Chengdu Worldcon Releases 2023 Hugo Nomination Statistics

The official Hugo Awards website posted the 2023 Hugo nomination voting statistics today.  

Detailed statistics for the nominating and final ballots are available in the 2023 Hugo Award Stats Final PDF file.

The document includes several unexplained rulings by the Hugo Administrator that works like R.F. Kuang’s Babel or people like fan writer Paul Weimer, who otherwise would have made the final ballot, were “not eligible”.


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104 thoughts on “Chengdu Worldcon Releases 2023 Hugo Nomination Statistics

  1. Gary Farber: The entire concept of THE SANDMAN arguably includes deities, ghosts, superstition, unscientific elements, and propaganda of superstitious beliefs.

    As does The World We Make — and probably at least half of the works that non-Chinese fans would have nominated.

    If the Hugo Admin was not willing to stand up for the integrity of the awards process in the face of Chinese governmental pressure, then they should never have accepted the position.

  2. Like everyone else, I was surprised to not see Babel on the Best Novel ballot, but assumed that it had been withdrawn by the author, and that she didn’t make a statement because Yellowface was just coming out and she didn’t want to distract from that.

    I also thought I knew why she would withdraw: because I thought the Chinese government would want Babel to win. It’s by a member of the Chinese diaspora who’s still very connected to Chinese culture, and it’s a fantasy re-working of the Opium Wars, which are a crucial turning point in the official PRC version of Chinese history, the beginning of the Century of Humiliation that ended with the founding of the PRC. I figured Kuang didn’t want to become part of PRC’s canon of English-language lit, and the only way out was to not be on the ballot.

    Ha ha, I was so wrong! No, it now looks like the problem was that if Babel was on the ballot there was a really strong chance she’d win, and then she’d give a speech in Chinese that the government hadn’t pre-approved. Yikes! Chengdu Worldcon heads could roll for something like that.

    I suspect a similar logic is behind Xiran Jay Zhao’s “ineligibility”, as they also speak Chinese.

    As for Paul Weimer, I’m stumped.

  3. I’ll point out here that Nettle & Bone had ghosts, magic, witchcraft, gods, saints, and the supernatural, so I’m not sure we should consider that the primary motivation for removing a work. Unless it’s JUST the film board that does that, which would be a different kettle of fish.

  4. One weird thing about Babel is that if it were eligible and all the round-by-round scores are accurate, it would have been eliminated in the final round because it had the lowest score. So I was briefly thinking that not eligible might just mean in the top 6 by votes, but not qualifying as a finalist.

    Another weird thing is that its score was identical in all rounds posted, which is very difficult to believe.

  5. @RedWombat

    The whys of whats of the Chinese Media Censors have been arbitrary and incoherent. This is a pretty major reason why US Media Companies have basically given up trying to make things “China Safe” after a couple of decades of pursuing that market, because it’s impossible to know what’ll tweak the nose of who ever’s making the decision this week.

  6. Doctor Science on January 20, 2024 at 1:01 pm said:
    Ha ha, I was so wrong! No, it now looks like the problem was that if Babel was on the ballot there was a really strong chance she’d win, and then she’d give a speech in Chinese that the government hadn’t pre-approved. Yikes! Chengdu Worldcon heads could roll for something like that.

    Maybe, but other Chinese people who don’t live in China were finalists, so it would still be an arbitrary criteria

  7. John Chu, author of the admirable nominated work “If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You”, points out that he also speaks Chinese, but adds that with such a strong list of nominees he didn’t expect to place. (This was on Bluesky.)

  8. Jay Blanc on January 20, 2024 at 12:26 pm said:

    @Kevin Standlee

    I’m sorry, but I recall your reaction to my proposal of a standing Hugo Award committee being quite different. Have you changed your opinion since you caused me to withdraw it after your vocally opposing it in comments made here? Would you like to support a standing Hugo Award committee now?

    I am unsure to what you are referring. I’ve not been adverse to all of the WSFS functions (legislature, Site Selection, and Hugo Awards) being under independent administration as long as the members of WSFS have input into its governance, including being able to elect members to the body that supervises it.

    Now, my thoughts have been directed toward the Council of WSFS (a ~21-member body with members elected by WSFS members and appointed as representatives of sanctioned WSFS committee) that would replace the WSFS Business Meeting; however, having the other two major WSFS functions managed by this Council would probably make things somewhat better overall. It would at least allow Worldcons to focus on what most of them lately want to do which is sell lots of tickets and put on a big show. They could still hold a Hugo Award ceremony, after all.

    There is tremendous complexity in doing this and it wouldn’t happen in one or two years. (For example, it would require that Worldcons be required to fund those WSFS functions, probably by having to agreed to a formal license agreement with the service mark owner with enough money to make sure the “central core” could run those functions. I’d welcome the creation of a committee that would undertake the significant amount of work it would take to make it happen. But there will be huge pushback from people who hate the idea of anything different than what we currently have. Expect to hear “WSFS Inc! To the Barricades, comrades!” if such proposals are advanced.

  9. JJ on January 20, 2024 at 9:47 am said:

    “We can’t have a Worldcon in China!” said WSFS members. “The Chinese government will interfere with the Hugo Awards!”

    “No, no, a Chinese Worldcon will be fine,” said the SMOFs who received free vacations from the Chinese government. “We won’t allow the integrity of the Hugo Awards to be affected.”

    I am a WSFS member and could be considered a SMOF and I did not make or support any of those statements that you are attributing to me. I can say that, as Presiding Officer of the WSFS Business Meeting in Chengdu, I did not observe any inappropriate influence in the BM proceedings by the Chengdu committee or any level of Chinese government. About 2/3rds of the BM attendees were Chinese but they frequently spoke on and voted for both sides of the questions that came up.

  10. @Kevin Standlee

    I am unsure to what you are referring.

    I had suggested that there be a simple advisory and continuity committee appointed by past and future Worldcons to provide advice and support to WSFS functions such as the Hugo Awards. I was strongly informed by you that this could not work, and went against the spirit of individual Worldcon administration. And as a result of that and comments from others who supported you, I withdrew the proposal.

    I am surprised by what you now suggest, as it goes even further than what I had suggested. And I’d actually be reluctant to support an entirely elected WSFS Council. I don’t think I want to have yearly campaigns for the world science fiction fan council.

    I’d much prefer if we had recent past Worldcons and future selected Worldcons appoint members of a WSFS continuity council. The WSFS’s input would continue to be electing Worldcon sites. Then have a method of recall by WSFS membership if it is needed. (Say, some percentage of current WSFS membership could initiate a recall Ballot at the next Worldcon.)

  11. One weird thing about Babel is that if it were eligible and all the round-by-round scores are accurate, it would have been eliminated in the final round because it had the lowest score.

    Not quite how the EPH works. In each round, the bottom two EPH scores are looked at, and whichever has fewer raw nominations is eliminated. So by that measure, Babel still would have made the final ballot.

  12. @Jed Hartman: 3.8.3 was added to the constitution at the same time as the Best Series award (so it’s only existed for seven years) and was specifically intended to apply to book series. To the best of my knowledge it’s never been used for Dramatic Presentation awards. But having said that, those have been handled under 3.8.8: “If a work is eligible in more than one category, and if the work receives sufficient nominations to appear in more than one category, the Worldcon Committee shall determine in which category the work shall appear, based on the category in which it receives the most nominations.” So the effect is the same.

  13. Jacob L on January 20, 2024 at 1:30 pm said:

    One weird thing about Babel is that if it were eligible and all the round-by-round scores are accurate, it would have been eliminated in the final round because it had the lowest score. So I was briefly thinking that not eligible might just mean in the top 6 by votes, but not qualifying as a finalist.

    Another weird thing is that its score was identical in all rounds posted, which is very difficult to believe.

    No, Babel would have made the ballot. In EPH, you compare the raw votes of the lowest point scores to determine which is eliminated. Babel and Daughter had the two lowest scores, but Babel had more votes. However, I know from my own ballot that the EPH score would not have remained the same from round 5 to 4. So who knows what the correct eph scores are.

  14. This is disappointing. I had hoped that EEAAO making it to the ballot meant that interference hadn’t been an issue, and now it’s looking not so good.

  15. I had suggested that there be a simple advisory and continuity committee appointed by past and future Worldcons to provide advice and support to WSFS functions such as the Hugo Awards.

    A “simple advisory” committee seems either apt to simply be ignored, the way some Worldcon committees have ignored the advice of previous Worldcon-runners, or to be no different than the traditional informally given advice given since forever (well, 1940, give or take), anyway.

    What would be the point of an “advisory” committee with zero power, beyond being invested with much hope by some folks? Either concoms want outside advice or they don’t. Or they take it very selectively (which they should).

    I’m not adverse to the idea (not that anyone is asking me), but I’m seriously not clear on what you are proposing in specific and/or what you expect it to accomplish and how. Mostly I’m just curious, having watched so many proposals come down the pike in the past fifty years since my first Worldcon.

  16. @Gary

    I’d have preferred to recommend fully removing WSFS executive functions from individual Worldcons, and having a standing body for that, but was told that was an entire non-starter. So I suggested that at least we could have an Advisory body that could apply soft pressure into not screwing things up, intentional or otherwise.

    At that point in time it wasn’t malicious state actors we were worried about, it was “Long established members of Fandom” who were given too much individual leeway to do things they way they thought things aught be done during the presentation ceremony and after party, or sponsorship deals being made by people without the entire authority to do so, with no one around with authority to counter them.

    It’s now apparent that the integrity of the Hugo Awards is weak to far worse things than entitled and entrenched incompetence, and we should be considering taking it and all other formal executive WSFS functions out of the hands of any individual Worldcon.

  17. Both R. F. Kuang and Xiran Jay Zhao are pretty vocal about being anti PRC, and Kuang’s previous trilogy is definitely not uh, kind to certain of China’s past leaders.

  18. Marshall Ryan Maresca, over on Bluesky, has been checking the math. Some of the columns in the summary table sum to more ballots than were actually cast.

    I’m assuming that links to Bluesky work for people without accounts; if not, let me know and I’ll copy-paste. I have five Bluesky invites going begging; I can post them here if that’s appropriate. (Obviously there’s no way to do any sort of lottery.)

  19. Pingback: 2023 Hugo Nomination Report Has Unexplained Ineligibility Rulings; Also Reveals Who Declined - File 770

  20. So far I’ve found the sum of EPH numbers to exceed the ballots cast in Novel, Short Story and Fan Writer– the last of which it is 51% more than the ballots cast! Of what I’ve checked, others don’t exceed but are around 95% of the ballots, which is MUCH higher than would be “normal”.

    PLEASE someone tell me if I have the wrong end of the stick on how EPH works and these numbers aren’t proof of faked stats.

  21. Pingback: The 2023 Hugo nomination statistics have finally been release – and we have questions | Cora Buhlert

  22. Marshall Ryan Maresca: Here is the rule. Is that what you were already working with?

    Calculation Phase: First, the total number of nominations (the
    number of ballots on which each nominee appears) from all eligible
    ballots shall be tallied for each remaining nominee. Next, a single
    “point” shall be assigned to each nomination ballot. That point shall
    be divided equally among all remaining nominees on that ballot.
    Finally, all points from all nomination ballots shall be totaled for each
    nominee in that category

  23. So I suggested that at least we could have an Advisory body that could apply soft pressure into not screwing things up, intentional or otherwise.

    Worldcon committees have countless times demonstrated their complete imperviousness to general fannish opinion on innumerable issues, though granted not every single issue ever.

    Aside from grumbling, what sort of “soft pressure” do you believe would be effective against a Worldcon Committee uninterested in agreeing with whatever the other side of the given controversy is?

    How would it differ from a case of overwhelming fannish disapproval today?

    it was “Long established members of Fandom” who were given too much individual leeway to do things they way they thought things aught be done during the presentation ceremony and after party, or sponsorship deals being made by people without the entire authority to do so, with no one around with authority to counter them.

    How would you define which decisions your proposed committee would be authorized to reverse and which they would not? Or would it simply be up to them? I’m quite sure using vague phrasing wouldn’t be remotely useful. Nor do I believe an exhaustive list couldn’t be rules-lawyered.

    So then what?

    To make a specific example, what sort of “soft pressure” do you believe such a body could bring to bear on the Chengdu Worldcon com to make them… do anything about anything?

    I don’t mean any of this in a hostile way, of course. I just don’t follow how what you’re suggesting would effectively work.

    What would stop Worldcon committees from simply telling your proposed supervising committee to piss off?

    How would your committee have any actual power and where would it come from? I say “actual power” to distinguish it from just words.

  24. Yes. So if each ballot is a single point, there’s no way the number of points can exceed the number of ballots. And yet they do in at least three categories.

  25. “We can’t have a Worldcon in China!” said WSFS members. “The Chinese government will interfere with the Hugo Awards!”

    “No, no, a Chinese Worldcon will be fine,” said the SMOFs who received free vacations from the Chinese government. “We won’t allow the integrity of the Hugo Awards to be affected.”

    “And furthermore, if you even suggest that any suspicious activity is occurring with site selection voting, you are RACIST!”

  26. @Marshall Ryan Maresca: What you say sounds totally right. Those numbers aren’t real.

  27. There really isn’t any reason that the con part and the business functions have to happen at the same time or be run by the same people. It’s just that no one has bid the split yet.

  28. Thank you Marshall Ryan Maresca and Laura for the correction – it’s been long enough that I misremembered how EPH works.

  29. @Gary

    Just to be clear, I acknowledge all your problems with an advisory committee, and share them. It was the proposal at the time because anything that completely took power away from individual Worldcons was completely rejected out of hand by the established WSFS community. And at the time the greatest concerns were things that could have social pressure applied to them, which was better than nothing.

    The idea that anything like this happening was scoffed at as something that simply wouldn’t be allowed to happen by rational minded fans. And that it was scaremongering to suggest anything needed to be done to protect the Hugo Awards from individual Worldcons.

    The result is that even after severely watering down my proposal to just an advisory committee, it was still roundly shouted down. So I gave up on the idea of pushing for any further reform.

    It’s my opinion that there were things people could have done, if they’d been willing to admit the situation the WSFS is in. This should not have been a surprise, it was outright declared by the Chengdu committee that nominees would be excluded by local authorities. That should have been a signal, for what is essentially already obvious, that the Chendgu Worldcon could not administrate a Hugo Awards without being undermined by Government Censorship. “Section 2.6: Incapacity of Committees” makes it clear that the Committee of either Chicago 2022 or Glasgow 2024 could have stepped in and polled WSFS membership on how to proceed if it was unclear that Chendgu could properly perform it’s duties. Institutional paralysis meant no one was willing to be the one that said the system had failed, and so the Hugo Awards were allowed to be censored by the Chinese Government.

    We need to work out how to prevent that, or worse, ever happening again.

  30. I extracted the raw data for the 2023 nominations (via ChatGPT, so please flag any weirdness) and uploaded here for anyone who wants to do stats. I mean to extract some older years later to help with comparisons.

  31. Jay Blanc on January 20, 2024 at 6:27 pm said:

    “Section 2.6: Incapacity of Committees” makes it clear that the Committee of either Chicago 2022 or Glasgow 2024 could have stepped in…

    We’ve had this discussion before. The only absolutely clear way of determining a committee default under section 2.6 is for someone who clearly represents that Worldcon committee announcing the default. There is nothing else in that section that appears to give any other entity that right. Not the preceding Worldcon; not the following Worldcon; not the WSFS Mark Protection Committee; not me, and not you.

    I know a little bit of the history of 2.6, and I’m pretty sure it is there to deal only with the case of a self-declared default, given how hostile people were when I suggested any other possibility. For example, I once proposed that the WSFS MPC would be the “referee” to declare a default, but that it could not take over the convention, so it would require the cooperation of the following Worldcon to agree with the decision. OGH was but one of the people who rejected this interpretation.

    Anyway, I’m not actively opposed to your advisory committee; I just think it would be a waste of time. We already have the Worldcon Runners Guide Editorial committee that tries to collate best practices, and, well, in practice, nobody pays attention to it. I doubt anyone would pay attention to the advisory committee, either. Better to try and separate all of the WSFS official functions (which does not include the Hugo Award ceremony) from the Worldcon (who IMO just want to hold the ceremony and consider all of that voting stuff a hassle that they would rather ignore). Require Worldcon to fund and provide space and time for the official functions, and then Worldcons can go about doing what they seem to want to actually do. At least, there have been few Worldcons of late where the Chair of the convention seems to care about those functions.

  32. So… sounds like China shouldn’t count on ever hosting a Worldcon again. Will that “ASFiC” proposal really go through at Glasgow after this?

    And that anyone involved on that award administration committee probably shouldn’t be trusted on any other fannish enterprise, given how little compunction they have about lying about eligible finalists and falsifying data (given what was pointed out about the EPH numbers, as well as the other obvious shenanigans).

  33. @David H They’re perhaps entitled to more than 12 hours to answer the questions before excommunication.

  34. Jay Blanc: The idea that anything like this happening was scoffed at as something that simply wouldn’t be allowed to happen by rational minded fans. And that it was scaremongering to suggest anything needed to be done to protect the Hugo Awards from individual Worldcons.

    There were many of us WSFS members who said that exactly what has happened would happen. Do not pretend that you were a lone voice shouting into the void.

     
    Jay Blanc: The result is that even after severely watering down my proposal to just an advisory committee, it was still roundly shouted down. So I gave up on the idea of pushing for any further reform.

    Your proposal was based on a profound misunderstanding of how things actually work. It was deeply flawed, and completely non-viable.

    Many people here tried to explain why, and to point you at resources which would help you educate yourself with the necessary information to create a viable proposal. Instead, you threw a tantrum and stomped out — and then you have periodically resurfaced here over the last couple of years, to again criticize people for not being willing to support your utterly non-viable proposal while pretending that it would have been feasible and effective.

     
    Jay Blanc: We need to work out how to prevent that, or worse, ever happening again.

    With I can wholeheartedly agree, as, I am sure, do many other people here.

  35. No, it now looks like the problem was that if Babel was on the ballot there was a really strong chance she’d win, and then she’d give a speech in Chinese that the government hadn’t pre-approved.

    Not even the speech, I think, just the voices from outside China. If the works made the ballot, they might be read, and then the author’s other works might be read.

    Perhaps the reason Weimer was removed is that his name might have led people to the Tor web site, or his podcasts.

  36. Heather Rose Jones: This is a very helpful analysis, and I like your ideas for interrogating the numbers dished out in the report.

  37. So… sounds like China shouldn’t count on ever hosting a Worldcon again. Will that “ASFiC” proposal really go through at Glasgow after this?

    If Chinese fandom can come up with several thousand supporting memberships willing to go to the faff of voting in a Shanghai Worldcon, I don’t think there is any mechanism to stop them.

  38. @Donald Eastlake

    I am a WSFS member and could be considered a SMOF and I did not make or support any of those statements that you are attributing to me. I can say that, as Presiding Officer of the WSFS Business Meeting in Chengdu, I did not observe any inappropriate influence in the BM proceedings by the Chengdu committee or any level of Chinese government. About 2/3rds of the BM attendees were Chinese but they frequently spoke on and voted for both sides of the questions that came up.

    I don’t thing that anyone was suspecting shanigans at the (very public) busnessmeeting. The problems are also not the chinese fans. So your defense that not all SMOFs were part of this is noted, should be extended to a lot of volunters who did a lot of work for the members of the Worldcon and deserve our respect.
    There was also a sponsered trip to China and some of the people one it were very openly prasing this Worldcon.
    This is a problem because the names of the SMOFs(Anyone can see from the treads the two names in my mind) were seen as a garantie that the integraty of the Hugos and the Worldcon would be intact or at last shanigans would be made public. And this garantie is broken.

  39. Pingback: AMAZING NEWS FROM FANDOM: January 21, 2024 - Amazing Stories

  40. @RedWombat: Unless it’s JUST the film board that does that, which would be a different kettle of fish.

    It’s not. There have been instances of Chinese printers pulping entire print runs of books intended only for the American market but printed cheaply overseas, because of supernatural content.

  41. Pingback: AMAZING NEWS: The Day After The Beginning of the International Hugo Kerfuffle 1/21/24 - Amazing Stories

  42. Thanks Heather Rose Jones and Marshall Ryan Maresca for looking into the data.

    From Heather’s analysis, it looks like the raw numbers of nominations are likely inaccurate. From Marshall’s analysis (which I verified), it looks like the EPH numbers are definitely inaccurate. The EPH columns summing to more than the total number of ballots means there is a mistake somewhere, and the fact that it was in multiple categories suggests it was more than just a typo in the number of ballots.

  43. @Nickpheas:

    If Chinese fandom can come up with several thousand supporting memberships willing to go to the faff of voting in a Shanghai Worldcon, I don’t think there is any mechanism to stop them.

    ITYM “if a Chinese organization and/or the Chinese government wants to spend several hundred thousand dollars, to which money they attach names that may or may not be actual people that exist, in order to rent a Shanghai Worldcon, I don’t think there is any mechanism to stop them.”

    The nomination statistics provide the best evidence of how fraudulent the site selection was, because of how ordinary it looks.

    Essentially, to be one of the useful idiots claiming that everything was on the up-and-up, you need to believe that almost a thousand Chinese fans rose up and demanded a Chinese Worldcon… and then couldn’t be arsed to actually submit the number of Hugo nominations that you would expect that kind of devotion to produce.

    It’s a shame. I was kind of looking forward to seeing what Chinese fans thought was the best of the best. I don’t think that Western fandom really gets how many homegrown Chinese fantasy/SF TV shows/movies there are, not to mention the vast array of Chinese fantasy/SF webnovels with readership that would make any Western author drool. All of those could have been nominated for Hugo awards, and if those ~1000 passionate fans actually existed, you would have thought that at least a hundred of them would have been passionate enough to toss a nomination their way.

    That nomination slate shows how fictional all of those site supporters were.

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