Category: Hugo awards

My Hugo Novel Best Picks

Nominations have closed for 2017. I’m not going to list other categories because I feel less confident about my choices. Short fiction, in particular, can be hard to pick favourites. Also, I don’t like listing the awards for people rather than works.

  1. The Obelisk Gate by N K Jemisin; – maybe not the same punch as The Fifth Season but still a stand out work and a strong promise for the concluding volume.
  2. City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennet; I was late arriving to City of Stairs (pushed off the 2015 ballot by Puppy shenanigans). Another solid mid-trilogy fantasy that breaks fantasy conventions.
  3. Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee; Didn’t blow my socks off initially but worked its way into my head and I discovered sometime later my socks were missing. Perhaps the socks were never there or maybe the reality with socks was a heresy.
  4. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders; A story about genre fiction in the form of genre fiction. I suspect it won’t win because of its many marmite qualities but my favourite of 2016 I think.
  5. The Liberation by Ian Tregillis; I really like Tregillis’s books despite their tendency to go to some dark places. This alt history Franco-Dutch war of alchemical clockwork versus chemistry, plus duelling women spies, hides deep ideas about free-will. Concluding volume in the Alchemy Wars series.

Looking at that list I see:

  • they each do an SF/Fantasy crossover thing in quite different ways. Each of them have a liminal quality to them: the reality warping heresies in the Ninefox space opera; the quasi-magical Orogenes of Obelisk Gate; the post-divine world in City of Blades; the alchemic robots of the Liberation; and lastly an overt conflict/romance between two characters – one rooted in fantasy tropes and one in SF tropes.
  • One series start, one series end, two mid-series and one stand-alone. Is modern SF/F too series dominated? Maybe, the investment in world building makes trilogies a wise investment in time for both readers and authors. I don’t think a mid-series book has a won a Hugo aside from Harry Potter (may be wrong there).
  • Looking at other round-ups ( ) Ninefox Gambit is looking like a strong contender as is All the Birds in the Sky. However, both novels have strong marmite factors – nominations self-select for the people who liked (or weren’t turned off by) whatever thing it was that other people didn’t like. Final votes depend on the finalists winning over some readers new to the book – I suspect both Ninefox & ATBITS will generate some lively debate.

Speaking of round-ups, thank you to the people who have nominated me for Fanwriter. I was a bit freaked out when people began suggesting it but I’m coping – I don’t generally handle praise well.

Lastly, you might not believe this because of the number of typos and solecisms in my posts but I run Grammarly over my blog posts. It made this helpful suggestion:

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 7.35.34 am


Hugo Noms are Done (or as much as they are going to be)

Tried to fill as much as I can but stopped when it became a silly hunt for things. So something in every category but not every category is full. Kudos to and to for making it so much easier to find that thing that you read and meant to nominate but nearly forgot.

For eligibility, I built a complex eligibility measuring device that you wave over the nomination and it measures that amount of sci-fi-ness in the work. As we know the science-fiction/fantasy capacity of a thing come from the tiny sffnol particles inside it. Without the sffnols, science-fiction/fantasy could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the genre. They continually speak to us, telling us the will of the genre. When you learn to quiet your mind, you’ll hear them speaking to you.

‘Wait,’ I hear you say, ‘you are just quoting The Phantom Menace.’ Yes, that’s how deep this goes.


Draft Timeline Update

This is the draft of Hugo 2016 section of the Puppy Kefuffle Timeline. Once this section is done, I’ll call the timeline done and complete. Any further events, kefuffles etc won’t be included on this timeline.

Suggestions, edits, typo-corrections all welcome. The interval between slates/lists being announced and the nominations being announced is a bit lacking in events. I haven’t included much on the 3SV and EPH+ discussions yet either.

Vox Day’s No Good Horrible Very Bad Week

Not the best week for our favourite evil-genius.oneyedD5

Sunday: The Hugo Awards didn’t collapse but instead voted for top-notch works. The multiple dark threats from 2015 amounted to little more than Space Raptor Butt Invasion aka the joke that backfired on the devilman Vox. Here he is in 2015.


Tonight will tell us one very important thing. It will give us the opportunity to see what their true numbers are and reveal the true extent of their fully mobilized strength. Last year, the maximum No Award vote was 1,100. This year it will be more, somewhere between 1,100 and 4,000.

Being SJWs, they doubled-down as per the Second Law, giving us the chance to break them once and for all. But even if we don’t, even if we only burn Munich instead of taking Berlin, even if they are successful in “sending a message”, what we hear will not be what they wish for us to hear. Because what we will hear is this: Next year, bring more puppies.

Ooops. I think I can spot where the brilliant plan fell down.

Tuesday: Vox is struggling to make sense of Space Raptor Butt Invasion. The Vox Xanatos gambit was this:

  • SJWs will either say they hate it and not vote for it and the Hugos will be all embarrassed that it was on the ballot.
  • Or the SJWs will say that they love it and hence have to vote for it and it will a Hugo and the Hugos will have “butt” in it ha, ha, ha I made them say “butt”

Unfortunately somehow in the complex psychological four-dimensional chess game that Vox was playing (which oddly looks like the reasoning of a 10-year-old playground bully with emotional difficulties), he missed this option:

  • Hugo voters will find Chuck Tingle hilarious, his baiting of Vox Day even more hilarious, embrace him as an ally and give him big cheers – but not vote him a Hugo because Space Raptor Butt Invasion isn’t really Hugo worthy.

Vox ends up fuming :

Apparently those folks appreciate Mr. Tingle just about as much as they appreciate me. Did I not tell you that would happen despite the SJW’s feigned joy over how terribly funny and brilliant they found Mr. Tingle’s work?

Those darn SJWs! They must have been pretending just to wind Vox up! Gosh, I wish that was true because it would be even funnier than the reality.

Wednesday: The massive post-Hugo sulk continues as the best reaction Vox can come up with is to try to be rude to Nnedi Okorafor. Ah! That is the brilliant four-dimensional chess gambit Vox was going to play along!

Thursday: Donald Trump goes all wibbly-wobbly on immigration. While arithmetic is not the Alt-Right’s strong suit, even Donald appears to have spotted that he needs a broader base than immigration-paranoia. As pivots go it was weak and incoherent but enough to cause a Vox-sulk and use the ‘c’ word: It’s all OK though because just doesn’t care.

I don’t actually care what he did or didn’t do, but since some of you obviously want to get into this, be my guest. But do it here, not in the other threads.

Thursday again: Things look up a bit for Vox, as Hillary Clinton makes a big deal about the alt-right. Sure it’s bad for Trump but a side-effect is an increased profile for the alt-right:

Friday: Coverage of Hillary’s speech in the mainstream media – but what’s this? Quotes from VDARE, Cernovich, Milo and assorted racists but no Vox. Heck even I was disappointed for him – I wanted to point at a quote and say ‘I had a stupid twitter argument with that guy!’ but ’twas not to be.

Saturday: OK timezone wise I’m not sure it is Saturday yet wherever Vox is. Thing is August 27 is about 30 days since the end of the Democratic National Convention. Here is Vox in early August:

As for the polls, I remind you of my previous assessment: they don’t mean ANYTHING until 30 days after the end of the second convention.

If there is no discernible Trump trend by then, it MIGHT be time to start considering the possibility of a Hillary win. In the meantime, pay no attention to the media’s attempt to establish a false narrative.

And this is what the polls look like now:





The EPH Analysis

An analysis of proposed new Hugo voting rules is out. It’s disappointing to some but I think it validates the change to EPH.

The story so far:

In response to the Sad Puppy/Rabid Puppy slate of the 2015 Hugo Awards, a voting system called E Pluribus Hugo was proposed and passed at the 2015 Worldcon Business meeting. The system used a process of weightings and elimination rounds to make the nomination process have more proportionality without changing the basic mechanics of how people nominate things.

Much thought and tinkering was put into EPH but what it lacked was real data. EPH should make the list of finalists more proportional to the underlying groupings of voters. However, that meant that the impact of EPH couldn’t really be known without knowing to what extent Hugo voters clustered around choices anyway. Without slates, do Hugo voters form natural groupings (perhaps along sub-genres or sub-fandoms) or are they just a noisy mess of stuff? Without real data there is no way of knowing.

While EPH was passed at the 2015 Worldcon Business meeting, it requires ratification this year to come into effect. As part of that process an analysis of the 2015 and 2014 nomination ballots has been done and the results are just out…

What it all means…

I don’t know. No, that isn’t a useful reaction. OK, I’ll try again.

Below is a list of possible talking points, reactions, counter-argument things. I made them up. They don’t necessarily reflect actual people’s views (I’ll say when it does). Bold represent a possible reaction (not mine) and not bold is my response.

I’m also a hostage to fortune because more results are coming – post the Hugo ceremony, data on the 2016 nominations will come out and who knows what that will show.

For a different take try Nicholas Whyte

2015 results show that EPH doesn’t fix the slate problem!

No one thing can fix that problem. However, in most categories, at least one additional non-slated works made it onto the ballot with EPH. That means, probably, instead of No Award winning several categories in 2015, a worthy finalist would have won instead.

EPH+No Award together produce a strong disincentive to puppy-style slates. Slate voting will produce legitimate votes and so is bound to have some impact. The combination of EPH and No Award means that a slate will find it hard to sweep a category and win a Hugo.

EPH doesn’t stop those slate-inclined who just want to get to be a finalist and don’t care about winning!

True, but that was a given. Get enough votes and you get to be a finalist. EPH does demonstrably reduce the chance of that succeeding for a slate of nominees but it doesn’t do anything about a single nominee. Again, get enough votes and you get to be a finalist. The only guaranteed way of stopping that is to create a wholly different kind of award.

There is a non-puppy related change in 2015 Best Graphic Story!

That is interesting. With EPH instead of Sex Criminal 1 getting nominated Schlock Mercenary gets to be a finalist.

Sex Criminals got 60 noms in total and Schlock Mercenary got 51. However, Sex Criminals must have been more clustered with other nominees (such as Saga?) and hence lost out a bit to Schlock Mercenary.

With only one slate nominee, this was an interesting category. I liked Sex Criminals, but I think this is a positive demonstration of EPH. It should result in more variety of nominees without slates.

They didn’t include Best Dramatic Presentation!

The reason the report gives is this:

In testing, it was identified that the results in two categories (Dramatic Presentation, Long and Short Form) were usually producing results with many nominators submitting matching entries to other nominators. This was more due to the smaller pool to nominate from compared to other categories than any external coordination of nominating ballots. As such, we decided to produce results with these categories excluded, as changes in the dramatic presentation categories aren’t as useful for gauging if EPH is acting as appropriate where desired as the other categories would be.

That seems silly to me. There are lots of reasons to expect more organic coordination of ballots in these categories, and seeing how EPH works in that circumstance is useful as a way of comparison.

I hope they change their minds at some point.

A single coordinated minority of less than 20% would still average controlling over 80% of the ballot!

Aside from the exclamation mark, that is a direct quote from the report. This appears to be true but controlling only 80% of the ballot is enough to kill Puppy-style slates without having No Award win multiple categories.

Killing the incentive to use the 2015 Puppy slate tactic is what EPH needs to do. It will do that.

EPH+ would be better!

Probably yes, but I don’t know if other side effects (see below) would be worse.

2015 Puppy-style slates are last year’s problem. EPH doesn’t deal with THIS year’s problem!

True. However, the structural weakness of the Hugo voting system exists regardless and the cat is out of the bag. Others can try to game the Hugo Awards in the same way and perhaps more covertly.

As for the griefing style tactics of Vox Day, I think that needs a qualitatively different approach but that is an argument for another day.

EPH knocks out a potential winner in 2014!

There are few changes to finalists with the 2014 data. I think that confirms that without slates EPH will tend to deliver similar results as the current system. However, what isn’t guaranteed is that the results must be exactly the same.

In 2014 three results are notable.

  • Firstly Best Editor Short has a swap of finalists in the last spot – Sheila Wiliams (86) swaps with Bryan Thomas Schmidt (80).
  • Pro artists also has some swaps, partly because in 2014 a tie for fifth place meant 6 nominees. Essentially four artists with 50, 49, 49 and 48 nominations end up with a different ordering with EPH. The EPH ranking ends up as 49, 48, 49, 50 and that looks fine to me because I have that special kind of innumeracy that results from being overly numerate.
  • Fancast has the most understandable change but also the most problematic. In 2014 this was a three-way tie for last finalist at 35 nominations each. EPH breaks the tie and resolves the issue with a single nominee. Unfortunately, one of those three (SF Signal Podcast) won and would have been eliminated by EPH.

The thing is these are all pretty much very close votes with smaller numbers of voters. Anything different about 2014 would probably have resulted in different outcomes. For the Fancast result, an internet outage or a sick cat could have ended up with a different result. The least error in collating the data could have ended up with different results.

Put another way: Hugo voters did not have a clear consensus of which of these people/works should have been nominated. These cases are not good arguments against EPH.

Yes, but, but EPH+ might make that problem worse!

I’ve really no idea. I guess it might broaden what we might think of as a marginal tie and lead to more notable discrepancies between the number of nominating ballots and grabbing that last spot in the finalists. I don’t know.

The current system doesn’t avoid this issue, it really just hides it. For some categories, there are finalists who we really can’t say are substantially more nominated than others. The differences are small enough to be down to happenstance. And yes, some of those may actually end up being winners.

I think the answer is the number of nominees needs to be more flexible than just 5. However, deciding the rules on when to expand the number of nominees beyond an exact tie is unclear.

Where nominator coordination is not present, there are still significant numbers of changes not only to the long list, but to ballots where it’s not generally considered for anything untoward to have happened. Items removed from the 2014 ballot included a
winner of the Hugo. Had EPH been in place, they would not have been on the ballot.

That is a direct quote from Dave McCarty’s conclusion on the report. Sorry, but that is a flawed counterfactual. If we could somehow rewind the tape back to early 2014 and re-run the 2014 nomination ballot again, how likely is it that we’d have ended up with that exact tie that occurred? EPH changed the result because it broke a tie and the other places where there were changes were also spots with very close votes.

Almost ANY change would have meant that something slightly different would have happened! For SF Signal not have been a finalist required ONE nominator’s vote to be different

The changes to the Ballot and Long list are not easily verified and for people reviewing the detailed results at the end the only way to check that the process is working correctly would require access to secret nomination data and significant time.

That’s Dave McCarty again. Well, ANY verification of results needs access to ballots. Given Dave McC is worried about the 2014 Fancast result shifting by possibly one vote, to verify the CURRENT process would require checking that ballots had been classified correctly and counted correctly.

Assuming the underlying ballot data is correct (i.e. everybody’s nominations have been correctly collated) and in a machine readable form (e.g. a text file or spreadsheet), the EPH check takes seconds. Don’t trust the EPH program you are using? Use a different one and see if you get the same results. EPH is not hard to code, I made an Excel version that only uses standard Excel formulas and NO extra code at all.

So, yes, cleaning the nomination data and getting it all tickety-boo takes time – without a doubt BUT if we wanted to verify that the results DON’T CHANGE under the CURRENT process YOU WOULD STILL NEED TO DO THAT.


Hugo Choices 13: Everything else

Previously on Hugo Choices:

Current Hugo State of Play

Hugo Choices 1: Best Novel

Hugo Choices 2: Best Related Work – The Story of Moira Greyland

Hugo Choices 3: Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form

Hugo Choices 4: Best Short Story

Hugo Choices 5: Best Fanzine

Hugo Choices 6: Best Fan Writer

Hugo Choices 7: Best Editor – Long Form

Hugo Choices 8: Best Semiprozine

Hugo Choices 9: Best Graphic Story

Hugo Choices 10: Best Fan Artist

Hugo choices 11: Novelettes

Hugo Choices 12: Novellas

And that’s it. Pro-artist, Editor short from, Dramatic Presentation – short etc; really didn’t feel I could contribute anything useful to the discussion. I’ll vote but sporadically in those categories.

Phew! As always hard work!

Retros? Hmm. I’m just hunting through for stuff for things that stand out to me.

Meantime – don’t forget to vote if you are a member.