Estimating the 2016 Hugo Nominations, Part 5
Let’s wrap this torturous series of posts up with a few final things.
Over the last few days, I’ve built a series of models to predict the 2016 Hugos based on a number of assumptions. Those assumptions are that voters will vote for the 2016 Hugos in similar patterns to last years. That’s an easy assumption to knock, but it gives us a place to start thinking and debating. Here are those posts with estimates: Introduction, Post 2 (Rabid Puppies), Post 3 (Typical Voters), Post 4 (Sad Puppies). I view Chaos Horizon more as a thought experiment (can we get anywhere with this kind of thinking?) than as some definitive fount of Hugo knowledge. The goal of any prediction is to be correct, not elegant.
By breaking these out into three groups and three turnout scenarios (40%, 60%, 80%), I produced 27 different models. To conclude, we can look to see if certain books show up in a lot models, and then I’ll make that my prediction.
To view the models or create your own, use this Google Worksheet. Instructions are included in the worksheet, but you can cut and paste the data to create your own prediction.
Let’s look at one likely scenario: 80% Rabid Puppy vote, 60% Typical Vote, and 40% Sad Puppy vote. This represents the organization and high turnout of the Rabid Puppies, moderate enthusiasm from the more typical (or new) Hugo voters, and then lower turnout because of the way the Sad Puppy list was built. Here’s what you end up with:
|Novel Names||Rabid Vote||Sad Vote||Typical Vote||Totals|
|Vote per Group||440||180||3000||3620|
|The Aeronaut’s Windlass||440||151||30||621|
|Agent of the Imperium||440||440|
|The Fifth Season||392||392|
|Honor At Stake||173||173|
|A Long Time Until Now||122||122|
So that makes the official 2016 Chaos Horizon Hugo prediction as follows:
Seveneves, Neal Stephenson
Uprooted, Naomi Novik
The Aeronaut’s Windlass, Jim Butcher
Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie
Somewhither, John C. Wright
Seveneves makes it in every scenario because it receives votes from all 3 groups. Now, my assumptions could be wrong—perhaps some voters are so angry that Seveneves appeared on the Rabid Puppy list that they won’t nominate it at all. However, even a modest showing for Sevenves among typical voters gets it on the ballot. Remember, a similarly complex SF novel by Stephenson in Anathem made the ballot just a few years ago.
Uprooted does well in my model because it’s own of the most popular SFF books of the year (as evidenced by both its Nebula nomination, it’s appearance on year-end lists, and it’s popularity on Amazon and Goodreads), and picks up votes from both the Typical and the Sad Puppies (it’s #4 on their list). This might be the major effect of the Sad Puppies in 2016, to act as a kind of swing vote when things are close, as they’ll likely be between Novik, Jemisin, and Leckie.
Then we have the two other books that overlap between the Sad and Rabid Puppies. You can think of this in two ways: two separate groups voting for these texts, or some Sad Puppies converting to Rabid Puppies. Statistical results are the same. I’d be a little cautions about the John C. Wright. While it placed #1 on the Sad Puppies list, was this placement inflated by passionate Wright fans? Compared to Butcher’s massive popularity, Wright is a fairly niche author. If Puppy support is weaker than predicted, I’d drop the Wright out and replace it with Jemisin’s book. That’s the slot I’m watching closely when nominations come out. I do have Jemisin down as a real possibility; it seems like a lot of readers think The Fifth Season is her best book. I may be underestimating Jemisin based on past performance. The modelling I use is prone to that problem, of using historical data even when conditions on the ground have changed. Every model has its flaws.
Then we have Leckie. Lost in the Hugo controversies is the fact that these Ancillary novels have been some of the best received, reviewed, and rewarded SF novels of the millennia. Take a look at SFADB to see just how well these books have done: 12 major award nominations, 5 major wins including prior Hugos and Nebulas. If one book is likely to break up a Rabid sweep, this is it.
Of course, things can also go the other way—I may be under-predicting the Rabid Puppies, and if I’m by around 100 votes, that would push Leckie out and Pierce Brown up.
So that’s it! I’ll update my Hugo prediction page tomorrow when I get a chance. Does a ballot of Stephenson / Novik / Butcher / Wright / Leckie make sense? Is Jemisin or Pierce next in line after that? Are there other books that could be major contenders that I’m not seeing?