Best of 2016: Tor.com Reviewer’s Choice

Tor.com returns with it’s annual Reviewer’s Choice post. This year, they had 11 of their reviewers chose roughly 3 books each. That’s a lot of opinion crammed into one post. Historically, the tastes of Tor.com have aligned pretty well with the tastes of the Hugo voters, so expect a lot of overlap when the eventual Hugo nominations come out.

I only included the “main choices,” which Tor.com conveniently bolded for us. There was no overlap among the 11 reviewers, and not everyone chose 3 books. Here’s what was listed:

Hagseed, Margaret Atwood
The Power, Naomi Alderman
This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab
Malafrena, Ursula K. Le Guin (originally published 1979, republished as part of the Library of America Le Guin volumes, definitely not eligible for anything in 2016)
Queen of the Night, Alexander Chee
Black Panther, Ta-Nehisi Coates (comic book)
The Sunlight Pilgrims, Jenni Fagan
A Closed and Common Orbit, Becky Chambers
The Bloodsworn, Erin Lindsey
Conspiracy of Ravens, Lila Bowen
Lovecraft Country, Matt Ruff
All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders
Too Like the Lightning, Ada Palmer
The Fisherman, John Langan
An Accident of StarS, Fox Meadows
Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee
What is Not Yours is Not Yours, Helen Oyeyemi (collection)
Ghostland, Colin Dickey (non-fiction)
A Tree or a Person or a Wall, Matt Bell (collection)
The Unfinished World and Other Stories, Amber Sparks
The Medusa chronicles, Stephen Baxter and Alasdair Reynolds
Central Station, Lavie Tidhar
The Race, Nina Allan (originally published 2014)
Wicked Weeds, Pedro Cabiya
Death’s End, Cixin Liu
Iraq+100: Stories from a Century After the Invasion (collection)
The Fireman, Joe Hill
The Summer Dragon, Todd Lockwood
The Queen of Blood, Sarah Beth Durst
Furnace and Other Stories, Livia Llewellyn (collection)
Mongrels, Stephen Graham Jones
The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle

A long list, but with many of this year’s likely contenders, such as Yoon Ha Lee, Ada Palmer, Charlie Jane Anders, and Cixin Liu, making an appearance. Who’s missing? N.K. Jemisin, for one, which seems an odd oversight. Maybe the Tor.com crowd thought everyone else would recommend it. Connie Willis doesn’t make it for Crosstalk, and Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Blades shows up only as an also ran. China Mieville has not been doing well on year-end lists so far, and The Last Days of New Paris, novella or not, doesn’t make it here either. There’s no real revelations or surprises, but that’s not what these lists are for: in their totality, they’ll give us a picture of the major contenders.

Best of 2016: The Guardian

Adam Roberts, a major SFF author himself, returns with his annual best Science Fiction and Fantasy books of the year in The Guardian. Check it out here. It’s not so much a list but a discussion, and this is what he mentions:

Death’s End, Cixin Liu
Central Station, Lavie Tidhar
Sorcerer to the Crown, Zen Cho (a book from last year that Roberts points out already won the British Fantasy award; I don’t get why it is on this list)
Iraq + 100: Stories from a Century After the Invasion (story collection)
Azanian Bridges, Nick Wood
Too Like the Lightning, Ada Palmer
A Closed and Common Orbit, Becky Chambers
Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee
The Gradual, Christopher Priest
The Race, Nina Allan (this is a 2014 book, but was recently republished)

N.K. Jemisin is mentioned in the opening paragraph as having won the Hugo this year, but there isn’t a mention of The Obelisk Gate by name. Good to see some praise for Central Station, one of my favorite books of last year, but also too literary and too strange to likely make much of an impact on the Hugo or Nebula this year. Death’s End—my favorite SF novel of 2016, if you’re keeping score at home—shows up first. I wonder if it can return to the Hugo or Nebula ranks after The Dark Forest didn’t make it last year? Will Ken Liu’s translation—he translated The Three-Body Problem and Death’s End but not The Dark Forest—make that much of a difference?

I think that Too Like the Lightning and Ninefox Gambit showing up on another list means they’re emerging as the critical favorites of 2016. If they keep this momentum up, they’ll have a good chance to make a major impact this awards season.

Best of 2016: Amazon’s Top 20 SFF Books

Amazon has their annual list upThe Wolf Road by Beth Lewis, a post-apocalyptic novel with what seems to be Western overtones, was their pick as the top SFF book of the year. Amazon always pushes in a more mainstream direction, given their massive audience Here are the books that made their top 20, in no particular order:

Death’s End, Cixin Liu
The Diabolic, S.J. Kincaid
The Hike, Drew Magary
The Wolf Road, Beth Lewis
The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin
The Invisible Library, Genevieve Cogman
Morning Star, Pierce Brown
All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders
Age of Myth, Michael J. Sullivan
Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire
The Summer Dragon, Todd Lockwood
The Burning Isle, Will Panzo
Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, Meg Elison\
City of Blades, Robert Jackson Bennett
Company Town, Madeline Ashby
The Dark Side, Anthony O’Neill
Skinner Lyce, Patricia Ward
Star Nomad, Lindsay Buroker
Machinations, Hayley Stone

That chalks up another list for Jemisin, Yoon Ha Lee, Charlie Jane Anders, and Robert Jackson Bennett. No Lois McMaster Bujold or Connie Willis. Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville also hasn’t done well so far on year end lists—maybe too weird, both in genre and content?

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead won as overall fiction book of the year. That has enough magic realist elements to be eligible in the Hugo and Nebula, so it’ll be intersting to see if it pulls a The Yiddish Policeman’s Union and has an impact in the SFF awards, or whether it just dominates the literary fiction scene.

Best of 2016: Publisher’s Weekly, Goodreads Semifinals

That time of year is upon us: year-end lists! A few are beginning to leak out. I keep track of all the Mainstream ones in this spreadsheet—these are from websites, newspapers, etc., that are not “specialty” SFF sites. These selections tend to lean either towards the mainstream and populist (Goodreads) or towards the literary (Publisher’s Weekly). These mainstreams lists aren’t a great predictor of the Hugo or Nebula, but they do at least tend to get us in the neighborhood. If your book isn’t popular enough to make some year-end lists, you’re probably not popular enough to get a Hugo nomination.

On to the lists:

Publisher’s Weekly is always an odd list, tending to emphasize more literary Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. They only do one list for all three genres:

After Atlas, Emma Newman
All Good Children, Dayna Ingram
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, Meg Elison
A Green and Ancient Light, Frederic S. Durbin
Kingfisher, Patricia A. McKillip
The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife actually came out in June 2014, but was reprinted by a bigger press in 2016. It won the Philip K. Dick Award in 2015. Way to jump on the bandwagon, Publisher’s Weekly! McKillip is a past favorite in the World Fantasy Award, so she might show up in that award. Jemisin is obviously the big name here.

As an aside, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead made their Best Fiction category. This is a novel with enough magic realist elements (an actual underground railroad during pre-Civil War America) that it could get some play for SFF awards. Whitehead has several other genre works to his name, most notably the zombie novel Zone One. Whitehead is probably in line to win some major literary awards this year: the National Book Award, the Pulitzer, etc. Since the speculative elements are not Whitehead’s focus, I’m not expecting a Chabon style literary sweep of the Hugos and Nebulas by The Underground Railroad, but it could happen.

The Goodreads Choice awards have now announced their semifinalists, a broad list of 20 works in both the Fantasy and Science Fiction category. You can click the links to see the full list, but here’s my main contenders from the Fantasy category:

Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire (novella length at under 40,000 words)
All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders
The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin
City of Blades, Robert Jackson Bennett

Works from series like V.E. Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows, Mark Lawrence’s The Wheel of Osheim, Brandon Sanderson’s The Bands of Mourning, and Brent Weeks’ The Blood Mirror also appear. While unlikely to grab Hugo or Nebula nominations based on past trends, could they show up in the new Hugo Best series category?

In the SF list, here are what I see as the main contenders:

Crosstalk, Connie Willis
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, Lois McMaster Bujold
Morning Star, Pierce Brown
Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee
Death’s End, Cixin Liu
A Closed and Common Orbit, Becky Chambers
Too Like the Lightning, Ada Palmer

The Long Cosmos by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter and A Night Without Stars by Peter F. Hamilton also appear; both are part of a series, and unlikely to get Best Hugo Novel or Nebula noms. Perhaps they’ll be competitive in the Hugo Best Series. Right now, I have Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel and Dark Matter by Blake Crouch as populist successes that don’t fit the mold of past Hugo or Nebula nominees. If they show up on a lot of year-end lists, I’ll elevate them to contenders.

So, where are we after these first lists? Jemisin has pulled into a lead with 2 recommendations. She’s not likely to relinquish that lead any time soon. Any big snubs so far? Mieville not making it for Last Days of New Paris is a little surprise, but that’s a novella and hard to place in terms of genre (alternative history?). Last year, I tracked 24 “best of” lists, so we still have a long ways to go before clarity.

Final 2016 SFF Awards Meta-List

As I wrap up my analysis from last year, let’s look at my final 2016 SFF Awards Metalist, now with all winners marked. This covers books published in 2015 that got award nominations in 2016. For this list, which gives a good 10,000 foot view of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards, I track 14 different awards to see who got nominated and who won. Here’s the top of the list, with all the books that got more than 2 nominations:

Nominations Title Author Wins
5 The Fifth Season Jemisin, N.K. 1
5 Uprooted Novik, Naomi 3
4 Europe at Midnight Hutchinson, Dave
4 Seveneves Stephenson, Neal 1
3 Ancillary Mercy Leckie, Anne 1

Jemisin’s The Fifth Season and Novik’s Uprooted finished atop the list with 5 nominations each, although Novik grabbed 3 wins (Nebula, British Fantasy, Locus Fantasy) to Jemisin’s one (Hugo). Seveneves won the Prometheus, and Ancillary Mercy won the Locus SF. A wide range of books won SF awards this year, including lesser known works such as The Chimes by Anna Smaill (British Fantasy), Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman (Campbell), and Lizard Radio by Pat Schmaltz (Tiptree). I’ll also note that this list correlated with 4/5 of the Hugo nominees, with only Hutchinson missing out.

I think a list like this gives us a good place to start thinking about the 2017 SFF Awards season. Since the SFF voting public doesn’t change massively from year to year, they tend to duplicate picks from year to year. For 2016, Jemisin is back with The Obelisk Gate, a sequel to The Fifth Season; I expect that to be a stalwart on the 2017 awards circuits, probably matching the number of noms and wins of The Fifth Season. Novik published League of Dragons in 2016, the final book of her 9 novel Temraire sequence. Books that are #9 in a series rarely get SFF awards nomination, although she may be a possibility in the new Best Series Hugo.

Leckie and Stephenson didn’t publish books last year, which opens up some spots in the the awards. Leckie in particular has grabbed a host of nominations in these 14 awards over the past 3 years: 16 nominations and 9 wins by my count. That’s a big vacuum to fill: who’s going to step and grab these spots?

Dave Hutchinson is an interesting possibility for the Hugo this year. His third volume in his Fractured Europe series just came out November 3, Europe in Winter. Hutchinson is not particularly well known here in the United States, but he’s racked up 2 best novel  nominations on the Clarke (a British award), 3 in the British Science Fiction Award (obviously British), and 2 in the Campbell (a more literary American SF award). Could the Hugos being held in Europe this year—and presumably more British voters making the trip to Finland than Americans—result in a European bounce? London in 2014 didn’t produce much of a boon for European writers, but Glasgow in 2005 resulted in an all British/Scottish final ballot. The new Hugo voting rules will prevent a 2005 style-sweep, but they could also help push a British or maybe even Finnish author onto the ballot. Hutchinson might also be competitive in the Best Series category, although I think Charles Stross and his well-liked Laundry Files might be the better bet for the Best Series category, given the fact that he’s won the Best Hugo Novella 3 times already for works from that series.

Looking further down the list, no one from last year’s nominees really jumps out as a major contender for 2016. Amazingly, The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu didn’t get a single SFF award nomination last year despite winning the Hugo the year before, which probably speaks poorly to Death’s End‘s chances. Ken Liu only got the Nebula nomination for The Grace of Kings, so he might be a contender in that category again. Becky Chambers got only one nomination for The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, but that was an indie published book that came out in several different formats over several different years; her sequel A Closed and Common Orbit has none of those publication issues and may grab some nominations.

All in all, we’re going to be looking at some new faces for 2017. I’ll start hacking away with some preliminary lists of contenders for the 2017 Hugo and Nebula later this week.

Goodreads Choice Award Voting Now Open

The annual Goodreads Choice Awards, one of the open “Best of the Year” votes on the internet, is now open. While this vote has never correlated well to the Hugos and Nebulas, it does give us some initial insight into what the most popular books of the year are, at least with regard to the Goodreads audience. Historically, the Hugo and Nebula winners have appeared on the list of the Goodreads semifinalists, but that isn’t a huge feat because there are 20 semifinalists for each category. If you can’t hit the eventual winners when you’re choosing 40 texts . . . Still, it helps to narrow down the field of contenders.

At this point (Opening Round), Goodreads selects 15 books to let people vote on; voters can also write in their own works. In the SF category, you’ve got heavy hitters like Cixin Liu’s Death’s End, Bujold’s Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, as well as popular texts like Pierce Brown’s Morning Star or Blake Crouch’s (of Wayward Pines fame) Dark Matter. Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter show up with The Long Cosmos, the final volume of the Long Earth series—and a potential Hugo Best Series nominee, given it will be the last time readers can vote for Pratchett. Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning shows up, and that’s a book I have my eye on to see if it grabs momentum. Connie Willis is missing—did Crosstalk come out too late in the year? Remember, voters can write books in, so it has a chance to show up in the semifinals.

Fantasy is more of a genre mish-mash on Goodreads, pulling together epic fantasy, things like J.K. Rowling’s play Harry Potter and the First Child, and a bunch of paranormal romances books. Aside from Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate and Charlie Jane Anders’ All the Birds in the Sky, I don’t see a ton of awards contenders on that list. Sanderson might be viable for a Best Hugo Series nomination—would Mistborn be tempting? Or the entire Cosmere? Also, will Harry Potter be nominated for Best Series on the backs of The First Child? The rules would seem to make that acceptable.

Goodreads gives us one of our first glimpses into the avalance of “Best of 2016” lists—we’ll get a bunch more soon. Head on over and vote and let your voices be heard!

Back in Action

I’ve been ridiculously busy over the past few months (one of those good news/bad news promotions at work), but November is upon us. Break the flannel shirts out! It’s time to begin grinding the gears for the 2017 SFF award season!

The dust is beginning to clear from the wreckage of last year, and 2017 is looking to be interesting and unusual. We’ve got the largest changes to the Hugo ruleset in . . . . well, ever. This is going to force Chaos Horizon to totally overhaul our prediction methodologies. Basically, rule changes create more unknowns, which means I’ll have to simplify my prediction systems.

Aside from N.K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate and Connie Willis’s Crosstalk, there aren’t a ton of obvious Hugo/Nebula books out there. Gentlemen Jole and the Red Queen by Louis McMaster Bujold feels like it was published years ago, but Bujold has always been a Hugo favorite. Will books like Charlie Jane Anders’ All the Birds in the Sky, Ada Palmner’s Too Like the Lightning, or Yoon Ha Lee’s Ninefox Gambit begin to pick up momentum? Will Cixin Liu make a Hugo comeback for Death’s End after The Dark Forest missed last year? Will China Mieville’s The Last Days of New Paris or Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway be classified as novels or novellas? How will the Best Series Hugo mix up the Best Novel category?

There’ll be plenty to analyze here. One of the first things I’m going to do is update the 2016 Awards Meta-List. Just this week,  the World Fantasy Award went to the rather obscure Chimes by Anna Smaill. This is a juried award, as per the sfadb, which accounts for some of its interesting winners:

Process
Convention members nominate two entries per category; judges can add three or more nominees per category. The judges select the winners.

The World Fantasy Award marks the end of the 2016 SFF Award Season. By updating the Meta-List, we’ll see where exactly we ended last year, we should give us a nice springboard in the next year.

With that list in place, we’ll begin to take a look at some of the more interesting contenders for 2017. I’ve got my eye on some interesting potential dark horses—it should be a wide open year, and the race is currently anyone’s.

2016 Hugos: Some Initial Stat Analysis

So they put the stats up already.

It’s actually a pretty easy analysis this year to see what the Rabid Puppy numbers were in the Nomination and Final stage. We can use Vox Day himself to do that: on the Rabid Puppies, he included himself in the “Best Editor Long Form” category and then later, in his final vote post, suggested himself as #1 in that category. Given the controversy surrounding him, I think we can safely assume that almost all the votes for him were from the Rabid Puppies.

So, here’s where he landed:

Nomination stage:

801 Toni Weisskopf 45.41%
465 Anne Sowards 26.36% *
461 Jim Minz 26.13%
437 Vox Day 24.77%
395 Mike Braff 22.39% **
302 Sheila Gilbert 17.12% 287
Liz Gorinsky 16.27%

So that means 437 votes for the Rabid Puppies in the nomination stage. This is in line with other obvious Puppy picks: Somewhither by John C. Wright with 533,(novels always pick up more votes), 433 votes for Stephen King’s “Obits” (King is a major author, but no one thinks of him for a Hugo), 387 for “Space Raptor Butt Invasion,” 482-384 in the Puppy swept Best Related Work category, 398 for the Castalia House blog, and so forth. That’s a stable enough range for me to say that the Rabid Puppy strength in the nomination stage was 533-384, with around 440 being right in the middle.

So what happened? The Rabid Puppy vote collapsed from the Nomination to the Final Voting stage. This most likely happened because you can nominated in 2016 for free (provided you paid in 2015), but to vote in the final stage in 2016, you had to pay again. Here’s the stats from the first round of the Best Long Form Editor:

Vox Day 165

It’s highly unusual to get 437 votes in the nomination stage and then collapse to 165 in the more popular, more voted in final stage. That 165 represents the most “Rabid” of the Rabid Puppies; some of the other Rabid Puppy picks did considerably better in the first round of voting “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” got 392 votes in the first round of Short Story, for instance. It’s hard to know what exactly to chalk that up to at this point—people enjoying the joke, a broader pool of Rabid Puppy associated voters who didn’t want to vote Vox Day #1 in Long Form Editor.

My initial conclusion then would be around 440 Rabid Puppies in the nomination stage but less than 200 in the final voting stage. Thoughts? Seeing something I’m not?

Jemisin Wins Hugo Award for Best Novel

At WorldCon, they just announced that N.K. Jemisin won the Hugo for Best Novel for The Fifth Season this year! Congratulations to her in what was hard-fought and controversial year.

Jemisin’s win is something of a surprise. We’ll have the stats soon, but Uprooted had a lot of the traditional markers going for it: it won the Nebula, it won the Locus Fantasy, it was more popular then The Fifth Season on Goodreads and Amazon. Jemisin’s win goes to show how unpredictable the Hugos have become–the influx of new voters, along with the high sentiments regarding the Puppy controversy, have basically shot past Hugo patterns all to hell. After ten or so years when the Nebula winner pretty regularly won the Hugo, this may mark a new era in Hugo history. It certainly makes for a more dynamic award, even if it plunges Chaos Horizon and my predictions, into, well, chaos.

In the other categories, things played out largely as expected. In many cases, there was only one non-Puppy choice; that usually won. The two exceptions were in the Campbell, where Andy Weir beat Alyssa Wong, and in Novelette, where Hao Jingfang beat Brooke Bolander. Both Weir and Jingfang were very mainstream picks, however, and could have made the ballot without any Rabid support. In general, the Hugo voters didn’t No Award” Hugo categories just because of overlap with the Rabid Puppies. Neither Gaiman nor File 770 were punished for appearing on the slate. When categories were given “No Award” (Best Related Work, Fancast),  it was because none of the nominees overlapped with typical Hugo picks.

As the dust clears and the stats come out, I’ll continue to do some more analysis. Whatever we can say about 2016, we know that 2017 will be even more unpredictable. We’ve got ballot rule changes, more high passions and controversies, and a new seat of books to ponder over!

Final 2016 Hugo Best Novel Prediction

Let’s me finalize my 2016 Hugo Best Novel Prediction:

  1. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  2. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
  3. Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
  4. Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
  5. The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

Remember, Chaos Horizon doesn’t predict what I want to happen, but rather what I think will happen based on my analysis and understanding of past Hugo trends.

First off, those past trends have been shot full of holes in recent years. The Puppy controversies have fundamentally transformed the voting pool of the Hugos, meaning that past trends might not apply given how widely the voters have changed. New voters have come in with the Puppies; new voters have come in to contest the Puppies; some of those voters might have stayed, some might have dropped out. Some voters are voting No Award out principle; some aren’t. How exactly you balance all of that is going to be largely speculative, maybe to the point that no predictions are meaningful. That’s why we’re called “Chaos Horizon” here!

However, I think the potential Kingmaker effect, when combined with past Hugo trends and the popularity of Uprooted, makes Novik a reasonable favorite. Novik has already won the Nebula and the Locus Fantasy (beating Jemisin twice); her book is a stand-alone, making it feel more complete than either the Jemisin, Leckie, or Butcher; and Novik, along with Stephenson, is more popular than the other nominees. In the past, these have all been characteristics of the Hugo winner.

In the past few years, I’ve developed a mathematical formula to help me predict the Hugos. The formula won’t be accurate this year because of the Rabid Puppy voters, but here’s what it came up with:

Uprooted 27.1%
Ancillary Mercy 20.5%
Seveneves 20.0%
The Fifth Season 17.1%
The Cinder Spires 15.3%

The formula obviously doesn’t take pro or anti-Puppy sentiment into account. Uprooted is a big favorite because of her Nebula win this year. The Nebula has been the best predictor of the Hugo in the last decade: in 5 of the last 10 years, the Nebula winner has gone on to win the Hugo. The stats are actually better than that. In the 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2015, the Nebula winner was not even nominated for the Hugo. So the only time a Nebula winner has lost the Hugo in the final voting round was when Redshirts beat 2312 in 2013. So the last 5/6 times when the Nebula winner had a chance to win the Hugo, it did. Those are nice odds.

My formula is not designed to accurately predict second place. With that in mind, I think Jemisin is too low. Leckie won too recently with Ancillary Justice to seem to have a chance to win again, and Seveneves is pretty divisive. One reason my formula fails is because it currently doesn’t punish books for being sequels. Leckie should be lower for that reason. It’s something I’ll factor in next year. Stephenson will be lower because some people will vote him “No Award” for appearing on the Rabid Puppy list. So this pushes Jemisin up two spots.

However, Jemisin is lower down in the formula because she doesn’t have a history of winning major awards, unlike Stephenson and Leckie. Check out Jemisin’s sfadb page. She’s been nominated for 12 major awards and hasn’t won any. Not good odds. That’s what my formula is picking up on. My formula has trouble gauging changes in sentiment. I think most readers believe The Fifth Season is better than Jemisin’s earlier works, but I have trouble quantifying that.

What my numbers give is a percentage to win based on the patterns of past Hugo votes, based on my analysis and combination of those formulas using a Linear Opinion Pool prediction model. Prediction is different than statistical analysis: different statisticians would build different models based on different assumptions. You should never treat a prediction (either on Chaos Horizon or in something like American elections) the same way you would treat a statistical analysis; they are guided by different logical methods. Someone who disagrees with one of my assumptions would come up with a different prediction. Fair enough. This is all just for fun! You can trace back through the model using some of these posts: Hugo Indicators, and my series of Nebula model posts beginning here. The Hugo model uses the same math but different data.

Let’s look at this with some other data. Here’s the head to head popularity comparison of our five Hugo finalists, based on the number of ratings at Goodreads and Amazon.

Goodreads Amazon
Uprooted 41,174 1,332
Seveneves 35,428 2,487
The Aeronaut’s Windlass 18,249 1,285
Ancillary Mercy 11,698 247
The Fifth Season 7,676 184

These aren’t perfect samples, as neither Goodreads nor Amazon is 100% reflective of the Hugo voting audience, nor has the Hugo Awards always correlated with popularity. Still, it gives us another interesting perspective.

Jemisin does not break out of the bubble in ways that Novik and Stephenson do. These aren’t small differences, either: Uprooted is 5x more popular on Goodreads and 7x on Amazon than The Fifth Season. I put stock in that—the more people read your book, the more there are to vote for it. While the Hugo voting audience is a subset of all readers, popularity matters.

Two other notes: it’s fascinating how different Amazon and Goodreads are. Novik outpaces Stephenson on Goodreads but gets crushed on Amazon. Different audiences, different reading habits. The question for Chaos Horizon is which one better correlates with the Hugo winner? Second, Butcher may be a very popular Urban Fantasy writer with Dresden, but he’s only a moderately popular Fantasy writer.

So, all told, Novik has big advantages in popularity and same year awards (having won the Nebula already). Neither Jemisin, Leckie, or Stephenson managed to do better than Novik in critical acclaim or award nominations. Stephenson and Leckie do beat Novik in past awards history. When we factor in the possible Kingmaker effect from the Rabid Puppies, Novik is a clear favorite.

It would take a lot of change in the voting pool to overcome Novik’s seeming advantages. I wouldn’t count it out completely—these past two years have been so volatile that anything can happen.

Last question—where will No Award place? Last year, voters chose to place Jim Butcher and Kevin J. Anderson below No Award, likely as punishment for appearing on the Puppy slates. Will it happen again this year? I have a hard time seeing Stephenson getting No Awarded, Puppy appearance or not. He’s been a well-liked Hugo writer for a long time, and he may well have scored a nomination without Puppy help. I think Stephenson will beat No Award.

That leaves Butcher. He was No Awarded in 2015 by 2674 to 2000 votes, so a No Award margin of 674. That’s a pretty substantial number. If we go back to 2014, when Larry Correia’s Warbound was the first Puppy pick to make it to the Best Novel category, he beat No Award by a 1161 to 1052 margin. So that means the “No Awarders” are picking up steam. At Chaos Horizon, I go with the past year’s results to predict the future unless there’s some compelling data to suggest otherwise. So I’ll predict that Butcher will lose to No Award in 2016 just as he did in 2015.

So, what do you think? Are we in for a Best Novel surprise, or will Novik walk away with the crown?

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