Archive | April 2015

Declined Hugo and Nebula and other SFF Nominations

Since Chaos Horizon is a website dedicated to gathering stats and information about SFF awards, particularly the Hugos and Nebulas, a list of declined award nominations might prove helpful to us. There’s a lot of information out there, but it’s scattered across the web and hard to find . Hopefully we can gather all this information in one place as a useful resource.

So, if you know of any declined nominations—in the Hugos and Nebulas or other major SFF awards—drop the info on the comments. I have not included books withdrawn for eligibility reasons (published in a previous year, usually). I’ll keep the list updated and stash it in my “Resources” tab up at the top.

Declined Hugo Best Novel nominations:
1972 Best Novel: Robert Silverberg, The World Inside (source:’s excellent Hugo website; Silverberg allegedly declined to give his other Hugo nominated novel that year A Time of Changes a better chance)
1979 Best Novel: James Triptree, Jr., Up the Walls of the World (source:; I have no idea what the story is here)
1989 Best Novel: P. J. Beese and Todd Cameron Hamilton, The Guardsman (source:; Jo Walton has an interesting snippet on this from her Hugo series, noting that the book was disqualified because of block voting)
2005 Best Novel: Terry Pratchett, Going Postal (source: 2005 Hugo Page, nomination links at bottom, Pratchett’s statement that he just wanted to enjoy the event)
2006 Best Novel: Neil Gaiman, Anasi Boys (source: Gaiman’s statement, 2006 Hugo Page, nomination stats at bottom)
2014 Best Novel: Neil Gaiman, Ocean at the End of the Lane (source: 2014 Hugo Page, nomination stats at bottom)
2015 Best Novel: Larry Correia, Monster Hunter Nemesis (source: Correia’s website)
2015 Best Novel: Marko Kloos, Lines of Departure (source: Kloos’s website)

An interesting list. Anasi Boys might have won the 2006 Best Novel Hugo over Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin; Gaiman was incandescently hot at the time. I don’t think Pratchett would have won, as Going Postal isn’t his best work, and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell was a sensation that year. Gaiman wasn’t going to beat Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice in 2014.

Declined Nebula Best Novel nominations:
2012 Best Novel: John Scalzi, Redshirts (source: I found this mention on Scalzi’s blog; search the comments for “Redshirts”)

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson won in 2012; I think Redshirts would have been competitive, although the Nebulas have never been particularly friendly to Scalzi. I’m sure this has happened other times in the Nebula, but the Nebula is more of a closed-shop award, and they don’t publicize what happens behind the scenes as much as the Hugos.

Other Declined Nominations (story categories, other awards):
1971 Hugo Novella: Fritz Leiber, “The Snow Women” (source:; Leiber was up against himself this year, for the eventual winner “Ill Met in Lankhmar”)
1982 Nebula Short Story: Lisa Tuttle, “The Bone Flute” (source: Ansible; Tuttle said that she had “written to withdraw my short story from consideration for a Nebula, in protest at the way the thing is run, and in the hope that my protest might move the Nebula Committee to institute a few simple rules (like, either making sure that all items up for consideration are sent around to all the voters; or else disqualifying works which are campaigned for by either the authors or the editors) which would make the whole Nebula system less of a farce”; she still won, then refused the award)
1990 Hugo Novella: George Alec Effinger, “Marîd Changes His Mind” (sources:; I have no clue why)
1991 Hugo Novella: Lois McMaster Bujold, “Weathermen” (source:;I have no clue why; EDIT: Mark mentioned that the first six chapters of The Vor Game, which won the Best Novel Hugo that year, are a lightly modified version of “Weathermen”; perhaps Bujold withdrew for that reason)
2003 Hugo Novella: Ted Chiang, “Liking What You See: A Documentary” (source:; Chiang allegedly felt it didn’t live up to his best work; I’m also linking this Frank Wu article from Abyss & Apex because it has some more discussion of other declined Hugo noms in other categories)
2015 Hugo Short Story: Annie Bellet, “Goodnight Stars” (source: Bellett’s website)

I know I must have missed plenty—I’m not necessarily plugged in to the inner workings of the SFF world. What other authors have declined, and why?


Prometheus Award Nominees Announced

The Prometheus Award, presented by the Libertarian Futurist Society, has announced their finalists:

The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu
Raising Steam, Terry Pratchett
A Better World, Marcus Sakey
Influx, Daniel Suarez

Nice to see the sentimental nod to Pratchett, but it’s The Three-Body Problem that is really picking up steam. It’s a good sign for Liu to get a nomination like this: it shows that The Three-Body Problem is being embraced by the full range of SFF fans.

The Prometheus Award has been handed out since 1979. It’s never been in close alignment with the Hugos or Nebulas (usually less than 1 overlapping nominee per year). I’ll add the data to my 2015 Award Meta-List.

Literary Awards Round-Up: Checking on SFF Representation

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction was given yesterday, to Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. Doerr’s book is the epitome of prize-bait literary fiction: set in WWII, one protagonist a young blind girl, the other a German orphan, all wrapped up in Doerr’s shimmering/beautiful prose-style. How could it not win? I actually like Doerr; I read “The Shell Collector” a few years ago, about a blind collector of poisonous of cone snail shells. Doerr is a pretty mainstream/safe choice, but if you think the Hugo is controversial . . . check out some of the rage over various Pulitzer choices.

From my Chaos Horizon perspective, I’m very interested in how literary awards treat speculative fiction. That’s usually quite poorly, although a number of “literary” SFF works have garnered nominations in recent years. The Pulitzer marks the end of the 2014-2015 literary award season, so now’s a great time to check in on the what I see as the major literary awards and see how exactly speculative fiction stood in the broader fictional world.

I track 5 yearly “Best Novel” awards: the Pulitzer (the most prestigious American award), the Booker (the most prestigious British/Commonwealth award), the PEN/Faulkner (American), the National Book Award (another American award), and the National Book Critics Circle Award (more Americans!). Since I’m more interested in American literature than British literature (I’m an American lit professor for my day job; shockingly, Chaos Horizon doesn’t pay the bills), that explains the American bias. If there’s another big-time British award I should add to my list, let me know. Let’s look at the nominees (or short lists) and winners of those five awards, and then calculate the SFF %.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Winner)
Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford
The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami
Lovely, Dark, Deep by Joyce Carol Oates

No speculative novels in that group.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (Winner)
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
J by Howard Jacobson
The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee
How to Be Both by Ali Smith

One clear literary speculative novel here, with J being a dystopic take on England after a series of anti-Jewish pogroms. Jacobson is a well-known realist writer dipping into SF. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is borderline speculative; Fowler is a well-known SF author, and the book grabbed a 2014 Nebula nomination. Content is mostly realistic, about a young girl being raised alongside a chimpanzee. More of a “fiction about science” than “science fiction,” although I’ll count this as speculative based on the Nebula nom and Fowler’s long association with SFF.

Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish (Winner)
Song of the Shank by Jeffery Renard Allen
Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Station Eleven is a post-apocalyptic literary SF novel, delving into a sudden world-shattering plague and giving us scenes both before and after the incident. Despite the speculation in the title, no speculative content in Dept. of Speculation.

National Book Award:
Redeployment by Phil Klay (Winner)
An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Another speculative notch for Mandel.

National Book Critics Circle:
Lila by Marilynne Robinson (Winner)
An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddin
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
Euphoria by Lily King
On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee

One speculative book in that bunch, Chang-Rae Lee’s post-apocalyptic On Such a Full Sea. Lee is another literary writer dipping briefly into SF; the book takes place in a ruined America with a heavily class-stratified society.

Final 2014-2015 Literary Report: Of the 25 literary nominations, 5 went to speculative novels of some stripe, for a respectable 20% nomination rate. No speculative novels won, for a disappointing 0% win rate.

To be fair, most of the nominations were for post-apocalyptic novels by literary fiction writers; ever since the resounding success of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, this has been a popular sub-genre. I know some SFF fans find this “hit-and-run” use of post-apocalyptic fiction (write one book in the sub-genre for literary acclaim, then never touch science fiction again) to be galling, particularly when such authors ignore or disparage the science fiction field.

Literary fiction writers have had carte-blanche over the past 10 or so years to dip into speculative fiction, whether or not they have much background in the genre. The reverse has been much dicier; rarely do outstanding novels from the speculative world receive literary acclaim. Even Fowler only gets acclaim when she steps away from speculative content. There were even a solid option this year: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer could have easily slid into any of these 5 awards. It wasn’t to be, and we may still be decades away from the mainstream literary awards rewarding a speculative novel by a SFF author.

Still, 20% is better than 0%, and the award are beginning to loosen up. China Mieville for the Booker in 2025? We should start campaigning.

Ballot Changes: Updating the Hugo Math

In the past few days, there have been four changes to the Hugo ballot: two authors (Marko Kloos and Annie Bellet) have dropped out, and two more authors/artists have been ruled ineligible (a John C. Wright novelette and Professional Artist John Eno). All the details can be found at the official Hugo Awards Website, and File 770 has a nice overview article.

Since Chaos Horizon is a Hugo and Nebula analytics site, these changes give us some new information about the voting totals, campaigns, and block sizes of the 2015 Hugos. In my two previous Hugo math posts—How Many Puppies and Margin of Victory—I tried to use the information we already have to estimate (and it’s only an estimate) the size of the effective voting blocks and the margins of victory. With this new data, I can update those estimates. Let’s go through the changes one by one to see what we can learn:

Best Novel Category: Cixin Liu’s novel The Three-Body Problem replaced Marko Kloos’s withdrawn novel Lines of Departure. Kloos’s novel appeared on both the Sad and Rabid Puppy slates. The range of votes prior to Kloos’s withdrawal was 256-387. The new range of votes is 212-387.

This doesn’t tell us that much. We know that The Three Body-Problem novel received 212 votes. We can’t assume that Kloos was the 256 vote getter (that could have been Addison), so this doesn’t help us estimate the size of the combined Rabid + Sad Puppy effective block vote in the Novel category. I’ve been using the term “effective block” because the current data doesn’t allow us to distinguish between 300 Puppy voters voting 67% of a slate or 200 voters voting 100% of the slate. Since there is such a range between the top and low end of the votes (even in categories the Puppies swept), I think you need to assume that not every Puppy voter voted straight down the line.

However, we can tentatively conclude that neither the Rabid Puppy nor the Sad Puppy alone was able to reach 212 votes. The Puppy slates diverged with their last choice of novel: the Sad Puppies had Charles Gannon, and the Rabid Puppies had Brad Torgersen. However, it may be that both of them were offered the Hugo spot and turned it down for various reasons. Until we have more info, we’ll have to chalk up a “learned little” for this category.

Best Novelette Category: Now we can learn something. John C. Wright’s story “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” was ruled ineligible and replaced by “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Huevelt. That adjusted the category range from 165-267 to 72-267. Wright was a Rabid Puppy pick; Huevelt was not on either Puppy slate. We know that “The Day the World turned Upside Down” received 72 votes. Since the Puppies swept this category, we know that 165 had to be a Puppy text.

This category gives us our first definitive sense of the “margin of victory,” or how convincingly the Puppies swept the Hugos. 165 for the lowest Puppy vote, and then 72 for the highest non-Puppy vote. That’s a huge 93 votes, or more than double Huevelt’s total.

In my prior post, using 2014 stats which showed Mary Robinette Kowal getting 118 votes for “Lady Astronaut of Mars,” I estimated the margin as much lower than that (47, to be exact). However, Kowal’s numbers may have been inflated (her story was ruled ineligible the year before, so she got plenty of press and support). Torgersen was second in 2014 Novelette nomination with 92 (he was a Puppy pick), and Alette de Bodard was third with 79. That 79 number is in line with this year’s total, which may indicate that the non-Puppy group of Hugo nominators did not increase this year. Catherynn Valente’s “Fade to White” was the most nominated 2013 Novelette with 89 votes. 89 to 72 is quite a decline, considering how many more voters there were this year.

So, we can say, at least in the Novelette category, the Puppy margin of victory was 93 votes, in a category where the most popular work usually has less than 100 votes.

Best Short Story Category: Annie Bellet withdrew her Rabid and Sad Puppy supported story “Goodnight Stars,” which was replaced by the Sad Puppy supported story “A Single Samurai” by Steven Diamond. The range changed from 151-230 to 132-226. We know “A Single Samurai” must have received 132 votes, and we also know that “Goodnight Stars” must have received 230 votes (since the top range also changed). This category was swept by the Puppies.

It’s interesting that the top range in this category (230) is so different than in other Puppy-swept categories: 338 for Novella, 267 for Novelette (back when it was swept). The block vote certainly fell off quickly from category to category.

This is our first real chance to see the Sad and Rabid Puppy votes separated. The Sad Puppy category slate chose stories by Bellet, Grey, English, Antonelli, and Diamond. The Rabid Puppies only chose a few of those: the Bellet, the English, and Antonelli. All three were nominated. Vox Day filled out his slate with a story by Wright (nominated) and a story by Rzasa (not nominated). So the Sad Puppy nominee of Diamond with 132 votes beat Rabid Puppy nominee Rzasa. If Rzasa would have kept all the Rabid Puppy votes that went to John C. Wright, he would have made the ballot. It’s interesting to see that even in the Rabid Puppy slate there is a discernible fall off between the most popular authors to the less popular ones.
EDIT: I was running these late last night, and missed looking at the Rzasa. My mistake. Sorry! Chaos Horizon should impose a “no math after 10:00 PM rule.”

So, let’s tackle this again, in the clear light of morning and after I’ve had my coffee: This is our first real chance to see the Sad and Rabid Puppy votes separated. The Sad Puppy category slate chose stories by Bellet, Grey, English, Antonelli, and Diamond. The Rabid Puppies only chose a few of those: the Bellet, the English, and Antonelli. It added two different stories, one by Wright and one by Rzasa. Both of those made the slate. If we break this down, we can start to separate some of the math out:

Short Story Category:
#1 in category: 230 votes: “Goodnight Stars” by Bellet (we know this because she withdrew and the ranged changed, story appeared on both the RP and SP slates).
#2 in category: 226 votes, don’t know the text (likely the Antonelli or English, because they appeared on both the the RP and SP ballots).
#3 in category: don’t know vote total, don’t know the story (but probably the English or Antonelli, for reasons stated above)
#4 in category: don’t know vote total, don’t know the story (but probably the Wright or Rzasa story, since they only appeared on the RP ballot)
#5 in category: 151 votes, don’t know the story (but probably the Wright or Rzasa story, because of reasons stated above)
#6 in category: 132 votes, “A Single Samurai” (appeared only on the SP slate)

With some fancy subtracting and hopefully some sound logic, here are the conclusions I’m reaching:
The SP effective vote in this category was 132, because that’s the number of votes their nominee “A Single Samurai” managed. They had one more suggestion, a story by Megan Grey, that must have placed below that.

The RP effective vote in this category was likely 151. I think it’s logical to assume that stories #3 and #4 in the ballot were the RP picks, based on the assumption that any pick on both the RP and SP ballots would have more votes since it could draw from both pools. That’s an assumption, not a fact, but I think a reasonable one. Disagree if you wish! What’s interesting is that 133 + 151 = 283, which is well shy of the # of votes the Bellet story received. This is another good indicator that neither the SP influenced voters of the RP influenced voters were moving exactly in lock step. If every SP voter who voted for “The Single Samurai” and ever RP voted who voted for either Wright or Rsaza voted for Bellet, her vote total would have been much larger. This is all complicated by possible interactions between the two groups (i.e. one person might have picked some works from the SP ballot and some works from the RP ballot), and we won’t know more precisely until after the data comes out.

Best Professional Artist: John Eno was ruled ineligible. He was a Sad and Rabid Puppy pick. He was replaced by Kirk DouPonce, a Rabid Puppy pick. There was no alternative Sad Puppy pick to elevate (they only chose 4 artists in the category). The range changed from 136-188 to 118-188.

So we know Kirk DouPonce received 118 votes. You might want to begin thinking about that number (118) as the low end of the Rabid Puppy effective block vote. That would be consistent with the Short Story category results: 118 wouldn’t quite have been enough to push the Rzasa story onto the ballot. Still, 118 votes is a huge number, and would have been enough to sweep most Hugo categories without any support from the Sad Puppies. There were two slates, both of which were large enough to effectively dominate most Hugo categories.

All of this will be greatly clarified when we get the final data after the Hugos are announced in August. Remember, these are estimates working with limited data, and are probably considered in terms of ranges (through a +/- 50 if you want to) rather than absolutes.

Anything else we can figure out at this point? EDIT: For easy references, here are the last 4 years of Hugo data, taken from the Hugo website:

As Kerani points out in the comments, so much is changing so fast in this year’s Hugo data—increased voters, withdrawals, disqualifications, block votes, etc.—that this data set (particularly in its incomplete form) can’t be considered to have a ton in common with previous data sets. Any comparisons we draw have to be considered speculative. But, since our field is speculative fiction, why not? Remember, Chaos Horizon data analysis is more for fun than anything else, and provides, in my opinion, a useful alternative to some of the other more-opinion driven sites out there. Take everything with a grain of salt, and use your own logic and analysis to make sense of what’s happening.

Checking the Other SFF Awards: BSFA, PKD, Tiptree, and Arthur C. Clarke

As the winds of winter continue to swirl around the Hugo, it’s a great time to check in on the rest of the SFF awards. There’s been a series of winners and nominees announced over the last week, and much of this has been lost in the furor over the Hugo. If you want a broad view of the field, looking beyond the Hugo and the Nebula is a must. Both the Hugo and Nebula are so peculiar in their assessment of Science Ficiton and Fantasy that they ignore a great deal of interesting fiction.

Chaos Horizon has been collating these lists into one master list; see the bottom of the post for that info.

BSFA: Ann Leckie won her second straight BSFA, taking the prize for Ancillary Sword, beating out such books as Lagoon, Europe in Autumn, and Wolves. Voting stats (found at the link) show that it wasn’t even close: Leckie almost doubled the vote total of Hardinge and Hutchinson in the first round, and ended up with a comfortable victory. Lagoon, for all the critical praise it received, wound up in last place. I think Leckie’s win here is a good indicator for the Nebula and Hugo; we may be in store for another Leckie sweep.

Philip K. Dick: The PKD award went to Meg Elison’s The Book of the Unnamed Midwife. The PKD picks the best paperback SF novel of the year published in the US; since the award is limited to paperbacks, it’s always a little offbeat compared to the Nebulas and Hugos. Elysium received a special citation as well.

Arthur C. Clarke: The Clarke shortlist was announced:

The Girl With All The Gifts – M.R. Carey (Orbit)
The Book Of Strange New Things – Michel Faber (Canongate)
Europe In Autumn – Dave Hutchinson (Solaris)
Memory Of Water – Emmi Itäranta (HarperVoyager)
The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August – Claire North (Orbit)
Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel (Picador)

Faber and Mandel make that a very literary shortlist. Hutchinson and North are having good years across the board; I wonder how close North would have been to making the Hugo ballot without the Puppy slates. The absence of Leckie is a little surprising, given that she won last year. Despite the acclaim for VanderMeer’s Annihilation, it has been basically been shut out of the awards season (except the Nebula). This doesn’t speak well for its Nebula chances.

Tiptree: The Tiptree is given to “science fiction or fantasy that explores and expands the roles of women and men for work by both women and men.” The Tiptree website lacks a permanent link, but here’s the File 770 list of works.

The Girl in the Road, Monica Byrne (co-winner)
My Real Children, Jo Walton (co-winner)
Novels from the Honor List (short list):
Elysium, Jennifer Marie Brissett
Memory of Water, Emmi Itaranta
Ascension, Jacqueline Koyanagi
Lagoon, Nnedi Okorafor

No Leckie (she made the Honor list last year), and I’m surprised Kameron Hurley’s The Mirror Empire missed the short (or long) list.

Gemmell Legend: The initial voting for the Gemmell has opened, and lasts until May 15th. The Gemmell goes to the best Fantasy novel, and is awarded in an open internet vote. If you want to imagine what the Hugo would look like if it were open to everyone, the Gemmell can give you some insight into that.

Locus Award: The Locus Awards, voted on by the subscribers of Locus Magazine, are also open for voting.

The Chaos Cup: I’ve been collating all these awards into a meta-list, to see if anyone breaks out of the pack. So, if we sum up all our current slates (Arthur C. Clarke, BSFA, Hugo, Kitschies, Nebula, PKD, Tiptree), we wind up with the following list. Everyone gets 1 point for each nomination list they appear on, and we’re about halfway through the awards season (my list is going to collate 15 different awards). Here’s everyone with more than 1 vote:

Ancillary Sword: 3 nominations, 1 win (BSFA)
Memory of Water: 3 nominations
Lagoon: 3 nominations

Elysium: 2 nominations
Europe in Autumn: 2 nominations
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August: 2 nominations
The Goblin Emperor: 2 nominations

All told, 31 novels have received nominations. Unlike last year, where Leckie had already broken away from the pack, everything is bunched up. I wonder how Lagoon would be doing if it had gotten a US publication (it is ineligible for several of the American awards).

It’s looking to be a very spread-out year, without any necessarily “consensus” SFF novel in 2015. If you want to see the Excel file with all the awards and nominees, e-mail me at

Official Chaos Horizon Motto

I was reading Philip K. Dick’s Vulcan’s Hammer, and came across this quote:

There is some element misfunctioning. A significant shift in the orientation of certain social strata which cannot be explained in terms of data already available to me. A realignment of the social pyramid is forming in response to historic-dynamic factors unfamiliar to me. I must know more if I am to deal with this.

Seems perfect for an official CH motto: “I must know more if I am to deal with this.” I added it to the by-line.

Every website needs a motto, doesn’t it?

Margin of Victory: Breaking Down the Hugo Math

In my last post, I looked at the ranges of votes in the categories swept by the Puppy vote to estimate the effective min/max of the Puppy numbers. In this post, I’ll ask this question: How close were these categories to being sweeps? How many additional “traditional” Hugo voters (i.e. non-block voters distributed in the ways Hugo votes have been in the past) would it have taken to prevent a sweep?

I think this information is important because so many various proposals to “fix” the Hugos are currently floating around the web. Even if you accept the premise that the Hugos need to be fixed, what exactly are you fixing? One flaw in the Hugo system is that proposals to change the voting patterns—if such changes are desirable or needed—have to be proposed at the WorldCon, and that’s before the voting results are broadly known. Thus people are working in the dark: they might be trying to “fix” something without knowing exactly the scope (or even the definition) of “the problem.” That’s a recipe for hasty and ineffective change.

What we’ll do today is to compare the lowest Puppy nominee in the 6 swept categories (Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Best Related Work, Editor Short Form, and Editor Long Form) to the highest non-Puppy from 2014. I’ll subtract those two values to find a “margin of victory” for each of those 6 categories. That would give us an estimation of how many more votes it would have taken to get one (and only one) non-Puppy work onto the final ballot. To overcome more of the Puppy ballot would take more votes.

Now, this plays a little loose with the math: we don’t know for sure that the highest non-Puppy nominee from 2015 would have the same number of votes as the 2014 nominee. In fact, it’s highly unlikely they would be exactly the same. However, I think this gives us a rough estimate; it may be 5 higher, or 10 lower, but somewhere in a reasonable range. This will give us a rough eyeball estimate of how pronounced the victories were. On to the stats:

Lowest 2015 nominee: 145 votes
Highest 2014 nominee: 143 votes (Valente’s “Six-Gun Snow White”)
Margin of Sweep: 2 votes

Lowest 2015 nominee: 165 votes
Highest 2014 nominee: 118 votes (Kowal’s “Lady Astronaut of Mars”)
Margin of Sweep: 47 votes

Short Story:
Lowest 2015 nominee: 151 votes
Highest 2014 nominee: 78 votes (Samatar’s “Selkie Stories are For Losers”)
Margin of Sweep: 73 votes

Best Related Work:
Lowest 2015 nominee: 206 votes
Highest 2014 nominee: 89 votes (VanderMeer’s Wonderbook)
Margin of Sweep: 117 votes

Best Editor Short Form:

Lowest 2015 nominee: 162 votes
Highest 2014 nominee: 182 votes (John Joseph Adams; Neil Clarke was second with 115)
Margin of Sweep: -20 votes (if JJA had gotten the same support in 2015 as he did in 2014, he would have placed on the ballot by 20 votes)

Best Editor Long Form:
Lowest 2015 nominee: 166 votes
Second Highest 2014 nominee: 118 votes (Toni Weisskopf was highest with 169 votes, but she was a Sad Puppy 2 nominee (although Weisskopf also has plenty of support outside of Sad Puppies); Ginjer Buchanon was second with 118 votes)
Margin of Sweep: 48 votes

What does all that data mean? That means if that 2015 played out like 2014 for the non-Puppy candidates, the highest non-Puppy candidate missed the slate by this much (I’m repeating the data to make it easier to find). This many more votes for the highest non-Puppy would have broken up the sweep by one nominee.
Novella: 2 votes
Novelette: 47 votes
Short Story: 73 votes
Best Related Work: 117 votes
Editor Short Form: -20 votes
Editor Long Form: 48 votes

The Puppy slates didn’t dominate every category as much as the final results makes it seem. We won’t know the exact margins until August, but I imagine that a non-Puppy Novella was very close to making the final slate. Something like Ken Liu’s “The Regular” probably only needed a few more votes to make it onto the ballot. Editor Short Form was probably even closer; John Joseph Adams must have lost support; if he kept his votes from last year, he would have gotten in.

The other categories were crushed. 73 for Short Story. 117 for Best Related. Given that Samatar’s story from 2014 only managed 78 votes and you needed 151 to make it this year, that’s an almost impossible climb to get just one non-Puppy story onto the slate. I think this reveals a major problem: the Puppies dominated these categories not only because of their organization, but because of the general lack of voting in those categories. EDIT (4/8/15): Tudor usefully pointed out in the comments that this is probably better understood as a diffusion of the Short Story vote (i.e. the vote is spread out across many stories), rather than a lack of Short Story voters. Thanks for the correction, Tudor, and I always encourage people to push back against any Chaos Horizon statements they think are wrong, incorrect, or misleading. The more eyes we have on stats, the better.

Let’s run some rough math to see how many more voters you would need to get that one work onto the slate. Here’s how I’ll calculate new voters (you may disagree with this formula). I’m assuming you’re bringing new voters into the Hugo process, and that those voters vote in a similar fashion to the past. So, to generate 2 more votes for the top non-Puppy Novella, you’d need to account for the % of voters that bother to vote for the Novella category (2122 people voted in the 2015 Hugo, but only 1083 voted in the Novella category, for 51%). So, to bring 50 new people into the Novella category, you’d need to bring 100 new people into the Hugo voting process.

Next, you need to account for how many people voted for the #1 non-Puppy work. In 2014, that was 16.9% (that’s the percentage “Six-Gun Snow White” got). If we assume a similar distribution, we wind up with 2 votes needed / 51% voting for the category / 16.9% voting for the number one work. That yields 23 new votes needed.

For the Novella category, that’s definitely doable. In fact, if only some of the 700 people who voted for the Best Novel category voted but sat out the Novella category voted, that would add one non-Puppy text back to the slate.

Let’s run the math for the six categories:
Novella: 23 new voters needed
Novelette: 597 new voters needed (47/48.5%/16.2%)
Short Story: 1450 new voters needed (73/55%/9.1%)
Best Related Work: 1830 new voters needed (117/54%/11.8%)
Short Form Editor: no new voters needed; data shows they would have a nominee best on last years patterns
Long Form Editor: 765 new voters needed (48/33.5%/18.7%)

That’s a lot of new voters, and remember this is the number of voters needed to place only one non-Puppy work onto the final nominee list. The Novella and the Short Form Editor categories were close to not being sweeps, but the others were soundly overwhelmed. Think of how the Novel category worked: with much more excitement (700 more voters), the Puppies still placed 3 works onto the list. Finally, I don’t know how you’d add 1000+ new voters without also adding more Puppy voters.

Just for grins, let’s imagine what it would take to eliminate all Puppy influence in the Short Story category. To do that, we’d have to elevate John Chu’s “The Water that Falls from Nowhere” onto this year’s slate based on last year’s percentage vote. Chu—who won the Hugo—managed 43 nominations. To beat the highest 2015 Short Story puppy (230), he’d have to add 187 votes. Chu managed only 5% of the 2014 vote, and 55% of the total Hugo voters voted in the Short Story category. That gives us (187/55%/5%) = 6800 voters. So, if the Hugos added a mere 6,800 voters (and managed to keep all new Puppy votes out!), the Puppies would have been shut out of the Short Story category.

Of course, counter-slates could boost the % of votes going to authors, and there are other solutions that could tilt the field (fewer nominees per voter, more works per slate). What this post goes to show, though, is how organized and enthusiastic the 2015 Puppy-vote was: they not only swept categories, they swept categories decisively.

How Many Puppy Votes: Breaking Down the Hugo Math

The dust is just beginning to settle on the 2015 Hugo nominations. Here’s the official Hugo announcement and list of finalists. If you’re completely in the dark, we had two interacting slates—one called Sad Puppies led by Brad Torgersen, another called Rabid Puppies led by Vox Dax—that largely swept the 2015 Hugo nominations.

The internet has blown up with commentary on this issue. I’m not going to get into the politics behind the slates here; instead, I want to look at their impact. Remember, Chaos Horizon is an analytics, not an editorial website. If you’re looking for more editorial content, this mega-post on File 770 contains plenty of opinions from both sides of this issue.

What I want to do here on Chaos Horizon today is look at the nominating stats. Using those, can we estimate how many Sad Puppies? How many Rabid Puppies?

For those who want to skip the analysis: my conclusion is that the total Puppy influenced vote doubled from 2014 to 2015 (from 182 to somewhere in the 360 range), and that this resulted in a max Puppy vote of 360, and a minimum effective Puppy block of 150 votes. We don’t yet have data that makes it possible to split out the Rabid/Sad effect.

Let’s start with some basic stats: there were 2,122 nominating ballots, up from 1,923 nominating ballots last year, making for a difference of (2,122-1,923) = 199 ballots. Given that Spokane isn’t as attractive a destination as London for WorldCon goers, what is the cause of that rise? Are those the new Puppy voters, Sad and Rabid combined?

If you take last year’s Sad Puppy total, you’d wind up with 184 for the max Puppy vote (that’s the amount of voters who nominated Correia’s Warbound), the top Sad Puppy 2 vote-getter. If we add 199 to that, we’d get a temporary estimate of 383 for the max 2015 Puppy vote. We’ll find that this rough estimate is within spitting distance of my final conclusion.

Here’s a screenshot that’s been floating around on Twitter, showing the number of nominating votes per category. Normally, this wouldn’t help us much, because we couldn’t correlate min and max votes to any specific items on the ballot. However, since the Puppies swept several categories, we can use these ranges to min and max the total Puppy vote in the categories they swept. With me so far?

Hugo Nominating Stats 2015

Click on that to make it bigger. As you can see, that’s from the Sasquan announcement.

The Puppies swept Best Novella, Best Novelette, Best Short Story, Best Related Work, Best Editor Long Form, and Best Editor Short Form. This means all the votes shown in these categories are Puppy votes. Let me add another wrinkle before we continue: at times, the Sad and Rabid voters were in competition, nominating different texts for their respective slates. I’ll get to that in a second.

So, if we were to look at the max vote in those six categories, we’d get a good idea of the “maximum Puppy impact” for 2015:
Novella: 338 high votes
Novelette: 267 high votes
Short Story: 230 high votes
Related Work: 273 high votes
Editor Short Form: 279 high votes
Editor Long Form: 368 high votes

Presumably, those 6 “high” vote-getters were works that appeared on both the Sad and Rabid slates. You see quite a bit of variation there; that’s consistent with how Sad Puppies worked last year. The most popular Puppy authors got more votes than the less popular authors. See my post here for data on that issue. Certain categories (novel, for instance), are also much more popular than the other categories.

At the top end, though, the Editor long form grabbed 368 votes, which was within shouting distance of the Novella high vote of 338, and even very close to the Novel high vote of 387. I think we can safely conclude that’s the top end of the Puppy vote: 360 votes. I’m knocking a few off because not every vote for every text had to come from a Puppy influence. I’m going to label that the max Puppy vote, which combines the maximum possible reach of the combined Rabid and Sad Puppies vote.

Why was there such a drop between the 368 votes for Editor Long Form and the mere 230 votes for Short Story when both of these were Puppy-swept categories? This means that not every Puppy voter was a straight slate voter: some used the slate as a guide, and only marked the texts they liked/found worthy/had read. Some Puppy voters appear to have skipped the Short Story category entirely. That’s exactly what we saw last year: a rapid falling off in the Puppy vote based on author and category popularity. This wasn’t as visible this year because the max vote was so much higher: even 50% of that 360 number was still enough to sweep categories.

Now, on to the Puppy “minimum.” This would represent the effective “block” nature of the Puppy vote: what were lowest values they put forward when they swept a category? Remember, we know that 5th place work had to be a Puppy nominee because the category was swept.

Novella: 145 low vote
Novelette: 165 low vote
Short Story: 151 low vote
Related Work: 206 low vote
Editor Short Form: 162 low vote
Editor Long Form: 166 low vote

Aside from Related Work, that’s enormously consistent. There’s your effective block vote. I call this “effective” because the data we have can’t tell us for sure that this is 150 people voting in lock-step, or whether it might be 200 Puppies each agreeing with 75% of the slate. Either way, it doesn’t matter: The effect of the 2015 Puppy campaign was to produce a block vote of around 150 voters.

If that’s my conclusion, why was the Best Related Work 206 minimum votes? That’s the only category where the Rabid and Sad Puppies agreed 100% on their slate. Everywhere else, they split their vote. As such, that’s the combined block voting power of Rabid and Sad Puppies, something that didn’t show up in the other 5 swept categories.

So, given the above data, here’s my conclusion: The Puppy campaigns of 2015 resulted in a maximum of 360 votes, and an effective block minimum of 150 votes. That ratio of 360/150 max/min (41%) is almost the same as last year’s (182 for Correia at the highest / 69 for Vox at the lowest, for a rate of 37.9%). That’s remarkable consistency. It doesn’t look the Puppy stuck together any more, just that there were far more of them. Of course, we won’t know the full statistics until the full voting data is released in August.

I think a lot casual observers are going to be surprised at that 360 number. That’s a big number, representing some 17% of the total Hugo voters (360/2122). Those 17% selected around 75% of the final ballot. That’s the imbalance in the process so many observers are currently discussing.

What do you think? Does that data analysis make sense? Are you seeing something I’m not seeing in the chart? Tomorrow I’ll do an analysis of how much the non-Puppy works missed the slate by.

Off to New Orleans

I’m heading to New Orleans tomorrow for the PCA/ACA conference. I’ll be presenting on historicity in Fantasy novels on Saturday morning, so drop by the conference if you get a chance!

Fortunately, this means I’ll get to miss some of the initial furor when the Hugo nominations come out this Saturday. Rumors are that some 60% of the Best Novel Hugo slate will be from the Sad Puppies, and that their impact on the rest of the ballot will be even greater. I’ll be back in the middle of next week to discuss some of the numerical implications of the results, whatever they are.

Everyone enjoy the weekend!

Xeno Swarm

Multiple Estrangements in Philosophy and Science Fiction


Pluralism and Individuation in a World of Becoming

Space and Sorcery

Adventures in speculative fiction

The BiblioSanctum

A Book Blog for Speculative Fiction, Graphic Novels... and more!

The Skiffy and Fanty Show

Running away from the thought police on wings of gossamer and lace...

Relentless Reading

"A Veritable Paladin of Blogging!"


A little about me, a lot about books, and a dash of something else

Far Beyond Reality

Science Fiction and Fantasy Reviews

Andrew Liptak

three more from on high

Eamo The Geek

The Best In Sci-Fi And Fantasy Book Reviews by Eamon Ambrose

Read & Survive

How-To Read Books

Mountain Was Here

writing like a drunken seismograph

The Grimdark Review

The very best of fantasy.

SFF Book Reviews

random thoughts about fantasy & science fiction books

Philip K. Dick Review

A Re-read Project

Notes From the Darknet

Book reviews and literary discussion