2016 Hugo/Nebula Watchlist

Some of you are going to want to close your eyes for this one: the 2016 Hugo/Nebula watchlist. Too early? Never! Part of my goal with Chaos Horizon is to let me get a jump on my reading. That way, I’ll be ahead of—and not behind—the SFF scene. Basically, these are the books I’m keeping an eye on (and perhaps reading, depending on reviews) for my eventual 2016 predictions. Or, as Shelley tells us:

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

This list is by no means final: new books will be announced through throughout the year, and it’s next to impossible to know what books by new/unknown authors will be important 12 months from now. This is an initial direction, no more. Despair if you must!

Here’s what I’ve got so far. All publication dates are from Amazon. As always, let me throw out my disclaimer: here at Chaos Horizon, I try to predict what will happen, not what should happen. Don’t take my list as an endorsement (or condemnation!) of any particular book.

Tier I: My Early Frontrunners (in alphabetical order)
Bacigalupi, Paolo, The Water Knife, 26-May-15
Jemisin, N.K., The Fifth Season, 4-Aug-15
Leckie, Ann, Ancillary Mercy, TBA
Liu, Ken, The Grace of Kings, 7-Apr-15
Okorafor, Nnedi, The Book of Phoenix, 5-May-15
Stephenson, Neal, Seveneves, 19-May-15

A busy year, with plenty of books by well-known authors. Stephenson returns with another awkwardly titled epic; Bacigalupi delivers his first adult SF novel since his 2010 Hugo and Nebula wins; and Leckie wraps up her Ancillary trilogy. On the fantasy front, Liu is delivering his debut novel, the first part of an ambitious trilogy. Okorafor’s book is a prequel to her well-liked Who Fears Death, which scored a Nebula nom and a World Fantasy win back in 2011. The Fifth Season seems to move Jemisin into post-apocalyptic SF, and she had Nebula noms in 2011, 2012, and 2013, as well as a Hugo nomination from 2011.

Both the Nebula and Hugo are very repetitive, as we learned from my Repeat Study—but they aren’t this repetitive. It’ll be about 65% repeaters for the Hugo, 50% for the Nebula (if past patterns hold true), so not each of these 6 books is going to make the final slate. Still, they’re a strong place to start. Of course, we don’t know if each of these books will live up to expectations, but that’s what the next year is for.

Tier I: Other Candidates (in alphabetical order)
Bear, Elizabeth, Karen Memory, 3-Feb-15
Bennett, Robert Jackson, City of Blades, TBA
Bodard, Aliette, The House of Shattered Wings, 1-Sep-15
Chu, Wesley, Time Salvager, 07-Jul-15
Cline, Ernest, Armada, TBA
Corey, James S.A., Nemesis Games, 2-Jun-15
Danielewski, Mark, The Familiar, Volume 1, 12-May-15
Elliot, Kate, Court of Fives, 18-Aug-15
Hurley, Kameron, The Empire Ascendant, TBA
Kowal, Mary Robinette, Of Noble Family, 28-Apr-15
Liu, Cixin, The Dark Forest, 7-Jul-15
Lord, Karen, The Galaxy Game, 6-Jan-15
Milan, Victor, The Dinosaur Lords, 28-Jul-15
Naomi, Novik, Uprooted, 19-May-15
North, Clair, Touch, 24-Feb-15
Roberts, Adam, The Thing Itself, TBA
Robinson, Kim Stanley, Aurora, 7-Jul-15
Scalzi, John, The End of All Things, 11-Aug-15
Schwab, V.E., A Darker Shade of Magic, 24-Feb-15
Stross, Charles, The Annihilation Score, 7-Jul-15
Valente, Catherynne, Radiance, 18-Aug-15
Valentine, Genevieve, Persona, 10-Mar-15
Walton, Jo, The Just City, 13-Jan-15
Wilson, Robert Charles, The Affinities, 21-Apr-15

These books are all viable candidates based on past award history or early buzz. I won’t go through them one by one, but this at least gives me a chance to begin organizing my reading. Each of these potential nominees will need to be well-received when the book actually comes out. No one has read most of these books yet, so we don’t know if they’re good, great, or just average.

I’m sure I missed as many books as I’ve included. What else is coming out in 2015 that has a shot at either a Hugo or Nebula in 2016? Good grief, 2016 sounds like the far future, doesn’t it?

And don’t worry—I’ll try not to mention the 2016 awards again until after the 2015 Hugo and Nebula are awarded.

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8 responses to “2016 Hugo/Nebula Watchlist”

  1. NatLovin says :

    There’s one dark, dark, dark horse candidate, and it’s nomination has multiple problems before it, but if Eliezer Yudkowsky finishes his Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality in 2015 he’s planning on trying to get it nominated. Now, posting for HPMOR has slowed, and because of that, popularity has waned, but if he’s able to finish the book, there’s a strong chance it makes a decent showing on the ballot.

    Just something to keep an eye on.

    In other categories, I’m expecting a strong showing from Scalzi’s Midnight Rises in Graphic Story if it turns out well.

    • NatLovin says :

      Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is planned to finish on March 14th. I definitely think it’s going to get a campaign behind it, but will it actually get nominated? Has it’s popularity held up? If it does get nominated, how will people react to fanfiction being on the ballet?

      • chaoshorizon says :

        Count me as intrigued to see how this works. Previous campaigns have worked because a big-name author with a popular blog has pushed them. While I’ve seen some buzz for this online, I’m not sure a fanfic campaign would have the same built-in push as a Sanderson or a Correia.

  2. Jain says :

    Pure speculation here, but if I had to pick a first time novelist who might get a nomination, I think it could be Zen Cho with her alternate historical fantasy Sorcerer to the Crown. io9 and Tor have both given it some anticipatory buzz; Cho’s short fiction has been generally well received; and the description of the book as a sort of frothier Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell sounds like something that would appeal both to more literary types and to those just wanting a good yarn.

    • chaoshorizon says :

      That’s a very good suggestion. Zen Cho was a 2013 Campbell nominee, so she’s been part of the broader Hugo process before. Amazon has a September 1, 2015 date for Sorcerer to the Crown. That may be a little late in the year, but Ancillary Justice came out in October and still managed to grab all the buzz. It’s definitely one to keep an eye on: I’ll add it to my list!

  3. NatLovin says :

    I’m guessing there’ll be a large swell of support for The Shepherd’s Crown after Sir Terry’s death, even though I’d guess his family would decline the nomination like he always did.

    Although it might be too long after his death?

    But something to think about.

    • chaoshorizon says :

      Definitely. I’m not sure people like the Tiffany Aching novels as much as the other Discworld series; if this were a Death or Watch novel, it’d have a better chance. It’s sad that the nomination of Going Postal wrecked the chances of having an entire Discworld series nomination.

  4. Brett says :

    Nemesis Games. Best book in a great series. Time to get it done.

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