Too Early 2015 Hugo Prediction: Additional Contenders

To go with my far Too Early 2015 Hugo Prediction, here are some additional possibilities for the 2015 award season. Some readers have noted that it’s too early to predict the Hugos: I 100% agree. That’s the fun of it. Why so serious?

Having this conversation early gives potential readers more of a chance to read the nominees. If anyone has suggestions for additional candidates, put them in the comments. It would be great if we, as a community, could come up with a comprehensive Hugo (and later Nebula) watch list.

As a reminder, here’s my too early slate (now in order of most likely to be nominated):
1. Ann Leckie, Ancillary Truth: Last year’s Hugo and Nebula winner, due out October 7th.
2. John Scalzi, Lock In: The 2013 Hugo winner, and one of the best reviewed and marketed novels of his career.
3. Larry Correia, Monster Hunter NemesisL who has offered himself up as a conservative alternative to the Hugo slate.
4. Andy Weir, The Martian: NYT bestselling hard SF novelist, that might or might not be eligible, as the book was originally indie published before being issued in hardcover this year.
5. Kameron Hurley, The Mirror Empire: one of the most buzzed about fantasy novelists of the year, and a fantasy alternative to the rest of the slate.

As always, my predictions are who is likely to be nominated, not who should be nominated.

Of course, some big novels will be published between now and the end of the year; Ancillary Justice wasn’t published until October, and it swept the awards.

First, let’s dig into the numbers. Here’s this year’s Hugo nominees and the number of votes they received, taken right from the Hugo website:

368 Ancillary Justice Ann Leckie 23.1%
218 The Ocean at the End of the Lane Neil Gaiman 13.7% * Declined nomination
184 Warbound Larry Correia 11.5%
160 The Wheel of Time Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson 10.0%
120 Neptune’s Brood Charles Stross 7.5%
98 Parasite Mira Grant 6.1%
96 The Shining Girls Lauren Beukes 6.0%
92 A Stranger in Olondria Sofia Samatar 5.8%
91 A Few Good Men Sarah A. Hoyt 5.7%
84 The Golem and the Djinni Helene Wecker 5.3%
81 The Republic of Thieves Scott Lynch 5.1%
74 Under a Graveyard Sky John Ringo 4.6%
70 London Falling Paul Cornell 4.4%
69 Abaddon’s Gate James S.A. Corey 4.3%
67 Steelheart Brandon Sanderson 4.2%
66 River of Stars Guy Gavriel Kay 4.1%

A couple quick things to note: Mira Grant wouldn’t have made it if Gaiman hadn’t declined, and she beat Samatar and Beukes by only a few votes. Correia was solidly in the field, one of the reasons I think he’ll make it this year, even if there is less enthusiasm for a “Sad Puppy” slate.

A fair number of authors on this list don’t have books coming out this year. I wasn’t able to find books by Samatar, Hoyt (Night Shifters is a collection of previously published novels), Wecker, Lynch, and Guy Gavriel Kay. Ringo has two zombie sequels out this year, which probably muddies the voting waters so much that he doesn’t have a chance. Cornell’s sequel to London Falling is The Severed Streets, but sequels tend not to jump up in the Hugo voting. Same thing for Cibola Burn, the latest Expanse novel by James S.A. Corey. It’ll be interesting to see if the Expanse TV series will eventually push up these novels, but that is still a ways off.

From last years close calls, that leaves Sanderson, who I dealt with in my last post, so that leaves Lauren Beukes:

Lauren Beukes, Broken Monsters (less likely to be nominated): Beukes almost broke through with The Shining Girls last year, a time-travelling serial killer story. If that doesn’t sound cool, what does? This novel is due out on September 16th, and has an intriguing jacket copy: a cop in Detroit, a mysterious case that seems to fuse human and animal bodies, and all sorts of trippy and disturbing stuff. It doesn’t, however, sound particularly like a SFF novel, but maybe more like a post-modern take on the cop novel. The description doesn’t really give away the genre, so we’ll have to wait and see how speculative this is. Even if it’s not a Hugo or Nebula contender, it still seems like a very interesting read. I’ve added it to my “to read’ pile, although I can’t pre-order due to Amazon’s feud with Hachette. :(.

Here are some other possibilities suggested by commentators:

Echopraxia, Peter Watts (50/50 chance to be nominated): This was a good suggestion of a potential contender. This is Watts’ long awaited follow up to the well-regarded Blindsight, which received a Hugo nomination in 2007. In those intervening years, I think Blindsight‘s reputation has only increased, winding up as one of the more talked about SF novels of the past 10 years. Watts has tons of challenging and interesting hard SF ideas in these novels, and I can easily imagine that element SF fandom coalescing around this novel. If Weir isn’t eligible, this could be the hard SF novel that sneaks into the slate.

Cixin Liu, The Three Body Problem, translated from Chinese by Ken Liu (less likely to be nominated, but who knows): A real wild card. Cixin Liu, according to the Amazon.com description, is the most popular SF writer in China, and this is his first novel being translated into English. Historically, the Hugos have been completely biased against non-English language books. This is a shame, given that these awards are given by the WorldCon; you’d figured you’d have to honor the rest of the world at some point. This book is due out November 11th, and it’ll be interesting to see how much buzz it gets. I have it on my “to read” list, but it’s too early to say if this is an award contender.

Elizabeth Bear, The Eternal Sky series (less likely to be nominated): Although dead, Robert Jordan is still a trailblazer. By getting his entire series of The Wheel of Time nominated through something of a loophole (that allows serialized works to be nominated as one big work), this has opened the door to other fantasy series being nominated. Bear was brought up in the comments by Niall in the comments as a possibility. On the surface, this makes sense: Bear is well liked, has four Hugos (two for stories and two for podcasts), and this fantasy series is well regarded for its genre-bending. Still, Jordan didn’t make it into the slate that easily: he picked up only 10% of the total vote. How much less popular than Jordan is Bear? To nominate a series, voters have to know to nominate the series, and that takes an organized campaign and a huge fanbase. If Bear’s fanbase is 50% of what Jordan’s is (no offense, but that’s a wild overstatement of Bear’s popularity), she’d wind up outside of the slate. I find it hard to imagine any other complete series getting nominated, because no one beside Martin has Jordan’s huge following, and Martin’s novels already get nominated for the Hugo. Perhaps The Kingkiller Chronicles could be nominated as a series in a few years. Any other possibilities?

Fantasy Novelists: Take your pick of names: Joe Abercrombie. Patrick Rothfuss. Mark Lawrence. I’m sure I could add more. These are some of the most talked about fantasy writers of the past five years, and all have new books coming out this year. For whatever reason, though, authors like this don’t make the Hugo slate. Of those three, there are exactly 0 Hugo nominations between them. If anyone from this type of authors would have a chance, it would be Sanderson with Worlds of Radiance. I might end upgrading his chances to 50/50: if he just doubles his vote from Steelheart—a far less respected book—he’d be in the field.

I’ll continue mining the comments for more ideas, and I’ll try to address the other novels mentioned in the comments in my Hugo contenders post.

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2 responses to “Too Early 2015 Hugo Prediction: Additional Contenders”

  1. bookworm1398 says :

    What do you think of the chances of Max Gladstone’s Full Fathom Five? It doesn’t have a lot of buzz or Amazon reviews. On the other hand, all these Worldcon voters have his first two books, the ones who read them seem to have really liked them and he had a good number of Campbell votes.

    • chaoshorizon says :

      Thanks for the suggestion. Gladstone’s books are very unique, and ambitiously push the boundaries of the fantasy genre. That said, there’s not much of a chance for a Hugo nomination: later books in a series rarely get nominated if the first book in the series hasn’t also been nominated.

      Most series tend to lose readership as the series goes on: fewer people read Book 3 than read Book 2, fewer people read Book 2 than Book 1, and so on. Since Full Fathom Five is the third book in a series, this means the pool of readers for is too small to break through the competitive Hugo nomination process. Goodreads ratings usually give us a good idea of a book’s popularity:
      Three Parts Dead: 2,013 ratings
      Two Serpents Rise: 647 ratings
      Full Fathom Five: 217 ratings

      Contrast that voter pool with someone like Brandon Sanderson:
      The Way of Kings: 75,533 ratings
      Words of Radiance: 28,451 ratings

      If an author like Sanderson has trouble breaking through for Book 2 of a series, you can imagine what Gladstone is up against for Book 3 of his series.

      I will say, though, that his books sound really cool. I just ordered Three Parts Dead.

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