pencil-and-paper-images-pencil_and_paper_coloring_page_0071-1002-2401-4136_SMUWhile I was out poking around, I stopped by to visit at the Rocket Stack Rank website. For anyone unfamiliar, the guys at RSR write and collate story/novel reviews, plus provide other services to make your Hugo voting experience easier and more enjoyable. These services have served their purpose for 2016, but you can start checking in for info on the possible contenders for next year’s award cycle.

On to the discussion: RSR has provided rankings for the most recommended novellas, novelettes and short stories eligible for nomination for 2016 awards, based on the opinions of 500+ prolific reviewers. What jumps off the page here is the apparent difference between reviewer opinions and results of the Hugo and Nebula award nomination process. For example, Okorafor’s Nebula Award winner and Hugo finalist Binti (actually it won) didn’t make the list of recommended novellas at all. Hugo finalists Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds and Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold both scored fairly close to the bottom of the list.

In the novelette recommendations, Hugo finalists “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander, (Hugo winner) “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang and Nebula winner “Our Lady of the Open Road” by Sarah Pinsker all scored only about midlist.

In the short story recommendations, Nebula winner “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong did score well, but the apparently quite popular Hugo finalist (and winner) “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer only scored about midlist.

I personally think this is an interesting result. Why should there be such a disparity between reviewer opinions and the results of the nominations? Should we expect that reviewers have looked at the writing quality? The ideas presented? The themes and/or subtext? Are they swayed by market forces? Do they just recommend what they like? Or are there other influences at work in the nominations?

This is a distinct possibility, of course, considering the recent political tides in the SF community.