Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hugo Post-mortem (part 2)

So, yesterday I posted a big long post about the rankings of the Hugo nominees. In the same document, we find out what else got more than a handful of nominees and therefore, we learn what the puppies pushed off the ballot.

More possible math, and possibly a long post, so after the cut it goes...

Make sure you've checked out the full results the 2015 Hugo Awards. Lots of good stats in the the second document, many of which I covered in yesterday's post, including how to read the Instant Run-off Voting results that make up the first 17 pages.

Starting on page 18, we get the nomination lists. These are released every year and give people other works to go look at. In this year, they are bittersweet, as we can see fairly clearly how some great stuff was completely knocked off the ballot by the garbage the slates nominated.

A caveat: It's hard to estimate how many slate-mongers actually nominated. They didn't run a perfectly disciplined slate: not every slate-monger nominated every slate item in every category. My wild guess is that there were at least 150 but no more than 350 of them. I'm going to pick a non-arbitrary number for my purposes however, and subtract that number from any slate nominees. The number, 236, is the people who hate the Hugos so much they put "Wisdom from My Internet" on their nomination form. In short, no one who wasn't slate-mongering could have possibly believed that piece of garbage deserves a Hugo.


So, let's start with Novel. It received 1,827 nomination ballots. Skin Game and The Dark Between the Stars were the two slated works that made it to the final ballot. Take away 236 from SG's 387 nominations, and you get 151. That's actually not too bad. DBtS got 263. Take away 236 and you get 27. It drops right off the list.

So we still have Ancillary Sword, The Three-Body Problem, and The Goblin Emperor making the list. Next in line were Trial By Fire and The Challain's War. Both were on slates, though, so both of them get subtracted... which actually leaves them negative.

That pulls up the next two, then: Lock In and City of Stairs. I'm happy to report that neither of those are on either slate, so I have my full list of nominees:
Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
The Three-Body Problem by Lui Cixin
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
Lock In by John Scalzi
City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

As I haven't had a chance to read Lock In or City of Stairs, I don't know how much of an improvement they are over what got on the ballot. I can tell you they couldn't have been much worse.


Next up is Novella, which received 1,083 nomination ballots. Oddly, the two top nominated works both got exactly 338 nominations, and both are on both slates. So, I subtract my 236 from them, leaving them both with 102 nominations. The next one left is "Flow", which was also on both slates and therefore ends up with a subtraction that puts it down near the bottom of the list. Next is "The Plural of Helen of Troy" and "Pale Realms of Shade" - both on slates, both subtracted off the list.

Which gets us to some non-slate works. "The Slow Regard of Silent Things", "The Regular" and "Yesterday's Kin" all would have gotten on the ballot. The next two are the ones the slates put at the top, "Big Boys Don't Cry" and "One Bright Star to Guide Them". While I don't, for a second, believe either of these works would have made it to the ballot on their own merits - the rules I've set for myself mean they stay on.

So, here's my Novella list:
"The Slow Regard of Silent Things" by Patrick Rothfuss
"The Regular" by Ken Liu
"Yesterday's Kin" by Nancy Kress
"Big Boys Don't Cry" by Tom Kratman
"One Bright Star to Guide Them" by John C. Wright

If you can't believe the final two would have gotten on the ballot without the slates, replace them with:
"Grand Jete (The Great Leap)" by Rachel Swirsky
"The Mothers of Voorhisville" by Mary Rickert
Those were the next two top nomination-getters, and probably did get pushed off the ballot by the slates.


The Novelette category got 1,031 nomination ballots. The top five were all on slates, but one of them was ruled ineligible and thus dumped. The top nominated slate work got 267 nominations and was on both slates. The ineligible one was only on one slate and got 165 nominations. In any case, every single slate work is dumped by my 236 threshhold, leaving:
"The Day the World Turned Upside Down" by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
"Each to Each" by Seanan McGuire
"The Devil in America" by Kai Ashante Wilson
"The Litany of Earth" by Ruthana Emrys
"The Magician and Laplace's Demon" by Tom Crosshill

I'm going to have to seek these out, now. This is actually turning into a pretty interesting looking suggested reading list.

Short Story

The Short Story category received 1,174 nomination ballots. The top nominated story in this category, "Goodnight Stars", was withdrawn by author Annie Bellet as soon as she learned about the slates. By my rules, she would not have been nominated if she hadn't been on the slates. Neither would the next five, all of which were on one or both slates. This would be the non-slate list:
"Jackalope Wives" by Ursula Vernon
"The Breath of War" by Aliette de Bodard
"The Truth About Owls" by Amal El-Mohtar
"When it Ends, He Catches Her" by Eugie Foster
"A Kiss With Teeth" by Max Gladstone

I adored Jackalope Wives, though I can't say it would have won the Hugo without reading all the others. But it was a great story and to have it pushed off the ballot by some of the crap that did make the list is a crime.

Related Work

The Related Work category got 1,150 nomination ballots. I'm happy to say that under my rules, not one of those pieces of utter garbage that were on this year's real ballot would have made it. This was the category that made me realize the Hugos are facing people who hate science fiction and fans. As one person put it, they are effectively "fan-kickers". I don't like name calling, but since I've been called plenty of names by the slate-mongers, I'm willing to let that one pass. My de-slated ballot would have the following on it:
"What Makes This Book so Great" by Jo Walton
"Chicks Dig Gaming" by Jennifer Brozek, Robert Smith, and Lars Pearson
"Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology" by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, Howard Taylor
"Invisible: Personal Essays on Representation in SF" by Jim C. Hines
"Tropes vs Women: Women as Background Decoration" by Anita Sarkeesian

The second volume of the Heinlein biography, supposedly just the kind of thing that was the goal of the slates in the first place, was in sixth. It really could have used a boost from the slates... and if it had been nominated it would have had a decent chance, too.

Graphic Story

The Graphic Story category received 785 nomination ballots. This category was relatively untouched by the slates, with only a single thing getting nominated due to them. Had it not gotten on, another volume of Saga would have made the list instead!
Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona
Saga Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan / Fiona Staples
Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Weibe, Laura Tavishati, Roc Upchurch, Ed Brisson
Sex Criminals, Volume 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky
Saga Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan / Fiona Staples

In this instance, I could see Vaughen/Staples withdrawing one of the volumes to give another nominee a chance and to prevent a split vote, which would have added:
Schlock Mercenary: Broken Wind by Howard Taylor

Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

The Long Form Dramatic category received 1,285 nomination ballots. As much as I like The LEGO Movie, it's apparent that it received a huge boost from the slates. The result is that another great movie that I love, Big Hero 6, was bumped from the ballot. Otherwise, by my rules, the ballot would have been exactly the same. Here's what my de-slated ballot looks like:
Guardians of the Galaxy
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Edge of Tomorrow
Big Hero 6

Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

The Short Form Dramatic category got 938 nomination ballots. This one is tough. If I use my criteria, I completely wipe all the slate nominations, because all of them are under the 236 limit. But hey, I'm de-slating the nominees, not trying to be perfect. Here's the ballot without the slates:
"Doctor Who: Listen"
"Orphan Black: By Means Which Have Never Been Tried Yet"
"Agents of Shield: Turn, Turn, Turn"
"Game of Thrones: The Lion and the Rose"
"The Legend of Korra: The Last Stand"

Editor, Short Form

The Short Form Editor category received 870 nomination ballots. I want to make it perfectly clear: my math isn't going to do justice to some of these editors who clearly deserved better than to be named on slates. That said, my rules clear off all slate nominees, leaving:
John Joseph Adams
Neil Clarke
Ellen Datlow
Jonathan Strahan
Sheila Williams

I don't believe this is particularly accurate or how it would have really played out, but I set my rules so I'm playing by them.

Editor, Long Form

The Long Form Editor category got 712 ballots. Interestingly, by my rules, the top nomination-getter is still the top nominated candidate. Here's my de-slated list:
Toni Weisskopf
Liz Gorinsky
Beth Meacham
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Sheila Gilbert

I'm not sure if Weisskopf already had a lot of support, or if she just got a lot more slate votes than some categories. If you think the two slate nominees still on the list don't deserve those spots, replace Weisskopf with Lee Harris and Gilbert with Anne Perry.

Professional Artist

This category received 753 ballots. All the slate nominees would be removed by my rule, leaving:
Julie Dillon
John Picacio
Galen Dara
Stephan Martiniere
Chris McGrath

Dillon would have made it onto the ballot in any case. One of the slate nominees was not eligible, and was pulled from the list, but that just allowed a different slate nominee onto the list.


This category received 660 ballots. We're getting into the categories where a handful of votes could make a huge difference. In most of them, it's pretty easy to see the effect of the slates. This is not one of those, because there were only three slate nominees and one of them withdrew when they learned about the slates. By my rules, all three would be off the list anyway, leaving:
Lightspeed Magazine
Strange Horizons
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
The Book Smugglers

Again, it's really hard to tell exactly what effect the slate had on this category. Interzone only got 49 nominations, for example. There's a really good chance the 'zine that withdrew, Orson Scott Card's Intergalactice Medicine Show, would have made the ballot regardless.


The Fanzine category received 576 nomination ballots. And again, this was a category that could be easily taken with only a few nominations. The top non-slate candidate only received 68 nominations. By my rules, all the slate nominations are dumped, leaving us with:
Journey Planet
The Drink Tank
Lady Business
File 770
A Dribble of Ink

The less popular the category, the easier it is for the slates to dominate, even with technical solutions like E Pluribus Hugo. I hope to nominate in all categories, but I confess that's going to be a tough job.


There were 668 nomination ballots cast in this category. The slates nominated three candidates, which took the top three spots, naturally. By my rules, all three are eliminated, leaving these:
Galactic Suburbia Podcast
Tea and Jeopardy
The Coode Street Podcast
The Skiffy and Fanty Show

My husband would be happy, he absolutely loves Verity! I, on the other hand, don't generally listen to podcasts. I'm going to force myself to listen to a few over the next few months, though, in the hopes of finding something to nominate.

Fan Writer

This category received 777 nomination ballots. This is another one where the impact of the slates is obvious by the numbers. This is also another category where my rule eliminates all slate entries. The de-slated ballot would be:
Laura J. Mixon
Abigail Nussbaum
Liz Bourke
Natalie Luhrs
Mark Oshiro

I haven't heard of most of these folks, but I'll be looking up their works in part because they were denied a spot this year.

Fan Artist

This category received 296 nomination ballots, probably because the slates forgot the category existed. The result was no slate candidates:
Steve Stiles
Brad W. Foster
Ninni Aalto
Spring Schoenhuth
Elizabeth Leggett

I'll probably look at these and the other names on this year's nomination list to hopefully guide me to other works so I can nominate next year. We'll see.

John W. Campbell Award

This award received 851 ballots. And yes, it was slate infested. Removing the slate nominees by my rules would get rid of the lot of them. That would leave us with a much more interesting cohort of new writers:
Wesley Chu
Andy Weir
Alyssa Wong
Carmen Maria Machado
Django Wexler

I don't know how many of these were in their second year of eligibility, and thus denied any chance at all of a Campbell by the slates. But even one is too many. And sadly, the slate will no doubt return next year. They've already promised to try to damage the Hugo Awards again.


Tom Galloway said...

It's unclear if Andy Weir would've made the Campbell if the slates weren't there. The Martian was self-published in 2011, and if that counted, he'd be ineligible. I checked with the Hugo Administrators, and they confirmed that, unless something did make the top five at some point, no eligibility checks were made and so ineligible items could quite possibly be in slots 6-15 (or however many you're looking at).

Carmen Machado said...

(Pssst, it's "Carmen Maria Machado," not "Marchado." There was a typo on the longlist. And yeah, I was in my second year of eligibility. *sigh*)

Tegan said...

Fixed, Carmen. Hopefully you get a chance at a rocket in the future.

Tom: point taken. I'd heard something about that, but wasn't certain. I don't have the resources to go look up all the works and see if they are eligible.

Carmen Machado said...

Re: Andy Weir, from what I've seen, he would have been eligible. Self-publishing counts against Hugo noms, but the Campbell is different rules, and goes by first professional publication. So he would have been vetted and found eligible, sans Puppies.