FeatherPenClipArtThat concludes my re-review of RSR’s hard SF reviews, unless I can find more of the stories online. I do want to discuss that last one a bit more, because of its high position on the SFWA’s Nebula Recommended Reading List. This year the SFWA released the list on their website, along with some data on last year’s recommendations. This is a new strategy for the SFWA, as normally the Nebulas are a black box to the general public, where the nominating and voting process is hidden from view.

Of course, Brandon Kempner of Chaos Horizon is right on top of the data. I’ve featured his website before in the blog. For those who don’t know about his site, Kempner crunches data and makes predictions about who will win the Nebula and Hugo Awards. He did fairly well on the Hugos this year, even with the added complication of the Puppies’ slate. He predicted Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem as his second choice in the novel category with a 22.4% chance to win, with Leckie’s Ancillary Sword his first choice at 25.7% chance.

Given the Nebula Recommended Reading List for 2014, Kempner correlated position on the list with likelihood of getting a Nebula nomination in 2015 and came out with these figures:
Novel: 4 out of 6, 67.7%
Novella: 6 out of 6, 100%
Novelette: 5 out of 6, 83.3%
Short Story: 6 out of 7, 85.7%

If you compare these figures to the ones he published for the Hugo predictions, you can see the reading list is a huge predictor of the final nominees. Actually, the eventual winner in the novel category, Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation sat at the top of the novel reading list with 32 recommendations from SFWA members. Nancy Kress’ Yesterday’s Kin sat in the second place on the novella list with 15 recommendations. Alaya Dawn Johnson’s A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i was in first position in the novelette recommendations with 16 recommendations. Ursula Vernon’s “Jakalope Wives” sat in second position on the short story list with 15 recommendations.

The Nebula Recommended Reading List will also correlate with the Hugo winners, as Kempner has published the following predictors of a Hugo win:
Indicator #2: Nominee has previously been nominated for a Nebula award (73.3%)
Indicator #3: Novel won a same year Nebula award (87.5%)

These high correlation figures are interesting, of course. Kempner notes that there are two likely causes: 1) That the reading list actually functions as a slate or 2) that the reading list provides an accurate sample of the larger population’s taste in reading material. Note how few recommendations are required to be at the top of the list.

Stay tuned for Kempner’s analysis of this year’s winners.