Thursday, September 1, 2016

The shortlist that never was

One of the interesting geeky things about the Hugo's is that after the awards have been announced they publish a load of voting statistics, including the top 15 nominations in every category, so you can see how close work that you liked got to being one of the shortlisted top 5.

For example, it's nice to know that other people (about 6-7% of nominators) joined me in putting forward The Just City by Jo Walton and Ken Liu's The Grace Of Kings, two very different books that I enjoyed a great deal.

This information is also particularly interesting this year since it means that you can reconstruct the shortlist that never was - who got left off because of block voting for the Rabid Puppies slate. For example:

- Becky Chambers (of The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet fame) would probably have reached the final five for the John W Campbell Best New Writer award.

- Alyssa Wong's vampiric Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers and Ursula Vernon's modern-day fairy tale Wooden Feathers would have been on the ballot for Best Short Story.

- Eric Flint would have probably made it onto the shortlist for Best Fan Writer. Primarily a SF/fantasy author in his own right, he wrote some lucid and trenchant commentary on last year's Hugo controversy which was well worth reading.

And the thing is, it's hard to argue that all the work which leapfrogged them onto the Hugo shortlist thanks to the voting slate was demonstrably better. In some cases, it was quite the opposite. Vernon and Wong were kept off the final ballot for Best Short Story by a piece of space dinosaur erotica (not a phrase I thought I'd ever be typing) and a satirical poem in poor taste about the awards. 

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