Tag Archive | Andy Weir

2015 Hugo Prediction, Version 3.0

Where did November go? Between the Thanksgiving holiday and wrapping up my classes for this semester, it’s blurred by. But it’s December 1st, so time to update my 2015 Hugo Prediction.

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. I’ve based these on the various Reports I’ve done, the Review Round-Ups of individual texts, and my tracking of various Hugo Metrics.

Changes: I moved VanderMeer to #1. Why? Well, the most basic reason is I raised him to the top of my Nebula prediction. Since 2000, the Nebulas and the Hugos have begun to converge. In those 15 years, 7 of the Best Novel Nebula winners have gone on to win the Hugo. That’s roughly 50%—great odds for any gambler. The odds are actually even better, because the Nebula winner doesn’t always make the Hugo ballot. When the Nebula winner has been on the Hugo ballot, it’s gone on to win 6 out of the last 7 times, for an eye-popping 86%. Redshirts over 2132 is the only recent example of the Nebula winner getting upset. Since the basic premise of Chaos Horizon is to do something other than just give my (often wrong) opinion, this is as a good a logic as I can find. While statistics can mislead and fail, I hope to at least provide something different than everything else out there. If you’re dissatisfied with a predicted VanderMeer sweep, remember that it’s still early (December, and the Hugo won’t be given until next Summer), and a lot may change.

Additionally, VanderMeer has done well with critics, is popping up on most year-end lists, and has solid popularity metrics. I also feel Annihilation stands well on its own, as a brief horror-SF novel, and you don’t need to read the less successful Authority and Acceptance to get the full effect. Others might disagree, and feel that Annihilation isn’t a stand-alone book, and we’ll get to see how that plays out over the next few month.

I think voters will be reluctant to give Leckie back to back Hugos, and Ancillary Sword hasn’t made the same waves as Ancillary Justice. The most popular SF book of the year, The Martian, isn’t likely to be eligible; the most popular fantasy book of the year, Words of Radiance, is the second in a series (those don’t get nominated unless the first was also nominated). This makes VanderMeer the most likely candidate almost by default; what else is there in 2014 that has the mix of popularity, critical sentiment, and genre demographics to make it a prime candidate? While there’s still time for a book like City of Stairs to catch fire, it needs to start catching soon.

The other changes are more modest. I’ve moved Echopraxia and The Mirror Empire down based on their popularity, or lack thereof. While both novels were well-received by critics, they’re simply not doing as well in the marketplace as other books. On its most basic level, the Hugo is a popularity contest, and you need to be popular to win. This leaves a SF hole near the top, and Gibson—who is making a ton of year-end lists—seems the most logical to slide into that spot. I still have him outside the Hugo slate, but there are a ton of SF only Hugo voters that might push Gibson up. Bennett also moves up as the most like fantasy Hugo newcomer. I’ve also added Cambias and A Darkling Sea to the list as perhaps the most heralded SF debut of the year. Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven also debuts at #15.

December should be a big month for the Hugo picture, as more and more year-end lists come up. Pay careful attention to the lists produced by SFF websites, as they are usually good indicators for the Hugo and Nebula. Mainstream lists like Amazon or Publisher’s Weekly are too outside of SFF fandom to be of much help in the prediction.

The current prediction:

Annihilation Ancillary Sword 9780765375865_p0_v1_s260x420 Monster Hunter Nemesis

City of Stairs Words of Radiance Goblin Emperor Mirror Empire

Tier I: Likely to be Nominated
This tier is full of strong contenders, based on previous Hugo Best Novel performance, reviews, genre, and popularity.

1. Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer: Beginning of his Southern Reach trilogy, all published this year. Popular, well-reviewed and well-liked. More people read and liked this short first volume than finished the series, so I think it’s Annihilation and not the whole Southern Reach that ends up nominated. Since I have this on top of my Nebula prediction, it needs to be on top of my Hugo prediction as well.
2. Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie: The sequel to the 2014 Hugo and Nebula winning Ancillary Justice has been well-reviewed and received, but will fans want to give the award to Leckie twice in a row?
3. The Martian, Andy Weir: The bestselling SF novel of 2014, but I don’t think it will be eligible. See my post on the issue. This book is just so enormously popular it’s bound to receive lots of votes, eligible or not.
3. Lock In, John Scalzi: The 2013 Best Novel Hugo winner, and Lock In has been quite popular. Scalzi has tons of prior noms, and the past is a great indicator of the future.
4. Monster Hunter Nemesis, Larry Correia : 2014 Hugo Best Novel nominee, placed 6th in 2013, and a prominent Hugo campaigner.
5. City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett: The book I feel most uncertain about predicting a Hugo nomination. Very well-reviewed and well-liked fantasy novel, benefits from being a stand-alone book. Has shades of Mieville and Gaiman, both of whom have done very well. But have enough people read it for this to be a likely nomination?

Tier II: A Fighting Chance
These authors will need some help to make into the slate: strong placement on year-end lists, a big sales push during the Holiday season, a Nebula nomination (which helps your Hugo chances greatly), or some sort of formal or informal campaign. I’d note that some of these books might well be “better” than the books above them, but we’re discussing Hugo chances here, not which books are actually best.

6. Words of Radiance, Brandon Sanderson : Nominated with Robert Jordan for Wheel of Time in 2014; first book in this series (The Way of Kings) placed 11th in 2011; staggeringly popular. If the Hugo wasn’t biased against epic Fantasy, this would be a shoo-in.
7. The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison: The other fast rising fantasy candidate, a popular fantasy novel. Strong reviews and well liked. Is there enough space for multiple fantasy novels on the Hugo slate, though, or can only one of Bennett/Hurley/Addison make the field? Could Sanderson crush them all?
8. The Mirror Empire, Kameron Hurley : 2014 Best Fan Writer Hugo winner, 2014 Best Related Work Hugo winner, 2012 Nebula novel nominee, first novel in an ambitious new series. Proved divisive amongst reviewers, and popularity isn’t as strong as other contenders.
9. William Gibson, The Peripheral: Gibson hasn’t been nominated for a Hugo since 1998, but there’s a lack of obvious SF candidates. Critics have been enthusiastic about Gibson’s return to “true” SF, so this is garnering a lot of attention.
10. My Real Children, Jo Walton: 2012 Hugo winner, lower on list because of a lack of strong SFF element.
11. Symbiont, Mira Grant: Nominated for four Hugos in a row from 2011-2014, although she barely made the field last year; published very late in year (November) for a Hugo contender.
12. Echopraxia, Peter Watts : First novel since his 2007 Best Novel Hugo nomination for the highly regarded Blindsight. If The Martian is ineligible, Watts seems to be the next most-logical SF novel to slide into its place. However, this doesn’t seem to be as popular as I expected.
13. The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell: Surprisingly popular literary novel; contains some speculative elements (war with strange psychic entities), but those are late in the book. More of a Nebula than Hugo nominee.
14. Broken Monsters, Lauren Beukes : Beukes placed 7th in the 2014 Hugos, 11th in 2012, but this is more crime and less speculative than the excellent The Shining Girls.
15. Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel: The literary post-apocalyptic darling of 2014, this has been burning up the sales charts recently. Doesn’t seem like a Hugo book to me, but the sheer market saturation is likely to yield Mandel some votes.
16. Cibola Burn, James S.A. Corey: 2012 Hugo nominee, 8th in 2013, 14th in 2014.

Tier III: Long Shots
These authors could have an argument made for them, but would need quite a bit to happen to make it into the slate.

17. The Rhesus Chart, Charles Stross: 2014 Hugo nominee, 2014 Novella Hugo winner, last novel in this series (Apocalypse Codex, from the Laundry novels) didn’t place in top 15.
18. Elizabeth Bear, The Eternal Range trilogy: With Jordan getting nominated last year, there have been some rumblings about nominating Bear’s well-reviewed fantasy trilogy. That’s going to take a lot of effort to happen, particularly if you take a look at the popularity indicators for Bear (number of ratings on Goodreads, for instance: the last volume has a mere 269 ratings as of November 1, 2014). Not enough readers = not much of a chance.
19. Valour and Vanity, Mary Robinette Kowal: 2014 Hugo Novelette winner, 2011 Hugo Short Story winner, placed 8th in 2011, 10th in 2012 for Best Novel.
20. A Darkling Sea, James Cambias: SF debut novel that has gotten some strong critical attention.
21. Mainstream Fantasy Novels: There are plenty of mainstream fantasy writers that don’t stand much of a chance, despite their books being well liked. Joe Abercrombie, Brent Weeks, Patrick Rothfuss, Robin Hobb, etc. The Hugo has never been very hospitable to novels in Epic fantasy series. Vote for Sanderson if you want a book like this on the slate.
22. The Space Epics: Same thing with these. Books like Peter F. Hamilton’s The Abyss Beyond Dreams, Alastair Reynold’s On The Steel Breeze, may seem like possible candidates, but they haven’t done well in recent years. Throw Greg Bear in here as well.
23. Cixin Liu, The Three Body Problem: A high profile release by China’s most popular SF author, but foreign-language texts have done terribly in the Hugos.
24. The Chaplain’s War, Brad Torgersen: First novel, 2014 Hugo Novelette and Short Story nominee, 2012 Hugo and Nebula Novelette nominee, didn’t grab much attention when released. Could be part of a future “Sad Puppy” campaign by Correia.
25. The Lagoon, Nnedi Okorafor: No 2014 US release for this book dooms any chances.
26. The Girl with All the Gifts, M.S. Carey: Popular zombie book, would need tons of support to make the slate.

So, what do you think? Who is the frontrunner in December?

Andy Weir’s The Martian Review Round-Up

The Martian was the runaway science fiction success story of 2014. Weir’s book began life as a self-published book (way back in 2012) and eventually rose to national and international stardom. It’s even being fast-tracked for a November 2015 movie: Ridely Scott directing, Matt Damon staring. Take that, Interstellar! If The Martian is eligible for the 2015 Hugo Award, it’s likely to be a major contender—but the eligibility questions are serious and substantial. I’ve addressed those in my Andy Weir’s Eligibility Post; I want to write about the novel in this post, and not get caught up in the “will it or won’t it be eligible” questions here.

The Martian is a fast-paced SF thriller about astronaut Mark Watney. Through Mark’s journals, we learn how he’s been left for dead on Mars, and how he has to utilize all his engineering and botany skills to survive in that harsh landscape. Chock-full of rich engineering detail (turning rocket fuel into water, growing potatoes, maintaining his Mars habitat, etc.), The Martian zips through Mark’s survival and NASA’s attempts to rescue him. Weir delivers a well-detailed and well-imagined Mars with lots of plausible detail. Engaging and very accessible, it’s easy to see why The Martian was a bestseller; it’s somewhat reminiscent of the movie Gravity, and totally out of step with almost everything else that’s being published in SF today.

The Martian feels like a throwback to old-school “engineering solves problems” SF: as challenges come up, our hero uses SCIENCE to solve them. There’s a golden-age style optimism of the ability of scientific knowledge and human ingenuity to overcome the most hostile landscapes. I found The Martian reminiscent of Arthur C. Clarke’s classic A Fall of Moondust, although Weir isn’t as interested in character development as Clarke. That’s probably the major flaw of the book: Mark starts and ends the novel the same person, and none of the secondary characters are fleshed out in any substantial way. Still, if you’re looking for a quick and exciting SF adventure uncluttered by deeper philosophical concerns, The Martian is perfect for you.

I hope that doesn’t sound disparaging of The Martian, because it wasn’t meant to be. Weir is writing a different kind of SF novel; while an author like Ann Leckie is drawing on the complex, densely structured futures of Iain M. Banks, Weir is focused primarily on action and plot. I think the indie roots of The Martian are clearly visible here: it’s not trying to be “important” or “significant” in the way of some other SFF writers, but instead trying to be entertaining and accessible. While that can be wearing at times—Weir overuses exclamation points, for instance, and the sheer number of engineering crises Watney survives is improbable—it is also refreshingly different.

The Martian brings up all sorts of interesting questions about what exactly science fiction can and should be. I think there’s plenty of space in the SF landscape for novels like this, but it’s telling that this didn’t find a mainstream publisher until after it was successful on Amazon. The Hugo and Nebula awards have yet to come to terms with the indie publishing scene. Readers seem to be happier with The Martian and Wool than with Echopraxia or Ancillary Sword, and I imagine this will be a major issue of contention in the coming decade.

I have The Martian fourth on my current Hugo Prediction, but crossed out due to eligibility issues. This is the kind of novel that was so widely read that it would have a great chance of a nomination; even if it’s not people’s first choice, it was probably memorable enough to make a lot of ballots, particularly if you’re a fan of Hard SF. Weir is showing up on most Year-End Lists, and he’s supremely popular on places like Goodreads. Except him to be an essential part of this year’s conversation despite eligibility issues.

The Martian
Originally indie-published in 2012.
Hardcover released February 11, 2014

About the Book:
Andy Weir’s web page
Andy Weir’s Facebook (where he seems to be the most active blogging)
Amazon page
Goodreads page

Mainstream Reviews:
Publisher’s Weekly (Starred review)
Kirkus Reviews
Entertainment Weekly
(B)
A.V. Club (A)
Wall Street Journal
USA Today (3 out of 4)

The Martian was broadly and positively reviewed when it came out, with plenty of follow-up articles on Andy Weir’s self-publication journey after it became a bestseller. In terms of mainstream publicity, Weir certainly outstripped any other SF release of 2014.

WordPress Blog Reveiwers:
Book Reviews Forevermore (4 out of 5)
Rachel Robie
Attack of the Books
Rhapsody in Books (4 out of 5)
Overflowing Heart Reviews
Backlisted
Violin in a Void (7 out of 10)
Drunken Dragon Reviews
(4 out of 5)
Ristea’s Reads (5 out of 5)
BiblioSanctum (4.5 out of 5)
and on . . . and on . . .

I could have put up a ton more reviews, but this is a good representative sampling. The Martian was widely and positively received by WordPress bloggers, and, since the hardcover has been out since February (with the paperback out in November), there’s been plenty of time for people to read. Once again, if we go on sheer popularity alone, The Martian will be on a lot of ballots.

2015 Hugo Prediction, Version 2.0

It’s November 1st, so time for an updated Hugo prediction!

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. I’ve based these on the various Reports I’ve done, the Review Round-Ups of individual texts, and my tracking of Hugo Popularity.

One advantage of doing predictions so early is that it also leaves of plenty time for change. If your favorite novel is down on the list, do something about it: post a review, blog, tell us about it in the comments. A ton can—and will—happen between now and the Hugo nominations. This is an award for SFF fans, and SFF fans should determine which novels make the slate.

Titles link to Review Round-Ups for each author (when I’ve done them).

Tier I: Likely to be Nominated
This tier is full of strong contenders, based on previous Hugo Best Novel performance, reviews, genre, and popularity.

1. Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie: The sequel to the 2014 Hugo and Nebula winning Ancillary Justice has been well-reviewed and received, but will fans want to give the award to Leckie twice in a row?
2. Lock In, John Scalzi: The 2013 Best Novel Hugo winner, and Lock In has been quite popular.
3. Monster Hunter Nemesis, Larry Correia : 2014 Hugo Best Novel nominee, placed 6th in 2013, and a prominent Hugo campaigner.
4. The Martian, Andy Weir: The bestselling SF novel of 2014, but I don’t think it will be eligible. See my post on the issue.
5. Echopraxia, Peter Watts : First novel since his 2007 Best Novel Hugo nomination for the highly regarded Blindsight. If The Martian is ineligible, Watts is the next most-logical SF novel to slide into its place.
6. Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer: Beginning of his Southern Reach trilogy, all published this year. Popular, well-reviewed and well-liked. More people read and liked this short first volume than finished the series, so I think it’s Annihilation and not the whole Southern Reach that ends up nominated. Could benefit from a likely Nebula nomination.

Tier II: A Fighting Chance
These authors will need some help to make into the slate: strong placement on year-end lists, a big sales push during the Holiday season, a Nebula nomination (which helps your Hugo chances greatly), or some sort of formal or informal campaign. I’d note that some of these books might well be “better” than the books above them, but we’re discussing Hugo chances here, not which books are actually best.

7. Words of Radiance, Brandon Sanderson : Nominated with Robert Jordan for Wheel of Time in 2014; first book in this series (The Way of Kings) placed 11th in 2011; staggeringly popular. If the Hugo wasn’t biased against epic Fantasy, this would be a shoo-in.
8. The Mirror Empire, Kameron Hurley : 2014 Best Fan Writer Hugo winner, 2014 Best Related Work Hugo winner, 2012 Nebula novel nominee, first novel in an ambitious new series. Proved divisive amongst reviewers, and popularity isn’t as strong as other contenders.
9. My Real Children, Jo Walton: 2012 Hugo winner, lower on list because of a lack of strong SFF element.
10. Symbiont, Mira Grant: Nominated for four Hugos in a row from 2011-2014, although she barely made the field last year; published very late in year (November) for a Hugo contender.
11. City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett: Fast rising candidate, and a very well-reviewed and well-liked fantasy novel. Could capture Gaiman’s (huge) audience. I’ll be moving this up if it continues to do well amongst readers and reviewers.
12. The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison: The other fast rising candidate, a popular fantasy novel. Strong reviews and well liked. Is there enough space for multiple fantasy novels on the Hugo slate, though, or can only one of Bennett/Hurley/Addison make the field? Could Sanderson crush them all?
13. The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell: Surprisingly popular literary novel; contains some speculative elements (war with strange psychic entities), but those are late in the book. More of a Nebula than Hugo nominee.
14. Broken Monsters, Lauren Beukes : Beukes placed 7th in the 2014 Hugos, 11th in 2012, but this is more crime and less speculative than the excellent The Shining Girls.
15. Cibola Burn, James S.A. Corey: 2012 Hugo nominee, 8th in 2013, 14th in 2014.

Tier III: Long Shots
These authors could have an argument made for them, but would need quite a bit to happen to make it into the slate.

16. The Rhesus Chart, Charles Stross: 2014 Hugo nominee, 2014 Novella Hugo winner, last novel in this series (Apocalypse Codex, from the Laundry novels) didn’t place in top 15.
17. William Gibson, The Peripheral: Gibson hasn’t been nominated for a Hugo since 1998, but this might mark a return. Keep your eye on reviews.
18. Elizabeth Bear, The Eternal Range trilogy: With Jordan getting nominated last year, there have been some rumblings about nominating Bear’s well-reviewed fantasy trilogy. That’s going to take a lot of effort to happen, particularly if you take a look at the popularity indicators for Bear (number of ratings on Goodreads, for instance: the last volume has a mere 269 ratings as of November 1, 2014). Not enough readers = not much of a chance.
19. Valour and Vanity, Mary Robinette Kowal: 2014 Hugo Novelette winner, 2011 Hugo Short Story winner, placed 8th in 2011, 10th in 2012 for Best Novel.
20. Mainstream Fantasy Novels: There are plenty of mainstream fantasy writers that don’t stand much of a chance, despite their books being well liked. Joe Abercrombie, Brent Weeks, Patrick Rothfuss, Robin Hobb, etc. The Hugo has never been very hospitable to novels in Epic fantasy series. Vote for Sanderson if you want a book like this on the slate.
21. The Space Epics: Same thing with these. Books like Peter F. Hamilton’s The Abyss Beyond Dreams, Alastair Reynold’s On The Steel Breeze, may seem like possible candidates, but they haven’t done well in recent years. Throw Greg Bear in here as well.
22. Cixin Liu, The Three Body Problem: A high profile release by China’s most popular SF author, but foreign-language texts have done terribly in the Hugos.
23. The Chaplain’s War, Brad Torgersen: First novel, 2014 Hugo Novelette and Short Story nominee, 2012 Hugo and Nebula Novelette nominee, didn’t grab much attention when released. Could be part of a future “Sad Puppy” campaign by Correia.
24. The Lagoon, Nnedi Okorafor: No 2014 US release for this book dooms any chances.
25. The Girl with All the Gifts, M.S. Carey: Popular zombie book, would need tons of support to make the slate.

That’s a long list. I’m sure I could add more to the “Longshots” section. Who else is missing? Who has a real chance of snagging one of these awards, and more important, why? Who’s your current front-runner? What SFF book have you liked best this year?

Will Andy Weir’s The Martian be eligible in 2015?

One of the great unanswered questions going into the 2015 Hugo and Nebula season concerns the eligibility of Andy Weir’s The Martian. Weir’s book was a runaway success in 2014, selling tons of copies by tapping into the same vein that made the film Gravity such a hit. If you stroll over to Goodreads, you’ll see that The Martian has 30,000+ ratings and a 4.33 score. In comparison, last year’s Hugo and Nebula winner, Ancillary Justice, has under 10,000 ratings and a 3.96 score. While The Martian wasn’t a huge hit amongst SF critics, it was staggeringly popular with the general public. If The Martian is eligible for this year’s awards, it’d likely be a major contender on that popularity alone.

But . . . there are lingering eligibility issues. Long story short: Weir self-published the novel on Amazon in 2012. The novel did well, and was picked up by a mainstream press (Crown publishing) and republished in February 2014. Any changes to the narrative seem to be minor. If you take the 2012 date as the date of first publication, Weir is not eligible for the 2015 Hugo or Nebula. If you take the 2014 date, he would be.

I have no idea how this will be resolved. I want to use this post as a repository for information; if anyone has any good sources on Weir’s eligibility, I’d love to link them here. Here’s what I have so far:

Weir’s own take on his Hugo eligibility from a Goodreads Q+A session:

I don’t know for sure. My interpretation of the Hugo rules is that it’s not eligible. The Awards are year-by-year. Although the print version of The Martian came out in 2014, I posted it to my website as a serial starting in 2012. The Hugos don’t discriminate between print publication and self-publication. Therefore, to them, I think The Martian is a work from 2012. So it’s not within the time period to be eligible.

While I don’t think serializing on your website would count as “publication” (how is that different than serializing a novel in a magazine?), the Hugo clock likely began when Weir self-published the novel through Amazon, as per this publication timeline, taken from the Wall Street Journal:

He’d been rebuffed by literary agents in the past, so he decided to put the novel on his website free of charge rather than to try to get it published. A few fans asked him to sell the story on Amazon so that they could download it to e-readers. Mr. Weir had been giving his work away, but he began charging a modest amount because Amazon set the minimum price at 99 cents. He published the novel as a serial on the site in September 2012. It rose to the top of Amazon’s list of best-selling science-fiction titles. He sold 35,000 copies in three months. Agents and publishers and movie studios started circling.

Now, compare that info to the official paragraph on eligibility, taken from the Constitution of the World Science Fiction Society:

Section 3.4: Extended Eligibility. In the event that a potential Hugo Award nominee receives extremely limited distribution in the year of its first publication or presentation, its eligibility may be extended for an additional year by a three fourths (3/4) vote of the intervening Business Meeting of WSFS.

I can’t imagine that 35,000 copies meets the “limited distribution” requirement. Aside from that, a one year extension wouldn’t help The Martian because of the 2012 publication date.

I even asked about Weir’s eligibility over at the official Hugo website. They didn’t give me a definite answer:

Will Andy Weir’s book The Martian be eligible for the Hugo Award in 2015? It was originally indie-published, but then published by a commercial press in 2014. The rules seem unclear about this.

Reply

Kevin says:

August 28, 2014 at 21:25

You’ll need to address your question directly to the 2015 Hugo Administrator (Select “Hugo Administrator” from the Committee List) to get a definite answer to this; however, the Hugo Award rules are pretty clear about the fact that first publication is what starts a work’s “clock.” The fact that a work is self-published, published by a small press, or by a large press isn’t relevant. Publication date is publication date, regardless of who publishes it.

That was as far as I pushed it; I didn’t think it was my place to “officially” ask the 2015 Hugo Administrator.

Based on the evidence we have so far, I’d come down on the side of Weir not being eligible for the 2015 Hugo or Nebula. I doubt that either award will issue an official statement; they’ll just let the process play out, and if he gets nominated, declare him ineligible at that time. As a result, I’ll be crossing Weir off of my Hugo and Nebula predictions.

Is this fair? I don’t know. Since The Martian came out in 2012, it’s had a long time to build up momentum, which might put it at an unfair advantage compared to books released this year. Don’t feel sorry for Weir: he sold a bunch of copies, The Martian is being made into a movie starring Matt Damon, and he’s now a major player in the SF landscape. He’ll survive without a Hugo or Nebula.

2015 Nebula Watchlist

As part of Chaos Horizon’s continued look at the 2015 Nebula Award for Best Novel, here’s my 2015 Nebula Watchlist:

Disclaimer: Chaos Horizon tries to determine which novels are most likely to be nominated based on data-mining past awards data, not who should be nominated for having the “best” novel in a more general sense. Take the list for what it is intended to be, as a starting point for debate of the 2015 Nebula.

In general, the Nebula award is harder to predict the Hugo award because we have less data. The Hugo award releases a list of the top 15 authors nominated that year, complete with number of votes. The Nebula only releases the final slate, with no actual information on how many votes each author got. This makes it harder to find out who was close in previous years, giving us far less info to make a good prediction on.

1. Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (2014 Nebula winner, 2014 Hugo winner)
2. Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer (2010 Nebula nom, first book of a three book series all released this year, which received a lot of attention and buzz)
3. The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (2005 Nebula nom for the well liked Cloud Atlas, huge marketing push, made NYT bestseller lists)
4. My Real Children, Jo Walton (2012 Nebula winner, 2012 Hugo winner, less SFF than her other works, although the Nebula cares less about that than the Hugo)
5. The Martian, Andy Weir (biggest debut SF novel of 2014, although eligibility issues—the book was originally self-published in 2012—might prevent a nomination)
6. Coming Home, Jack McDevitt (11 prior Nebula noms for best novel (!), but no 2013 or 2014 nom; still, you can’t count McDevitt out)
7. The Mirror Empire, Kameron Hurley (2012 Nebula nom, start of a well-received new series)
8. Valour and Vanity, Mary Robinette Kowal (2011 Nebula nom, 2013 Nebula nom for prior books in this series)
9. Yesterday’s Kin, Nancy Kress (5 prior Nebula wins, including 2013 Nebula novella; 2 prior Nebula best novel noms)
10. The Girl in the Road, Monica Byrne (high concept debut novel, good buzz)
11. Strange Bodies, Marcel Thereoux (won 2014 Campbell award, one of the few times Ancillary Justice got beat; maybe that counts for something?)
12. Literary Fiction interlopers: A large number of books from the literary world have used speculative elements this year, and the Nebula has, in the past, been somewhat receptive. This long list includes The Girl With all the Gifts by M.R. Carrey, Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi, J by Harold Jacobson (shortlisted for the Booker Prize), Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee, Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber, and The Bees by Laline Paull. If one of these books gets nominated, it would be similar to The Golem and the Jinni‘s nomination from 2014.
13. The Lagoon, Nnedi Okorafor (2011 Nebula nom, but this novel only came out in UK this year; no US release yet)

That’s all I could come up with for now—it’s much harder to populate this list than the Hugo Watchlist, as Nebula voters are so unpredictable. I’m 100 % positive there are books not on this watchlist that will make the final slate, but what could they be?

If a novel didn’t make the list, it’s likely because the author lacked any real Nebula pedigree: that’s why a John Scalzi or Joe Abercrombie didn’t make it. Likewise, later novels in series rarely jump into the slate if earlier novels didn’t get nominated, cutting out an author like Elizabeth Bear.

Methodology:

The list is compiled using several factors:
1. Winners and nominees over the past several years: once you get nominated or win a Nebula, you’re likely to get nominated again. The Nebula has a much longer memory than the Hugo, and Nebula nominees from a decade back (like Griffth last year) can resurface.
2. Who won or was nominated for the Nebula in other categories and have novels coming out this year.
3. Potential crossovers with the Hugo awards.
4. Novels that have lots of critical buzz.

For more information about specific novels, check out My Too Early 2015 Nebula Prediction.

Obviously, this is not an exact science. Since Chaos Horizon primarily uses past Nebula performance to predict future Nebula performance, this hurts novelists who have never been nominated for the Nebula before.

I’d like to get the Watchlist to 15 by the end of the year. Anyone else to add? Thanks to everyone in previous threads who suggested novels. If you post a suggestion, try to back it up with some data. I’m waffling on Cherie Preist’s Maplecroft: she scored a 2010 nomination for Boneshaker, but this novel looks more horror than SFF.

Too Early 2015 Hugo Prediction

NOTE: This post is from August 2014; click here for my most up-to-date Hugo Prediction.

Now that the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Novel has been awarded, we can turn our eyes to the 2015 Award. Today, I’ll predict an initial slate of 5 nominees. It’s definitely too early to do this: there are still almost four months left in the year, and several heavy hitters for the 2015 award season haven’t been released yet. Let’s get to my predicted 2015 slate, with comments below.

Note: this is who I think will be nominated, not necessarily who deserves to be nominated.

Predicted 2015 Hugo Nominees for Best Novel:
1. Lock In, John Scalzi
2. Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie
3. Monster Hunter Nemesis, Larry Correia
4. The Mirror Empire, Kameron Hurley
5. The Martian, Andy Weir

Book titles link to Amazon, and author names link to their blogs.

Where to start? The Hugos love nominating the same authors over and over again, so it’s likely at least some of the nominees will be drawn from previous slates. Mira Grant, for instance, has been nominated four years in a row now. Will she make it five? How about Charles Stross, another author who has been nominated multiple times over the past few years? Will Ann Leckie score another nomination? How about John Scalzi, returning after not publishing a novel last year? Will Larry Correia return as the “outsider” nominee?

These repeaters are pretty easy to get a sense of. Let’s look at the nominated authors from the past two years:

John Scalzi, Lock In (very likely to be nominated): Scalzi won the 2013 award for Redshirts, and he has a couple of other past nominations. With two of his series being optioned for television (Redshirts and the Old Man’s War series), his profile is only growing. Lock In has received an aggressive marketing campaign, and is almost certain to earn Scalzi another Hugo nomination.

Ann Leckie, Ancillary Sword (very likely to be nominated if it comes out this year): Leckie just completed a dominating award season, sweeping both the Hugo and Nebula for Ancillary Justice. Her percentage total for Ancillary Justice was truly impressive for the Hugo, and if Ancillary Sword is anything but a complete disaster, it’s going to get nominated. The biggest hurdle here is whether or not the novel comes out this year: Amazon is showing an October 7th, 2014 release date, but it also shows the novel as unavailable for pre-order. Problems or just Amazon skullduggery? UPDATE: Leckie confirms it is just Amazon skullduggery, and the novel is due out on October 7th! Crisis averted!

Larry Correia, Monster Hunter Nemesis (likely to be nominated): Larry Correia crashed the Hugo party this year with Warbound as conservative counter-programming to the perceived overly liberal Hugo slate. If you’re not familiar with this controversy, here’s Correia’s take on the whole thing, and you can find more information by googling “2014 Hugo Controversy.” While I don’t know if Correia is going to push a slate for 2015, Monster Hunter Nemesis is from his more popular military series Monster Hunter, and there are a large number of readers who like the kind of military SF and Fantasy books Baen specializes in publishing. Expect Correia to crash the party again in 2015.

Mira Grant, Symbiont (less likely to be nominated): With four nominations in a row, three from her Newsflesh series and the other being Parasite, which Symbiont is a direct sequel to, Grant may seem like a slam dunk for 2015. However, her new series has not been as popular as the zombie-themed Newsfeed books, and her vote percentage has been declining over the recent years. I think she’s left out this year, but we’ll see. It’ll depend a lot on if other strong contenders emerge between now and December.

Charles Stross, The Rhesus Chart (less likely to be nominated): Stross won a Hugo this year for best novella, and has been nominated multiple times over the past years. However, The Rhesus Chart is from his urban fantasy series The Laundry Files, and urban fantasy books don’t have the same impact on the Hugos as more traditional SF (like his nominated Neptune’s Brood this year). Look for Stross to sit this year out.

Brandon Sanderson, Words of Radiance (less likely to be nominated): You’d think Sanderson would have a decent shot: he’s the most popular fantasy writer not named George R. R. Martin, and he has a rabid fan base due to his involvement with Wheel of Time. Past Hugo awards tell us, though, that fantasy books like this don’t get nominated. This is the second volume of The Stormlight Archives, and although well-liked, it would be something of a surprise if it received a nomination.

Kim Stanley Robinson, Shaman (less likely to be nominated): Robinson has been a stalwart of the Hugos, but Shaman’s unusual subject matter (ancient humans and their religious beliefs) and so-so reception will likely not result in a nomination. When Robinson writes more traditional SF, expect him to return to the slate. Robinson’s book was published in 2013, not 2014, so it won’t be eligible.

Nominees from the past two years that don’t have a novel appearing this year: Saladin Ahmed, Louis McMaster Bujold, Robert Jordan.

So who else is likely to make it? N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season doesn’t look like it will arrive in 2014 (it’s listed with an August release date on her website, but there’s no page on Amazon). Jo Walton’s My Real Children has been well received, and she won the Hugo in 2012, so her book is a possibility. Walton, though, has been drifting away from SFF and more towards realistic fiction. Jeff VanderMeer is a favorite of mine, and his three book Southern Reach trilogy, all published this year, might be a contender if people figure out how to nominate it. William Gibson has a novel coming out with The Peripheral, but he hasn’t been a Hugo contender in years. If the Hugo award wanted to cross over to literary fiction, David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks would be an interesting nominee.

There are two debut (it was pointed out that Hurley’s novel isn’t a debut; I knew that but forgot. It’s actually the debut of a new series) other novels that stand out as contenders:

Kameron Hurley, The Mirror Empire (likely to be nominated): Hurley won two Hugo awards this year, one for Fan Writer and one for Best Related Work. This year, she’s moving in to fantasy in a big way, with an ambitious fantasy novel that’s gotten plenty of pre-publication buzz. We won’t know how well The Mirror Empire will do until we get some fan reaction, but this novel is poised to be this year’s Ancillary Justice: a debut novel that might capture the imagination of the SFF fanbase. Definitely a book to keep your eye on.

Andy Weir, The Martian (likely to be nominated): Weir’s book, although self-published in 2012, had its major publisher debut in 2014. Although the eligibility issue is confusing, let’s assume it’s eligible this year. If it is, this should be a strong contender: the novel rode the wave of the film Gravity to NYT bestseller status, and would represent a more classic “Hard SF” novel amongst this group. The paperback is coming in November, so it should receive another strong round of publicity late in the year, making it perfectly positioned for a Hugo nomination. I’ll be interested to see how this does on critic’s year end lists: it might even be the favorite.

Anything I missed? Who do you think will end up on the 2015 slate?

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