2018 Hugo Winners

The winners of the 2018 Hugo Awards, John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) Award for Best Young Adult Book were announced on Sunday, August 19, 2018, at the 76th World Science Fiction Convention.

The administrators received and counted 2,828 valid ballots (2,810 electronic and 18 paper) from the members of the 2018 World Science Fiction Convention.

The Hugo Awards are the premier award in the science fiction genre, honoring science fiction literature and media as well as the genre’s fans. The Awards were first presented at the 1953 World Science Fiction Convention in Philadelphia (Philcon II), and they have continued to honor science fiction and fantasy notables for well over 60 years.

The winners are:

2018 Associated Awards (not Hugos)

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

  • Rebecca Roanhorse

The World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) Award for Best Young Adult Book

  • Akata Warrior, by Nnedi Okorafor (Viking)

2018 Hugo Awards

Best Fan Artist

  • Geneva Benton

Best Fan Writer

  • Sarah Gailey

Best Fancast

  • Ditch Diggers, presented by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace

Best Fanzine

  • File 770, edited by Mike Glyer

Best Semiprozine

  • Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, and Julia Rios; podcast produced by Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky

Best Professional Artist

  • Sana Takeda

Best Editor – Short Form

  • Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas

Best Editor – Long Form

  • Sheila E. Gilbert

Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form

  • The Good Place: “The Trolley Problem,” written by Josh Siegal and Dylan Morgan, directed by Dean Holland (Fremulon / 3 Arts Entertainment / Universal Television)

Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form

  • Wonder Woman, screenplay by Allan Heinberg, story by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs, directed by Patty Jenkins (DC Films / Warner Brothers)

Best Graphic Story

  • Monstress, Volume 2: The Blood, written by Marjorie M. Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image Comics)

Best Related Work

  • No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, by Ursula K. Le Guin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Best Series

  • World of the Five Gods, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Harper Voyager / Spectrum Literary Agency)

Best Short Story

  • “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™,” by Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex, August 2017)

Best Novelette

  • “The Secret Life of Bots,” by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld, September 2017)

Best Novella

  • All Systems Red, by Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing)

Best Novel

  • The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

385 thoughts on “2018 Hugo Winners

  1. @Rebecca H
    Wow. The source article, “Sex and Reading: A Look at Who’s Reading Whom,” is extremely interesting. It says that of new publications not only did women prefer books by female authors, so did men. Also, although men and women read equal numbers of books overall, men were much less likely to read brand new books.

    The Hugos, of course, are awards for new publications, so this is very relevant. If people who like to read new publications are biased (statistically) in favor of female authors, that would be a different way to explain the results. Of course, it still leaves us wondering why there would be a broad bias towards female authors in new publications, but that would at least remove the suggestion that there was anything unfair about the Hugo process itself.

    On the other hand the Goodreads study was a) just one study b) was across all genres, not just SF/F and c) only involved Goodreads members, who might be quite different from Hugo Voters. Still, it’s a solid data point. Thanks!

  2. Greg Hullender on August 21, 2018 at 7:56 am said:

    Well, that’s the scariest thing; I’ve compared the Hugo results with a) Rocket Stack Rank‘s list of “Outstanding SF/F” for short fiction b) The most-recent 20 SFF books on Amazon c) the 20 best-average-reviewed SFF on Amazon and all the rest are within statistical error of 50%. There is not a correspondence with anything I looked at. Tell me which lists you looked at, and I’ll do a quick chi-squared test for you

    1) Why is it scary?
    2) Has the Hugo ever tracked either of these? I don’t think it has.

    thought about that too, but, as you say, it’s a tendency, not an absolute. It could explain a result of 70% women, maybe, but I don’t think it’s strong enough to explain what we’re seeing. Also, for the things I personally like in stories (strong plots, strong characters, cool settings), I don’t see any real difference between women and men. I expect there are lots of other readers like me, further diluting the strength of this effect.

    I can’t look it up right but I believe that this has been shown to be false. Men have historically tended to write single gender books where most of the characters with agency are men. Forex, the overuse of rape as a trope to motivate the hero is significantly overused by male authors and it is an item that is increasingly turning off female readers.

    tldr: Lots of great ideas, but I don’t think any of them explains the near-sweeps we’ve seen two years in a row. It’s not an urgent problem because great stories are being nominated and are winning, but it is something we ought to try to understand. We need to be able to say something to our enemies, and, unlike them, we do believe in fairness.

    I just don’t understand the sudden concern for why these results need to be explained instead of exploring the commonalities in the works themselves.

    PS. I don’t know why my first bullet is appearing so large 🙁

  3. @Rail

    @Greg, something else that occurred to me is that many of us are using things like the Spreadsheet of Doom to help focus our efforts. Is there a tilt in recommendations from the community that compiles it and the Hugo wikia? Where else are voters discussing the good stuff?

    Obviously everyone should be using Rocket Stack Rank to find good short fiction. 🙂

    It could be of interest to look through those sources to see if they’re distributed differently from the Hugos. (I already did that test for RSR.)

    I think you’ll find that most of those communities are run by women.

    That could be, but do you really think they’re deliberately (or even unconsciously) leaving out works by men?

    @Contrarius

    I think it would distort reality if we insist on narrowing down the current gender disparity to just one cause.

    I’d like that argument better if the change had not been so sudden.

  4. @idontknow

    Probably a more interesting exercise would be how many novellas were even published that were written by men during the period under consideration.

    Good idea. Here’s a list of all the Tor Novellas since about 2015. Just looking at the first page, I count 9 men out of 20.

    Looking at all novellas reviewed by Rocket Stack Rank, I find pretty much the same thing.

    I’ll do a proper database query later (covering all works in the target time period), but just this quick sample shows that novella authors are not strongly biased in either direction.

  5. Okay, I’ve been thinking about this ever since the discussion yesterday. I think that part of the explanation (and only part of it) might be that historically a lot of the stories that won were about and written for men, and so many women might not have paid that much attention, or thought of the award list as a boy’s club excluding them.

    Then came the various Puppies, and women started paying attention — were almost forced to do so, because these were vicious attacks that needed to be watched. (I keep thinking of that quote: “You have roused a sleeping giant.”) They started reading with an eye toward awards and voting in larger numbers. And partly because of this, yes, more women won awards, but, more importantly, a larger section of the audience became engaged and the awards became more representative.

    Unfortunately there’s no way to prove this — you can’t analyze past wins on the basis of the gender of the voter. We’ll just have to see what happens going forward.

  6. Greg: We had the two puppie years in bedween, which did make chances that were happening, not so visible.
    But even before that we had a female winner in best novel.
    The only male winner in this catagory in the last 5 years was Cixin Liu.

  7. @Contrarius

    1. What is the sex ratio of sff authors being published in general right now?
    2. What is the sex ratio of sff authors being published in highly awarded publications and/or by highly awarded publishers right now?
    3. Is there a gender imbalance in the types of stories being written by sff authors?
    4. Is there a gender imbalance in the themes of the stories being written by sff authors?
    5. and so on.

    To these “supply side” questions, I suspect it would be important to add “demand side” questions, i.e. what the gender ratio among sff readers is. I’m not keeping tabs, but my impression is that on this blog, the vast majority especially of intense readers (the sort of people who nominate, and generate nomination buzz) is female. I consider myself a rather avid reader, but I struggled just reasonably keeping up with others’ suggestions the years I tried to nominate. There must be people on here who read an order of magnitude more than me.
    But with all those explanations, it’s still startling to me how quickly the gender balance changed. Only 10 years ago, there were two years in a row (2008/2009) with not a single female author nominated in the novel category.
    It’s also interesting (speaking to the “only 2500 voters” point), how many more people are voting on the Hugos nowadays. In 2008, there were only 745 ballots for best novel, and in 2007, there were only 471.

  8. @Mallory

    I just don’t understand the sudden concern for why these results need to be explained instead of exploring the commonalities in the works themselves.

    Because some people are harping on it, offering it as part of their narrative for why “The Hugo Awards are out of Touch with Reality and No One Should Take Them Seriously.” Those of us who engage with them want to have a strong counter argument.

  9. @Greg —

    I’d like that argument better if the change had not been so sudden

    But was it, really?

    I’m stuck on my phone right now, so I’m not going to go dig up the actual numbers, but it’s my impression that the percentages of female Hugo winners and nominees have been slowly increasing for years. The last couple of years have certainly jumped up those numbers, but we might see that as a threshold effect of causes that have been at work for years — or as evidence that there is more than one source for the chsnges (one or more causing the gradual change, plus another one or more contributing to the more recent jump).

  10. @Rail
    They’re ignoring that most places you have to check “remember my address” – that’s an option for the user, as it should be. It’s not auto-remember everywhere.

  11. “Good idea. Here’s a list of all the Tor Novellas since about 2015. Just looking at the first page, I count 9 men out of 20.”

    Probably, without going through and doing a bunch of categorizing, I would bet the reason for the disparity between the goodreads ‘popular’ list and the tor.com and RSR lists is that sci fi/fantasy has historically been a lot more male centered, which the goodreads list undoubtedly includes a lot of novellas from genres that have been heavily dominated by women authors for quite some time.

    https://pudding.cool/2017/06/best-sellers/

    If that is reflective of sci fi/fantasy as a whole, which saw an 80/20 split as recently as the early 2010’s, an increase to 45% in just a few years is fairly impressive.

  12. @microtherion —

    Yes to everything you said. Changes in the author population and changes in the reader population feed back on each other.

  13. @Lisa Goldstein

    Then came the various Puppies, and women started paying attention — were almost forced to do so, because these were vicious attacks that needed to be watched. (I keep thinking of that quote: “You have roused a sleeping giant.”) They started reading with an eye toward awards and voting in larger numbers. And partly because of this, yes, more women won awards, but, more importantly, a larger section of the audience became engaged and the awards became more representative.

    Yeah, the Puppies are the obvious big event. The distribution of the finalists for fiction before and after the Puppies is starkly different, so it’s clear that something changed. But it’s hard to call this “more representative.” 🙂 And it’s hard to say exactly how the reaction to the Puppies led to women sweeping the fiction categories two years in a row.

  14. “And it’s hard to say exactly how the reaction to the Puppies led to women sweeping the fiction categories two years in a row.”

    Well, to be honest, I don’t think that’s a very difficult question to answer. Vox Day is a jackass, who alienates people who view themselves as even mildly feminist. This is not to say that everyone is voting based on being anti-Vox Day, but I would imagine a sizable percentage of the ‘new’ Hugo voters, those that remained and continued to vote after the Puppies wandered off to other stuff, were people who came aboard to be ‘anti-puppy’ and continued to vote essentially ‘anti-Vox Day’ in the aftermath. What that translated to in real world terms was essentially ‘voting for women and minorities.’

    I could, of course, be wrong about that, but bear in mind, I’m not saying any of the winners over the past few years are unworthy. They are the books that the most people who voted viewed as the best book they read that year. People will always look back historically, as tastes wax and wane, and find it ludicrous that a certain book or certain movie was counted as the ‘best’ of a given year. That just happens. I’m just offering a potentially plausible explanation for why such a dramatic shift occurred among the winners after the puppy years ended.

  15. @Greg: “In mathematical terms, the gender of award winners should be random and binomially distributed in a way similar to the set of popular works as a whole.“

    You assert this as an axiom. I do not accept it as one. Can you support it?

  16. @Greg:

    That could be, but do you really think they’re deliberately (or even unconsciously) leaving out works by men?

    All communities have biases of taste. And longstanding networks. The habits of boosting community members aren’t going to go away, and frankly I don’t think they should.

    I’m just coming at this as a finding and signal boost question. We’re all getting recommendations from somewhere; the Spreadsheet and the Wikia are just the most obvious. Could it be as simple as the women having better networks in place to promote them via word of mouth? And those networks, already in place for years, spilling into the Hugos thanks to the Sads and Rabids?

  17. @P J Evans: The cookie set by that checkbox expires after 30 minutes on many sites. Another site I frequent is going nuts trying to find a way to change that expiration.

  18. I’m also thinking that readers, as opposed to writers, are extremely important to this discussion. And, you know, VOTERS. Do we have any demographics about Hugo voters? If 80% or 60% or even 52% of Hugo voters are women, it is completely natural that they would lean toward fiction that appeals to them and it may just be that they respond well to a female point of view. No, I don’t think there’s anything completely and totally different between or among books written by men and books written by women, but there may be in what readers pick up in the first place. As we all know, in romance, for example, where the readership (and voters for awards) are overwhelmingly female, men used to take pseudonyms to blend in, so the publishers, at least, thought women readers wanted to read women authors. And, yes, the opposite was true for SF, where somebody on high had some reason to think they had a predominantly male readership who wanted to read (and/or give awards to) books with male names on them. As the readership has changed over time (see Rebecca Hill’s analysis above re: Harry Potter, which I find compelling) maybe the makeup of VOTERS has also changed. It didn’t seem weird to anybody over time that men voted for things written by men because, for whatever reason, those were the things they saw, bought, read and liked best. Maybe women are simply reading and voting for what they like best, and it happens to be what N.K. Jemisin is writing, just like it happened to be Nora Roberts in romance and Agatha Christie in mysteries in years past.

    I, too, am a newer nominator and voter because of Puppy antics, because it seemed like, you know what, I could jump in and vote for what I like, that would be a good idea, even though I never thought of it before, and while I don’t analyze these things too much, I do think I tend to prefer a female point of view in stories. That doesn’t mean I only read things written by women or that I only nominated or voted for women (I didn’t) but it does mean that I will certainly prefer, when ranking things, those that appeal to my particular taste. It certainly means I like some authors better than others, just as I like some humor in books as opposed to grim dark, I don’t mind romance although erotica is really not my thing, I like fantasy better than SF, and a whole lot of other little persnickety things that make up my own personal taste, based on my life experiences and all that good stuff. For example, I love The Good Place and I nominated both episodes that made the finals. Somebody else (or two or three somebodies–and I believe those somebodies were female) elsewhere at File770 indicated they don’t get The Good Place at all. I loved (and nominated) Sarah Pinsker’s Wind Will Rove but wasn’t all that moved by And Then There Were (N-One). I’d like to note that the screenwriter of Wonder Woman was male and both writers and the director of The Good Place were male, along with every single other writer in the Dramatic Presentation categories. So no, I didn’t and other people didn’t vote for only women writers. And when offered the choice of a solo woman editor or a male/female team, people voted for the team, and when offered the choice of a podcast with men attached or women only, they went for the co-ed team. This clearly isn’t a bloc of women only voting for women or whatever somebody might be postulating. This is each of us voting for what stands out to us. It just so happens that enough people (with a voter base that seems to have included a fair amount of women and possibly even a majority of women) picked X this year instead of Y. (I didn’t mean that as a pun, but it came out that way.) I don’t think one or two years means anything except that HURRAY, visibility of women’s work has increased and we won’t have what they’ve had in the theater, where the men in charge are still whining about there being no women’s work “in the pipeline” so of course it makes perfect sense to them that the vast majority of what’s on stage is written by men, even though the vast majority of theatergoers are female and yes, there are plenty of plays written by women but the men in charge aren’t paying attention because they’re eager to put up plays that appeal to them that not-so-coincidentally feature far more male characters than women.

    I also reject the idea that we need to come up with arguments to fight the guys who think women are taking over, man the barricades, THIS CAN’T HAPPEN, PEOPLE, PANIC! PANIC! PANIC! Women are not worthy!!!!! This must be a conspiracy!!!!! Because they are never going to listen to what I say, anyway, and probably not you, either, even if you are male, and they are never going to believe, as I do, that this is a completely natural phenomenon and nothing to get bent out of shape about, and yes, books by men will be honored again and men will win the Campbell again and male artists and writers will do good work and win Hugos and many other awards. They may not win 95%, as they have in the past. Maybe only 60 or 50 or even 40%. So what?

  19. Just curious? if 2500 voters from around the world decided on the top SF stories of the year, and they happened to pick stories all written by a woman, that sort of points to a ’cause’ that has to be fairly fundamental and widespread for the result to occur.

    Someone upthread mentioned fanfiction, and I believe that is one overlooked point, although unless any of the winners have written fanfiction it might not be a valid point.

    Lois McMaster Bujold has been winning awards for 30+ years. She’s a towering figure in the genres. Maybe she’s enough of a visible role model that more women and girls have said, “I can do that, too!”

    Oh, and I have one more, rather controversial point to make. There was an event that occurred within the last two years that did indeed awaken a sleeping giant. To the point that millions of women have been showing up to march and run for office. Can anyone guess what I’m thinking of?

    Maybe women just got fed up with being patted on the head and ignored. “I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore…”

    p.s. and apropos of nothing whatsoever: when I read the ‘Murderbot’ stories I was tickled pink, and didn’t realize that they were written by a woman because Kindle one-click makes it easy to buy books based on the description.

  20. Based on the NYT data, I’d say that in addition to what everyone else is mentioning, it could also be related to high profile lit-fic/SF cross over (Naomi Alderman, Jeff Vandermeer, Emily Mantel etc) and increasing interest in SF among people in MFA programs too – these both skew more toward women in the 2010s. While the 100% numbers could be related to conscious or unconscious anti-puppy voting (a kind of “Streisand Effect”), the Puppies *initial* move was a reaction to changes related to longer-term trends among both authors and readers, which they erroneously perceived as politically motivated voting. If they really wanted to see more “boys own stories” succeeding commercially, they would do better to work on getting boys to read more – of anything. Some more data: From the UK:: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/oct/22/the-truth-about-boys-and-books-they-read-less-and-skip-pages and in the US: https://www.c2educate.com/read-this-not-that-why-boys-dont-read/

  21. From that Guardian article:

    “The studies drew on data from a computer system used in schools across Britain to test the progress of pupils’ reading. First, a pupil reads a book either at school or at home. Next, the pupil takes a computerised quiz of five, 10 or 20 questions depending on the length of the book. Then the pupil and teacher receive immediate computerised feedback from the Accelerated Reader programme, with reports detailing the books read, the number of words read and the book’s reading level – along with the child’s level of comprehension, as indicated by the percentage of correct answers in the quiz.”

    This sounds like serious fun. I have no idea why boys age 5-18 don’t embrace this as their leisure time activity.

  22. idontknow, you’re not seriously suggesting that a scientific method of collecting a statistically valid data sample is the way we think all readers everywhere should read for fun? I mean, really?

    That’s like arguing that people in a lab who take a measured amount of alcohol, take tests, then take another measured amount of alcohol and more tests, and so on… is how people typically drink in bars. But that data is important when one is, for example, setting blood alcohol standards for driving.

    I’m starting to think you’re not arguing in good faith, here.

  23. First, with any award, we’re talking about the taste* of the award-givers rather than some objectively-measurable trait of the award recipient, and popular (as distinct from juried) awards reflect the tastes of a large number of voters. When the award’s claim is that the winner is the “best,” the understanding of “best” is going to vary a great deal across the voting population. That is, there is no single “best,” only a kind of approximation arising from subjective preferences distributed across a body of the voters.

    Second, the Hugo Awards have never represented the taste of SF readership at large, because Worldcon membership–or con-going fandom in general–was never representative. Even back when a non-attending/voting membership was relatively inexpensive, a reader had to know about Worldcon and the awards and care/be engaged enough to go to the expense and trouble of joining and voting. (As a Worldcon attendee for many years, I rarely voted. But that’s just me and my distaste for rankings, star ratings, and comparing apples to kumquats.)

    Third, the socio-political-economic machieries that drive fiction production and reception–who writes, who gets published and where, who reads the resulting work, and who reviews it/comments on it and where–grind away, and some of this necessarily gets coupled to the various award systems, popular and juried. Awards are partly affected by conversations among audience members (like the coversations here, for example). Awards are not the result of gas-law physics, and statistical analyses need to keep that in mind. As BigelowT suggests above, variations–even swings–in expressed tastes should not be surprising in a system based on humans rather than molecules.

    * For which, as the saying goes, there’s no accounting. PhilRM pointed this out already. I also like his notion of “discovery space,” which might be another way of saying “marketplace.”

  24. @Contrarius

    I personally would love it if we could avoid the issue altogether by stripping identifying info from the stories

    At the very least, it would be an interesting experiment to see how long it would take John C. Wright to add “otjize” to his vocabulary…

  25. “I’m starting to think you’re not arguing in good faith, here.”

    I wasn’t aware that I was arguing at all. I was making fun of something that seemed funny to me. Sorry for doing so. I won’t attempt to crack any more jokes.

  26. @Techgrrl —

    Someone upthread mentioned fanfiction, and I believe that is one overlooked point, although unless any of the winners have written fanfiction it might not be a valid point.

    Naomi Novik is one example of an award winner/nominee (Uprooted and the Temeraire series) who has been heavily involved in fanfic. In fact, she is behind the AO3 website (founder? organizer? I forget the details at the moment), which is one of the biggest fanfic sites on the net.

    I’m sure other nominees, and probably winners, have been involved to one degree or other as well. Just take the story Fandom for Robots as one glaring example — it was obviously written by someone with fanfic experience.

  27. idontknow, sorry; I didn’t realize you were joking. The problem with online communication is that it’s far to easy to read something seriously that is meant frivolously. See also Poe’s Law.. <wry>

  28. Yeah, it’s hard to just talk to people on a board where you don’t have a great reputation either because folks tend to assume the worst of your motivations when you say something.

    Which is not to say that’s what you did, of course. You may not have heard of me at all. I only show up here every once in awhile and only say something when a topic seems interesting to me. Most of the time, it tends not to go well.

  29. I’m another female fan who was content being off in my own clique of geeky gamer grrl types ignoring the greater science fiction community. In fact, when the Puppies thing erupted my first reaction was to roll my eyes because I was convinced, through writers like Harlan Ellison and Robert Heinlein and all those other Zap Brannigan role models that the mainstream science fiction scene was a boys’ club anyway. I did care about the Hugos, though, because often compilations of Hugo nominees and winners were as close as I got to organized science fiction, and the Puppies were at least inspiring a resistance, so I got involved.

    I can’t really tell if there’s a strong gender preference in what I’m nominating but I’ve discovered a lot of female authors such as Sarah Pinsker and Ursula Vernon and Nnedi Okorafor that I really like. Plus I’m also more likely to no-award the kind of sexist hogwash that turned me away from the SF scene in the first place. Plus I’ve moved my own writing from a closed gamer/fan system to the mainstream universe of Kindle Direct and am kind of enjoying interacting with the greater community despite my apprehension, so maybe that’s more of what’s happening – previously marginalized people learning from the Puppy debacle that there is in fact room for them within the greater umbrella of science fiction.

    (Whew, back home where I can autofill the name/email/website prompts … posting from Worldcon on my phone was a beeyotch … although for some reason my home PC posts get 5 min moderation, which is cool because I can edit my dumber typos, but my phone posts go live instantly.)

  30. I may be getting some of the names wrong, but I make it 6/20 men.

    At least one of those 20 is actually non-binary.

    I’m nearly certain I remember N. K. Jemisin talking about writing fanfic in one of her Patreon videos. It’s unlikely that she’s the only one.

    I was one of the Hugo voters brought in because of the kerfuffle. Personal stories aren’t data, but I suspect I’m pretty representative of at least a portion of the new voters. I’ve read SFF almost all of my reading life and while I have a decent grounding in everything from New Wave on, I gravitate towards work by women. It’s not a bias so much as preference for voices that either sound more like mine or just don’t make me want to throw things. So, probably 75% of what I read is written by women. That’s going to show up in my ballot.

    eta: To echo Charon, I was convinced early and often that organized SFF fandom was a boys club.

  31. Greg:

    But it’s hard to call this “more representative.”

    What I mean is that more women are voting, so the awards have become more representative of the field as a whole — and that this is a part of the explanation for why there are more women winning awards. (It doesn’t explain why so many women won awards.) To be clear, this is just my theory, with no way to prove it. I do think the whole Puppy thing woke some women up, just as a certain political event in the US woke up some women voters.

  32. @Rev. Bob

    You assert this as an axiom. I do not accept it as one. Can you support it?

    I suspect the disconnect here is in the meaning of the terms. Let’s see if we can agree on something simpler: As the number of authors in a sample goes to infinity, the proportion of male authors in that sample will converge on a number, p. I’m not sure how you can argue otherwise, but I suspect you’re arguing about issues with this specific sample, not about what happens with enormously large samples. Is that correct?

  33. @Mark

    A interesting datum for this: the TOC for the latest Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, where the final selection is made via a blind read. I may be getting some of the names wrong, but I make it 6/20 men.

    That’s got about a 6% chance of happening even if the stories were drawn from a sample that was 50-50 male/not-male.

    I do seem to consistently see evidence that women really did write more stories (and more good stories) than men in 2017, but the ratio is something like 45:55. Assuming an underlying distribution of 45% men brings the odds of your TOC example happening by chance up to 13%.

  34. @Rebecca H
    I thought of a problem with the Goodreads data: it’s from 2014, and at that time we were still seeing a heavy bias against women in the awards. It’s still interesting data, but we can’t use it as evidence that something changed between 2014 and 2016.

    The two big events in that time are obviously Trump and the Puppies, but the best I can do with that is to say that all the people who simply refused to ever nominate or vote for anyone other than a straight white male author probably dropped out during that time, causing the results to move closer to the Goodreads numbers. That still seems weak to me, though.

    But maybe Contrarius is right; it’s a combination of things, and this was just one of them. Add in Paul’s (I think it was Paul) suggestion that years of urging people to read more female authors has resulted in a lot of people with favorite authors who aren’t male and maybe that’s enough.

  35. “I do seem to consistently see evidence that women really did write more stories (and more good stories) than men in 2017, but the ratio is something like 45:55.”

    How can you assign numbers to subjective taste that varies with audience!?

  36. @Hampus Eckerman

    How can you assign numbers to subjective taste that varies with audience!?

    Shamelessly. 🙂

    Seriously, I just take subsets different ways. E.g. look at all stories reviewed by RSR. Then all stories I recommended personally. Then all stories any of the reviewers we follow recommended. Then look at the latest SFF books published by Amazon. Then look at the top-ranked SFF books on Amazon right at the moment. Etc.

    All of those subsets (whether filtered by ratings or not) seem to be consistent with a 45:55 split right at the moment. In other words, there seem to be–just by chance–slightly more female than male SFF authors right at the moment, weighted by productivity.

    I’d have to do a lot more work to defend that claim robustly though.

  37. @Greg

    Would proving what the split is based on data sets of top 20s/30s/etc (that is, numbers in Years Best TOCs, recs from regular reviewers, etc) be able prove or disprove what a top 6 should be?

  38. Some more anecdotal evidence:
    My genre novel reading is about 1/3 female, 2/3 male authors. (Hmmm.)
    The authors I’m following so not to miss a single book are half women, half men.
    The 2018 short fiction I’ve put on my favourites (so far) are 70% by women, 30% by men.
    My Hugo ballot had women on top in 6 of 7 fiction categories. (I can’t think of any off-ballot fiction by male authors which would have changed that.) The one exception was Robert Jackson Bennett.

    Apparently women simply write (according to my taste) better these days.

  39. @Mark

    Would proving what the split is based on data sets of top 20s/30s/etc (that is, numbers in Years Best TOCs, recs from regular reviewers, etc) be able prove or disprove what a top 6 should be?

    Sure. I’ve already got a lot of that data in RSR‘s database, of course. Are you thinking of collecting more data? If you want to collaborate, send me an e-mail. (Greghull at the obvious address will work.)

  40. @Rail on August 21, 2018 at 10:29 am said:

    Could it be as simple as the women having better networks in place to promote them via word of mouth? And those networks, already in place for years, spilling into the Hugos thanks to the Sads and Rabids?

    I really like this explanation, particularly since it’s so wholesome. 🙂

  41. @Greg, something else that occurred to me is that many of us are using things like the Spreadsheet of Doom to help focus our efforts. Is there a tilt in recommendations from the community that compiles it and the Hugo wikia? Where else are voters discussing the good stuff?

    I think you’ll find that most of those communities are run by women.

    The Spreadsheet of Doom was organised by Renay, who is indeed female. However, the Hugo Wikia was established by Didi Chanoch, who is male. But both are community efforts, therefore it would be interesting to see who the contributors are and what they recommend.

    I freely admit that I tend to read more works by women than by men and all else being equal, I am more likely to give a new-to-me female author a chance than a male author. Because in my experience, stories and novels by women tend to hit my personal sweet spots better and contain fewer irritating habits that throw me out of the book. Once an author has gone from new-to-me to “I like what they write”, gender is irrelevant. However, an author first has to break into the latter category and if I’m likelier to give a new-to-me woman writer a chance, they are likelier to make it into the “I like their work” category.

    What is more, when I give a new-to-me writer a chance, I find that the work of male writers is more likely to be disappointing. For example, last year I tried two space operas – a subgenre I love – by new-to-me male writers. Both had good reviews and sounded right up my alley. However, both were deeply mediocre and one was so irritating that I didn’t even finish. Needless to say that I won’t be reading those authors again anytime soon. During the same time, I also read space operas by new-to-me women authors, enjoyed them a whole lot and promptly bought the next book.

    Regarding the Hugos, I remember that ten to fifteen years ago, I was enormously frustrated by the Hugo finalists. I knew there were good SFF books and stories out there, because I was reading them, but the Hugo shortlists inevitably consisted mainly of works that didn’t appeal to me, while the many good works and authors I read were overlooked. I grumbled about this for a few years, then I bought a membership to nominate and vote, determined to make my voice heard. At first, I didn’t buy a membership every year to vote, if I didn’t have any strong preferences regarding what was on the ballot. Then the puppies came along and though I normally wouldn’t have bought memberships in 2015 and 2016 (I had attending memberships for 2014 and 2017, so I had nomination rights), I coughed up the money to vote them down. And then I continued to buy memberships and vote, even in years when I couldn’t attend.

    Now I am just one person, but if you multiply my experience a hundred- or a thousandfold, you get a sizeable voting population. And indeed, the changes were apparent even before the puppies came along. As late as 2007, all finalists in the fiction categories bar one were men. The fan and art categories were still dominated by the same people who had dominated them for years and decades. But gradually, things began to change. New voices started appearing in all Hugo categories, while the number of voters and nominators steadily increased. Eventually, they started winning, first in the smaller categories and then across the board.

    This is not the result of an organised campaign, but the result of fans, many of them women or marginalised people, who were not happy with the Hugo finalists and winners deciding to get involved. At the same time, you also get people who were not happy with the existing print mags establishing their own online mags with a different focus, people unhappy with the existing recommendation networks establishing their own, etc… What we’re seeing right now is the result of these gradual changes. And while the puppies may have accelerated the shift, it started before they came along.

    And talking of recommendation networks, when I got on the internet in the late 1990s, the SFF recommendation networks were almost all male dominated. And from them I learned that the books I was reading were defective and substandard. But they had books to recommend, books which were supposedly new and edgy and wonderful. So I sought out these books and hated almost every single one of them. So I decided that apparently I had been mistaken and that I wasn’t a real SF fan after all and walked away from the genre. I started reading other genres – crime fiction, thrillers, romance, historical fiction – and eventually hit upon the recommendation networks of the romance genre during the boom in paranormal romance and urban fantasy. And I found a lot of new-to-me SFF authors, most of them women and quite a few WOC, who reignited by love for SFF. For example, Monstress writer Marjorie M. Liu is someone I discovered during those days when she was writing what was billed as paranormal romance with diverse characters, settings and a distinct X-Men flavour.

    So I wandered back to the SFF community to tell all the world about the great authors I found, found likeminded fans, started participating in the Hugos, etc…

  42. Contrarius on August 21, 2018 at 11:36 am said:
    @Techgrrl —

    Someone upthread mentioned fanfiction, and I believe that is one overlooked point, although unless any of the winners have written fanfiction it might not be a valid point.

    Naomi Novik is one example of an award winner/nominee (Uprooted and the Temeraire series) who has been heavily involved in fanfic. In fact, she is behind the AO3 website (founder? organizer? I forget the details at the moment), which is one of the biggest fanfic sites on the net.

    Yoon Ha Lee used to write fanfic (and maybe still does).

    For me, the decisive moment has been the one year of reading women challenge. I made a conscious effort to read more women, and I discovered that they were on average much better than male writers.

    There’s a reason for that and it has to do with bias. Women suffer all sorts of disadvantages, from stereotype threat to self-exclusion to prejudice. The ones that do make it, that do finish that novel, that do submit it, that overcome the prejudices, are likely to be bloody fucking good. Mediocre female writers just don’t make the cut into publication.

  43. Ok, 2500+ people voted. If anyone thinks that a significant number of those didnt vote what they felt was deserving, but voted based on political principles, you don’t understand fandom. (The slatevoters of puppydom werent fans, they were followers, they stopped voting when the leaders tstopped telling them).

    And if you think the award is not worthy, because only 2500+ people voted for it, you don’t understand how awards work.
    You are entitled to your opinion, but that doesnt make it true.
    Over and out.

  44. I’m another pissed off by Puppies voter/nominator. I had been reading F&SF for years, mostly sticking to my usual favorites and classics. I was starting to look at the Hugo/Nebula/World Fantasy finalist lists as a place to look for new books, and was part of an all-women F&SF book group. I think I would have eventually become a Hugo nominator/voter, but the dreck of that year made me jump in. I’ve been having too much fun to stop!

    I checked my long list and nominations for this year, so another anecdote. My novel longlist had 8 women, 4 men (and I may be making assumptions–some may be non-binary) and my nominations were for 4 women, 1 man. These were all books that I read last year that hit my criteria for Hugo worthy and had emotional resonance for me, which is really important to me.

    So, that’s just how I do it. Don’t know if that helps or not.

  45. @GiantPanda,
    So glad to see more love for Robert Jackson Bennett! He’s at the top of my list too!

    @Greg,
    I agree that there isn’t a single variable at play but I still think that you are drastically under counting several items which add momentum to each other:
    1)I think there is still a bias against women/POCs so those stories that get buzz are, IMO, higher caliber in a smaller field than the average male.

    2) The rape item I brought up earlier; I simply won’t read or nominate a book that does this gratuitously to motivate a hero. This bothers a lot of other women as well and several female authors have spoken out against it. In general, male authors tend to either have all-male or token female casts or too much male gaze. It’s boring! I read a lot of military sf and space opera and now I have choices! I try a lot of male authors but they don’t always strike my fancy. Note I love Robert Jackson Bennett, Tobias Buckell, Alastair Reynolds and others but the new-to-me authors who tend to stick lately have overwhelmingly been women. Interestingly two of my favorite authors are Ilona Andrews and Sharon Lee/Steve Miller and they are both M/F married writing teams.

    3) Again, I don’t know why but I agree with others that I think that it’s because of the differing entry points to genre but women/POCs tend to be the ones doing interesting things with fiction. That generally is preferred at the Hugos but does not show up on Goodreads/Amazon etc.

    Finally, I disagree that we need to respond to the Puppies. That implies that anyone voted for reasons other than story. I don’t believe that to be true.

  46. @ RCade:

    Theodore Beale posted a fake quote from Robert Silverberg on his blog to attack Jemisin.

    Since it appears on Beale’s blog, I shared your doubt that it was genuine, since one can typically count on getting better information by reading a sheep’s entrails than by perusing Beale’s blog.

    But the quote is being discussed on Facebook, and it’s evidently real. Someone from the e-list where the comment was made says they’re looking into who violated group rules by sharing a post from the e-list. And Robert Silverberg has released this statement:

    “I have no access to Facebook. But I wish someone would let the multitudes hear my statement that I wasn’t being racist, I simply feel that a Hugo acceptance speech should express gratitude, not anger. ”

    The initial statement was made, as I understand it, with some expectation of privacy (i.e. it was not intended to be shared outside a closed group). Whatever I may or may not think of it, I am generally disinclined to hold someone accountable for a private comment that is accidentally or wrongly leaked, unless there is relevant context–which there is not in this instance. (Ex. Silverberg has not publicly lauded Jemisin or her speech. He has not made his reputation by championing diversity and inclusion in sf/f or in the Hugos. Unlike the VD and the Puppies, he has not attempted to game the Hugo nominations process. Etc. All this leak does is reveal something about Silverberg that he presumably would have preferred to keep private, since he did not publicly share his view of Jemisin’s speech. And it’s a good example of why it’s unwise to say something in a group that you’re not willing to see repeated everywhere, with your name attached.)

  47. As an additional data point, since I have all three of the published volumes of the blind-read The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy sitting on the shelf near me, the breakdowns are (by story: each volume has 20 stories, and Sofia Samatar had two stories in the first volume) (M/F/NB): 7/12/1 (2015), 10/10/0 (2016), 9/10/1 (2017).

  48. “Wow. The source article, “Sex and Reading: A Look at Who’s Reading Whom,” is extremely interesting. It says that of new publications not only did women prefer books by female authors, so did men. Also, although men and women read equal numbers of books overall, men were much less likely to read brand new books.”

    @Greg: Just another anecdote, but this data matches my recent reading habits well. Several years ago I was reading probably 90% (mostly white) male authors. However, in the past year, I’ve given up on 3 novels by male authors and (since I listen to audiobooks far more than actually read) had a 4th where I actually sped it up significantly so I could just get to the end faster. The 3 I gave up on had sexist elements that, although not to the point of thinking they are outright offensive, were enough of a fly buzzing in my ear that it would kick me out of the story every time I noticed it. The stories on all 4 were just passable, so I was never very engaged to begin with on any of them.

    Instead, in the past couple years I’ve started reading N.K. Jemisin and Nnedi Okorafor and have been completely blown away with every book I’ve read (or listened to) of theirs. So I have found that a large portion of my reading has been just working through the back catalog of those two authors. Throw in an occasional “Six Wakes” and “Children of Blood and Bone” and I’m finding that I simply am enjoying female authors far more. No better word of mouth networks or intentional balancing or anything. I just enjoy them more. *shrug*

    Now, of course, there are plenty of excellent and non-problematic male authors, I’m not denying that. Just it’s interesting that since becoming more aware of problematic writing and my tolerance of it lowering, my tastes have shifted dramatically, rapidly, and organically. With some of the talk a while ago about only reading non-male authors for a year, I decided to 50/50 it, and I’m likely to wind up more like 70/30 favoring women this year. Looking at PoC and it is shifted even more this year for me. By the end of the year, it’s looking like only 2.5 books out of the 20-25 I’m likely to finish will be written by a white man (1 is co-authored).

  49. @Greg: “I suspect the disconnect here is in the meaning of the terms.”

    You did not answer my question. Shall I take that as an admission that no, in fact you cannot support the position you stated as an axiom and which I called you out for so doing?

    Let’s see if we can agree on something simpler: As the number of authors in a sample goes to infinity, the proportion of male authors in that sample will converge on a number, p. I’m not sure how you can argue otherwise, but I suspect you’re arguing about issues with this specific sample, not about what happens with enormously large samples. Is that correct?

    Are you claiming that p is a constant across all samples? If so, I refer you to the groups “authors named John” and “authors named Jane.” I should be greatly surprised if p proved to be the same value in both groups.

    Further, the number of items in the “Hugo nominations” sample has never even come close to approaching infinity. I wouldn’t even agree to call that set “enormously large” – not for any given year, even across the entire ballot.

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