Inside the Locus Results

My copy of Locus Magazine arrived today, and with it some interesting insights on how the Hugo nominees did in those awards. While not a perfect match to the Hugos, the Locus are the closest thing going: a popular vote by SFF “insiders” to determine the best novel of the year. The Locus splits Fantasy off from Science Fiction, which makes the award have a very different feel, and Locus voters tend to be more receptive to sequels. Locus also doubles the weight of subscribers versus non-subscriber, meaning the most involved fans get the most say. If you’re so into SFF that you have a subscription to Locus, you’re definitely not casual.

Locus has posted the finalists and winners here. For our purposes, the key categories are the two Best Novels. Here’s the order of the top 5 placement, taken from the print edition of Locus. Don’t worry, I won’t share all the data; buy Locus if you want the full details!

SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL
1. Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
2. The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu (Tor)
3. Annihilation/Authority/Acceptance, Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals; Fourth Estate; HarperCollins Canada)
4. The Peripheral, William Gibson (Putnam; Viking UK)
5. Lock In, John Scalzi (Tor; Gollancz)

FANTASY NOVEL
1. The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
2. City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway; Jo Fletcher)
3. The Magician’s Land, Lev Grossman (Viking; Arrow 2015)
4. Steles of the Sky, Elizabeth Bear (Tor)
5. The Mirror Empire, Kameron Hurley (Angry Robot US)

You’ll notice that the Top 2 from the SF and the Top 1 from F make up 3/5 of the Hugo Best Novel ballot. Neither the Jim Butcher nor the Kevin J. Anderson made the Top 28 SF novels or the Top 21 fantasy novels. If you were going by Locus vote counts alone, VanderMeer and Gibson would have been next in line for nominations. Since Hugo voters have ignored Gibson since 1994 (seriously, no nominations since 1994), the 5th spot would have been a toss up between Scalzi and Bennett. Given Scalzi’s past Hugo performance, you might lean in that direction, although we’ll find out when the full nomination stats are released.

If we go deeper into the details, let’s look at the number of votes for each of our Hugo Nominees. They use something called the “Carr system,” which gives 8 points for a 1st place voice, 7 for a 2nd place vote, 6 for a 3rd place vote, 5 for a 4th place vote, and 4 for a 5th place vote, with no points after that. This tries to balance preference with sane math: instead of a 1st place vote counting 5 times as much as a 5th place vote, it only counts twice as much. So it goes.

Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie: 2818 pts, 321 vts, 107 1sts
The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison: 2556 pts, 285 vts, 126 1sts
The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu, 1869 pts, 223 vts, 58 1sts

First thing to notice: it looks like Leckie and Addison have separated themselves from Liu. Those 58 1st place votes for Liu is lower than books like The Peripheral or City of Stairs received, and about half as much as the Leckie or Addison. Since the Hugo ballot ranks by preference, this might spell trouble for his chances. This would echo what I’ve seen online as well: the Addison and the Leckie seem to inspire more passion in readers than the Liu. Is it an issue of translation, Liu’s unique and somewhat strange approach to character and plot, or simply the difficulty of relating to Chinese (rather than American) SFF? Who knows?

Everything about this year’s Hugos—as we’ll delve into this week—is pointing to a very close race between Leckie and Addison. If you look just at the Locus, Leckie has broader support (she’s probably better known due to last year’s wins), but Addison had more 1st place votes. All of that will play out in interesting ways in the Hugos, once we factor in the new voters, this year’s controversies, and the difficulty Leckie will have in repeating as a Hugo winner.

The Locus Award results factor heavily into my Hugo prediction. I’m going to be building that prediction this week, so stay tuned!

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3 responses to “Inside the Locus Results”

  1. MadProfessah says :

    Wow… that’s a really interesting analysis of the Locus votes. Surprising to see more first place votes for Addison over Leckie, but how will people rank them against each other when they are in the same category?

    • chaoshorizon says :

      Addison didn’t have a lot competition (at least for the Locus voters) in the Fantasy category. The next highest number of first place votes was 68 for City of Stairs, while Leckie got heavy competition from the Vandermeer (that scooped up 91 first place votes). So I guess you could argue that Addison won the weaker category?

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