through data-mining past award patterns. According to Chaos Horizon, Leckie’s Ancillary Sword would have won in the novel category in any normal year. Here were the predictions:

Ann Leckie, Ancillary Sword: 25.7% chance to win
Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem: 22.4% chance to win
Katherine Addison, The Goblin Emperor: 21.1% chance to win
Jim Butcher, Skin Game: 18.1% chance to win
Kevin J. Anderson, The Dark Between the Stars: 12.7% chance to win

Kempner also provides the indicators of a likely win:

Indicator #1: Nominee has previously been nominated for a Hugo award. (73.3%)
Indicator #2: Nominee has previously been nominated for a Nebula award. (73.3%)
Indicator #3: Novel won a same year Nebula award. (87.5%)
Indicator #4: Nominated novel is science fiction. (53.3%)
Indicator #5: The nominated novel wins one of the main Locus Awards categories. (53.3%)
Indicator #6: Nominee places in the Goodreads Choice Awards (100%)
Indicator #7: Nominated for at least one other major award (80%)
Indicator #8: Nominee highly regarded by critics, as judged by Critics Meta-List. (86.7%)

Although Cixin Liu was pretty much unknown in the US, Kempner credits translator Ken Liu for his high rating for The Three Body Problem. It is interesting that science fiction wins more often than fantasy. Because of the trend toward sentimental works, I had predicted Sarah Monette’s The Goblin Emperor would win this year.

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The importance of remaining part of the SF community

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Having looked around at some of the Puppies’ blogs, I’m seeing disappointment in the Hugo results. I gather that some Puppy supporters actually thought the slate would be considered by WorldCon voters, or that maybe they could raise enough support for a win in some of the categories. However, the ugly battle, the name-calling and the ensuing bad behavior pretty much prevented that from happening.

Because of the stakes, I can’t help but think some of the Puppy claims about past campaigning, undue influence and stacking the ballot might have some weight. However, it’s clear the frontal assault the Puppies mounted this year put them in opposition with the main body of SF&F fans. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened in the awards if they’d worked more within the community, as in past years, and taken the time to find more award-worthy works to nominate.

It’s clear their viewpoint has some support. Certainly this wouldn’t be a bad strategy in the long term.

The sudden popularity of Hugo reviews

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I’m seeing a lot of traffic the last few days on my reviews of Hugo nominees. That’s interesting, after the fact. I’m wondering if people who voted “no award” without reading the material have now gotten curious about what was actually there.

I have half an opinion that dramatic gestures are worthless in this fight, and that the Puppies will just be back with another game next year. Some people have expressed the dashed hope that people would actually have considered what was there, but it didn’t seem to work out that way.

I don’t think the Puppies were really expecting to win a lot of awards by the end of this game. The massive influx of supporting memberships was set to roll over their block of about 1000 voters, and Vox Day’s late appreciation for The Three Body Problem was likely a face-saving gesture. Certainly it would have raised the stakes if it were a Puppy nominee. Surely the votes he threw to it helped put it over the top.

Whatever, I’m happy the reviews are popular. Have fun, folks.

On being a loser

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I see something from John ONeill on File 770 about the costs of being a loser in the 2015 Hugo Awards that bears consideration. ONeill notes that in several categories, being a loser means the author or editor lost to “no award,” which isn’t the best thing to put on a list of credits. Best just to say one was nominated, I’d guess. The other thing is that everyone the Puppies nominated now carries the stain of puppyism. This includes both people who agreed to be nominated and those who didn’t. Even people who ran for the hills, figuratively, and withdrew from consideration may not have escaped the evil taint. ONeill now pronounces the Puppies a “losing brand” because of the rebuke the awards gave their nominations. If winning a Hugo increases sales, will being associated with the Puppy plot reduce sales? Hm.

This raises the question about whether the Puppies will be able to maintain a slate to pull the same game again next year. Will any authors agree to remain on the ballot when it associates them with a losing brand? Or will everyone decline?

Word is that the Puppies are huddled, talking strategy. Stay tuned to see if it works.

Kneejerk voting

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Edward LearI’ve been reading various explanations about how the fans made a strong and appropriate statement by voting “no award” for all categories of the Hugos. I’ve even seen a couple of blogs that say Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem and Thomas Heuvelt’s “The Day the Earth Turned Upside Down” shouldn’t have won because it didn’t make a strong enough statement about the Puppies slate. This certainly is a slash and burn philosophy. The rules can’t be changed for next year. What are the fans supposed to do? Vote “no award” for everything again? So why have the awards at all? Why don’t we just cancel them?

I read everything and made a considered judgement. I’d like to submit that as the appropriate response. The authors deserve that consideration, regardless of how they were nominated. I found some interesting and rewarding work in the Hugo packet, and there’s no reason to penalize writers like Liu, Heuvelt, Leckie and Monette for managing to squeeze onto the ballot. Plus, destroying the awards plays into the worst of the Puppies’ plans.

Somewhere puppies are laughing.

Toni Weisskopf loses the award

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Edward Lear
I’ve been to File 770, reading the roundup of comments on the Hugo voting. As a result, there are a couple of things I have to discuss here. The first is about the editors’ categories. There were two categories, one for long-form and one for short-form editor, both categories having some deserving names mixed in with suspect Sad/Rabid Puppies nominees. The deserving names included Mike Resnick in short form and Toni Weisskopf in long form, for example, both respected and highly deserving editors. As I recall, the announcement of “no award” in long form is what precipitated the chorus of “boos” that David Gerrold had to stamp out mid-way through the Award Ceremony. However, that announcement raised my eyebrows, too. Toni Weisskopf is an excellent editor for Baen as well as the publisher, is long overdue for nomination and should have been recognized this year. However, she was beaten out by “no award,” meaning that too many people had placed this as their first choice in the category.

The next thing that stuck out in the File 770 review was a guy who crowed about voting “no award” in every category. He also chortled about not reading anything in the packet. Jerk. This is why Weisskopf didn’t get an award.

A new Hugo paradigm

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55327_girl-writing_mdAs the voting got underway for the Hugos, there were some blogs and articles about how representative the traditional WorldCon voting system is in the current market environment. This was a landmark year in several ways, one of which was the number of supporting memberships sold. This membership gives the buyer voting and nomination rights without the person having to actually attend the convention. In 2015 SF fans discovered this option. In fact, the supporting memberships just about doubled the usual voting membership through the ability to vote online, or through a mail-in ballot, if you’re not well connected.

The 2015 Hugo Ceremony marks the first ever award to a translated novel. It also reverses the trend to awarding sentimental works, as Cixin Liu’s hard SF The Three Body Problem was the front-runner all the way to the finish line. It was an unlikely winner, only scraping onto the ballot because Marko Kloos declined nomination for Lines of Departure over the Puppy issue.

This morning I’m wondering how many of the WorldCon membership sold to Chinese fans.

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