2015 Hugo Prediction, Version 4.0

A lot has happened in the past month that will shape the 2015 Hugo Best Novel nominations. These are usually announced around Easter weekend, which has the unfortunate tendency of burying the nominations in the holiday. The deadline for nominations this year is March 10, 2015, so WorldCon voters still have time to get their nominations in.

In this post, I’ll focus on my final prediction: which 5 books I think will make the 2015 slate. Since the Nebula nominations just came out, these are likely to influence the Hugos in a substantial way. Over the past several years, about 40% of the eventual Hugo slate has overlapped with the Nebula slate. The Nebula slate is widely seen and discussed within the SFF community, and even if it only influences 4-5% of WorldCon voters, that’s enough to push a book from “borderline” to “nominated.”

Speaking of widely seen and widely discussed, the “Sad Puppies 3” slate is also likely to have a substantial influence on this year’s Hugo. Helmed by Brad Torgersen this year (and by Larry Correia in the past), the Sad Puppy 2 group of suggested nominees had a definite impact on the 2014 Hugos (placing 1 book into the Best Novel category, and several other nominees into other fiction categories), and there’s not a lot of evidence to suggest this campaign won’t be equally (or slightly more) successful this year. See my “Modeling Hugo Voting Campaigns” post for more discussion.

So where does that leave us? Here’s my top 5, based on awards history, critical acclaim, reviews, and popularity. Remember that The Martian by Andy Weir isn’t up here because of eligibility issues. Otherwise I’d have Weir at #3.

Reminder: Chaos Horizon is dedicated to predicting what is likely to happen in the 2015 awards, not what “should” happen. So, long story short, I’m not advocating any of these books for the Hugo, but simply predicting, based on past Hugo patterns, who is most likely to get a nomination.

1. Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer: VanderMeer’s short book, the first in the Southern Reach trilogy that all came out this year, was one of the most critically acclaimed SF/weird fiction novels of recent years. It sold well, received a Nebula nomination, and provoked plenty of debate and praise, including high profile features in The New Yorker and The Atlantic. While the Hugos aren’t as susceptible to literary acclaim as the Nebulas, this is either a “love it” or “hate it” kind of book. Readers are either fascinated by VanderMeer’s weirdness and fungal based conspiracies or completely alienated by them. Since you can’t vote against a book in the nominating process, the “loves” will outweigh the “hates.” I have VanderMeer as my early Hugo favorite: I think he’ll win the Nebula, and that win will drive him to the Hugo.

2. Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie: The Hugo tends to be very repetitive, nominating the same authors over and over again. Given how dominant Leckie’s 2014 Hugo win was (and overall award season), it’s hard to see her not getting another nomination. Even if Ancillary Sword is slightly less acclaimed than Ancillary Justice, it still placed first in my SFF critics collation list, and it has already garnered Nebula and BSFA noms. While I think it’s unlikely Leckie will win two Hugos in a row, the VanderMeer may prove too divisive for the Hugo audience. In that case, Leckie might emerge as the compromise pick. The Hugo preferential voting system can easily allow for something like that to happen.

3. Monster Hunter Nemesis, Larry Correia: Correia finished 3rd in the 2014 Hugo nominations, with only Leckie and Gaiman placing above him (Gaiman declined the nom). That put him very safely in the field, and the mathematics are in Correia’s favor for this year. While Monster Hunter Nemesis is a slightly odd choice for the Hugos, being 5th in a series and urban fantasy to boot, it’s hard to imagine Correia’s supporters abandoning him en-masse in just one year. Despite the vigor of his campaign, Correia doesn’t haven’t the broad support necessary to win a Hugo.

4. The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison: There are a number of edgier fantasy novels that could work their way into the Hugo. I’ve had the race down as between Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Stairs and this book for a while. With Addison grabbing the Nebula nomination, that probably boosts her into the Hugo field. This was well-liked in certain circles and placed very high on the SFF critics list. It’s also fantasy, which has a definite block of support behind it—not every WorldCon voter reads SF.

Now things get interesting. I expect their to be an all-out war for the fifth spot, given that there are 4-5 viable contenders. This’ll come down to who gets the vote out, not necessarily which novel is “better” than the other novels.

5. Skin Game, Jim Butcher: Skin Game was part of the “Sad Puppy 3” slate, but Butcher’s appeal extends well beyond that block of voters. While Butcher has never gotten much Hugo love in the past, he is one of the most popular writers working in the urban fantasy field, and his Henry Harry Dresden (EDIT 3/12/15: Stupid typo on my part. Names are always hard to catch. I’ve read multiple of these novels, too!) novels have been consistently well-liked and well-loved by fans. Even WorldCon voters who don’t agree with the Sad Puppy 3 argument may look at the list, see Butcher, and think, Why not? If Correia can make the slate, so too can Butcher—and Butcher might be even more popular in Sad Puppy realm than Correia. On the negative, this is #14 in a series, and that’s a tough sell to new readers. I’ll be fascinated to see how the vote turns out on this one.

Just missing:

6. The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu: Liu is a best-selling Chinese science fiction author, and this is his first novel translated into English. Liu’s chances have been greatly boosted by his Nebula nomination: this is going to put Three-Body front and center in SF fandom discussions. But is this a case of too little, too late? Are people rushing out to buy the Liu, and will they have time to read it before the Hugo voting closes? Liu’s novel will be very appealing to certain groups of SF WorldCOn voters since it has has throwback elements to hard SF writers like Arthur C. Clarke. I think it’ll be very close between Butcher and Liu (and maybe even Addison), and we’re dealing with guesswork here, not solid facts. There’s simply not enough data to model how a Chinese novel might do against an urban fantasy novel supported by a voting campaign.

7. Lock In, John Scalzi: Although Scalzi isn’t getting a ton of buzz right now, he does have 4 recent Best Novel nominations and a 2013 win for Redshirts. That indicates a broad pool of support in WorldCon voters; Scalzi is an author they’re comfortable with. While he might not be #1 on a lot of ballots, is he #4 or #5 on a plurality? We saw an old-standby in Jack McDevitt grab a Nebula nomination this year. Could Scalzi play the same role in the 2015 Hugos? You can never assume that the Hugos or Nebulas won’t be repetitive.

So, there’s my field. I’m going to drop City of Stairs down to 8th place: no Nebula nom really hurts it. I’m leaving McDevitt off the Hugos; he’s never had much chance there. Charles Gannon received both a Nebula nomination and an endorsement on the Sad Puppy 3 slate. Gannon isn’t as popular as Correia or Butcher, so I don’t think as highly of his chance. I’m slotting him in at #10. That gives us:

8. City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett
9. Words of Radiance, Brandon Sanderson
10. Trial By Fire, Charles Gannon
11. Symbiont, Mira Grant
12. The Mirror Empire, Kameron Hurley
13. The Peripheral, William Gibson
14. My Real Children, Jo Walton
15. Echopraxia, Peter Watts

So, that’s how Chaos Horizon thinks it’ll play out. What do you think? Who is likely to grab a nomination in 2015?

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37 responses to “2015 Hugo Prediction, Version 4.0”

  1. Aled Morgan says :

    OK, here’s mine.

    First, the two I’d be astonished not to see on the ballot:

    Lock In
    Ancilliary Sword

    Then very likely:

    The Three Body Problem
    Annihilation

    Then at about the same level of probability fighting for the fifth slot:

    Monster Hunter Nemesis
    My Real Children
    The Goblin Emperor
    Symbiont

    Possible but unlikely:

    The Peripheral
    The Darkling Sea

    What you’re overlooking about Scalzi is that he has a massively popular blog, he has orders of magnitude more readers than the “Sad Puppies”, and while he never opersteps the line he encourages his fans to nominate him… and they do. The same goes for Grant, who has made the ballot so often already but doedn’t win — she has the same kind of nominating fans.

    For the Hugos, what’s important is not wide readership but readership within Worldcon going fandom. Lots of the measures you’re assessing would be great if this were a wide-constituency vote, but it isn’t. It’ll be around two thousand people. SFWA’s even smaller, and everyone in SFWA knows each other. Butcher’s really really popular in the wider constituency, but his books don’t feel like the kind of thing people nominate for Hugos to the people who nominate, so I’d say it has zero chance except with Sad Puppies. And I expect a backlash against Sad Puppies this year.

    • chaoshorizon says :

      Interesting stuff. We’re not too far off: I have Scalzi at 7, you have him 2. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Scalzi make it, although he didn’t make it last year. Same with Grant: her popularity in the Hugos has been trailing off recently, and she only made it by a few votes in 2014. Symbiont is #2 in a series that came out very late in the year; I don’t know if enough people have had time to read it.

      Lastly, while a backlash can certainly happen, I’m not sure how a backlash would manifest itself in the nomination stage. In the final Hugo voting, you can place a book below “No Award,” but you can’t do that in the nominating stage. So all that matters is how many people–Sad Puppy or otherwise–place Butcher on a ballot. Even if people are coming into the Hugo process to protest Sad Puppies, they’d need to be very well-organized to dilute that vote. It’ll be interesting to see how that pans out: Butcher is the real wild-card in this year’s process.

  2. NatLovin says :

    With a 5 novel slate for SP3 vs the one novel slate from years past, I think we’re going to see reduced numbers for MHN with people choosing one or two and nominating other stuff as well.

    Three Body Problem will probably just miss the ballot – it’s being talked about, but not HUGELY (unlike Ancillary Justice/Sword).

    Lock In’s tricky, it seems somewhat likely, and if there is anti-Sad Puppy backlash, it and Ancillary Sword would probably be the two biggest recipients. But it’s not that hot over all.

    • chaoshorizon says :

      I think you’re right: more choices mean more dilution. Here’s last year’s nominating ballot for some context:

      368 Ancillary Justice Ann Leckie 23.1%
      218 The Ocean at the End of the Lane Neil Gaiman 13.7% *
      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 HeleneWecker 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%
      *Declined nomination.

      The difference between 5th place and 8th place last year was 7 votes. We’re almost talking pure random chance—if 3 more Beukes fans had made their way to London, we’d be talking about a different slate. The same could happen this year.

  3. Tudor says :

    I think that it’s worth looking at another thing. In the final for the 2013 Hugo Awards there were 1649 ballots counted for the Best Novel. The number of nominating ballots for the 2014 Awards was 1595, almost the same number of people nominated in 2014 as the people who voted in 2013. If this will be the case this year then 3100 people will nominate in 2015. The majority of the 3100 people that voted in 2014 are Leckie fans and they are anti Sad Poppy Ballot. If they will nominate this year then I think that there is a real chance that both Correia (he barely edged No Awards last year) and Grant (she had the least number of number one votes) will missed out.

    What happened at Loncon 3 with a never before seen increase in the number of people who voted (100%) and the popularity of the winning novel, will make for a very interesting ballot this year.

    • chaoshorizon says :

      That’s an interesting point. I tried to take a look at that earlier, in my How Many Nominating Ballots in 2015? post. It’s a very tricky situation. While I don’t doubt that Leckie will get more votes than Correia, the Leckie fans would have to be unified in their 4 other nominations to edge Correia off the ballots. That’s the hard part: when you nominate, you can’t vote against people, you can only vote for them. In that way, the nominating ballot works very different than the final ballot. If you predict Leckie to keep her votes, you’re going to have to project Correia to keep his, and he had 322 first place votes in 2014. Even with 3100 voters on the high end, that places Correia at around 10%, which has historically been enough to make a final ballot. Remember, I’m not trying to interject what I think should happen, but trying to use past Hugo history to predict what is likely to happen. Since we only have two years of data on Hugo campaigning, a lot of this is speculation. Which four books do you think Leckie fans would unite behind?

      • Tudor says :

        That is the question. Because even if 1/4 of Leckie fans will also nominate VanderMeer, North, Addison, Hurley, Bennett, McIntosh, Brown or Cixin, anyone of them will have more than 10%. From what I can see there is mutual support between many of these writers and the blogosphere is coagulating around the same 6-8 novels (Annihilation, Ancillary, Goblin, City of Stairs, 15 Lives, Three Body, The Long Way, Elysium) so there is a good chance that we’ll see the same novels on lots of ballots.

  4. Tudor says :

    Right now my prediction are:

    – VanderMeer and Leckie are sure bets;
    – Scalzi is very strong because in 2014 he had a very powerful combinations between a Tor.com novella and a very popular novel set in the same universe;
    – City of Stairs is, from what I’ve seen, the most talked about speculative novel in the blogosphere in 2014 and Bennett was campaigning hard for his book in London (Goblin Emperor is a great book but I think that Sarah Monette / Katherine Addison history also generated much sympathy with the SFWA);
    – The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is popular in USA but also extremely popular in Great Britain (BSFA nominee) and also in the rest of Europe (very important this year).

    I’m really wondering about Red Rising, the winner of the Goodreads awards for the Best debut and Best YA SF&F (it has more ratings on Goodreads than Annihilation and Ancillary Sword combined). Brown’s novel generated a tsunami last year and the second volume is so much better and is already considered by many (myself included) the best novel of 2015.

    • chaoshorizon says :

      Thanks! That’s a very possible list. Claire North and Pierce Brown are certainly being talked about a lot right now, since Touch and Golden Son just came out. The Hugos have been very unfriendly to YA fiction in the past, though.

  5. Tudor says :

    By the way, I’m in heaven since I’ve discovered your blog 🙂 I’m a cardiologist so I absolutely love statistics 🙂 I even tried to predict the Hugo nominations in the last couple of years using a parameter obtained by multiplying the number of Goodreads ratings by the average rating. Then, I’ve eliminated the mainstream novels (King, Prachett, Atkinson, etc), YA novels and all but one epic-fantasy novel. Using this algorithm, in 2013 I’ve had: 1. Redshirts , 2. Blackout, 3. Caliban’s War, 4. Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, 5. Hydrogen Sonata, 6. Throne of the Crescent Moon, 7. 2312 (5/7) and in 2014: 1. Ocean at the End of the Lane, 2. A Memory of Light, 3. Abbadon’s Gate, 4. Human Division, 5. Parasite de Mira Grant, 6. Ancillary Justice (4-5/6). Now I also know that almost always only the first book in a series is nominated, so no Corey (about the Human Division the discussion is not that simple because initially it was launched as episodes).

    My blog is in my native language, Romanian:

    http://www.cititorsf.ro/2014/04/12/goodreads-si-premiile-hugo-2014/
    http://www.cititorsf.ro/2013/03/12/goodreads-si-premiile-hugo-luna-martie/
    http://www.cititorsf.ro/2013/03/31/goodreads-si-premiile-hugo-final/

    • chaoshorizon says :

      Great to see an intersection of interests! Too bad I can’t read Romanian: sounds like your blog would be right up my alley. I’m going to get started at my mathematical predictions soon. I look forward to hearing your input on my parameters.

  6. Tudor says :

    This is the classification according to my algorithm at the end of the nomination period:
    1. Word of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) 221.112
    2. Station Eleven 159.510
    3. Skin Game (The Dresden Files #15) 125.929
    4. Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1) 108.772

    5. Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1) 69.394
    6. Lock In 50.583
    7. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August 34.640
    8. Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch, #2) 20.057

    9. The Peripheral 15.725
    10. City of Stairs 15.654
    11. The Goblin Emperor 12.780
    12. Monster Hunter Nemesis (Monster Hunter International #5) 11.999
    13. The Three-Body Problem (Three Body, #1) 7.963

    14. My Real Children 7.751
    15. The Abyss Beyond Dreams: A Novel of the Commonwealth 7.640
    16. The Causal Angel (Jean le Flambeur, #3) 5.288
    17. Echopraxia (Firefall, #2) 4.937
    18. Afterparty 4.437
    19. The Mirror Empire 4.334
    20. The Dark Defiles (A Land Fit for Heroes, #3) 4.147
    21. Symbiont (Parasitology #2) 4.077

    From my experience no novel as popular and with such a strong mainstream appeal as Words of Radiance, Station Eleven, Skin Game and Red Rising is ever nominated for the Hugo (with the exception of Martin, but he was very popular in the fandom even before Game of Thrones).

    So according to my algorithm Annihilation, Lock In, The First 15 Lives of Harry August and Ancillary Sword will be nominated. After them there is a big gap. It looks like the fifth spot is between The Peripheral / City of Stairs / The Goblin Emperor / Monster Hunter Nemesis /The Three-Body Problem.

    Will see, but I’m really hoping that I’m wrong because for a literary award being predictable is no fun at all 🙂

    • chaoshorizon says :

      Fascinating. This is your # of Goodreads ratings * Goodreading score algorithm? Are you correcting for when books came out in the year? It seems like some mainstream fantasy books (Half a King, The Broken Eye, The Magician’s Land) would be pretty high up; did you filter those out from the list? How/why? Also, just for my curiosity, where would The Martian show up? Great to see someone else working on this problem—I always love to see predictions, particularly when they’re tied to some statistics!

      • Tudor says :

        Yes, this is the algorithm. But I filter almost all the epic/high fantasy and Sword&Sorcery novels, because these books are very rarely nominated (unless you are an already popular writer like Martin or Ahmed). And these authors are not as popular as you may think: Annihilation is better positioned according to my algorithm than Magician’s Land, and Lock In than Broken Eye of Half a King.

        The Martian is swallowing them all (345.966!). But it was a popular book before 2014. So its ineligibility is normal.

        This is the complete classification with The Martian a very clear number 1:

        https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1cz3y6PPNiESfxKs1SznjPPxIGNnZQdIGz4nZ21VNYr4/edit?usp=sharing

      • Tudor says :

        I basically filter almost all epic-fantasy, speculative mainstream, horror novels, YA and almost all the novels in a series that are not the first volume. What remains is the above classification.

  7. Anthony says :

    What happens if the Puppies support one of the other nominees in a “rank them right below ours” sort of way? I don’t remember if there was an “official” ranking last year, or just recommendations by Correia and Vox Day. But imagine that Correia or Torgerson or Vox Day tell their readers “after you’ve voted for the Puppy nominations, rank (Three-Body Problem|Trial By Fire) next”. (I could see the Puppies supporting Liu’s book, and the top post on Torgerson’s blog right now is an interview with Gannon.) Would they bring enough votes to put one of those over the top?

    • chaoshorizon says :

      True—once we get the final slate, we’ll have to start thinking about how a Hugo campaign might affect those results. Until we know the slate, though, we can’t model what impact that will be.

      • Holmwood says :

        First, @Chaos Horizon, this seems a very interesting blog. I like the predictive aspect, and relish the maths, but I suspect N might be too small for this to work. Still, you and we can have fun.

        On point to the issue raised by @Anthony. FWIW, I doubt anyone will successfully orchestrate a mass maneuver by Puppies.

        Disclosure: I am a melancholy puppy; I am a lifelong fan of written SF introduced to Hugo-voting by Larry Correia. (never realized you could be a SUPPORTING member and vote). I treat my nominations and vote very seriously (as I suspect do most Puppies). I didn’t vote a straight Puppy slate this year (or any) and I didn’t even nominate Larry this year.

        MHN was rollicking good fun but it wasn’t in my top 5 of the year. I also know Larry Correia has a plan, if he is nominated, that will likely reduce his odds of winning. (Though in the field of SF, with contrarian fans abounding, who knows?)

        @Aled Morgan, John Scalzi is a good author. I enjoyed both Old Man’s War and Agent to the Stars. His books are pushed heavily by his publisher (deservedly so) and Lock-In was a better work than Redshirts which won previously. That said, I believe his blog’s readership is a good deal smaller than (say) that of Vox Day, and certainly smaller than Day, Correia, Wright, Torgersen, Hoyt, etc combined.

        Back to the general topic of Puppies, sad and otherwise.

        I would be both surprised and disappointed if Puppies locked up overwhelmingly to vote a slate en masse without regard to quality. So far that’s not been the case, though I’m well aware there are those who’d love to poke a stick in the putative SF establishment fans’ collective eyes and do just that.

        To the extent that Sad Puppies brings in lifelong fans to help support cons (or even attend) and vote seriously, that’s surely something we can all embrace. Conversely, if Sad Puppies results in overwhelming slate voting drowning out other voices, then that would be bad. And I think we all, including many Sad Puppies, can agree that would be just… uh… sad.

        Best to my fellow fans, and I look forward to reading whatever I haven’t read that’s in the Hugo Packet and voting discerningly.

      • chaoshorizon says :

        Very interesting take. Thanks. No campaign is a monolith, and when you’re dealing with hundreds of individual voters, it can be very easy to over-simplify a complex process.

        I also agree with you that N is too small to have a truly “sound” predictive model. The Hugos and Nebulas are awfully granular, and that’s been causing all sorts of predictive and statistical problems. Throw in campaigns, and things are getting awfully sticky.

      • Tudor says :

        Another think to keep in mind is that the group of people who nominated will not be the same as the members of Sasquan who will vote the winner (Loncon 3 members can only nominate). Sasquan membership will be much smaller and less diverse than Loncon 3 membership (even for the majority of Americans is much easier to fly to London than to go to Spokane).

        @Holmwood
        Scalzi’s blog is not big, is enormous. There are many good SF writers, but there are only a handful NY Times Bestsellers. Scalzi became one because of his blog. I only like some of his books but even I read his blog regularly. And if an author will write on his blog about her/his new book, than it’s certain that its sales will receive a great boost.

        The best thing about Sad Puppy is that it brings new fans in. The worst is that Sad Puppy is not really about a certain kind of science-fiction, but about people supporting their friends. There are wonderful hard SF, sense-of-wonder writers (Joan Slonczewski, Ramez Naam, Liu Cixin, Linda Nagata, Hannu Rajaniemi, Stephen Baxter) that get no love from the Hugo Awards, but they are not supported by the Sad Puppy because they are not their friends.

  8. VD says :

    Correction: John Scalzi’s blog, Whatever, is not reasonably described as “enormous” and his blog readership is considerably smaller than mine, let alone the combined readership of the various Sad and Rabid Puppy authors.

    The most traffic Mr. Scalzi ever had is just over 1 million Google pageviews per month back in May 2012. Since then, his blog traffic has declined to around 450,000 pageviews per month. By comparison, my blogs alone now have traffic of 1.55 million pageviews per month, about three times that of Mr. Scalzi.

    In 2014, Mr. Scalzi’s blog had 5.6 million annual pageviews whereas mine had 15.7 million. Where Mr. Scalzi is very popular, however, is on Twitter, where his 70k+ followers are more than all of the aforementioned authors combined. Whether Twitter followers or blog readerships are more predictive of Hugo success, I leave to Chaos Horizon to predict.

    The reason many people have a false impression of Mr. Scalzi’s blog is that Mr. Scalzi has historically been prone to a considerable amount of exaggeration. For example, in an August 2010 interview with Lightspeed magazine, he claimed Whatever had 2 million monthly pageviews. The actual number of pageviews that month was 305 thousand, or about 15 percent the amount claimed.

    • Tudor says :

      I was referring not only to the page views when I said enormous, but also to his blog’s influence inside and outside of the SF community. Like it or not, because of his online voice, Scalzi is a multiple Hugo nominee and winner, a NYT bestselling author and has, I think, 3 movies deals. Another enormous blog that builds Hugo nominees is Tor.com.

      • VD says :

        I see. Very well. Then setting pageviews aside, I suppose we will have to wait and see if your opinion of his influence inside and outside of the SF community is justified.

      • Tudor says :

        Deal. We will rediscuss his influence after Redshirts, Old’s Man War and possibly Lock In tv series will have their premiere 😛

  9. Cat Faber says :

    “I would be both surprised and disappointed if Puppies locked up overwhelmingly to vote a slate en masse without regard to quality. So far that’s not been the case”

    Three word answer to that: _Opera Vita Aeterna_. That sure *looks* like it was voted in without regard to quality. It’s got nothing that the Sad Puppies advocate–no excitement, no explosions, no guns, no adventure, no exploration, no discovery.

    Something so different from what the Sad Puppies say they like, block-voted onto the Hugo ballot by Sad Puppies–let’s not kid ourselves, folks; voting works onto the ballot without regard to quality for political reasons is how the Sad Puppies got their start. It’s what they’re all about.

    And if some among them isn’t doing that, well great, and kudos to them; it’s hard to swim against the current. But let’s remember what the Sad Puppies did last year.

    • chaoshorizon says :

      Since Chaos Horizon is so focused on what is “likely” to happen, not necessarily what “should” happen, this isn’t the best space to debate the relative merits (or lack thereof) of any individual Hugo campaign.

      I’m more interested in coming up with a model of how a campaign is likely to influence things this year. Warbound, the most popular “Sad Puppy” work, got 184 nominating votes last year. A work like “Opera Vita Aeterna” got 69 nominating votes. Since Chaos Horizon uses past data to model the future, that’s the basic model I’ve employed: 100% of the Sad Puppy vote going to Correia, then rippling down through the slate to about 1/3 of that vote for the lesser known works. Good thing about predictions is that we’ll known soon enough where things stand, as the Hugo nominations are just a few weeks away.

      • Holmwood says :

        chaos, I hope I’m not treading outside boundaries by briefly responding to Cat (and then you) since she did address me.

        @Cat If I had a name like Cat, I’d be wary of puppies too, sad or otherwise! My take on Sad Puppies differs from yours; I see no call to have explosions, bullets, or even necessarily gripping adventure etc. But tales, they should be more than just style and message that overwhelms story. They should be story first. That at least is the message I take from the Sad Puppies campaigns. I thus don’t see OVA as outside the remit, though it might fail on other grounds, and obviously ultimately did. (Was it political? Sure. I’m sad, not blind).

        Would I consider a fantasy structured as a Regency Romance featuring gay characters and an interesting bit of world-building as legitimately part of Sad Puppies despite the lack of bullets and right-wing-ness? Sure, and I did as preparation — that was one of Sarah Hoyt’s works last year.

        @chaos back to your model. I’m perhaps an outlier dog-paddling against the current, but I note I didn’t nominate Larry this year which flies against your Correia #1 then on down. (I think his Grimnoir stuff is more mature and powerful than MHI.) Still, on that I’m likely an outlier and your model should hold.

        I think an interesting question will be: what will the effect of Rabid Puppies (Vox Day’s variant of the slate) be? I don’t recall all the differences, but I know that Brad Torgersen’s The Chaplain’s War was one.

        Do you have any kind of model for that in mind? (It might be irrelevant of course, but the nomination results will be interesting to see).

        I’m thinking in a fashion that is of no help to you immediately (and possibly no help at all) in that it is too much to add to your present model, but I wonder what the effect of various social media is? For instance one hopes the quality of the work has significant influence, but do the author’s blog hits, facebook popularity, or twitter followers have a bearing?

        I really look forward to reading more.

      • chaoshorizon says :

        Some good questions there. Since I try to stick to data-mining (i.e. using the past to predict the future), I didn’t split out Sad Puppies from Rabbid Puppies because we lack prior data on such a split. This is one of the inherent flaws in my approach, as it is largely unable to factor in “new” things quickly. Here’s my blog post on how I modeled voting campaigns based on last year’s data. If something else happens this year, I’ll use that data and do better next year.

        I haven’t used blog popularity, twitter followers, etc., in my Hugo or Nebula slate predictions, nor in my model for the actual winners. My assumption—perhaps faulty—has been that such things are factored into what I already look at (Amazon + Goodreads number of ratings, number and location of reviews, prior awards history, etc.). The biggest social media names have not necessarily been the biggest winners. If you take the last 5 years of Hugo Best Novel winners (the Mieville and Bacigalupi tie, Willis, Walton, Scalzi, Leckie), I’m not seeing a lot of writers (aside from Scalzi) that have a huge social media presence.

      • Tudor says :

        @Holmwood
        A tiger is a cat too and I’m hoping that puppies are not trolls so I think that Cat is safe 🙂

        @Chaoshorizon
        Among Others is a unique novel, but the beloved Jo Walton’s voice from Tor.com is directly responsible for her Hugo Award. And Ancillary Justice had almost all the community blogs behind it (including most of the SF writers with strong online presence). And I’m wondering if a new Willis novel will even be nominated, let alone win. Black Out / All Clear win seems like ages ago – online time. We will see how diluted is the core fandom in 2016, when Bujold will publish a new Vorkosigan novel.

        Because of the ever-changing online world and because Worlcon is becoming more international every year, I think that is impossible to predict the Hugos using the past years experience (an extreme example – if Liu Cixin will be nominated, there is absolutely no precedent to aid you in predicting how will react a country of 1.35 billion people at the news that their best and most popular SF writer is nominated for the most prestigious SF award; they will certainly buy supporting membership in order to vote for it, but how many? 100? 1000? 5000? 10.000? even more? nobody knows).

        Still, because of this most impossible task, I respect and love what you are doing even more.

      • chaoshorizon says :

        Yes, the sheer number of factors you have to balance off of each other is difficult. This is a multi-variable problem with something like 15-20 variables. It’s definitely going to be a couple of interesting years for the Hugo and Nebula.

    • Daniel says :

      Opera Vita Aeterna has a 4.3 star rating on Amazon, with 73 reviews. Statistically, that is not a very solid three-word answer to the question of quality. You would think that if Sad Puppies was sandbagging their list with political firebombs and disregarding quality that you could find a number of books on their lists below or around 3 stars.

      Otherwise, your example is more likely to provide evidence for the opposite of your thesis: that the puppies have discovered a fascinating batch of quality works commonly overlooked for Hugo consideration.

      Does anyone know why Old Man’s War was eligible for its Hugo nomination? I believe it published online (like The Martian) years before it was distributed by Tor.

  10. dsigal says :

    I would have assumed SP would have completely thrown off your predictions, but interestingly enough, going back to look at this now, and factoring in that Correrria got offered a nomination and turned it down, you got 4 out of 5. That’s pretty impressive

    • chaoshorizon says :

      I tried to factor them in and ended up getting pretty close. To be fair, we don’t know who replaced Correia on the ballot; it could have been a Leckie / Correia / Butcher / Kloos / Anderson initial ballot, with Addison replacing Correia. I’ll also be interested to see who pops up now that Kloos has withdrawn.

      • dsigal says :

        I know there is technically a difference between declining a nomination and withdrawing a nomination, which is what Kloos ended up doing. Are we certain he will be replaced? I would assume so, but I don’t know the rules?

      • chaoshorizon says :

        I think it’ll be replaced, but we’re in uncharted territory this year. I’m not sure the rules are 100% spelled out for decline/replace. I assume the replacement hasn’t been announced yet because the Hugo committee has to contact the replacement and ask if they accept the nom, and that’s simply going to take 24-48 hours.

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. More Hugo predictions | Neoreactive - March 22, 2015
  2. Gânduri de miercuri » Cititor SF - March 25, 2015

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