Archive | January 2016

2016 Hugo Nominations Now Open

MidAmeriCon II Has finally opened up for 2016 Hugo nominations. To nominate, you need to either be a member of MidAmericon II or to have been a member of last year’s WorldCon or next years WorldCon. Deadline to join and vote in this year’s Hugos is January 31st. Here’s some specifics from their website:

•Hugo Pins and Membership Numbers will be emailed out, in batches, to the members of Sasquan, MidAmeriCon II and Worldcon 75 (Helsinki) starting on January 27, 2016 and going through February 5, 2016.

•People who register for MidAmeriCon II or Worldcon 75 (Helsinki) in January, 2016 will be in the last batch of pins to go out, but they will get theirs within a week of the nominations opening.

•The reason we cannot just email everyone at the same time is because of the last group of eligible voters as well as the need to coordinate 3 different Worldcon committees work together to ensure that everyone eligible to nominate gets their Hugo Pin and Membership Number in a timely manner.

After a relatively calm January, this should pick up the Hugo conversation significantly. Happy nominating!

2016 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Announced

The 2016 SFF awards season kicks off with the announcement of the nominees for the PKD award:

EDGE OF DARK by Brenda Cooper (Pyr)
AFTER THE SAUCERS LANDED by Douglas Lain (Night Shade Books)
(R)EVOLUTION by PJ Manney (47North)
APEX by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot Books)
WINDSWEPT by Adam Rakunas (Angry Robot Books)
ARCHANGEL by Marguerite Reed (Arche Press)

The PKD is a somewhat odd award and not very predictive of the Hugos or Nebulas. From their website:

The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States. 

Most major SF novels get hardback releases these days so the paperback only rule really cuts down the group of potential nominees. Because of that, the PKD does shine a nice spotlight on some of the more ignored books of the year. The winner was announced in early April last year, and was Meg Ellison’s The Book of the Unnamed Midwife.

This is a juried award, voted on by a small group (this year the current judges are Eric James Fullilove, James C. Glass, David Higgins, Lisa Mason (chair), and Jack Skillingstead). You wouldn’t expect the tastes of a small group to necessarily reflect the tastes of the SFWA or of the WorldCon voters. In fact, if you look at the list of past winners over at SFADB, you’ll see that the PKD winner has only ever won the Hugo or Nebula once, way back in 1985 when William Gibson’s Neuromancer won everything. I wouldn’t expect this year to break the trend.

Still, an interesting list nonetheless. I’ll start put together the official “2016 Awards Meta-List” once a few more award nominees are announced.

2016 Hugo Prediction 1.0

The 2016 Hugo Best Novel is going to be extremely unpredictable. We know that it’s going to attract enormous attention—just think of how many posts were published about the 2015 Hugos—and that it’s going to be controversial.

The difficulty in predicting the 2016 Hugo lies in how little information we have: how big will the Rabid Puppies vote be? How will the Sad Puppies 4 operate? How much will the rest of the Hugo vote increase? Will other Hugo voters change their voting habits to stop a Puppy sweep? Will specific authors turn down endorsements and/or nominations? Earlier, I anticipated a year-to-year nominating vote increase of at least 1.8x, and that could wind up much higher depending on how broadly discussed the nominations are. The kind of predictive methods I use at Chaos Horizon (data-mining) react to such massive changes very poorly. As such, my goal is to begin developing a broad picture and then refine that as more data becomes available.

So, while I listed my prediction in order from #1-#15, I think any of the works from #1-#10 have a strong chance of grabbing an eventual nomination. Remember, I predict what I think is likely to happen, not what should happen, and that my predictions are based on past Hugo patterns and a variety of data lists I collate and track. Opinions are mine alone, and this should be used as a starting place for discussion, nothing more. Have fun with the chaos!

Anyone can vote in the Hugo awards, provided you pay the supporting membership fee ($50 this year, I believe). EDIT 1/1/16: Remember, anyone who was a member of last year’s WorldCon (Sasquan) can also vote in this year’s nomination stage. So that means everyone who was part of last year’s kerfuffle has another vote. You do have to join this year’s WorldCon to vote in the final stage, however.

Here’s the Hugo info on the voting process. MidAmeriCon has stated Hugo voting will start in early January this year.

Last year, the nominations came out on April 4, 2015. The Hugos nominate 5 works per category unless there are ties.

1. Uprooted, Naomi Novik: Novik and Stephenson are pretty interchangeable at the top. These books are just so much more popular than every other contender this year that it’s hard to picture them not grabbing nominations. Novik has a prior Hugo nomination, a front-running Nebula status, and strong placement on whatever popular votes we see out there, including the Sad Puppies themselves. Combine all of that overlapping support, and I think Novik’s fairy-tale inflected Fantasy novel has a strong chance of getting nominated (and eventually winning) this year’s Hugo.

2. Seveneves, Neal Stephenson: Stephenson is another author who does well across all sectors of the Hugo voters. Prior nominations for massive books like Anathem and Cryptonomicon show that Hugo voters aren’t turned away by Stephenson’s length or complexity. The Hugo still leans towards Science Fiction, and this was one the biggest SF books of the year. It shows up well on a variety of lists, including Sad Puppies 4, and that broad support should drive it to a nomination. There is some dislike of this book out there (it splits into two very different parts), but dislike doesn’t really impact the nomination stage, only the final vote.

3. Rabid/Sad Puppy Overlap Nominee: Before Correia and Kloos declined their nominations in 2015, the Sad/Rabid overlaps (i.e. appeared on both lists) took 4 of the top 5 Hugo slots. While we won’t know what these overlaps will be until the Rabid Puppies announce their slate, we can predict that they’ll grab several tops spots. Based on my early Sad Puppy census, I’m currently thinking this overlap could be something like Jim Butcher’s Aeronaut’s Windlass, John C. Wright’s Somewhither, or Michael Z. Williamson’s A Long Time Until Now. Of those three, Butcher would place highest because of his massive popularity. More popularity = more potential voters.

4. Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie: Leckie broke up the Puppy sweep last year with the middle volume of her well-liked trilogy; this final volume was received as a fitting end to a series that has already won a Hugo and Nebula. This series is one of the most talked (and nominated) SF publications of recent years.

5. Rabid/Sad Puppy Overlap Nominee: The less popular/mainstream book that the Rabid/Sad Puppies overlap on could land here. A John C. Wright or Michael Z. Williamson just has so many fewer readers (thus fewer votes) than a Bucther. Based on last year’s number, you would still anticipate a Top #5 placement for this overlap, although we won’t know the exact numbers/impact of the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies until the nominations come out.

6. The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin: The 2015 Hugo was very close. Spots #3-#11 were separated by only 100 votes. If we have 1000+ new voters, any of these #3-#11 spots could shuffle. I have Jemisin high because of the strong critical reception of this book, her previous Hugo and Nebula nominations, likely Nebula nomination this year, and her increased visibility in the field (she now has a regular NY Times Book Review column). The Fifth Season also fits the mold of The Goblin Emperor, as a sort of twist/revisioning of secondary world fantasy. The fantasy side of the Hugos has been driving quite a few nominations/wins lately: think about Graveyard Book, Norrell & Strange, or Among Others.

7. Rabid Puppy Nominee: This is a wildcard. Last year, when the Sad/Rabid puppies separated, they fell below 3 non-Puppy picks (Leckie, Addison, and Liu). Would the same happen this year? I’ve got no idea or even suggestion of what this book might be; we’ll have to wait and see. This would be the truest measure/test of the Rabid Puppies voting strength. Even a slight rise of the Rabid Puppy numbers could push this up 2, 3, or more slots. Depending on how often the Rabid/Sad Puppies overlap, you may have to add more Rabid Puppy nominee slots in at about this point.

8. Sad Puppy Nominee: The longer SP4 list will dilute their vote somewhat, so I expect their solo picks to place below the Rabid puppies. In the similar spot last year, they clocked in with 199 votes for Trial by Fire, although Gannon’s vote total was doubtless helped by his Nebula nomination.

9. Aurora, Kim Stanley Robinson: The next three are basically interchangeable in this prediction, all belonging to the category of SF books by past Hugo winners. Aurora is a tale of a multi-generational ship and planetary colonization, and is almost the opposite of Sevenves in terms of its approach, characterization, and philosophy. SF voters looking for an alternative to Stephenson—or even just a book to round out their ballots—might go in this direction.

10. The Dark Forest, Cixin Liu: Normally last year’s Hugo winner would be higher, but I’m not seeing the buzz for Liu you would expect. Cixin Liu himself commented on Chinese voters potential driving this book to a nomination by saying, “That’s the best way to destroy The Three-Body Trilogy. And not just this sci-fi work, but also the reputation of Chinese sci-fi fans. The entire number of voters for the Hugo Awards is only around 5,000. That means it is easily influenced by malicious voting. Organizing 2,000 people to each spend $14 is not hard, but I am strongly against such misbehavior. If that really does happen, I will follow the example of Marko Kloos, who withdrew from the shortlist after discovering the ‘Rabid Puppies’ had asked voters to support him.”

11. The Water Knife, Paolo Bacigalupi: Bacigalupi is under the radar going into the 2016 awards season, but The Water Knife was a well-reviewed SF novel, his first since the Hugo and Nebula winning The Windup Girl, with many of the same eco-SF themes Bacigalupi is acclaimed for. Can it cut through the noise of this year’s Hugo controversies? If this shows up on a lot of the other awards, it could move up the Hugo list.

12. Nebula Nominee (Grace of Kings by Ken Liu, The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson, Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear, etc.): The Nebulas have exerted considerable influence on the Hugos over the past few years. The increased visibility of the Hugo nominees can springboard a book to a Hugo nomination; this seemed to have helped both The Goblin Emperor and The Three-Body Problem last year. I’ll keep an eye on who gets Nebula noms, and then boost them in my Hugo predictions.

13. The Shepherd’s Crown, Terry Pratchett: Pratchett is going to be a sentimental favorite going into 2016. I think some people will try to nominate Discworld as a whole, which will split the Pratchett vote. Even if Pratchett is nominated, I suspect his estate would turn it down, following the precedent established by Pratchett turning down his Hugo nomination for Going Postal.

14. Nemesis Games, James S.A. Corey: I may be too high with this, but I think The Expanse TV series is going to revitalize Corey’s Hugo chances over time. The big impact may be felt next year, particularly if we have Hugo rule changes.

15. The Just City, Jo Walton: Walton’s a stealth candidate—she missed last year’s ballot by only 90 votes, and The Just City is a little more accessible and well-liked than My Real Children. Walton still has a lot of good will (and readers!) as a result of the Hugo and Nebula winning Among Others. I don’t expect a nom, but it should get some votes.

Scalzi’s not on the list because of this post saying he’s sitting out the 2015 awards. Brandon Sanderson just missed because Shadows of Self is #2 in a series; he’s an author that could greatly benefit from Hugo rule changes (huge fanbase). Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab has a huge Goodreads following, but isn’t showing up as popular in other places. Mira Grant had a run of numerous best Novel noms earlier this decade, so she might be hanging around the Top #15. Her current series isn’t a popular as her earlier zombie series, though. Charles Stross tends to get nominated for his SF, not The Laundry Files, so that’s why he isn’t in the Top #15 for Annihilation Score. Anyone else who seems an obvious contender that I missed?

Also remember that January is very early. Three Body-Problem and Ancillary Justice, the last two Hugo winners, just started picking up steam about now. As we see more year-end lists and the beginning of the 2016 Award nominations, the picture should snap into sharper focus. I’ll update my prediction on the first of the month in February, March, and April.

2016 Nebula Prediction 1.0

Well, it’s the new year, so time to roll up our sleeves and get started. Let’s begin with my first 2016 Nebula prediction. Remember, I try to predict what will happen, based on past evidence and patterns in the Nebulas and various lists and data from this year, rather than what should happen. These are my opinions, so they have no particularly authority, and I always think Chaos Horizon is best used in conjunction with other opinions and websites on the internet.

Predicting the Nebulas this year was made much easier since the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), the group that administers the Nebulas, made their “Recommended Reading List” public. Remember, the Nebulas are a vote of SFWA members; by making their recommendations public, we get a good idea of the direction these awards are leaning. Last year, the final Recommended List correctly predicted 4/6 of the final nominees (the other two nominees were in spots #7 and #8). Since Chaos Horizon always uses the past year as a guide for the next year’s prediction, I predict something similar will happen this year.

If you look at the SFWA list as of right now (January 1), we can see that the top of the list is too heavily slanted towards Fantasy when compared to Nebula history. 5 of the top 6 are Fantasy novels (Leckie being the only SF), as are 8 of the top 10. I suspect one or two of the SF novels will creep up the list over time. Right now, I’m looking at a gang of four: either a novel by a past Nebula winner (Aurora by Kim Stanely Robinson (tied #11) or The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi (also tied at #11)), Thunderbird by perennial Nebula favorite Jack McDevitt, or Raising Caine by Charles Gannon, #3 in a series that garnered Nebula noms in 2013 and 2014. One or two of these books making the final ballot would create a more balance Fantasy/SF ratio.

According to the SFWA website, the nomination period runs from November 15th to February 15th. Last year, the Nebula nominees were announced on February 20th.

The Nebulas nominate 6 novels in the category.

Here’s my initial prediction, as of January 1, 2016:

1. Uprooted, Naomi Novik: Novik has almost every metric going for her: good sales, good placement on year-end lists, strong fan response. She has no Nebula history (0 nominations), although she did a grab a Hugo best novel nomination back in 2007 for Temeraire. I’ve got this #1 because I see it as the “buzziest” book of the year; it’s also #1 on the SFWA recommendations. Why second-guess the data?

2. Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie: Leckie is coming off of two straight Nebula nominations for this series, including her win for Ancillary Justice in 2014. I don’t expect anything to change this year; the final volume was well-received as a fitting conclusion to this trilogy. As of January 1, 2016, she’s #6 on the SFWA recommended list.

3. Grace of Kings, Ken Liu: Liu has been a recent Nebula darling : 7 short fiction nominations since 2012. This is his first novel, and since the Nebula audience is already very familiar with his short fiction from prior nominations, that brings a lot of eyeballs to the text. In Chaos Horizon predictions, eyeballs = possible voters. It’s also #2 on the SFWA Nebula recommendations list, and he scored a Best Novel nomination last year for translating Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Problem.

4. The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin: Jemisin has three prior best novel Nebula noms in 2011, 2012, and 2013, which is every year she’s been eligible for the novel category (she’s published 5 novels, but some years she published more than one novel). She’s at 8th on the recommended list, but with that strong Nebula history, I think she’s a good bet for a nomination this year.

5. Aurora, Kim Stanley Robinson: Robinson has been a perennial Nebula favorite (12 total nominations, 3 wins, including Best Novel wins for 2312 in 2013 and Red Mars back in 1994). Even though he’s tied #14 on the SFWA list, this is a kind of Hard SF novel that appeals to the SF wing of the Nebulas; that group has always had enough votes to put 1-2 books on every Nebula ballot.

6. Karen Memory, Elizabeth Bear: I’m less certain about the Bear. Her high placement on the SFWA list (#3), as well as the generally positive reception of the book, would seem to place her in good stead. In the negative column, she has 0 total Nebula nominations ever, and Karen Memory doesn’t perform particularly well in popularity metrics. The 19th century steampunk setting might be a challenge for some voters as well. I think any of the texts from 4-10 in my list has a real chance of making it this year.

7. Thunderbird, Jack McDevitt: The first rule of Nebula prognostication: you never count Jack McDevitt out. 12 Best Novel Nebula nominations, including 9 out of the past 12 years! This book is from one of his less popular series, and it came out very late in the year (December 1, 2015); otherwise, I’d have him higher.

8. The Water Knife, Paolo Bacigalupi: If Aurora doesn’t make it, this book is the other logical choice for a SF novel from a recent winner. Bacigalupi roared to huge Nebula and Hugo success with The Windup Girl back in 2010, and this is his first proper “adult” SF novel since then. 5 years is an eternity in these awards—has his popularity cooled off? Or will he return to the ranks of the nominees?

9. The Traitor Baru Cormorant, Seth Dickinson: This placed #5 on the SFWA recommended list, so why do I have it so low? Genre, genre, genre: I can’t predict a Nebula with 5 or 6 fantasy novels in it, and I think Dickinson has to be slotted behind the other more obvious fantasy contenders. Keep an eye to see if this picks up steam in January.

10. Raising Caine, Charles Gannon: I place a lot of stock in Gannon’s two previous nominations in 2014 and 2015 for books from this series. He’s currently only at 4 votes in the SFWA list (versus 23 last year). Is this an indication of poor reception of Raising Caine or am I looking at the list too early? If that number increases, expect him to rise in my prediction.

11. Updraft, Fran Wilde: Currently #4 on the SFWA list, I think this is more likely to get a nomination in the Andre Norton (the Young Adult category, where it sits at #1 in the recommendations). While nothing prevents a novel from getting both a Nebula and a Norton nomination, I don’t see nominators voting for the same book in 2 different categories.

12. The Dark Forest, Cixin Liu: You’d think the sequel to last year’s Hugo winner and Nebula nominee would be higher in the recommended list, but The Dark Forest currently doesn’t make the SFWA recommended list at all. I don’t know how to explain that (maybe Ken Liu, who translated The Three-Body Problem but not this volume, was the name that brought the Nebula voters?), but you got to go by the stats. Last year’s Hugo win and Nebula nom should at least keep it in the mix.

13.Barsk: The Elephant’s Graveyard, Lawrence Schoen: The surprise of this list, this places an impressive 7th on the SFWA list. This just came out December 29th, 2015; I think that’s too late for a Nebula book to pick up steam with the rest of the SFWA voters that don’t have access to early copies.

14. Seveneves, Neal Stephenson: You’d think Stephenson would be neck-and-neck with the Robinson and Bacigalupi, but the Nebulas have never liked Stephenson much. He only has 1 nomination back in 1997 for Diamond Age and zero wins. If the Nebulas ignored Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, and Anathem, why would you predict this? It’s tied for #16 on the current recommendations.

15. Sorcerer to the Crown, Zen Cho: If one of the fantasy novels higher on the list falters, Cho’s book could stand poised to take it’s place. Somewhat similar in setting to the well-liked Hugo/Nebula winning Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, this seems to hit some marks that previous Nebula voters have liked.

So, there’s my initial Top #15 Nebula list! Remember, this is a starting place, not the finishing place, and these awards can be very dynamic between January-February, with lots of shifts as books pick up steam. So, what do you think? Did I miss any obvious contenders? Thinks someone should be higher or lower? Argue away in the comments, and happy predicting!

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