Hugo Notes 2017
Posted on August 12, 2017 Posted by John Scalzi 12 Comments
To begin, for informational purposes, the list of 2017 Hugo winners, the document of how the voting went, and the document of what and who got nominated and what just missed the ballot.
Got it? Okay!
1. I’m both super pleased with the list of winners and even more pleased that the ballot could have fallen differently and that in nearly all cases I still would have been happy. There was so much great work and so many great people celebrated this year that it was almost impossible to go wrong (there were a couple of troll attempts in there too, but they were never really a factor in the actual finalist voting. I’ll talk more about that in a bit).
2. I discovered that The Dispatcher was number seven in terms of the nomination tally for the Novella category, a category with six finalist spots. How do I feel about that? Pretty darn good. The Dispatcher was in audio form for the entire nomination period, which is not the usual format for works considered for the Hugo ballot. So I think it’s pretty cool it got close. Also, you know. It was a finalist for the Locus and three separate Audie awards (winning the Best Original Work category), so it was certainly honored enough. And I happen to think that all the finalists in the Hugo category were excellent. No complaints!
3. And, why yes, women won in nearly every category. Good for them. Their work certainly deserved it.
4. This was the first year nominations for the finalist ballot were run through the “E Pluribus Hugo” process, a complicated procedure involving fractional votes that aimed specifically to blunt the effect of “slating,” i.e., jackholes trying to swamp the ballot via lockstep nominations. It’s also the first year of “5/6,” in which people could nominate five people/works in each category but six people/works were on the final ballot — again, to minimize the effects of slating.
And how did it work? For the purposes of defeating slating — pretty well! To the extent that the jackholes who have been slating work for the last few years were able to get on the ballot at all, they were confined to one finalist out of six. All those jerkhole-related finalists were dealt with appropriately in the voting — most appearing below “no award” (i.e., we’d rather not give an award than have it given to this finalist). The signal-to-noise ratio of the Hugo ballot was much closer to the mean this year than it’s been in the last few, and that’s a good thing.
Which is not to say EPH in particular doesn’t have its issues — there were people/works this year that would have gotten on the ballot under the old system that missed out in this one (not The Dispatcher, I note, which would have been in the #7 position in either system). And I think some people noted that the jerkhole movement was muted this year in any event, so factoring for it might not even have been necessary — there was a motion at the WSFS business meeting to have EPS lifted next year.
My own thinking on this is that it was muted because the jerkholes knew the Hugos were that much harder to game, and given the scope of the slating nonsense — which lingered over four years of Hugo voting — maybe dropping anti-slating measures after just a year is a little precipitate. It does appear that others agreed with me on that, since the motion to suspend it for next year failed. Good.
5. Speaking of the jackholes, I did like that when when voting process sorted everything down, the chief jackhole got outvoted by “no award” in his category by a ratio of about 12:1. That seems about right to me. Aaaaand that’s all the mental energy I’m expending on that dude.
6. Overall, a very fine year for the Hugos. Congratulations to all! Let’s do this again next year.
Nominations are also going to two years rather than three, so the cost of being a griefer trying to put material destined to lose onto the final ballot will go up a bit. Paying for two hundred supporting memberships becomes even more of a non-trivial cost if you must pay it more often to retain nominating rights.
I commend to your attention what Hugo Administrator Nicholas Whyte wrote about ‘bullet voting’ and how EPH’s trait of not aspiring to block this gambit and arguably facilitating it a bit is in his view actually a good thing. I think I agree. If a specialty interest within fandom does happen to have lots of votes for something the rest of us might normally ignore, and nominate the heck out of it without nominating everything else, as Whyte says ‘I think it’s a fine thing for enthusiastic fans whose own particular corner of fandom is a bit obscure to face a lower threshold for putting their pet cause on the Hugo ballot.’ Worth considering, anyway.
Nitpicky detail: It’s 5/6. We got to nominate 5 (as before), and had 6 finalists.
I apparently messed up my previous comment: Just wanted to let you know that seeing “The Dispatcher” on the long-list yesterday reminded me that I hadn’t read it, so I bought it. Looking forward to reading it (and to reading Collapsing Empire #2 and Head On).
Laura: Oh, good catch. I’ll fix.
“the chief jackhole got outvoted by “no award” in his category by a ratio of about 12:1”
This all sounds great. And, gol-dang, do I feel old. I’ve been reading science fiction since the mid-1960s, but now I’m literally decades behind the times in my understanding of the field. Most of my favorite writers have a slight case of being dead, and I’ve got no idea what the experimental new stuff is like, or who the hot new writers are. Never enough time to read the best new works, let alone write something worthy of that level of competition.
Okay, that’s my daily moment of writer’s angst. I’m just glad the Hugos have come back strong, in spite of jackholes.
Oddly enough, although they didn’t mean to, the puppies have made the Hugos better than ever. This years winners were in no small part due to the EPH changes. The Hugo is back and better than ever.
Which is not to say EPH in particular doesn’t have its issues — there were people/works this year that would have gotten on the ballot under the old system that missed out in this one
Meh. I think that with any system you choose, there will always be instances of someone or some work that a). lost out on a final ballot position by a very small margin and/or b). would have gotten the last slot in a previously used system.
Would it be possible to do a re-run of the years where the Puppies ruined the nominations due to their slating? It seems a shame to have to wait for the retro-Hugos of the 2060s to rectify this problem.
Thank you for saying this. As the mother of a non-white daughter living in the heart of Charlottesville and working at UVA as an immigrant non-citizen scientist, I have been panic-stricken. It is heartening to know there are so many Americans who are appalled and who will care if she is threatened. I feel helpless living on the other side of the world…
JReynolds: Retro Hugos are only for years when there were no Hugos at all. There was an item during last year’s Business Meeting to have Retro Hugos for the No Awarded categories, but it failed.
@JReynolds and Laura: I like GRRM’s solution of having Alfies for the categories that the angry dogs piddled on.