Goodreads Choice Awards Announced

The 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards winners have been announced. Head on over to Goodreads to see the full lists.

This year, there were over 3,000,000 votes. That represents the mass and mainstream reading audiences, not the more narrow Hugo and Nebula voting audiences. My data suggests that the Goodreads winners DO NOT correlate to the eventual Hugo winners. Leckie, for instance, placed 20th on the SF list last year, and swept the Hugos and Nebulas. Margaret Atwood won with MadAddam, and didn’t garner either a Hugo or Nebula nod.

Still, don’t throw out these results. The Goodreads vote has done an excellent job of choosing the eventual Hugo slate (but not the Nebula). In each of the past several years, all of the eventual Hugo nominees have shown up on one of the Goodreads Choice lists. While this might not be that impressive—the SF list has 20 novels, the Fantasy list has 20 novels, etc.—it does help to set a minimum floor of popularity that’s needed to make the Hugo slate. If you can’t make such a broad list, what are your chances of getting nominated for the Hugo?

Let’s dig a little into the lists:

Science Fiction (top 5 and major candidates, with total votes for each):
1. The Martian, Andy Weir, 30,561 votes
2. Lock In, John Scalzi, 14,953
3. Sand, Hugh Howey, 14,410
4. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, Claire North, 13,421
5. The Long Mars, Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, 9,927
6. Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer, 9,050
12. Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie, 3,005

Notable SF Snubs: William Gibson, The Peripheral, Peter Watts, Echopraxia

Weir continues his dominating year in terms of popularity, more than doubling Scalzi’s vote total. If you’re looking for a reason why Scalzi is so high on my Hugo prediction, this is it—after Weir, it’s the most popular mainstream SF novel of 2014. Annihilation does pretty well, and Leckie improves on her 20th place showing last year. I think The Peripheral came out too late in the year to make the list, and Watts’ absence speaks volumes about his poor chances of grabbing a Hugo nom. I might need to take a look at Claire North’s book as a possible Hugo candidate.

Fantasy:
1. The Book of Life, Deborah Harkness, 51,462 votes
2. Words of Radiance, Brandon Sanderson, 28,449
3. Skin Game, Jim Butcher, 22,104
4. The Slow Regard of Silent Things, Patrick Rothfuss, 19,301
5. The Magician’s Land, Lev Grossman, 16,751
10. City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett, 8,713
16. The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison, 2,063 votes

This year, Urban Fantasy was combined with the more traditional Fantasy genre, leading to a somewhat schizophrenic list. The Book of Life sure is popular on Goodreads. No chance of a Hugo nom, of course, since it’s the third in a series and the wrong genre. Sanderson does well, almost matching Weir’s vote total. Bennett is impressive, and he’s solidified his position as a strong Hugo and Nebula candidate. He’s popular enough, acclaimed enough, and stand-alone enough to make waves come 2015.

The fantasy snubs: The Mirror Empire, Kameron Hurley, Steles of Sky, Elizabeth Bear.

On the Horror List, M.R. Carey’s The Girl With all the Gifts placed second, with a strong 19,786 votes. I don’t picture Carey getting a nom, but Mira Grant did for her zombie books. Larry Correia was down at 10 for Monster Hunter Nemesis, with 5,800 votes. Lauren Beukes was 16th, with 1,422.

On the General Fiction front, The Bone Clocks was 6th, with 16,431 votes, and Station Eleven 9th with 11,608 votes, both impressive showings.

Chaos Horizon works through the slow accretion of information. While the Goodreads vote may not be particularly illuminating for the Hugo or Nebula, it does tell us something about the mainstream. For publishers, selling books is certainly the name of the game, and the big sales for Weir, Sanderson, Mitchell, Mandel, etc., will certainly shape what kind of books get published in the next few years.

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