Why So Early?

One of the more common critiques—that’s probably too strong a word, let’s use “comments,” because no one is trying to be hostile—about Chaos Horizon is that it’s too early to start thinking about the 2015 Hugo and Nebula awards. So why I am I predicting Hugo and Nebula slates so early?

As a reader, I’m interested in the Hugo and Nebula awards because they allow me to keep track of the trends—and controversies—going on in the SFF world. Over the past 4 or 5 years, I’ve tried to read each of the Hugo and Nebula nominees, but I noticed I was falling farther and farther behind. When the Nebula nominees would come out in late February, I’d find myself having to buy 4 or 5 books, and then having to buy another 2 or 3 books when the Hugo slate got announced. By then, I’d be so far behind I wouldn’t have time to read all of the nominees before awards season. Because of this, I ended up missing out on the conversations and arguments that go along with choosing the Hugos and Nebulas.

Last year, I decided to get ahead of the curve, and read the major SFF books as they came out. I went looking for resources on potential Hugo and Nebula nominees, and there wasn’t much out there. Many SFF review sites are very enthusiastic about the genre (as they should be), and end up recommending lots and lots of books. I don’t have the time (or money) to read 30-40 new SFF novels a year; I need to contain my SFF reading to about one book a month, both for my pocketbook and sanity.

Thus Chaos Horizon. By looking for past trends in the Nebula and Hugos, I figured I could come out with the most likely nominees myself. That way, I’ll save myself a little bit of time and money by getting a jump on the award season. While I’m not going to be 100% accurate—that’s an impossibility—but if I can predict (and read) a good chunk of the eventual nominees by the end of the year, I’ll only have to buy a few books when the slates come out. I also think readers need time to process all these books. It’s not easy to zip through The Bone Clocks and Echopraxia, so if I’m going to read them, I want to read them over Christmas and other vacations, when I have some actual time to dedicate to them. Better to have a good list by October than to have to wait until February.

Is there a downside to thinking about the awards early? Some could argue that this is going to slight books that come out later in the year, but I’m not so sure. Won’t drawing attention to contenders as they come out leave plenty of space for contenders from the end of the year? Anyways, most Hugo noms are published between May and October, so that prime season is almost over. Another objection could be that predicting early ends up utilizing things like reputation, marketing, and past awards history, rather than the actual content of the novel. I think that objection is 100% true—but that’s also what nets award nominations. The Hugos and Nebulas are stuffed with repeat nominees, and that statistical consistency is what makes Chaos Horizon possible.

So tl;dr: I started Chaos Horizon because I don’t have enough money or time to buy and read all the Nebula/Hugo nominated books when the slates are announced. I wanted to get a start on selecting and reading these books earlier, and thus the site. Questions? Objections?

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