Monday, August 24, 2015

A Potential 2015 Non-Puppies Hugo Award Ballot

Monday, August 24, 2015
One thing I enjoy doing after the Hugo Awards are announced is to look at the nomination numbers. It's interesting to note that Saga: Volume 4 just missed the ballot by 1 nomination for Graphic Story, as did the Coode Street Podcast in Fancast. I've long been fascinated by how few nominations are needed in some years and in some categories and also how small the margin between making the final ballot and missing it can be. Given how relative few people nominate compared to the number of Worldcon members eligible to nominate, it shows how important nominating and voting actually is.

What I want to do this year is to look at those nominating numbers, but rather than talk about how close some works were to making the ballot, I want to look at what the ballot might have looked like had the Sad Puppies slate and Rabid Puppies slate not existed.

Now, I will freely acknowledge that this is a difficult thing to do because many of those who voted either a partial Puppy slate or a full Puppy slate may still have participated in the Hugo Awards anyway and without those published slates to go on as a guide, there is no way to predict how the votes would have gone. Larry Correia would probably still receive a nomination for Monster Hunter Nemesis (he had the second highest novel nominations, but declined prior to the announcement of the ballot). But there's really no way to tell how this would shake out in the absence of public slates, some of which appear to have been voted on right down the line.  It would not be nearly as simple as removing all of the SP / RP nominated works off of the ballot, though for this exercise that is what I am going to do.  The Long Form Editors, for example, were more than worthy nominees and I should expect that they would be in the mix. Toni Weisskopf for one would almost certainly be nominated without the slates but with the participation of those who voted for the slates. She certainly should have been nominated in the past without the boost that Larry Correia gave her with a previous iteration of Sad Puppies, but unfortunately she was not.  I have a number of opinions as to what went down with the Hugo Awards, specifically with the editors, but that is a separate essay which will be written and will also tie into this one.

So - on to A Potential 2015 Non-Puppies Hugo Award Ballot.  The actual final ballot can be found here.

This is only using the nomination data provided by Sasquan. The works in italics are those added to the ballot by the absence of Puppies. The number next to the work reflects the number of votes.

Best Novel
Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie (279)
The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison (256)
The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu (210) - Winner
Lock In, by John Scalzi (168)
City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett (160)

What is interesting here is that I am including The Three-Body Problem as one of the non-puppy nominees to make the ballot. The reason for that is that it was only the after-the-fact withdrawal of Marko Kloos which allowed Cixin Liu to make the final ballot.  I do think there is a chance Skin Game could have made the ballot anyway as Jim Butcher is crazy popular (he ended up being the top vote getter). I would have loved to see City of Stairs make the ballot. Heck, I nominated it!  3/5 would have been my picks.

Best Novella
The Slow Regard of Silent Things, by Patrick Rothfuss (124)
The Regular, by Ken Liu (104)
Yesterday's Kin, by Nancy Kress (103)
Grand Jete (The Great Leap), by Rachel Swirsky (95) 
The Mothers of Voorhisville, by Mark Rickert (83)

All non-nominees are new. Again, 3/5 were on my nomination ballot, with my other two being the next two down.

Best Novelette
The Day the World Turned Upside Down, by Thomas Olde Huevelt (72) - Winner
Each to Each, by Seanan McGuire (69)
The Devil in America, by Kai Ashante Wilson (65)
The Litany of Earth, by Ruthana Emrys (54)
The Magician and Laplace's Demon, by Tom Crosshill (54)

I only nominated one novelette and it did not make the top fifteen.

Best Short Story
Jackalope Wives, by Ursula Vernon (76)
The Breath of War, by Aliette de Bodard (73)
The Truth About Owls, by Amal El Mohtar (48)
When it Ends, He Catches Her, by Eugie Foster (44)
A Kiss With Teeth, by Max Gladstone (41)

This is an interesting category because it invokes Section 3.8.5 of the WSFS Constitution, which states that to receive a nomination a work must receive nomination from at least 5% of the ballots which voted on this category. The only exception is that at minimum three nominees will be listed. Only the Vernon and de Bodard eclipse that 5% line, but to make three you would also include El Mohtar's story. So, it should be only those three. But this is another place where you can start playing with numbers. If the puppy related voters did not nominate, all five are now likely above 5%. But if they split their votes across a wider board then a) a different story is probably on the ballot (Annie Bellet's "Goodnight Stars", most likely) or b) there are still only three nominations because it is difficult to get 5% of the nominations for short story.  In other news, 0/5 of my nominations would have made the ballot, and none of them were in the top fifteen.

Best Related Work
What Makes This Book so Great, by Jo Walton (105)
Chicks Dig Gaming, by Jennifer Brozek, Robert Smith, and Lars Pearson (92)
Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology, by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Taylor (83)
Invisible: Personal Essays on Representation in SF, by Jim C Hines (79)
Tropes vs Women: Women as Background Decoration, by Anita Sarkeesian (77)

1/5 from my nominating ballot (Jo Walton's book)

Best Graphic Story
Ms Marvel: No Normal, by G. Willow Wilson (145) - Winner
Saga: Volume 3, by Brian K. Vaughan (110)
Rat Queens: Sass and Sorcery, by Kurtis J. Weibe (64)
Sex Criminals: One Weird Trick, by Matt Fraction (60)
Saga: Volume 4, by Brian K. Vaughan (59)

1/5 from my nominating ballot (Saga 3).

Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (295)
Edge of Tomorrow (204)
Big Hero 6 (183)
Snowpiercer (131)
X-Men: Days of Future Past (109)

I'm not convinced this is a category that would have been any different on the final ballot without any puppy voting whatsoever. But, if I'm being fair to this exercise, I have to pull them. 2/5 of these were on my nominating ballot, but so were Interstellar and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form
Doctor Who: "Listen" (89)
Oprhan Black: "By Means Which Have Never Been Tried Yet" (71) - Winner
Agents of SHIELD: "Turn, Turn, Turn" (62)
Game of Thrones: "The Lion and the Rose" (61)
The Legend of Korra: "The Last Stand" (47)

Best Editor: Short Form
John Joseph Adams (149)
Neil Clarke (133)
Ellen Datlow (108)
Jonathan Strahan (101)
Sheila Williams (95)

0/2 of my nominating ballot still would have made it, though my two were both the next up after Sheila Williams. This would have been a solid and an outstanding lineup, but then those who made the final ballot also would have been solid and fresh choices.

Best Editor: Long Form
Liz Gorinsky (96)
Beth Meacham (69)
Patrick Nielsen Hayden (65)
Lee Harris (35)
Anne Perry (31)
Devi Pillai (31)
Jenni Hill (31)

As with Short Story, four of the seven potential nominees did not surpass the 5% mark, which means we would have only three nominees here. Except that I think Toni Weisskopf probably would have had enough votes to go Top 4 without the SP / RP slates and there's just no way to tell about Sowards and Gilbert.  I have very strong thoughts about how the voting went down for Long Form Editor (spoiler for the next article, I disagree with it) because the lineup that actually made the ballot: very strong and worthy.

Best Professional Artist
Julie Dillon (136) - Winner
John Picacio (97)
Galen Dara (68)
Stephan Martiniere (65)
Chris McGrath (46)

3/5 from my nominating ballot.

Best Semiprozine
Lightspeed (159) - Winner
Strange Horizons (152)
Beneath Ceaseless Skies (94)
The Book Smugglers (84)
Interzone (49)

Best Fanzine
Journey Planet (68) - Winner
The Drink Tank (58)
Lady Business (51)
File 770 (50)
A Dribble of Ink (46)

2/5 from my nominating ballot (A Dribble of Ink and Lady Business)

Best Fancast
Galactic Suburbia (80) - Winner
Tea and Jeopardy (69)
The Coode Street Podcast (68)
Verity! (66)
The Skiffy and Fanty Show (60)

Here's where I point out how tight the line can be between making the ballot and not. Coode Street, third here, missed the actual ballot by 1 nomination.

Best Fan Writer
Laura J. Mixon (129) - Winner
Abigail Nussbaum (89)
Liz Bourke (78)
Natalie Luhrs (76)
Mark Oshiro (69)

You will note that I am nowhere near this list.  I would need to see a full nomination breakout (including everyone receiving votes), but I believe I received up to three (so I was told by someone who included me and recommended me to others) - none of which were from me. So, that's nice.

Best Fan Artist
Steve Stiles (48)
Brad W. Foster (29)
Ninni Aalto (28)
Spring Schoenhuth (26)
Elizabeth Leggett (23) - Winner

I believe this is the only category untouched by the SP / RP slates.

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Wesley Chu (106) - Winner
Andy Weir (95)
Alyssa Wong (80)
Carmen Maria Marchado (61)
Django Wexler (60)

1/5 were from my nominating ballot, but three more were in the top fifteen receiving nominations.


Kendall said...

I seriously doubt Butcher's book would've made the ballot; I think he and some other nominees help estimate how strong Puppy Power was, though. So looking at nominating and voting patterns, it's easy to see Guardians of the Galaxy would've made the ballot regardless. It had 769 nominations and lots of people like it and voted for it. I'm a lot less sure about whether Interstellar would've made it.

For editors, Toni Weisskopf probably would have, and possibly Sheila Gilbert. I'm less sure about Jim Minz (who few outside Baen fanatics would've heard of), and I'm even more skeptical Anne Sowards would've made it. (I may be way off base, though.) So I suspect Editor would've been more like Gorinsky, Meacham, Nielsen Hayden, Weisskopf, and Gilbert - though not necessarily in that order.

Just my guess on BDP and Editor:Long. I'm really curious to see how EPH modelling goes, when they get & process the raw, anonymized data.

Joe said...

You are most likely correct about Butcher, but he's really popular so it depends on how things would shake out without puppy slates. Look back at previous years - the barrier to the ballot is not that high even for novel. If the puppies participate without slates, I could totally see something like Butcher and Correia making the ballot.

I think it depends how we're playing the game of counting hypothetical ballots for 2015. Do you just mentally erase all puppy votes? If so, the ballot probably looks very similar to what I posted above (since that's what I did). But in reality, many of them will likely participate without slates now that the word is getting out to different segments of fandom. Weisskopf for sure. Minz? Less likely (hell, look at the voting numbers), but possible because of the Baen association.

I think your guesses are reasonably on point, but EPH modeling only gets you as far as what actually happened this year and not so much as to what might happen if there is zero to minimal slate voting but still have several thousand additional voters compared to previous years.

Kendall said...

Fair enough.

From the voting, the several thousand aren't puppies. So looking forward, post-slate - well, I believe after next year (another puppy slate), with EPH in place, there'll still be puppy slates for a year or two. This'll get one or two items into several (maybe most) categories, so that'll keep it, uh, interesting (?!). Then I suspect they'll stop slating and just vote their conscious - and some of their less-culture-warrior types may fade away. At that point, the effect on the Hugos will be more subtle, but more honest.

I'm not sure I'm totally coherent, sorry; insufficient sleep.

Joe said...

But will they nominate? Or did they only show up to vote down the slate nominees?

The other thing I'm curious about is how long the RP side will continue. They're the organized group that ran the table.

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