Further Hugo Thoughts

I’ve had a little time for things to percolate through the brain now, and also my shoulder is getting more used to typing, so here goes with a bit of Hugo analysis.

I should start by congratulating all of the winners. I may not have voted for you all, but you won and that’s what matters. I am not going to complain that this is somehow unfair. I will, however, also congratulate all of the nominees as well, because it really is an honour to be nominated.

The first thing of note in the stats is that out of 2100 people who participated in the final ballot, only 14 did so by regular mail. I’m pleased that we keep the mail option, but really the number of people who use it is very small.

In the Campbell I was cheering for Lauren as she’s a friend, and I’m really impressed with both Moxyland and Zoo City. With my PR hat on, however, Lev’s win is a very good thing because he’s so well known. I note also that despite all of the “not a Hugo” jokes that people make, the message still doesn’t get through. Step forward, the New York Observer, which proudly proclaims: “Lev Grossman Wins a Hugo Award”.

Fan Artist continues to be a fairly static category, but I was pleased to see Mo Starkey get a mention. Poor Spring Schoenhuth missed the ballot by just one nomination. The final result was as tight as it can be, with Brad Foster beating Randall Munroe by just one vote. I gather there is some story that fandom had it in for Munroe because he’s not “one of us”. I don’t know where that came from. As far as I was aware, the issue with Munroe was that he was being recognized for XKCD which people believed to be a business, not fannish activity.

I am delighted that Claire Brialey has finally won Fan Writer. Hopefully Steve Silver, James Nichol and James Bacon will get their turns too, and they have all done great work. I’m not sure that Worldcon can handle another Garcia win, though Chris’s triumph in Fanzine was undeniably one of the highlights of Hugo history (and the video has apparently gone viral so I don’t need to point you at it). Yay! Go BASFA! And well done James Bacon for staying calm through it all.

Semiprozine. We won. Thank you all, again. πŸ™‚

I was pleased to see that Salon Futura got 42 nominations, placing 7th. It is actually eligible next year, though I doubt that anyone will remember unless I can afford to get a few more issues out between now and next March.

Artist. John Picacio has to win soon, people. Possibly next year when a whole lot of GRRM fans will be voting for the Game of Thrones TV series and John will have his work on the GoT calendar in the voter pack. Kinuko Craft was 6th in the nomination lists, but well short of making the ballot.

The mystery of all of the nominees in Editor: Long Form has been solved. Lots of people are still nominating David Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden even though they have withdrawn from competition. Consequently we had to go down to 6th and 7th places, and there was a 3-way tie for 7th. It might be good if Chicago posted a list of people who were withdrawing for next year, and regular nominees who are ineligible (Juliet tells me she has only edited 2 genre books this year, so she’s not in the running).

Editor: Short Form is the place to recognize Clarkesworld next year with the magazine having withdrawn. This year Neil Clarke placed 7th, only 9 nominations short of the ballot. We can do this, people.

I am delighted for both Lou and Sheila. They are excellent editors and thoroughly deserving of the recognition. Poor old Stan Schmidt is still a bridesmaid. That’s what happens when a small, dedicated group love what you do but everyone else is unconvinced.

I don’t have much to say about the Dramatic Presentation categories, save to note that the voting pattern in Short Form is a classic example of why having multiple nominees on the ballot does not “split the vote”. The three Doctor Who nominees supported each other very well.

There’s nothing that can be said about Graphic Story. I know that Phil and Kaja have ruled themselves out of the running for next year, but the sunset clause vote is due up at the WSFS Business Meeting in Chicago and I can’t see more than a handful of people wanting to persevere with the category.

Related Work was a real mixed bag this year. I guess the huge popularity of Doctor Who won out.

Short Story and Novelette were disaster zones for me this year. Clearly my taste does not match that of the voters. The mystery of the missing 5th place nominee is now solved. Hannu Rajaniemi missed getting on the ballot by just one vote. Take note, please, Finland. We almost got there. If only a few more of the 48 people who nominated The Quantum Thief had voted for the short story as well. Anyway, the eligibility extension has been passed again, so The Quantum Thief will be eligible again next year thanks to its Tor publication.

Novella was a lot better. I know hard core Chiang fans don’t like this year’s story, but I’m happy with it as a winner. I’m also very pleased to see Al Reynolds doing so well.

There was never much doubt about the Novel category. Everyone expected Connie to win and she did. I’m delighted for Seanan/Mira, who did very well indeed, and also delighted to see Nora on the ballot. I’m sure you all know that I think The Dervish House was head and shoulders above everything else on the ballot.

There has, of course, been the expected outcry about the result. Personally I though that Kirsten and Mondy on The Writer & The Critic had the most sensible approach. There are things that Connie does incredibly well, and if the woefully shoddy history doesn’t bother you the books are a fun read. There’s just not a lot of substance there.

What does bemuse me is the fact that some people have been complaining that allowing the two books to be voted on as one was somehow unfair, and by implication that “they” (the infamous “Hugo committee”, no doubt) had rigged the contest in Connie’s favour. Look folks, Blackout/All Clear is clearly a single narrative, with about the same number of pages as A Dance with Dragons. Length should be no indicator of quality. Indeed, the fact that the publishers split it in two so they could charge more for it, and only put the first half in the voter packet, should have counted against it. Besides, think what would have happened if people had been forced to vote on the two books separately. Both would have got on the ballot, Connie would still have won, and one fewer author (actually Lois Bujold) would have got a nomination.

It is worth noting that none of the categories produced an outright winner this year. I’m very pleased with that. There were also seven categories in which the candidate with the most first place votes did not win.

The final thing that occurs to me about this year’s results is that for years people have been complaining that the Hugo results are bad because the awards are voted on by a small, unrepresentative group of fans. This year we have had more people than ever participate in the process, and guess what? Yes, the results are more populist. What did you expect?

11 thoughts on “Further Hugo Thoughts

  1. I would like to offer a loud second to Cheryl’s comment “Artist. John Picacio has to win soon, people.”

    John has one of the greatest palettes among modern science fiction and fantasy artists and a unique style which no other artists emulate.

    I’ve pitched several projects to John over the years and was ecstatic when he was finally able to make the time to create the covers for two books I worked on for NESFA Press.

    Nominate and vote for John Picacio!

  2. Thank you for posting this, Cheryl. It’s really interesting to see your analysis of the awards. Though people are divided in a lot of other ares, everyone I’ve spoken to about the novella category seems to agree that even if they connected with one of the stories more than the others, they also felt strongly that this year’s list was a particularly good overall. Nice when that happens.

  3. In Drama/Short, “Ray Bradbury” walked away with the first place votes . . . but everyone else put it so low that it didn’t quite make it. A very clear pattern.

  4. Cheryl said:

    “It might be good if Chicago posted a list of people who were withdrawing for next year, and regular nominees who are ineligible (Juliet tells me she has only edited 2 genre books this year, so she’s not in the running).”

    Jeff Says:

    While it is something the Hugo Administrator and myself (WSFS DH) might consider, I think that it comes under the heading of per-certifying candidates. I would be loath to do that, and think it would set a poor precedent. Potential nominees, who have withdrawn, have the right to change their minds, and while some may publicly claim that they are ineligible on some ground, I think that these folks should use the current networks (Fannish, natch.) to get the word out.

    “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion”


  5. _All Clear_ did eventually make it into the voter’s packet as an update. I suspect not everyone realized that the packet had been updated though.

    Thank you for an analysis that does not privilege the standings after the first round. I think the tendency to treat the first round as being somehow more representative or more important than subsequent rounds is one reason why it’s hard to get this sort of balloting in our votes for government.

  6. Great to read your further thoughts, Cheryl.

    As far as winners and losers, I’m very happy with several wins, very disappointed by a couple, and yes, I vote for John Picacio. (I pref’d him second this year.)

    I feel we should know who’s taken themselves out of the running so we don’t waste nominations . . . but Jeff Orth makes good points, too. Hmm.

    On the other paw, I don’t particularly like people taking themselves or their publications out of the running. I’ve heard some reasons why they do and some reasons why they shouldn’t. I lean a bit more towards the “please, don’t” side.

  7. Seems like our round table podcast discussion on other relevent graphic novel works for consideration didn’t make much of an impression, did it?! πŸ™‚ Absolutely nothing against Girl Genius and it is great for them, but rather disappointed that none of the other relevant works made it to the top this year instead. Starting to look like as a category, much as I want graphic fiction to be in there (and it seems odd if it isn’t a Hugo category), that it simply isn’t getting much attention from the voters, or else many of them simply haven’t read much comics work and so have no idea about who to vote for. Sad when there is so much fascinating work out there…

  8. As a distant observer of the Hugos, for me the Campbell is the Hugo for Best New Writer in the same way the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel is the Nobel Prize for Economics.

    1. The Campbell is, for those of us who pay attention, equal in status to a Hugo. It’s administered through the Hugo selection process, voted on by the same people, and awarded at the same ceremony. The whole “not a Hugo” thing (when expressed to the winners) is a bit of kind ribbing.

      But that it’s not a Hugo is important. The Campbell award is essentially licensed to WSFS by its sponsor, Dell Publishing (yes?). It’s politically important to recognize that, while we see it as equal, we acknowledge it’s Dell’s.

      Now if Dell ever wants to stop sponsoring the award, I expect there would be a groundswell of support for “converting” the category to a Hugo. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

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