Hugo Statistics Dress Sad Puppies in Black Armbands

First The Good News: Julie Dillon is the first woman to win the Best Pro Artist Hugo in 45 years. [*] And as I write, you can see a fine example of her work on the masthead of A Dribble of Ink, winner of the 2014 Best Fanzine Hugo.

Yes, Aidan Moher has finally won the Hugo he has coveted for so long. What we began with a certain amount of mutual irritation has evolved into a gentler, almost Fred Allen/Jack Benny-style feud (see for example here and here) – so congratulations, and better Aidan should win than a stranger!

Far more startling was to see Sarah Webb win Best Fan Artist on the first ballot while every other nominee registered fewer first place votes than No Award. For all the discussion in social media of the best way to tactically vote No Award, it’s a surprise to find that having the most impact in a category with no connection to the politics that fueled it.

And Now, The Rest of the Story: Meanwhile at Monster Hunter Nation HQ, it’s time to lie back and stop thinking of England. No matter what people hoped or feared would happen as the Hugo Awards were announced, only one of the 7 shortlisted nominees endorsed by Larry Correia finished ahead of another nominee in their category – basically, they ran last.

Corriea had asked his readers to nominate his novel Warbound plus a slate of 11 other recommendations. Warbound and 6 other beneficiaries of the “Sad Puppy” campaign made it. The most successful among them was Toni Weisskopf, who actually received the most first-place votes in the Best Editor – Long Form category, though she finished fourth in the runoff.

Correia took the high road in his Hugo Aftermath Post

First off, some people are upset and saying there was fraud. I understand your disappointment but I truly don’t think so. In all of my dealings with LonCon they’ve been totally professional and honest. On things like Toni’s, yes, that is confusing as hell, but that is how the Australian system works. One of the original goals of Sad Puppies was to test the Hugo nomination process just because there had been allegations of “lost” noms in prior, and as a retired auditor, I’m a sucker for statistical analyses. SP1 gathered data, and SP2 gave me comparisons. I saw zero indication of fraud. I’ve only been awake for an hour, so I’ve only skimmed the new numbers, but they appear to have shaken out about where expected. So don’t get mad at LonCon, they did their job (and as I can attest, getting accused of fraud without evidence is annoying as hell.)

He followed by explaining yet again why he thought his “Sad Puppies” campaign was justified and how the voting results prove his point – because it’s not as if he was going to suddenly smack his forehead and exclaim, “Wait, I was wrong!”

In the general exchange of social nukes set off by “Sad Puppies” it was a surprise (though by no means a disappointment) that No Award failed to take a single Hugo category.

Furthermore, the nominees receiving the most first place votes in a category tended to win wire-to-wire.

Suspense mounted in the Best Novel category leading up to the vote because no one could predict the impact of Larry Correia’s voting bloc or the strength of support for the Wheel of Time series, while Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, despite winning the Nebula, seemed handicapped by the publisher’s refusal to put the complete book in the Hugo Voter Packet.

The suspense was unwarranted, as it turns out. Ancillary Justice began with a comfortable lead, getting 1,335 first place votes. The Wheel of Time series had the next largest number of first place votes, 658. However, Wheel of Time finished in fourth place in runoff voting.

There were only a couple of really tight races.

Lightspeed Magazine won the Best Semiprozine Hugo by 16 votes. Two UK-based publications, Strange Horizons and Interzone, hung with Lightspeed Magazine for the first four passes, however, the home-field advantage did not hold true. When Interzone was eliminated almost one-third of its votes dropped out (having listed neither of the survivors in next place) and the remaining votes were divided almost equally between Interzone and Hugo-winner Lightspeed.

Only in a few cases did the eventual winner ever trail. In Best Novella, “Six-Gun Snow White” had a 14 vote edge on “Equoid” after four rounds, but lost by 83.

In Best Dramatic – Long Form, “The Rains of Castamere” was only 11 votes ahead of “The Day of the Doctor” after the fifth pass, but picked up a majority of the votes left after Orphan Black was eliminated, and won by a comfortable margin.

In Best Pro Editor – Long Form, Ginjer Buchanan trailed Toni Weisskopf by 7 votes after the third pass, but ended up winning by over 200 votes.

The “Who are you mad at?” index shows more voters listed the following nominees behind No Award than any others (except for Toni Weisskopf, who is included for comparison, and Wheel of Time which was controversial for a different reason.) (Not ranked in order).

Sad Puppies Finalists Runoff votes No Award
Warbound 1161 1052
The Chaplain’s Legacy 999 602
The Butcher of Khardov 1222 687
The Exchange Officers 1146 736
Opera Vita Aeterna 855 1232
Toni Weisskopf 568 186
Elitist Book Reviews 510 334
Wheel of Time 1306 672

But if the “Sad Puppies” say they had it tough, just show them the “take no prisoners” mentality at work in the fan categories. Many finalists got fewer first place votes than No Award — the fate of 4 out of 5 nominees for Best Fan Artist, 4 out of 7 nominees for Best Fancast, 3 out of 5 nominees for Best Fan Writer, and 1 out of 5 nominees for Best Fanzine.

Turning to the nominating statistics, Vox Day compiled this list of the number of nominating votes that put each of the “Sad Puppies” on the ballot, and scoffed at the supposed “bloc vote” —

Larry Correia 184 (Best Novel)
Toni Weisskopf 169 (Best Professional Editor – Short Form)
Brad Torgersen: 111 (Best Novella)
Dan Wells 106 (Best Novella)
Brad Torgersen 92 (Best Novelette)
Vox Day 69 (Best Novelette)
Sarah Hoyt 38 (failed to make final ballot for Best Short Story)

Just the same, the bloc vote for Vox Day’s Opera Vita Aeterna kept Ken Liu’s “The Litigation Master and the Monkey King” off the ballot.

Paging through the rest of the nominating statistics I observed that Neil Gaiman, by declining a nomination for The Ocean at the End of the Lane, allowed Mira Grant’s Parasite on the ballot – it finished third.

Ender’s Game came within six votes of being shortlisted for Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form. With another couple of nominating votes, two more Doctor Who episodes could have been finalists in Short Form (which would have thrilled my friends who run Gallifrey, I’m sure.)

On a personal level I found it rather surrealistic to see that in the Best Fanzine category the next five top vote-getters after the finalists were essentially the zines that would have been on the final ballot just a couple years ago – Banana Wings, The Drink Tank, Argentus, SF Signal and File 770. Time marches on.

Update 08/19/2014: As Arnie Fenner points out in his comment below, Diane Dillon, along with husband Leo, won the Hugo for Best Artist in 1969 and deserves the “first-ever” designation, though Julie Dillon’s win is still a breakthrough since she is the first woman to win the Best Artist Pro Hugo in 45 years.

25 thoughts on “Hugo Statistics Dress Sad Puppies in Black Armbands

  1. The Hugos are partly a popularity contest. For a popularity contest, you’d like to put your best foot forward, personality-wise. Some authors failed rather spectacularly in that regard. It’s not prejudice to dislike someone who insists on repeatedly being unpleasant in public.

    Which is not to say that a really excellent book or story might not be able to overcome that disadvantage. The books/stories in question just weren’t good enough to pull that off.

    We did see a lot of new voters in the Hugos, though; I will say that. I think that’s a good thing, and kind of hope to see it continue. I guess it will be well into next year before we have any idea whether this was a one-time increase prompted by the Wheel of Time nomination, or whether this influx is here to stay.

  2. Which fanzine in the Best Fanzine category got fewer votes than No Award: you didn’t say. I would almost wager it was Journey Planet, the only nominee I thought of as an actual fanzine. But I’m not talking about leprechauns, fairies, Hugos or other non-existent things this year.

  3. Thanks for the analysis. I wasn’t shocked to see Writer and The Crituc come last overall. It was still lovely to be nominated and I shall wear my Hugo pin – when I get it – with pride.

  4. Taral, Elitist Book Reviews is the one that was ranked below No Award. Journey Planet finished third in the first round of voting, but fourth overall.

    Liz Bourke, Mark Oshiro, and Foz Meadows finished below No Award in the first round of voting for Fan Writer.

  5. Looking at the nominating stats, it is interesting that Anne Leckie and John Chu, both of whom took home rockets, were ranked 16th and 11th for the Campbell Award.

    Also, I noticed that Hugh Howey received nominations. While technically eligible, I believe, the book that gave him eligibility was self-published several years ago and became a best seller before it was picked up by a major New York house.

  6. Hi Mike — just to note, Strange Horizons isn’t actually a UK magazine; I’m British, but the magazine was founded in the US, and the majority of the other editors are American.

  7. Niall: Then in one sense the outcome is easier to understand, since UK voters wouldn’t necessarily identify with Strange Horizons in quite the same way as Interzone. I subjectively classified Strange Horizons as British based on my particular interest in the contributions of Mark Plummer (when he was a columnist), Abigail Nussbaum and John Clute, though now that you’ve pointed it out, I see how many of the staff etc. come from other countries.

  8. Mike: Basically, yes (though Abigail is Israeli, of course). I do think SH has a decent profile in UK fandom, and I think you see that in the strength of the vote for us this year compared to last (when we came third), but it certainly doesn’t have the name-recognition and heritage that Interzone does.

  9. Diane Dillon, along with husband Leo, won the Hugo for Best Artist in 1969 so, technically speaking Diane deserves the “first-ever” designation. Which does not diminish Julie Dillon’s big win in the slightest. First Woman to win the Best Artist Pro Hugo in 45 years isn’t anything to sneeze at! 🙂

  10. It’s perhaps worth noting that Toni Weiskopf has been nominated before, so her doing better than other Sad Puppy picks is not so surprising.

    On the other hand, the nomination statistics show that two more of Larry Correia’s picks, Schlock Mercenary for Graphic Story and Marko Kloos for the Campbell, got enough votes for nomination, but were disqualified, suggesting that the impact of his campaign was slightly greater than people had previously realised.

  11. I voted Toni in first place, personally. One of the paradoxes here is that it took a campaign I basically disapprove of to get her anything close to the recognition she deserves. Which someone will now patiently explain to me is a justification for Sad Puppies. And I will tell that person — Sad Puppies was not a campaign designed to benefit Toni Weisskopf, and in any case, it’s these campaigns I’m against, regardless of who they benefit. An organized effort o get people to vote for something for any other reason than that they think it’s the best, or it’s their favorite, I’m agin’ it.

    You’re right about the other two potential Sad Puppy nominees. I wrote about that at the time the nominations came out. In fact, Howard Tayler left a comment here confirming he had no work eligible for 2014. The installments coming out this year will be eligible after the story is completed — then he will issue them in a book which presumably will get nominated in 2015. Specifically —

    “So: Book 13 ended on December 31st of 2012, and was nominated for the Graphic Story Hugo in 2013. Book 14, however, ended on March 15th of 2014, and is therefore ineligible for inclusion on the 2014 ballot.”

  12. Mike –

    “it’s these campaigns I’m against, regardless of who they benefit. An organized effort o get people to vote for something for any other reason than that they think it’s the best, or it’s their favorite, I’m agin’ it.”

    How do you feel about organized efforts to get people to vote *against* something for a reason other than it’s not their favorite (or the one they think is the best)?

    Me, I only ponied up money and voted this year because of Sad Puppies. I voted for AJ for novel, because I thought it was best, but man did I love Warbound – far more than Parasite or N’sB, for sure. To me, the outsized NoAward hammering that (most) SP noms got were an indication of lots of people voting on something other than “how well they liked the work”. Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander – or else don’t stir the pot.

    And yeah, if one thinks that Toni *deserved* first place, *and* one acknowledges that she wouldn’t have even been on the ballot *at all* w/o SPC, then imo one is preferring that a top flight person not get nominated at all, and the system continue as has been, than a few feathers get ruffled in order to get the voices of more people heard.

    (And yeah, fannish hugs all around, geeks of the world unite, etc, etc.)

  13. How well you liked the work and how well other people liked the work doesn’t necessarily correlate; tastes differ. If only the Sad Puppies understood that.

  14. kerani: That’s a fair question and since I’m one of those people who needs to write about something to discover what he really thinks hopefully we’ll both know the answer by the time I get to the end of this comment….

    All of my complaints in the past have been about campaigns to shape the nominating ballot — Sad Puppies being the most spectacular success. During the nominating stage you can’t vote against anything — similar to Facebook you can only indicate a “like,” by making a positive entry for something on the nominating ballot. Bloc voting, then, is always about getting something ON the nominating ballot, though it also affects the bigger picture for Hugo voters who, for example, didn’t have a chance this time to vote for a Ken Liu novelette that had been competitive for the Nebula.

    For the Hugos to enjoy the “wisdom of crowds” — the expertise of widely-read fans — it’s necessary for people to cast votes based on what work they like. That’s the ideal, to me. I may not expect the ideal to be achieved, because fandom is a social activity (now accelerated by social media) and other motives will always be involved, but by the same token, when I speak out about this I believe I have some chance of influencing the direction things are going, whereas if I quietly acquiesce I have none.

    On the Hugo final ballot voters can rank a nominee behind No Award, or leave it off altogether, and in that sense vote against something. Once 7 items from the “Sad Puppy” slate made the ballot there was a great deal of discussion about the two main options of (1) simply ranking things according to one’s notion of which were the best, or (2) following the first option only for things one approved and trying to cripple the chances of the others by positioning them behind No Award or omitting them.

    As it happens, after John Scalzi posted his “Quick 2014 Hugo Nomination Thoughts” I sent him an e-mail thanking him for the statements about dealing with the nominees on their merits. Here’s what I wrote at the time: “Their stories are on the ballot — those of us who haven’t read them don’t know whether they’re terrific, okay, or bad. When the Voter Packet comes out we’ll get a chance to rank them on the merits.”

    That’s what I tried to do. I admit that the process didn’t look like I expected because there weren’t full copies of all the novels in the Hugo Voter Packet. I decided to buy my own copy of Ancillary Justice, enjoyed it and voted it first, and voted Warbound second, though since I didn’t buy the other Orbit nominees that were only excerpted I feel my rankings past first place are somewhat arbitrary.

    Yes, I was annoyed by the bloc voting for the nominees, and concerned about what got knocked off that might have deserved a shot at the Hugo. Otherwise, I decided to vote for what I thought was best, assuming that if the Sad Puppies weren’t competitive they’d rank last anyway, but if they turned out to be excellent then justice would be done to them.

    (The No Award voting statistics show over a thousand people decided outright to bury Warbound and the Vox Day novelette. The Torgesen and Wells stories, in comparison, were ranked ahead of No Award by a lot more people. It looks to me like several hundred fans who wanted to punish Correia for gaming the system and Vox Day for his personal opinions decided to take a hybrid approach to the slate — vetoing their works while keeping an open mind about others.)

  15. I don’t know Mr. Moher at all, but it’s pleasing to see what had been “mutual irritation” turn into a Fred Allen/Jack Benny mock feud instead.

    I think it was Mr. Benny who said they would have been happy to continue for a much longer time, but their radio shows became sponsored by competing brands of cigarettes, which caused them to have to stop mentioning each other on the air!

  16. All awards are not created equal. The Hugos have a lot of credibility, both in the SF community, and in the larger world outside it. The Hugo rules are clear, the voting is transparent, and the voter base keeps growing. Ongoing efforts to minimize irrelevant barriers to participation (most notably the slowness and unpredictability of surface mail) are making visible progress. More awards should be administered so well.

    The basis of the award is and always has been the opinions of the members of the worldcon. The rules only specify length, date of publication, and other specific physical considerations. Other characteristics that make a work or a person worthy of their nominations and votes are left to the judgement of the voters.

    Historically, fandom hasn’t reacted well to campaigns to influence Hugo voting on behalf of this or that extra-textual agenda. That’s not exactly a secret. The field isn’t short of people who could have predicted this year’s voting patterns.

    Personally, I hope the Hugo electorate will continue making forward-looking gender-balanced multicultural choices in years where Vox Day & Co. *aren’t* giving those nominees a boost.

  17. An aside: since Drow is apparently figuratively following me around, I’d like to recount this conversation I had with a friend.

    Drow thinks that Vox isn’t wrong when he says things straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, it’s just that it applies to other ethnic groups too.
    We think Drow needs to rethink her worldview. She thinks the sky in one of Drow’s digital landscapes looks like macaroni and cheese and her portraits are very plain and unoriginal and look like generic anime.
    In other words, we’re much better artists.

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