More Thoughts on the Fan Hugo Statistics

Who gets the most nominating votes isn’t always a great predictor of who ultimately takes home the fan Hugos. Yes, Fred Pohl got more nominations than any other candidate for Best Fan Writer, but Challenger received more nominations for Best Fanzine (48) than this year’s winner Starship Sofa (46).

Obviously the tsunami of internet attention given Pohl and Starship Sofa foreshadowed the strong voter support they received in the finals. (Here’s a link to Pohl’s blog featuring a joyous headline and a big photo of Robert Silverberg accepting Fred Pohl’s Hugo.)

Yet it’s worth noting that in the nominating round these two winners had a solid number of nominating votes — Pohl got 44 and Starship Sofa got 46 – not an army. Measured by the yardstick of past Hugo history the totals were not as breathtaking as the turnout for 2005’s leading Best Fan Writer nominees Dave Langford (67) and Cheryl Morgan (60).

If we happen to be experiencing a sea-change in respect to what people and works win fan Hugos, it’s built on marginal shifts in populations of vote support. Both old and new faces and titles are still within striking distance of the final ballot. 

Even the rules change that made many blogs and websites eligible for Best Fanzine hasn’t radically altered the landscape — yet. Almost all of the Best Fanzine finalists had both paper and another kind of electronic presence (blog, website, PDF distribution), however, what about purely online publications? The three with the most support were SF Signal (17),  Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus (13),  and The Way the Future Blogs (11).

The other day last year’s Best Fanzine Hugo winner, John Klima, graciously posted at the Electric Velocipede Blog:

I’m sure that Mike Glyer and Guy H Lillian III and the other Best Fanzine nominees feel like they can’t catch a break. They all do amazing stuff, and it’s a tough category as there are so many things that are eligible for the category. Even getting nominated is a challenge.

And it’s not going to get any easier! The key will always be — how can fans draw attention to the contenders they feel do the best work?

Let me close this post by complimenting Vincent Docherty on the excellent job he did as Aussiecon 4’s Hugo Administrator, rising to meet the year’s exceptional challenges.

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One thought on “More Thoughts on the Fan Hugo Statistics

  1. Mike – many thanks for the kind words. It was indeed an exciting year to handle the Hugos, in several respects. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback, in particular for the high turnout in a small Worldcon year (the approach for which we will write-up), the voting packet (Kate Kligman), the Hugo Base (Nick Stathopoulos) and the ceremony (Kathryn Daugherty – organiser; Garth Nix – MC; Mark Slater – 2009 Video; and many others.).

    The final detailed Hugo stats report did in fact go on the Aussiecon 4 website immediately, but a surge in hits knocked the website down and when it came back up the pointer to the file wasn’t working, which took a few hours to identify and fix.

    In regard to the relationship between Nomination and voting preferences, I think one can see a rough positive correlation – this year for the 17 winners (Hugos, including novel tie, and Campbell), 10 were 1st or 2nd placed in the nominations, and 5 were 3rd placed. Only 2 were 4th or 5th.

    There are a few details to tidy up still, including issuing some further supporting statistics (as I did for the nominations) and I hope to write up some further reflections on the process, in particular on the impact of the eligibility of online works and some questions relating to Graphic Story.

    I’ve agreed to be Administrator again next year for Renovation, and Kate Kligman will again manage the Hugo voting packet.


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