Too Early 2015 Hugo Prediction

NOTE: This post is from August 2014; click here for my most up-to-date Hugo Prediction.

Now that the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Novel has been awarded, we can turn our eyes to the 2015 Award. Today, I’ll predict an initial slate of 5 nominees. It’s definitely too early to do this: there are still almost four months left in the year, and several heavy hitters for the 2015 award season haven’t been released yet. Let’s get to my predicted 2015 slate, with comments below.

Note: this is who I think will be nominated, not necessarily who deserves to be nominated.

Predicted 2015 Hugo Nominees for Best Novel:
1. Lock In, John Scalzi
2. Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie
3. Monster Hunter Nemesis, Larry Correia
4. The Mirror Empire, Kameron Hurley
5. The Martian, Andy Weir

Book titles link to Amazon, and author names link to their blogs.

Where to start? The Hugos love nominating the same authors over and over again, so it’s likely at least some of the nominees will be drawn from previous slates. Mira Grant, for instance, has been nominated four years in a row now. Will she make it five? How about Charles Stross, another author who has been nominated multiple times over the past few years? Will Ann Leckie score another nomination? How about John Scalzi, returning after not publishing a novel last year? Will Larry Correia return as the “outsider” nominee?

These repeaters are pretty easy to get a sense of. Let’s look at the nominated authors from the past two years:

John Scalzi, Lock In (very likely to be nominated): Scalzi won the 2013 award for Redshirts, and he has a couple of other past nominations. With two of his series being optioned for television (Redshirts and the Old Man’s War series), his profile is only growing. Lock In has received an aggressive marketing campaign, and is almost certain to earn Scalzi another Hugo nomination.

Ann Leckie, Ancillary Sword (very likely to be nominated if it comes out this year): Leckie just completed a dominating award season, sweeping both the Hugo and Nebula for Ancillary Justice. Her percentage total for Ancillary Justice was truly impressive for the Hugo, and if Ancillary Sword is anything but a complete disaster, it’s going to get nominated. The biggest hurdle here is whether or not the novel comes out this year: Amazon is showing an October 7th, 2014 release date, but it also shows the novel as unavailable for pre-order. Problems or just Amazon skullduggery? UPDATE: Leckie confirms it is just Amazon skullduggery, and the novel is due out on October 7th! Crisis averted!

Larry Correia, Monster Hunter Nemesis (likely to be nominated): Larry Correia crashed the Hugo party this year with Warbound as conservative counter-programming to the perceived overly liberal Hugo slate. If you’re not familiar with this controversy, here’s Correia’s take on the whole thing, and you can find more information by googling “2014 Hugo Controversy.” While I don’t know if Correia is going to push a slate for 2015, Monster Hunter Nemesis is from his more popular military series Monster Hunter, and there are a large number of readers who like the kind of military SF and Fantasy books Baen specializes in publishing. Expect Correia to crash the party again in 2015.

Mira Grant, Symbiont (less likely to be nominated): With four nominations in a row, three from her Newsflesh series and the other being Parasite, which Symbiont is a direct sequel to, Grant may seem like a slam dunk for 2015. However, her new series has not been as popular as the zombie-themed Newsfeed books, and her vote percentage has been declining over the recent years. I think she’s left out this year, but we’ll see. It’ll depend a lot on if other strong contenders emerge between now and December.

Charles Stross, The Rhesus Chart (less likely to be nominated): Stross won a Hugo this year for best novella, and has been nominated multiple times over the past years. However, The Rhesus Chart is from his urban fantasy series The Laundry Files, and urban fantasy books don’t have the same impact on the Hugos as more traditional SF (like his nominated Neptune’s Brood this year). Look for Stross to sit this year out.

Brandon Sanderson, Words of Radiance (less likely to be nominated): You’d think Sanderson would have a decent shot: he’s the most popular fantasy writer not named George R. R. Martin, and he has a rabid fan base due to his involvement with Wheel of Time. Past Hugo awards tell us, though, that fantasy books like this don’t get nominated. This is the second volume of The Stormlight Archives, and although well-liked, it would be something of a surprise if it received a nomination.

Kim Stanley Robinson, Shaman (less likely to be nominated): Robinson has been a stalwart of the Hugos, but Shaman’s unusual subject matter (ancient humans and their religious beliefs) and so-so reception will likely not result in a nomination. When Robinson writes more traditional SF, expect him to return to the slate. Robinson’s book was published in 2013, not 2014, so it won’t be eligible.

Nominees from the past two years that don’t have a novel appearing this year: Saladin Ahmed, Louis McMaster Bujold, Robert Jordan.

So who else is likely to make it? N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season doesn’t look like it will arrive in 2014 (it’s listed with an August release date on her website, but there’s no page on Amazon). Jo Walton’s My Real Children has been well received, and she won the Hugo in 2012, so her book is a possibility. Walton, though, has been drifting away from SFF and more towards realistic fiction. Jeff VanderMeer is a favorite of mine, and his three book Southern Reach trilogy, all published this year, might be a contender if people figure out how to nominate it. William Gibson has a novel coming out with The Peripheral, but he hasn’t been a Hugo contender in years. If the Hugo award wanted to cross over to literary fiction, David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks would be an interesting nominee.

There are two debut (it was pointed out that Hurley’s novel isn’t a debut; I knew that but forgot. It’s actually the debut of a new series) other novels that stand out as contenders:

Kameron Hurley, The Mirror Empire (likely to be nominated): Hurley won two Hugo awards this year, one for Fan Writer and one for Best Related Work. This year, she’s moving in to fantasy in a big way, with an ambitious fantasy novel that’s gotten plenty of pre-publication buzz. We won’t know how well The Mirror Empire will do until we get some fan reaction, but this novel is poised to be this year’s Ancillary Justice: a debut novel that might capture the imagination of the SFF fanbase. Definitely a book to keep your eye on.

Andy Weir, The Martian (likely to be nominated): Weir’s book, although self-published in 2012, had its major publisher debut in 2014. Although the eligibility issue is confusing, let’s assume it’s eligible this year. If it is, this should be a strong contender: the novel rode the wave of the film Gravity to NYT bestseller status, and would represent a more classic “Hard SF” novel amongst this group. The paperback is coming in November, so it should receive another strong round of publicity late in the year, making it perfectly positioned for a Hugo nomination. I’ll be interested to see how this does on critic’s year end lists: it might even be the favorite.

Anything I missed? Who do you think will end up on the 2015 slate?

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17 responses to “Too Early 2015 Hugo Prediction”

  1. Nat Lovin says :

    First: Shaman, according to Amazon, was published in 2013 so it’s not eligible for next year’s awards.

    I’m not sure if Scalzi is as sure fire a pick as you think. Lock In is a different genre from what he normally publishes, and he didn’t even get 3% in any of the short fiction categories for The Human Division (though he wasn’t working for it either).

    Ancillary Sword is a shoo in. It’s being published by Hachette, so that’s why the pre-ordering is messed up on Amazon.

    Mirror Empire, if it receives acclaim could do well. People like Hurley. The Martian is, if eligible, also has a very high chance of being a nominee.

    My Real Children was good, but a little to soft for the Hugos. If Jo Walton gets nominated for something it will be Best Related Work for her essay collection What Makes This Book So Great.

    Due to the much higher number of available nominators this year, from both people who wanted to get the full Wheel of Time ebooks and to fight the sad puppy ballot, I can both see and not see Correia getting nominated. He’s been doing the slate for a few years, and he was only able to get himself on it this year, so not sure what that means.

    Similarly, due to the number of supporting members from Loncon who are WOT fans, I could see Words of Radiance making it, or at least getting close.

    Grant was only able to make it because Gaiman declined. That’s a block of voters that are up for grabs, and I see no book that might grab them. It’s too bad that Urban Fantasy basically never gets nominated, I find Seanan McGuire’s Urban Fantasy stronger than her work as Mira Grant.

    The big unknown to me, and it might just be my tastes, is The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu and translated by Ken Liu. Cixin Liu is the biggest Science Fiction author in China, and his work is finally getting an English translation. Will the book work for western audiences? Will it even be noticed? I don’t know, but I hope it will be good.

    Down ballot, I think in addition to Walton’s What Makes This Book So Great, Randall Monroe’s What If? is also likely, if considered eligible, to be nominated for Best Related Work.

    I think the only two definite nominees at this point are Ancillary Sword and The Martian. Things will become clearer as more of the high profile nominees are released and we get closer to people starting to blog about their ballots.

    • chaoshorizon says :

      Thanks for the info on Shaman. I’ll cross it off as a possibility.

      Cixin Liu is an interesting one. I’ve got the book pre-ordered, and I really have no idea what to expect. Books in translation have always done poorly at the Hugos, though. Maybe more of a Nebula book.

      We’ll find out soon about the Scalzi and the Hurley books, once reviews start coming in.

  2. Aidan from A Dribble of Ink says :

    Just a quick note to point out that The Mirror Empire is Hurley’s fourth novel. the Bel Dame Apocrypha was published by Night Shade Books in North America, and is being published by Del Rey UK in Great Britain.

    Nice analysis, otherwise. 🙂

  3. Niall says :

    Lauren Beukes only just missed the ballot this year (two nominations shy); Broken Monsters doesn’t seem to have as much buzz as The Shining Girls, but it’s at least a possible candidate I would think.

  4. Joe Sherry says :

    Worth noting: The Mirror Empire is not a debut novel. Hurley has previously published The Bel Dame Apocrypha starting with God’s War, and The Mirror Empire is her fourth novel, though the first in a series.

  5. Niall says :

    Also, I’d be interested in your assessment of the chances of other series, post-Wheel of Time. I’ve already seen some mild campaigning for Elizabeth Bear’s just-finished trilogy, for instance.

    • chaoshorizon says :

      Hadn’t thought about series before. I don’t know if Bear is popular enough, but I’ll take a look at her as a possible contender. More of a Nebula than a Hugo writer?

      • Niall says :

        You might think that at first glance, but Bear has won two short fiction Hugos and never been nominated for any Nebula.

        A few other possible contenders that came up in Twitter chat last night:

        Echopraxia by Peter Watts (first novel since Blindsight)
        Girl With All the Gifts by MR Carey (doing well in the UK this year, and a lot of UK nominators)
        Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor (long-shot because no US edition until next year)
        The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (v positive buzz)
        City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett (rising profile?)
        Half a King by Joe Abercrombie (I don’t see it, but some in the discussion did)

  6. Rabindranauth says :

    I’ve never kept track of how these awards select books, but at the same time, having read The Martian, I highly doubt it’ll be nominated. It’s a fun romp and all, but there are some big areas where it’s lacking.

    • chaoshorizon says :

      I’m not trying to evaluate whether the novels are good or bad, but whether they’re likely to get nominated. The Martian was a huge hit earlier this year, sold tons of copies, and made the NYT Bestseller list. It’s also “hard SF,” a genre a lot of voters like. That huge readership, plus passionate hard SF fans, makes a nomination seem likely to me.

      • Rabindranauth says :

        Hmm, that’s true. The reason I think it won’t be nominated is because the stuff I’ve read that have been at the very least nominated, so far, have all been more speculative, or books with more depth in general. But on second thought, Wheel of Time was nominated, so I guess it wouldn’t be a complete surprise! 😀

      • Nat Lovin says :

        The biggest problem for The Martian is there are no story changes between the self-published version and the version released this year. It’s been edited and some parts rewritten, but I’m not sure if it’s enough to meet the revision rules.

        Then again, this rule is so incredibly vague (There is absolutely no difference between the audio and text version of “The Lady Astronaut of Mars”, the only reason they let it in this year, I’m sure, was because of it being rejected last year. I’m happy that it seems that the audiobook rules are going to be changed) they could let it through.

  7. chaoshorizon says :

    Yes, the eligibility issue with The Martian is totally murky. The Hugos and Nebulas need to address this with some clearer rules. We’re only going to see more indie published books get picked up by major presses in the future.

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