Fact-checking really old comments on other people’s blogs long after the fact

…And then posting it here because this blog is just where things fall out of my head like one of those sci-fi junkyard planets.

So from 2016, I saw was a puppy supporter saying Larry Correia was outselling N.K.Jemisin by a huge margin. Given the state of information about book sales that is a tough claim to substantiate, particularly across all the books both authors have written. However, it occurred to me that there was a relevant like-for-like (ish) comparison that could be made. Both Correia and Jemisin published book 1 of a fantasy series in 2015: Correia’s Son of the Black Sword (listed as October 15, 2015 on Amazon) and N.K.Jemisin’s The Fifth Season (listed as August 4, 2015 on Amazon). One won a Dragon Award and the other won a Hugo Award.

How are they doing now after all the hurly-burly has been done?

FormatSon of the Black Sword The Fifth Season
Kindle #93,992 in Kindle Store#61,922 in Kindle Store
Audio#4,937 in Audible Books & Originals#21,721 in Audible Books & Originals 
Hardcover #229,997 in Booksn/a
Paperback #422,057 in Books#4,698 in Books
Ratings7837,538

Correia is no slouch when it comes to sales and it looks like his book is doing better in audio than Jemisin’s. Otherwise, it’s no contest.

Ah yes but MAYBE that’s just because of evil SJW publishing media hype and people bought The Fifth Season because of virtue signalling etc blah blah something??!? So, do people keep reading? Both books had sequels but here the comparison isn’t quite as like-for-like due to different publishing dates.

FormatHouse of AssassinsThe Obelisk Gate
Kindle#173,022 in Kindle Store#55,910 in Kindle Store
Audio#48,055 in Audible Books & Originals#21,992 in Audible Books & Originals
Hardcover#363,766 in Booksn/a
Paperback#310,581 in Books#11,716 in Books 
Rating5324,011

It’s not really a contest is it?

For completeness:

FormatDestroyer of WorldsThe Stone Sky
Kindle144,452 in Kindle Store  #64,908 in Kindle Store
Audio9,041 in Audible Books & Originals#69,932 in Audible Books & Originals
Hardcover327,341 in Booksn/a
Paperback183,721 in Books #20,940 in Books
Rating9843,892

A bit of an audiobook advantage for Correia again but no, much to everybody’s surprise a hugely successful, critically acclaimed, groundbreaking (lol) modern classic of the genre is somehow outselling a relatively obscure cookie-cutter epic fantasy from a publisher with a narrow audience and limited reach.

71 thoughts on “Fact-checking really old comments on other people’s blogs long after the fact

  1. Looking on Amazon.co.uk, the paperback of Fifth Season is 8,000 in Books; Son of the Black Sword is 750,206.
    Kindle, 4,529 (Jemisin), 30,497 (Correia)
    Audio 2,776 (Jemisin), 300 (Correia)

    And, while Kindle and Audible dominate the ebook and audiobook markets, Amazon is only 40% or so of the physical book market, the one where Correia is getting most comprehensively beaten, so the overall numbers will look even worse when you include sales outside Amazon.

    Also, Baen Books are only available in the UK either electronically or as expensive imports – Son of the Black Sword is twice the price of Fifth Season on Amazon, and will never have had any meaningful distribution in bookshops here (it will be in Forbidden Planet, other specialists, and a few really big Waterstones that have an imports section).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, Baen’s lack of international distribution is really hurting their authors, because the only way to get Baen Books is to order them online or hope you get lucky in one of the few specialty bookstores (e.g. the bigger Forbidden Planet stores like Birmingham or London carry random Baen Books) that carry them. But then, I suspect that trying to persuade Baen that the US is not in fact the world is futile. Never mind that a lot of Baen’s output caters very specifically to American tastes. Larry Correia’s gun porn (and yes, I know that Son of the Black Sword is epic fantasy/sword and sorcery and doesn’t have guns) just doesn’t carry the same appeal outside his specific rightwing US bubble.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’d think the obvious solution would be for the author to contract separately with a UK publisher, but Baen definitely take world ebook rights (this is why Baen ebooks are available on amazon.co.uk) and that would put most publishers off anyway. It seems unlikely to me that they wouldn’t have full world rights if they have world ebook rights.

        Now, Baen could subcontract the rights (at least for some books) to a UK publisher and get a UK printing that can therefore get decent distribution and prices over here (not just in the UK, but more widely across Europe) – but they clearly aren’t all that interested in doing so, and they are hewing much closer to American tastes than they used to (Bujold has mostly stopped writing for them, for instance).

        The other point here is that UK English editions tend to be much more widely available in Europe, which can at least somewhat prove the market for a translation. If nothing else, they bring the book to the attention of publishers that publish translations of English-language fiction.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I will try to remember to visit my local branch of SF-Bokhandeln and make some sort of eyeball estimate of Baen books on shelves. I would, however, say that that’s a chain that definitely count as “specialist genre retailer”.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Not actually checked in store, because I recalled they have a pretty decent web presence. So, I checked for Baen books there and found 67 different things. I did NOT check if there’s “same title, multiple formats”, but I think Baen is pretty much just paperback (in non-ARC print), so I think 67 is as good a count as any.

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      1. That’s a fair point about the Baen website but it looks like Jemisin is outselling him by an order of magnitude on Amazon (based on ratings).

        Personally I’m not massively into Jemisin’s stuff but she clearly sells a hefty amount of books.

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  2. That said, I do wonder why Correia is doing so much better in audio than Jemisin. Are Correia fans more likely to be audio book listeners? Does Correia have a popular narrator? Is it an artefact of Correia’s audiobooks being Amazon exclusive and Jemisin’s not?

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    1. Watch for sales to explain ranking anomalies. Audible is always having sales. I don’t remember if Correia’s book was on the most recent sale, but that would be a good explanation.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh, P.S. —

      Yes, Correia’s fantasy series uses one of the most popular narrators in the business (Tim Gerard Reynolds) — but Jemisin’s narrator (Robin Miles) is also extremely popular. Personally, I think both are excellent, but Reynolds is the one that would get me to listen to a book just to hear him read it.

      Liked by 2 people

    3. I’m biting my tongue not to make the obvious snarky answer.

      But yeah, people may be buying NKJ’s audio from other places, and low-priced sales on Audible may change that. I’ve gotten several almost-new/very popular Audible books free when a sale came up. I’m always surprised when that happens — it doesn’t happen with the very same books on Kindle.

      Liked by 2 people

    4. I’ve seen Correia’s books included in Audible sales recently and I imagine that gives a big sales boost.

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  3. I’ve been doing those Amazon comparisons for years. And one thing never changes — the books favored by Hugo/Nebula voters consistently outrank the books favored by puppy-type voters.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. You’d think the obvious solution would be for the author to contract separately with a UK publisher, but Baen definitely take world ebook rights (this is why Baen ebooks are available on amazon.co.uk) and that would put most publishers off anyway. It seems unlikely to me that they wouldn’t have full world rights if they have world ebook rights.

    Now, Baen could subcontract the rights (at least for some books) to a UK publisher and get a UK printing that can therefore get decent distribution and prices over here (not just in the UK, but more widely across Europe) – but they clearly aren’t all that interested in doing so, and they are hewing much closer to American tastes than they used to (Bujold has mostly stopped writing for them, for instance).

    The other point here is that UK English editions tend to be much more widely available in Europe, which can at least somewhat prove the market for a translation. If nothing else, they bring the book to the attention of publishers that publish translations of English-language fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. X sells better than Y, so X is more important/better is an argument, that I hear often from Puppys. Aside from that, I heared it from John Rinngo used against Seanan McGuire.
    Perhaps the argument Bestseller vesus mostly unknown that we see in the Dragons (and I know I have used there) is kind of familar, but there it is more binary.
    It kind of is for me completly irelevant. (I understand why Cam posted it here, because it was so hilorous wrong)
    I can say I have seen books by both writers in the wild in German, so that is some success that Larry had.
    But for example I could only make a guess about how well each book sold in the Best Novel cetegory that year. I know all sold reasonable well and got a lot of buss, more is not important for me.

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  6. @Cam

    I was a part of the discussions back in August of 2020 when I think those assertions were made. At the time, I started to do a different comparison. But lost interest and eventually lost some of the data. I picked it back up in April 2021 and learned that Amazon Kindle rankings really aren’t that great for comparing anything more than the relative popularity of a set of novels on one particular day. Wait 24 hours and the Magic 8-ball that is the Kindle ranking system will give you a completely different answer.

    This is what I came up with in April, FWIW.

    Regards,
    Dann
    Delay is preferable to error. – Thomas Jefferson

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    1. Just a few comments on your chosen work. (I have to be fair I am not familar with it, or the writer)
      But what I get from your post, you have chosen a fantasywork that is a Tie-In work. 1989 this gave 2 large disadvantages. Fantasy has started to do better in this centuary (first winner as far as I know Harry Potter), a Tie-In (if we don’t count Redshirts or Gaimans Lovecraft/Homes-Pastice, which I don’t) has never won, I don’t know if it has ever nominated. (except from the puppys)
      I know from myself, reading a work by a writer and loving it, makes it much more likly to pick up another book by this writer (and I think that probably all posters here are sharing that). And you nominate what you love. For that you have to pick it up. You can only try to brighten your own horizon and recomend works to other people. There is no magical way to get now writers on the ballot, we have some this year and you will find some on the longlist I bet.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @StefanB

        I’m pretty sure I agree with you about why The Legend of Huma was missed by WorldCon members in 1989. That’s why I included Mark Lawrence as an additional example of an author of works that should reasonably have been considered.

        Mark has been a finalist for a bunch of Goodreads awards. Most of his books are well within the oeuvre that apparently describes current Hugo nominators/voters.

        Based on my experience…and others will naturally feel differently…the current shortlist omits superior works. Part of that is the result of internal biases of the current pool of nominators.

        As you say, all one can do is to share other quality books/authors.

        Regards,
        Dann
        Tronatology 101 – Never let the smoke out.

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        1. dann665: the current shortlist omits superior works. Part of that is the result of internal biases of the current pool of nominators.

          “the current pool of nominators” is Worldcon members. The whole point of the Hugo Awards is to recognize the works deemed best by their internal biases. 🙄

          Liked by 3 people

          1. And “the current pool of nominators” changes every year, at that, depending on geographical locations.

            I would put the width and breadth of Hugo voters’ reading above anyone else’s. Including the Nebula voters.

            Gigantically ahead of the Puppies, who often demonstrated that they hadn’t even read the books they were holding up as the good stuff, be it new or old. Like lionizing Heinlein when they hadn’t even read “Starship Troopers”.

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            1. “Gigantically ahead of the Puppies, who often demonstrated that they hadn’t even read the books they were holding up as the good stuff”

              I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again — this point was forcefully brought home to me a couple of years ago when I was debating something with a puppy type, and he **bragged** that he had read all of **13** sff books in the previous year. And he was a person who often made claims about how familiar he was with the genre.

              Ooooooookayyyyyyy, then.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. @ Contrarius:

              13 SFF books in a year? Well, that is more than 0 SFF books. But, in the before-times, I easily read 100+ SFF books in a year, and that is substantially more than 13. Does that mean my opinion is more valid? Or just that I have a wider selection of books (potentially) to pull from? Note that it was typically 8-15 eligible novels, so it’s not as if all I read was recently-published books. I don’t know what the breakdown of these hypothetical 13 books are/were, but if we graciously assume “about half”; that would still leave me with a wider selection to pull from.

              Liked by 1 person

        2. The Problem is the Hugos have only 6 slots, there will always be works that are not nominated. Godreads has more slots and it is normal that there are more writers nominated for it. We have a whole longlist of works every year that a lot of people thaught should be on the awards list. I think everyone has a book that he would switch for another one. (Spoiler for me both are different than yours) The problem is that there are a lot of good/great books every year.
          There are tree posibilitys if a book is not nominated:
          1. Not enough nominators read book x.
          2. Those worldconmembers who read it, didn’t like book x enough to nominate it.
          3. The EPH, it shares to much nominators with other works, that are more popular.
          It is pretty simple. Of course every reader has a bias, I will never read a work from VD or JCW(again) for example. Another bias is that I want it now. The number of books one person can read before nomination closes is limited, you have to make choices, even if you are very keen on only reading for the Hugos.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. That is a problem, reading a work that would have been great to nominate after the deadline, but it fits with that we all have to make choices. We can’t read all the books. It’s unfortunate (exspecially if the work is on the top of the longlist) but this will and was always the problem of the Hugos (and every other award)

              Liked by 2 people

          1. @StefanB

            I think we are pretty much in agreement regarding the mechanics of the situation. All I am doing is pointing out that the limited range of reading on the part of Hugo nominators results in a limited range of nominees. All I am suggesting is that nominators extend their reading range to include a broader range of works and that new nominators be welcomed to participate.

            Reading your response as well as others (Cora, Cam, etc.) I don’t think either that observation or that suggestion are particularly controversial.

            I recommend books, magazines, and stories to existing nominators whenever I can. I also recommend participation in the nomination process to potential new nominators whenever I can as well, being careful to point out that slating is bad form, natch.

            @Contrarius (and perhaps some others)

            You seem to be confusing my observations about bias among the pool of nominators with endorsing the Puppy slates. While I did enjoy some of those works, there were others that I didn’t find to be worthy of nomination. If all you are looking at are Puppy related works, then you will generally miss most of the things that I find to be superior works.

            For example, Artifact Space by Miles Cameron. Miles is a tremendously talented author. I read his Traitor Son fantasy series and found it to be excellent. Artifact Space is Miles’ first foray into science fiction. It is a fantastic piece of space opera as well as MilSF. It’s going on my personal nomination shortlist. He also writes historical fiction under his real name (Christian Cameron) and techno-suspense with his father under the name Gordon Kent.

            Regards,
            Dann
            In a room full of ducks, sometimes the one that woofs is needed to point out the quacks.

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            1. Why do you assume the “Hugo nominators” (assuming such a group can be taken as having some characteristic other than “people who have bought memberships to Worldcon recently) haven’t read those works rather than they have and just didn’t nominate them?

              Liked by 1 person

            2. @Dann —

              “All I am doing is pointing out that the limited range of reading on the part of Hugo nominators results in a limited range of nominees. All I am suggesting is that nominators extend their reading range to include a broader range of works and that new nominators be welcomed to participate.”

              Dann, you’re making at least two huge assumptions here. First, you’re assuming that the books you like aren’t getting nominated because Hugo voters aren’t reading them. But this is a bad assumption — and it’s one that I’ve corrected before when you’ve made it here or on 770. For instance, I’ve read most of Mark Lawrence’s books, but I don’t think I’ve ever nominated one for a Hugo. (I may have nominated Prince of Thorns — don’t remember now!) Failure to nominate is not at all the same thing as failure to read.

              And second — where do you get off implying that “new nominators” aren’t welcome to participate?? Anyone who wants to buy a supporting or attending membership is welcome to nominate anything they like. Sheesh.

              “If all you are looking at are Puppy related works, then you will generally miss most of the things that I find to be superior works.”

              Dann, this whole discussion is about puppies. You keep trying to make it into something else, but you are the only one here who wants the discussion to be about conservatives. It isn’t. It’s about puppies. Period. Stop trying to drag it off track.

              Liked by 2 people

            3. I don’t think Dann was in this tread ever about the puppies. He is basicly about overlocked works (and writers) that he thinks are overlocked. I don’t know enough about the writers to even say if we are talking about American conservative writers.
              I don’t think he implied here that new nominators are unwelcome.
              I also think that this year (were we didn’t have that many nominations) the fact that 441 different novels (if there wasn’t a mistake) were nominate and that even the lowest ranking novel got 132 nominations means that the nominators aren’t well read.
              (I mean I know that in Best Novel I am the oposite of you, I ranked the book you like best rather low and had last year a book you placed under no award first, so I don’t know if you reach the audiance with your sugestions)

              Liked by 1 person

            4. @Stefan —

              “I don’t think Dann was in this tread ever about the puppies.”

              That is correct. He keeps stepping into a discussion about puppies and trying to make it about something else, as though providing evidence for his “something else” somehow weakens the case against the puppies.

              Which is a trick often referred to as a “straw man”.

              “I don’t think he implied here that new nominators are unwelcome.”

              Seriously? When he says “All I am suggesting is that … new nominators be welcomed to participate”, that very specifically implies that “new nominators” are NOT now welcome to participate. Otherwise there is no point in making the suggestion.

              “I also think that this year (were we didn’t have that many nominations) the fact that 441 different novels (if there wasn’t a mistake) were nominate and that even the lowest ranking novel got 132 nominations means that the nominators aren’t well read.”

              Umm…. what? Nominators voted for 441 different novels — that’s a danged lot of novels. How do you get “not well read” from that?

              “(I mean I know that in Best Novel I am the oposite of you, I ranked the book you like best rather low and had last year a book you placed under no award first, so I don’t know if you reach the audiance with your sugestions)”

              How do you know what I voted for? And I don’t recall putting any novel under NA last year, so…..

              Liked by 1 person

            5. I think I’m into I-have-a-proof-but-the-margins-are-too-small situation but my intuition about buckets, power-law-distributions and the pigeon hole principle are all saying nah. Imagine doubling the range of what hugo voters read, it wouldn’t neccesarily change what you are percieving as an issue (it might change which individual books get nominated but the issue you observe would still manifest)

              Liked by 1 person

            6. Contrarius: Argh, that was to confusing, sorry.
              I saw only a sentence later, ” I also recommend participation in the nomination process to potential new nominators whenever I can as well” and was confused about, that sorry.
              Re Novel and nominators, I did somehow wrote the oposite of what I wanted here, sorry one not to many or one more. I meant to say that voters read a lot of novels.
              And the last sentence was about Dann, who revealed somewhere on File 770, what he voted for.

              Hope that clears it, sorry again.

              Liked by 2 people

            7. Like Aaron and Contrarius said, most Hugo nominators read widely and they read more than the average SFF fan. However, not every book that they read and not even every book that they enjoy will be a Hugo contender. I read a lot of books I like that I nonetheless won’t nominate for a Hugo, because there are books I like more. The 441 different novels that at least one person nominated for a Hugo this year show that Hugo nominators read widely. In fact, there is one book I nominated where I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who did, because it got very little attention.

              I think your problem is that the overall tastes of the Hugo nominators don’t overlap with yours. I even sympathise, because frankly, they often don’t overlap with my taste either. It’s a little better now, but there was a time 10 to 15 years ago, when a look at the Hugo ballot filled me with despair, because with so many great SFF books out there, how on Earth did the Hugo nominators managed to pick such awful books? There still are categories (not Best Novel, which I’m largely happy with) where I wonder what on Earth the Hugo nominators were thinking to nominate that stuff.

              But it’s not the fault of the rest of the Hugo nominators that their taste and yours have little overlap. All you can do is hope that eventually your taste and that of the majority of the Hugo nominators will be more in alignment.

              Liked by 2 people

            8. I read more than 150 Novels and Novellas each year, and maybe – maybe – 10% of them are what I’d consider to be Hugo-worthy.

              Which isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy a lot more than 10% of them – I do – but enjoyment and award-worthiness aren’t the same thing. There are lots of SFF novels, especially in series, that I love but will never feel compelled to put on my Hugo ballot.

              I’ve got no sympathy for anyone complaining that the Hugo ballot doesn’t reflect their preferences. In a good year, I will agree with maybe 30% of the works on the ballot, consider another 35% not my thing but understandable as a finalist, and No Award the other 35% (one thing the Puppy campaigns did was to get me over feeling bad about saying “I think this work is not award-worthy”).

              The Puppies felt entitled to have the Hugo ballot reflect their preferences. They were wrong. None of us, as Worldcon members, are entitled to anything other than to nominate the works we enjoyed, and to vote the final ballot according to our own judgment. Whining that the nominators aren’t well-read or widely-read because they aren’t putting what we like on the ballot is just childish.

              Liked by 3 people

            9. @JJ

              I’ve got no sympathy for anyone complaining that the Hugo ballot doesn’t reflect their preferences. In a good year, I will agree with maybe 30% of the works on the ballot, consider another 35% not my thing but understandable as a finalist, and No Award the other 35% (one thing the Puppy campaigns did was to get me over feeling bad about saying “I think this work is not award-worthy”).

              You know what. Me too. With almost the same percentages.

              I’m just going one step further by suggesting that the black-block process [a thousand nominators +/- with a thousand +/- reasons that results in a narrow range of authors/topics] could provide a better list of finalists. It might be improved by adding more nominators. It might be improved by expanding the reading range of the nominators (SPFBO works – SPSFC works – more horror – more grimdark – just…more). I predicted 5 of this year’s 6 Best Novel finalists and didn’t bother reading most of them last year as a result. I knew I’d get to read them this summer.

              I don’t expect any shortlist to match my preferences. I do hope to see a broader range of finalists. The works of people like Peter V. Brett, C.T. Rwizi, Sebastien de Castell, Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, L.E. Modesitt Jr., Barbara Hambly, etc. are deserving serious consideration by WorldCon attendees.

              As an example, as much as I enjoyed Gideon The Ninth last year, and Harrow The Ninth this year, I don’t see any good reason for displacing another work from the shortlist for the sequel in a series in which no other novel has won the best novel award. Starting next year, it is going to be much harder for any similarly situated novel to get above no award on my ballot.

              We have a “Best Series” category. That’s where such nominations belong. IMHO.

              For everyone else, I think I agree with most of your sentiments. I’m simply advocating for a better quality shortlist. If that is a social faux pas bordering on a crime, then I’m guilty as charged. I appreciate your responses as well.

              Regards,
              Dann
              To have peace with this peculiar life; to accept what we do not understand; to wait calmly for what awaits us, you have to be wiser than I am – M.C. Escher

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            10. Dann, you keep repeating the same basic complaint over and over again — you don’t personally like the Hugo finalist lists, therefore there must be something wrong with those lists.

              Well, sorry, but that’s not the way awards work. They are not dependent on your personal approval. Never have been, never will be.

              “It might be improved by adding more nominators.”

              So encourage more people to nominate! Stop armchair quarterbacking and preaching to the choir, and go out and drum up more people to purchase those supporting memberships. Nobody’s stopping you.

              “It might be improved by expanding the reading range of the nominators (SPFBO works – SPSFC works – more horror – more grimdark – just…more).”

              You’re making assumptions again. For instance, I’ve read five of the seven specific authors you mentioned (Peter V. Brett, C.T. Rwizi, Sebastien de Castell, Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, L.E. Modesitt Jr., Barbara Hambly), and I’m even very fond of three of them. That doesn’t mean I’d vote for any of them on a Hugo ballot.

              “I don’t expect any shortlist to match my preferences.”

              So why do you keep complaining when they don’t?

              Liked by 2 people

            11. Once again, you have no idea if Hugo nominators have read those books and authors, but simply didn’t consider them one of the five best of the year.

              Most Hugo voters read widely and from all the novels, novellas, short stories, etc… they read in a given year, they pick their top five.The six novels with the most overall votes become Hugo finalists.

              The fact that Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence or Barbara Hambly have not been Hugo finalists only means that not enough people thought that their books were among the best five of the year, It does not mean that Hugo nominators didn’t read them. They may well have, but enjoyed other books more.

              Liked by 1 person

            12. “ The fact that Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence or Barbara Hambly have not been Hugo finalists only means that not enough people thought that their books were among the best five of the year”

              Also, a point that has been mentioned in many other discussions and also bears mentioning here — and this is directed mostly at Dann:

              The field of speculative fiction has become so wide and so heavily populated that “best” is a very nebulous term these days. I don’t think the Gemmell award winners were any “worse” than the Hugo award winners — or the BSFA winners, or the WFA winners, or whatever. Each award organization has its own vision of the types of books it wants to award, and each of their award winners can arguably be called “best”. There really can’t be a single objective best, so there’s not much use complaining if the book we personally happen to think is best fails to win whatever award.

              Some people don’t appreciate the kinds of books that the Hugos tend to award. Well, tough toenails. There are plenty of other awards out there; alternately, you are free to cast your ballot in the Hugos just like the rest of us, and you are free to recruit people with your tastes to cast their votes alongside you as long as you don’t try to game the system (“hey, I know you like grimdark, come vote in the Hugos” is not at all the same thing as “hey, come vote for this specific list of books in the Hugos”).

              Crying over not getting your way is neither mature nor effective. In the case of this year, as I’ve said before, I thought Harrow was a hot mess as a standalone, and Network Effect is part of a great series but only very good in isolation. But I’m not carrying on about how the system ought to be changed just because I voted differently. I’m only one voter, and I don’t get the last word. And neither do you (Dann).

              Liked by 2 people

            13. @Cora Buhlert

              Once again, you have no idea if Hugo nominators have read those books and authors, but simply didn’t consider them one of the five best of the year.

              That’s fair. By the same token, neither do you have any idea if a sufficient number of nominators have actually read those books/authors. FBOFW, the hard data doesn’t exist.

              My opinion is based on the outcome (i.e. the shortlists) is as reasonable as any other.

              If I have the time, I might go back to see how frequently recent nominees have been subsequently nominated in the following years vs. other periods. I did a piece on the experience of Hugo Best Novel winners a while back that was interesting but didn’t support any particular conclusion.

              @stewart

              I thought Modessit’s “Fires of Paratime” was quite good. Hambly’s “Dragonbane” was also quite good.

              @Danneskjold

              …would surely be on your side in reforming the Hugo rules.

              I am not attempting to reform the Hugo rules. I am encouraging fellow nominators to be a bit more discerning in their use of the “Best Novel” and the “Best Series” awards.

              And to be open to a broader range of authors, themes, publishers, etc.

              I’m an awful person for suggesting that people that nominally enjoy genre fiction that purports to present a broader range of humanity to be open to a broader range of humanity producing genre fiction.

              Regards,
              Dann
              The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection. – George Orwell

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            14. dann665: I am not attempting to reform the Hugo rules. I am encouraging fellow nominators to be a bit more discerning in their use of the “Best Novel” and the “Best Series” awards. And to be open to a broader range of authors, themes, publishers, etc.

              By “a bit more discerning” you mean “nominate what *I* think should be nominated, instead of what they think should be nominated”. By “a broader range” you mean “my range instead of their range”.

              The range of fiction nominated by Hugo voters is already huge. Your complaint is that it doesn’t align with your range.

              Liked by 3 people

            15. Back in the day I did read books by Modessit and Hambly. I’m not and never was a nominator, but if I was, and could relax my internal standard from probable classic to best of the year, a couple of Hambly’s books might have gotten my nod – Dragonbane and Ladies of Mandrigyn. I don’t think I saw anything by Modessit that I would have considered worthy of nomination.

              Liked by 2 people

            16. I have read more than a dozen Modesitt novels, and I don’t think I’ve read one that would come close to being something I would nominate for a Hugo.

              They aren’t bad, but they aren’t great either.

              Liked by 3 people

            17. You can’t force Hugo nominators to read or nominate books they don’t care for, Dann. Also, if people tend to enjoy an author’s work, they will buy their next book and may well nominate it, if they enjoy it.

              I have to admit there are authors who get nominated for a Hugo again and again, whose popularity surprised me, because I don’t like their work all that much. Sometimes, there is also an IMO weak story by a popular author on the ballot, where I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have been nominated if anybody else had written it. Last year’s winning novelette by N.K. Jemisin was such a case – I found it weak and predictable and was honestly surprised to see it win. However, even if I don’t get why a certain author, series, novel or story is so beloved, other Hugo voters obviously disagree.

              Regarding Barbara Hambly, the one novel by her that stands out in my memory is “Bride of the Rat God” from 1994, which would have been a most worthy Hugo finalist IMO. I think it would have been a better Hugo finalist than four of the five finalists that year, but I wasn’t even a Hugo voter back then and the Hugo voters of 1994 obviously felt differently.

              Besides, my favourite SFF book of the year (any year) all too often doesn’t even make the ballot.

              Liked by 1 person

            18. @Cora Buhlert

              You can’t force Hugo nominators to read or nominate books they don’t care for, Dann.

              Something I haven’t even remotely tried to do.

              Sometimes, there is also an IMO weak story by a popular author on the ballot, where I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have been nominated if anybody else had written it.

              I agree.

              Also, I’m subject to the same patterns of habit as anyone else. FTR…

              Besides, my favourite SFF book of the year (any year) all too often doesn’t even make the ballot.

              Me, too. About the only work I nominated that made the short-list this year is the now regrettably renamed “Helicopter Story”.

              I am a bit tickled when my ballot is reasonably aligned with the rest of the voters. While my ballot rarely gets all six nominees in the same order, my top three tends to coincide with the majority of voters.

              In any case, I am not necessarily advocating for any specific work. Instead of advocating for consideration for a broader category of works. Might that be authors that I personally enjoy? Maybe. Sometimes. Works that include themes that speak to me? Maybe. Sometimes. Certainly no more than anyone else that cares about genre fiction. There probably are authors/works that I haven’t read that would improve the list of finalists if they could displace one of the lower finishing works.

              Regards,
              Dann
              To have peace with this peculiar life; to accept what we do not understand; to wait calmly for what awaits us, you have to be wiser than I am – M.C. Escher

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            19. I ADORED!!! “Bride of the Rat God”, but historical fantasy wasn’t getting much traction in the Hugos at that point. It is worked out so perfectly and I re-read it often. I have gushed at Ms. Hambly in person about how much I love it. I force others to read it.

              But I didn’t have a Worldcon membership that year, so I couldn’t nominate or vote for it.

              Liked by 1 person

        3. …the current shortlist omits superior works. Part of that is the result of internal biases of the current pool of nominators.
          You do realize that what you’re complaining about is that they don’t share your internal biases.

          Liked by 5 people

        4. @Dann —

          “That’s why I included Mark Lawrence as an additional example of an author of works that should reasonably have been considered.”

          Adding Mark to the comparisons is another red herring. Mark has never appeared in any Puppy lists that I know of, and nobody here except for you is trying to make any general points about liberal-leaning voters compared to conservative-leaning voters. We are specifically talking about HUGO/NEBULA-leaning voters as compared to PUPPY-leaning voters, which is a different comparison.

          I like most of Mark’s works a lot — didn’t like his Grey Sister books so much. I certainly wouldn’t have put them on the Hugo list. But regardless, there is no book that “should” be on the Hugo list unless Hugo voters vote for it. That is literally the **definition** of what should be on the list.

          Liked by 1 person

        5. No one disputes that Mark Lawrence is popular and he has done well in the Gemmell and Goodreads Choice Awards. However, he simply doesn’t write what Hugo nominators care to read in sufficiently large numbers. Ditto for a lot of other popular authors, e.g. Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Diana Gabaldon, J.D. Robb, Charlaine Harris, etc…. All highly popular and all write SFF, but Hugo nominators don’t particularly care for their work, at least not in sufficiently high numbers to nominate them.

          And yes, the Hugos constantly ignore works I find better than what is actually nominated, too. But there is nothing we can do about that except talk up books, films, stories, etc… that we love and hope that others will check them out and love them, too.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. By golly, me, Cora, and her mom are gonna keep nominating JD Robb so she’ll at least show up in the final stats tally.

            The “In Death” series is longer-running and has more books than any other current SF by a single author instead of a house name, and if near-future police procedurals with fancy gadgets, flying cars, and space habitats isn’t SF, what is?

            Liked by 2 people

            1. I do hope In Death makes the ballot eventually, though I don’t want to imagine the grumbling of Hugo voters finding themselves faced with 50 plus books.

              And yes, I wish more SFF fans and Hugo voters would read the In Death books. They’re massively popular, of course, but most of the readers seem to be romance and mystery readers.

              Like

            2. @Cora and @LT —

              I’m afraid y’all are on your own so far as the In Death books are concerned. I read the first two (? two? I think…) books in the series, but I wasn’t very impressed.

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            3. @Cora Buhlert

              I like JD Robb’s other work quite a bit. It would be a nice change to see some of her work make the shortlist. My wife is a big fan of Nora Roberts. [We both know they are the same person, natch.] Oddly, we don’t like the same books and have completely different reading habits.

              @Contrarius

              Nope. You’re an “awful person” (to use your language) for continuing to insist that Hugo nominators are not already reading the books you think they “ought” to be reading, even though the truth has already been pointed out to you multiple times.

              Please stop doing that.

              That was a bit of sarcasm. I’m not an awful person (nor an “awful person”) by any measure.

              To get to the point, I know you don’t share my perspectives. That’s OK. I don’t expect you to only read what I read, nor do I expect you to enjoy what I enjoy.

              Contrarily, you seem to be want to coerce me (and others) into accepting your perspectives as the only legitimate perspectives to discuss.

              Please stop doing that.

              Regards,
              Dann
              Glad to be from a WEIRD tradition.

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            4. Dann —

              “Contrarily, you seem to be want to coerce me (and others) into accepting your perspectives as the only legitimate perspectives to discuss.

              Please stop doing that.”

              Yeah, no.

              My “perspective” is that people who insist on repeating false claims over and over, ignoring the fact that they’ve already been proven wrong on those same claims multiple times, should be ashamed of themselves for continuing to waste everyone’s time with the same false claims again and again.

              And I’m happy to stick with that perspective.

              Like

    2. You are right that they can be quite volatile and hard to turn into sales and also a difference in rank of N is not of uniform significance. However, on the available evidence we can reasonably reject the idea that Correia is massively outselling Jemisin – there’s just no basis for that claim. The inverse of it? Some evidence but as you say Amazon ranks are fey & mysterious 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    3. @Dann —

      …”Amazon Kindle rankings really aren’t that great for comparing anything more than the relative popularity of a set of novels on one particular day. Wait 24 hours and the Magic 8-ball that is the Kindle ranking system will give you a completely different answer.”

      As I’m pretty sure that I explained to you — multiple times — when you first started coughing up this particular red herring, your claim is true IFF you are only looking at single, isolated, out-of-context ranking comparison at one single point in time. Which is why I followed comparisons of multiple books, over a span of years.

      And you know what? The results are consistent. Over years. The books favored by Hugo/Nebula voters consistently outrank the books favored by puppy voters, over a span of years. That’s a provable fact. No, not *every single* isolated book comparison will fit the mold — but in the aggregate, they consistently do.

      I’m not going to take the time to dig out the numbers right now. But I still have them — so if you insist on it, I can drag them out for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Larry’s works sounded interesting, but when I started reading the first one I was turned off by the Marxist subtext. Corporate leaders (our job creators) are portrayed as incompetent and annoying (and secretly evil), and the hero, rather than simply finding a new job in the free market, fantasizes about initiating violence against his boss. Then the hero gets a job and fulfillment by leaving the private sector and becoming a government agent, licensed by the state to commit violence. Bleah.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Baen published a number of Weird West anthologies. Larry had a story in one of them. (If I have the context correct, effectively an origin story for a prequel series to MHI.) It was rather “SJW” in its carefully selected representation of different groups.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Re Dann: Your thesis: Sequel should not win the Hugo has no place on the shortlist. May I present to you books like Paladin of Souls or every Discworldbook (except the first obviously) Sequels were the later books were better than the first one. The Curse of Challion is a very good book, but I can see why it lost against American Gods but Padin of Souls would be a crime to not have been nominated. Discworld the one book up for a Hugo was withdrawn but leaving of the first (and a few others) there are a lot of books by him that would have made me exited to see on the shortlist, and all except Good Omens where sequels of a book that I like but was not Hugoworthy. (I have to read some Pratchett outside DIscworld)
    Your list. Joe Abercrombie is the one that I know of the list, that I think is the one I would say is a writer that wouldn’t me if he was nominated and won awards. And he has, just not the Hugo. Sometimes writers get more attention from one award than from the other.
    Barbara Hamley seems to have gotten some award love in the 90s (again not Hugo). But her last award seemed to be 20 years ago. C.T. Rwizi has the oposite problem. He is new, this year seems to be his second Astondingyear, his carrier has just started.
    Some others on your list, I would clasifie as good reads but the somethink special why an award is harder for me to see.
    (Sorry because of Computerproblems that is a new coment.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @StefanB

      My thesis, such as it is, is only that it should be harder to justify putting a subsequent entry on the shortlist. Not impossible.

      I also have examples of series entries that I think would be interesting finalists, so it isn’t like it is a hard and fast rule on my end. Only that it will be harder for me to put a series entry above no award without there being some prior success in the series.

      That is just my choice. While I think it is a defensible position, I don’t think anyone is obligated to follow the same course.

      Such a series-based novel would not only need to be a great work on its own, it would need to be nearly self-contained. As an example, despite thoroughly enjoying the Murderbot series (and putting it at the top of my “best series” vote), I found Network Effect to require enough reader exposure to the prior entries to make put it just barely above no award this year. If this were 2022, then it would be slightly below no award on my ballot.

      Again, just my choice. I think it is defensible. And I think if more nominators included that perspective in their evaluation, then we would have a better shortlist in the Best Novel category.

      Regards,
      Dann
      We adore chaos because we love to produce order. – M.C. Escher

      Like

        1. @Dann —

          “By the same token, neither do you have any idea if a sufficient number of nominators have actually read those books/authors.”

          But you are the one making accusations, based on data that you yourself admit doesn’t exist.

          You keep telling us that Hugo nominators should read more widely — that the nomination process would be somehow better if the nominators would just read the books that you think they ought to be reading. But as you yourself just admitted, you have no idea whether they are reading those books nor not. And as we — some of the actual Hugo nominators — have already pointed out to you, we ARE reading those books. We just aren’t nominating them.

          “My opinion is based on the outcome (i.e. the shortlists) is as reasonable as any other.”

          No, it isn’t — since we have already pointed out multiple counterexamples rebutting your claim.

          “I’m an awful person for suggesting that people that nominally enjoy genre fiction that purports to present a broader range of humanity to be open to a broader range of humanity producing genre fiction.”

          Nope. You’re an “awful person” (to use your language) for continuing to insist that Hugo nominators are not already reading the books you think they “ought” to be reading, even though the truth has already been pointed out to you multiple times.

          Please stop doing that.

          Like

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