An Announcement Regarding Award Consideration for 2015 Work of Mine

So, yesterday, I kinda sort of hinted that maybe people voting in the Goodreads Choice Awards should vote for other books than mine.

Today, let me make it unhinty: The Goodreads Choice Awards? In the category of Science Fiction? Pick another book, please (you can do that even if you’ve voted for me; Goodreads lets you clear your vote and try again).

Likewise: Hey, any award you’re thinking of nominating work I put out in 2015 for? Don’t, please. I’ve decided I’d like to sit out the year, awards-wise.

Not because I don’t think my work doesn’t deserve consideration this year. It does. The End of All Things contains some of the best science fiction I’ve ever written (critics agree!). I’m very proud of that book. It’s totally worth award consideration (see: Goodreads Choice Award finalist). I’m likewise very proud of other things I’ve written that were published in 2015, including a video game and a graphic novel. I did some really good work this year, if I do say so myself.

But this year, when it comes to awards, I want to take a break and celebrate the excellent work that other people are doing, and who deserve attention for that work. My year’s already been, well, pretty good, hasn’t it. I’ve had more than enough good fortune from 2015 and I don’t feel like I need right now to ask for another helping.

There will be other years for me to be in the awards mix — rumor has it I’ll be writing books for another decade at least. You’ll have plenty of opportunities in the future, if such is your desire and if the work merits consideration, to put me on a ballot. Trust me, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be around.

But for work that was put out in 2015, please look past me. Find the other writers whose work deserves the spotlight you can put on them with your attention, nomination and vote. Find the works that move your heart and your mind. Find the writers whose work you love and who you feel a nomination can help in their careers and their lives. Look past your usual suspects — including me! — and find someone new to you whose stories and effort you can champion to others. Put those people and works on your ballots. 2015 has been genuinely great year for science fiction and fantasy; it won’t be difficult to find deserving work and people for your consideration.

So, again: If you’re thinking of nominating me for an award for work done in 2015, thank you for your kindness, and for your appreciation of my writing. But don’t. I’m good.

I’m excited to take a year just to be a fan myself, to nominate and then vote for my own favorite works of the year, and to encourage other fans and folks to read widely, think seriously, and to nominate and vote for the work they’ve loved in 2015.

I hope you’ll do the same.

63 Comments on “An Announcement Regarding Award Consideration for 2015 Work of Mine”

  1. To be clear, excepting the Goodreads Choice Awards, which are already in process, if I’m nominated for an award, or otherwise become a finalist, for work published in 2015, I intend to decline the nomination or asked to be withdrawn for consideration as a finalist.

    With regard to the Goodreads Choice Awards, I don’t know if I can be withdrawn at this point, which is why I’m encouraging folks to change their vote. I’ll be pleased if I end up in the 10th position.

  2. It was a sort of transformative moment for me when I realized that the authors whose work I loved were themselves fans. I remember reading Diane Duane’s tumblr and watching her fangirl enthusiastically about things. And I’ve met people who are huge fans of work friends of mine have produced. So the “I’m excited to take a year just to be a fan myself, to nominate and then vote for my own favorite works of the year” part of this is something I really like and admire.

  3. Jeez, Scalzi, getting your minions to vote on what you want them to, again! It’s a big slate (“everyone’s work but mine”) but it’s a slate. You SJWs never learn, do you?

  4. Vote recast. Nice for others to have an opportunity to step into the award spotlight. Some darn good writing out there this year!!

  5. Said on twitter, feels a little like being a martyr. It’s unnecessary. Really like your approach of always stressing the strengths of others. That felt like a solid level of modesty and sharing the love.

    Obviously your choice and tough to reverse at this point but it feels a bit too far. Your previous approach in years past always felt right. Hopefully you’ll return to it next year.


  6. OMG!!! Scalzi is totally trying to scam his way into the Most Humble Man in the Multiverse Award!!! The Humbert cannot be manipulated, sir. Good day to you.

  7. I sort of have to be the guy who thinks that this sort of thing really shouldn’t be done and that awards that are designed to be for the best works of a year (as determined by popularity among whatever subset of people are voting for them, of course) shouldn’t take into account who thinks they’ve won enough. Especially when done by people who would at the time have been the clear favorite going in. Winners ought to know if they would have actually been second best in a full vote. (OGH is lucky in that he does know that he was sixth on the nominating ballot and thus wouldn’t have even been competing if Neil had let Anansi Boys compete, in the other 4/5 of possible cases there is that doubt) and posterity deserves a record of awards that reflect actual preferences.

    I’ll make an exception for things that have been dominating a category for five+ years running, like the Locus and Girl Genius cases, but other than that, I just don’t like it and wish more awards would ignore such requests.

  8. This is a laudably generous, compassionate act, one I am strangely unsure how to feel about.

    I mean, it is unarguably a kind thing to do. It’s using your own megaphone to lift up others in ways that will probably have significant, measureable benefits to them and their careers down the line. It’s the best kind of SJWing, using your privilege to help those who don’t (yet) have that kind of privilege, whose talents might otherwise go unnoticed. How can I not be awed by that? It’s a hell of a thing to do.

    At the same time, how would I feel if I were one of the other nominees? If I won, would this cast some kind of shadow on the award? Would I be stuck thinking “yeah, great, I got the award but only because Scalzi pulled out”? Would it diminish the meaning of the award, or the sense of accomplishment that comes from it? Maybe. I don’t know. It’s all theoretical, since I don’t have a book on any of those lists. And probably, the reaction scales with each author’s own ego, as to whether they think they could have beaten you in a literary fair-fight anyway. On some level, this is a request to anybody who genuinely thinks your books are the best in their respective categories, to vote disingenuously. I can’t but find that problematic. Whether it’s so problematic as to invalidate the whole thing… all I can say is “may I someday be so lucky to face that particular moral quandary.”

    In the end, you’ve got to do what you think is right, and which I’m sure you’re already doing. Every internet-y thing I’ve ever seen you engage in suggests so. You’ve probably been sitting on this idea for a while now before pulling the trigger, while I’ve had all of five minutes to sort out my thoughts.

    I guess… Well, I guess diversity is good. I’m going to come down on that side of it. Diversity is a good thing, and this promotes it. And it’s an excellent example of something I wish were true in other spaces: the notion that one can, in fact, have *enough*. That one can reach a point where getting more-More-MOAR doesn’t actually do anything for you, and therefore, why not stop doing that so others can partake of that pie?

    So yeah. Ok. I guess I am on the whole thumbs-up for this move, and may it begin a cultural shift among other have-enoughs to do the same.

  9. Laurence Hart:

    “Feels like being a martyr?” Dude. I think you better go look up that word. You apparently think it means almost the exact opposite of what it does. Saying “I’ve had tons of good fortune, I’m okay with standing pat” could be considered many things, but martyrdom is not one of them.

    Which is to say: Meh. You’re excused from offering me advice on how I do things from this point forward. But thanks.

    Jason Black:

    One of the reasons for me to make the announcement now is that for almost all awards except the Goodreads one, they’re nowhere near the end of their nomination period, and thus it will be generally impossible to accurately speculate whether or not my sitting out will have any influence.

    Jeff R.:

    Generally speaking awards will allow nominees to decline because among other things it would be embarrassing for them to give an award to someone who has declared they don’t want it, and then won’t show up or might otherwise speak negatively of the accolade.

    In any event, as I’ve noted, this year, with regard to the awards I’d’ve been likely to be nominated for, nominators are spoiled for choice. Even without TEoAT, or my video game or my graphic novel, there are (in my opinion) more award-worthy works than there are nomination slots. They will get along fine without me for a year.

  10. I’m excited to take a year just to be a fan myself, to nominate and then vote for my own favorite works of the year, and to encourage other fans and folks to read widely, think seriously, and to nominate and vote for the work they’ve loved in 2015.

    Hey, any Professional Artist recommendations you (or anyone else here) might have this week? We hoping to encourage discussion of works in all the categories (especially the “down ticket” ones) and being focused around the Hugos that unfortunately meant starting in November.

    Besides, Pro Artist should an easy category to keep Scalzi-free! :)

  11. So what you’re saying is, if the Sad Puppies and Gamergaters want to piss you off then they should nominate you for awards next year?

  12. It seems worth pointing out that we may never know how many other people decline award nominations in the coming year, or any year, or why. The Hugos explicitly have a step where a potential finalist is asked to accept or decline. The final ballot doesn’t say whether/how many people declined in any category, let alone their reasons. (“Wanted to give other people a chance,” “can’t deal with the stress,” “don’t believe in awards,” “I don’t believe they’re sincere,” and “nobody should win this one more than once” is an incomplete list of possible reasons.)

    I think and hope, if I was remotely likely to be nominated for anything, that I wouldn’t be bothered by the possibility that someone had decided that they were the 800-pound gorilla and wanted to give someone else a fair chance.

  13. So I’ve just heard the Doubleclicks sing of what an awful person you are. And then you go and do this. What are you up to?

  14. It’s seriously refreshing to see someone successful say that they have enough and want to shine a light on others. In fact, I would totally nominate you for some award, but…instead I will just have to decide – again – that you are awesome.

  15. I congratulate you on your blog posting, you truly are a remarkable individual and a good writer to boot.
    First I heard of you was when Tor gave your e-book for free (Old Man’s War), I read it and ended up buying it in book form along with many of your works including one my favorite, your brilliant RedShirts.
    But what I want to thank you for is for pointing me to the book “Illuminae”, I finished it yesterday and it’s a great book. Maybe not the greatest story around, but pretty solid and with a complete new concept (for me at least) in terms of presentation.
    If I were to describe it I would call it a Text Graphic Novel.

    Unfortunately it’s not in the Goodreads awards, otherwise it would get my vote.

  16. Thanks. This makes things easier. I was conflicted between “End…” and “Ancillary…”, but it was my opinion that you had the SLIGHTLY better novel.

    Vote changed. Thanks for clearing my conscience.

  17. Mike Scott:

    They can nominate me all they like, it won’t bother me at all. Their nominations are as declineable as anyone else’s.


    With regard to the Hugos and Nebulas, they release voting figures, so in fact you do discover who declines awards… after the ceremony is done.

    Note that (again with the exception of the Goodreads awards) one reason I’m saying this now is so that people know not to nominate me and it becomes a moot point.

    I’ll note I did wrestle with whether to publicly state I didn’t want to be up for awards, because (and possibly this is were Laurence was going with his “martyr” comment) it can be assumed to be self-aggrandizing to make an announcement about it. But ultimately I decided it was less complicated to just say “please don’t” now — well in advance of most awards so it will be a non-issue when nominations are due — than to possibly deal with declining nominations later and the various complications that might arise.

  18. You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar. And while I’m too broke to buy books right now, I will absolutely be buying Lock In (the one I’ve had my eye on, as it hits uncomfortably close to home for me and apparently I’m a masochist). I first became aware of your existence on Wil Wheaton’s “Tabletop” and have enjoyed your twitter ever since. Well done, sir.

  19. As a reader of things sci-fi and speculative, thank you Mr Scalzi. I do pick up books by authors I should have heard of before just because the book jacket says they have won something/been shortlisted for something that I know generally indicates a good read. Trying to make a bit more space for even more imagination-fueling, brain-expanding works to have that on the book jacket is a kindness to readers and authors alike. Bravo sir!

  20. “The final ballot doesn’t say whether/how many people declined in any category, let alone their reasons.”

    I will say, as a four-time former Hugo administrator, people very rarely tell the Hugo administrator why he or she is declining a nomination.

  21. I part company with Jeff R. where he suggests that awards just shouldn’t allow the opportunity to decline, but otherwise I tend to agree.

    I already have another pick for the Goodreads, but if TEoAT were my pick, it would still be my pick.

  22. Wait! No one ever actually has enough, so this has to be part of some nefarious SJW plot to game SOMETHING, right? Since SJWs always lie, this has got to be a ploy to corner ALL the awards, right?
    Sorry, couldn’t help throwing that out there. I also want to say thank you for all the lovely books I’ve been introduced to via The Big Idea. Even if I didn’t like your books (which I do!). I’d still snap up your books as they come out in thanks for all the good you do. Rock on, Scalzi!

  23. John, what about your audiobook of “Scalzi Is Not Popular”, etc? I had that down in Best Something or Other, to honor Alexandra Erin. Should I take that off?

    I had “The Life of the Mind” on longlist for Novella, but I gots more than 5 contenders for that anyway, so our favorite brain-in-a-box gets screwed again. :)

  24. Michael Whelan did this after he had won multiple Best Artist Hugos for a few years running (arguably not simply because he was the best artist working, but he was so prolific he was the only cover artist many fans knew by name). Good gesture, shows lots of integrity.

  25. I think this is a generous and exciting idea. There are a lot of good reasons to choose this path and though I can’t support your work with a vote, I can certainly still support it with my dollars.

  26. I know it comes nowhere close to the national stage you operate on (and I am NOT trying to toot my own horn here)…

    But I attended an elementary school for GT kids. For several years running, I won the creative writing award. One year, I approached the people responsible for making the final decision, and told them not to put anything I wrote up for a vote. I’d had my moment in the sun, multiple times, and I felt somebody else deserved a chance.

    I admit, I felt a momentary twinge when the winner was announced, and it wasn’t me. But it was quickly overshadowed by the look of surprise and pleasure on the winner’s face. Lots of my friends thought it was a dumb move on my part, but I still feel, 30-plus yrs later, like I made the right call.

  27. This is a beautiful thing to do, but I cannot in good conscience obey, since that would mean putting aside my personal favorite books of the year for books that I…well, didn’t like as much.

    The other books on the Goodreads list are awesome, but…well, I like “The End of All Things” the most. And I make a point of voting with my heart.

    which is why I secretly voted for Brandon Sanderson’s “Words of Radiance” over “Lock In” at my sci-fi club’s book drive. Both truly excellent books, but “Words of Radiance” moved something in my soul. Especially the parts with Shallan on the plains, and Kaladin realizing what he truly is when nobody is watching–and that that person is something beautiful.

    If I had a choice between Words of Radiance and any book on that list, I’d choose the former no matter what Brandon Sanderson asked me to do. Because…well, these votes mean something to me. And as much as what OGH is doing is a wonderful thing…I can’t do it. I vote with my heart, and my heart wants The End of All Things.

    Sorry. Just my 2 cents.

  28. I will honour your request, but I am sad not to nominate “The Life of the Mind” as Best Novella, because I honestly think it is one of the best things you have written.

  29. It breaks my heart not to vote for/nominate Sorvalh and Abumwe. As a middle-aged female bureaucrat, they’re my peeps, and rarely so honored in fiction!

  30. That’s a nice gesture John. I think it is fine for most awards and puts you in some good company. However…..

    I think the Goodreads Choice Awards belong to the fans. They will vote as they please and they should. You might change a few votes here, but for the most part it will be as the fans want. It is why it is my favorite award.

    Ah… but who is it likely to be? Looking at 2014 I can see that the number of ratings a nominated work received didn’t always correlate exactly with its placement after the final voting. But, The Martian dwarfed any other work in sheer number of ratings. And similarly it dwarfed the other nominated works in number of votes received.

    For 2015, there are 7 nominated works where the total rating for the book is less than 6 K. There are 2 where the number of ratings are over 20K – “Golden Son” and “Armada”. There is one that is fairly close to the 20K mark – “Seveneves”. Interestingly enough, only 2 have 4 stars or better average – “Seveneves” and “Golden Son”. I think the winner will be one of the 3 with the high number of ratings. I am guessing those taking the time to rate will more likely take the time to vote.

    BTW – the SFWA suggested reading list is out today. Interesting to compare it to the Goodreads nominated works. “Uprooted” tops the list and you don’t see it listed in Goodreads Sci-Fi or Fantasy. That’s because there is another category (“YA – Sci-Fi/Fantasy”) and “Uprooted” is listed there.

  31. I think it’s very practical and helpful of you to make this announcement now. The brain-in-a-box novella was going to be on my novella list for Hugo too. Letting us know early frees up readers to look around for the unread and interesting work that is out there.

    It seems to me that, especially with the Hugos, the field is so dynamic and the voting so, um, elaborate, that most people won’t think, “Well, I only got on the ballot because John Scalzi told everybody not to vote for him.” I mean, it isn’t *exactly* a horse race, is it? If, let’s say, Scott Hawkins wins, he’s not really going to toss his Hugo into a corner and shout, “But damn it, I wanted to complete against Scalzi!” Is he?

  32. Daniel,

    Re:Illuminae – It was published in November and the Goodreads year appears to end in October, so it is likely to be on the Goodreads list next year. However, most other awards go by the calendar year and it is definitely going on my Hugo nomination list.

  33. WTF?! I thought we just got done establishing what a terrible person you are! Now we find out that you were a pretty damned good Joe all along!

  34. It’s tough to figure out whether or not it’s appropriate to care about awards. On one hand, they matter (they drive sales, funding and awareness to winners, and they establish what society views as worthy as a rule of thumb) because we make them matter. On the other hand, they are often unjust or inaccurate, or in conflict with the goals of art. Wisdom says there is something lacking here that’s worth rising above, however non-participation can make something unjust even less just without it losing an inch of influence.

    Parkour had a movement wherein traceurs at all levels worked to keep it from becoming a competition, as that was counter to the meaning of parkour. On more than one occasion I watched highly skilled traceurs who could use the money refuse reality show competitions, and had to wonder if we (popular artists) had failed as a class in not exploring something similar. The awards grind is so normalized that major corporations produce and market all forms of media to fit the awards schedules and tastes of the voters (which they now choose themselves). There’s so much negativity around the results that it’s hard to justify involvement.

    If not awards, is there another institution that would be a more ideal fit for novels, film, and music? It’s worth considering.
    In the meantime, individuals with sway can experiment with tactics like the one in this blog. :)

  35. I wrote on the previous awards post that I voted for John because I followed him on social media. I’ve cleared my vote and re-voted because I’ve picked up one of the other books that looked interesting, and voted for it instead, based on John’s description, and others singing its praises.

  36. There’s something weird in this year’s GoodReads awards: since the initial round for example in the “historical fiction” there are only female authors.

    I am not saying I care about an author’s sex (in the 90s I thought Tracy Hickman was a woman…), just wondering at a weird statistical event.

  37. Most of my reading list for the past three years has come from Whatever. Thank you, Scalzi and commenters, for your continual support for authors.

  38. Kudos for making it explicit because I didn’t actually get your intent from the previous post. I read it as “If you’re on this website, I’m probably already on your radar for awards, but let me ask you to at least consider the other nominees.” That’s a generous sentiment, but withdrawing yourself from consideration is even more generous, so I salute you.

  39. Sorry, this seems inconsistent to me. During the entire Hugo/Puppy imbroglio you never once suggested that we vote based on a non-literary reason; indeed, you said you were going to read the nominees’ works and rank them based on the quality of their works. Now, because “[you] want to take a break” you are recommending that folks not vote for a work for non-literary reasons.

    Sorry, this also seems arrogant to me: your decision that what readers decide is their favorite work is irrelevant because you will reject their choice if it happens to be your novel. That’s what rejecting an award (or discouraging a nomination) means in the end.

    I mean no disrespect. I appreciate your vigorous support of your fellow writers and your clear-headed dislike of the assholes out there. I enjoy your writing.

  40. Bob Collins:

    To be clear, no one has to follow my advice. If they feel they have no other choice, they may nominate me for awards, for whatever reasons. However, I intend to decline all nominations, if such a choice is given to me. And that would be fine; both of our goals would be achieved in that manner. As for me turning down a nomination, I’m okay with you thinking that’s arrogant. I’ve declined nominations before. The world appears to have gone on.

  41. Ironically, by being magnanimous, your’re actually being selfish, because you diminish the winner.

  42. Seveneves was always winning my vote, tbh, but what an awesome category this year, and well done that man for reinforcing that there is never a shortage of light to shine on awesome things.

  43. As John and others have noted, he’s not “fixing” anything, nor is he withdrawing — he’s simply stating a preference. He can’t, and likely wouldn’t want to be able to, stop someone from voting as they wish. He’s never said he doesn’t appreciate the appreciation, and despite John’s influence among this site’s visitors, I doubt he’ll sway a whole lot of votes, in the scheme of things: sf readers tend to read, and like, and vote for whomever they damn well please.

    As for Ken’s contention that this diminishes the winner, there are NINE other nominees. Any vote moving “off” John has nine different places it could go. If this was a three- or four-person race, I could see the effect, but with so many other choices, all amazing, I’m not seeing it.

  44. Dear Bob,

    John has never, ever said that non-literary motives don’t and shouldn’t enter into awards voting. You’ve taken a nuanced and situational position and tried to make it a bumper-sticker absolute. By way of obvious example, John has talked both before and after puppygate of how he got on the Hugo ballot because Neil dropped off. If you are going to accuse him of “inconsistency,” you should’ve done it back during puppygate. You’d still be in the wrong… But you wouldn’t be late to the party.

    Now, though? The party boat has long sailed.

    I would also note that a lockstep, simplistic consistency is not a desirable character trait; it simply demonstrates rigidity. If John were running for public office, it would be demanded of him. That still wouldn’t make it a virtue. And he’s not running for public office.

    Finally, while I realize that “arrogant” is the epithet du jour, you might want to think about excising it from your vocabulary because most assuredly, that word does not mean what you think it does.

    Inconceivable, isn’t it! [Grin]


    Dear folks (who think this somehow diminishes the award),

    Uhhh, are a single one of you a published author? Do you even KNOW any published authors?! (John doesn’t count.) Because of all the ones that I know well enough for me to have an opinion on the subject (a fair handful) not one of them, including moi, would for one moment feel an award was diminished because someone was or wasn’t on the ballot opposing me.

    Awards are not an objective meritocracy. These things are a crapshoot! It not only is the whim of the voters, it totally depends on the random throw of the chronological dice who you happen to be up against. Heaven help me if I ever had a theoretically award-worthy work in the same year that Jo Walton got something published! ‘Cause if she doesn’t win, I sure won’t; she writes rings around me with one hand tied behind her back. If I did happen to write something that might be award-worthy and I was lucky enough to have it published in the year that I wasn’t running against Jo, would I consider the award to be somehow worth less?!

    You know that’s a rhetorical question.

    (Understand that the converse is not an equivalent. If I were up for an award and I lost to a extraordinary powerhouse of an author, I might take some solace in losing to someone who I knew was immensely better than I was. But if I weren’t up against him, I would simply think, “Lucky me!)

    I don’t know any author who would think otherwise. Oh, I’m sure there must be some author out there who would feel that their win was diminished by the fact that so-and-so had dropped off the ballot… But happily there can’t be many of them, because anyone that pathologically self-deprecating really needs a therapist more than they need an award.

    pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery
    — Digital Restorations

  45. vanbarel, why is it a “weird statisical event” that only women are nominated for historical fiction?

  46. I voted Seveneves in the Goodreads thing anyway, so I’m happy to help. :)

    Just curious,though, who you voted for, since your own self is clearly not the candidate of your choice?

  47. I am waiting how long it takes the Anti-Scalzis to proclaim something like “Scalzi knew he wouldn’t win so he did this!!!!11!!!!” and so on.

    Got to admit, it makes me smile when authors like you, and Terry Pratchett, and Neil Gaiman and so on and so on do this (still so sad it’s now “did” for Pratchett) – as a reader, I appreciate it. Of course, you’re damned if you do it publicly as people yell “arrogance” or whatever, and damned it you do it privately, too, but I very much enjoy the way you de-mystify publishing etc.

  48. John – how wonderful of you. Seriously !

    Generous, giving, etc. Not modest, but modesty is overrated.

    Keep up the good work!

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