Sam Lubell thinks the question Does Being GoH Tilt the Playing Field? will be answered more accurately by using statistics that isolate the Worldcon GoHs’ records as Hugo nominees before they were announced as guests and may have gotten the benefit of publicity. Let’s see what we learn.
Parameters: First, only GoHs who received a Hugo nomination in the year they were honored are listed. Also a Worldcon’s “special guests” are counted among the GoHs because they received the same publicity.
Second, the nomination process wasn’t added to the Hugos until 1959, therefore, only the 1960 and later GoHs get counted.
Third, to determine the control years I needed to know when site selection happened, which is the year the GoHs were announced. Worldcons through 1970 were selected one year in advance, from 1971 through 1986 two years in advance, from 1987 to 2007, three years in advance, then from 2008 to the present, two years in advance again. (Would you believe, this information wasn’t lying around the internet in plain sight? After I figured out the answer I updated the Wikipedia entry for Worldcon so we can all find it again.) That means, for example, the “neutral” years for any GoH of Nippon 2007, which was selected in 2004, are those before 2005.
[The results follow the jump, because the table is oversized.]
Survey Says: Here’s the raw data. To the left of the GoH names is the tally of nominations and wins from the included years. To the right is the GoH’s tally of nominations and wins from the Worldcon where they were honored.
|1968||1968||3||1||Philip Jose Farmer||1||1|
|1975||1974||5||2||Ursula K Le Guin||1||1|
|1999||1997||4||1||J. Michael Straczynski||1||0|
|2009||2008||37||1||David G. Hartwell||1||1|
(*) Notes where GoH won first Hugo ever. (There’s no star beside Philip Jose Farmer’s name because he won a Hugo before nominations were instituted, as “Best New SF Author or Artist” in 1953.)
(**) Langford won two Hugos after he was announced as a guest of Conspiracy, his first in 1985 and the other in 1987 at the Worldcon where he was honored
What Did We Learn? Of the 13 GoHs who won a Hugo the year they were honored, 11 had won a Hugo before (10 prior to the “limit year”). Seven had won multiple Hugos. The results look rather Newtonian — people in motion tend to stay in motion, those at rest tend to stay at rest.
The 2 guests who won their first-ever Hugo at the Worldcon where they were honored, Jim Burns at Conspiracy (1987) and Shaun Tan at Aussiecon 4 (2010), are interesting cases. Years ago a friend of mine argued that among many good reasons for holding Worldcons outside North America is that the talent in other areas of the world would have a better shot at winning a Hugo. As they say in the software industry, it’s not a bug, it’s a feature. Burns has won the Best Professional Artist Hugo at every Worldcon held in the U.K. in the past 24 years (1987, 1995, 2005). Shaun Tan won an Oscar the year after he won the Hugo. Whether being GoH gave them an edge they at least don’t seem to be people who needed an edge to win a Hugo.
And Langford? He won 2 Hugos after being announced as Conspiracy’s Special Guest. He won 26 more in the years that followed. I leave it to you, gentle reader, to draw the obvious conclusion…