Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

Hugo Voting – Fiction

with 9 comments

When I posted my votes for the Hugo short fiction categories yesterday, it generated a bit of chat on Twitter suggesting that I was wrong to rank works below No Award. This is the view set out in a Weasel King post that got a lot of coverage but is less clear than it might be on the fact there are two different voting philosophies when using Instant run-off voting.

The first is that you only vote for what you want to win. This is the purist’s philosophy. Under these circumstances, it makes no sense to vote for anything below No Award as they are all equally lacking in merit. In addition, if you only partially complete your ballot, it might have unintended consequences. This is what the body of the Weasel King’s post addresses.

The second is that you rank everything on the ballot from most want to win to least want to win. This is the realist’s philosophy. Under these circumstances, No Award is simply one preference in your hierachy of preferences and it is completely valid to rank those underneath. The Weasel King only belatedly acknowledges this in the comment.

I think it is important to use No Award because we need to be honest with ourselves that no, most of the nominated stories don’t deserve. But this is a symbolic protest; No Award is never going to ‘win’ the category. Under the purist’s philosophy, that would be the end of my involvement in the awards. Fair enough but, since it is unlikely, why engage with the Hugos in the first place? The reason I subscribe to the realist philosophy is that I’ve gone to the trouble of engaging with the awards and reading the shortlists so want to be able to say most of these stories aren’t award worthy but even within these, some are better than others.

So that is the basis on which I’m voting. Here are my votes for all the fiction categories with some adjustments to the ranking of No Award (on the grounds that if I’m making a symbolic protest, I might as well make it as loudly as possible) and asterisks indicating works I feel are ineligible.

Best Novel

1) No Award
2) Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
3) Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross (Ace / Orbit UK)
4) Parasite by Mira Grant (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
5) Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia (Baen Books)
6) The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books / Orbit UK) *

Best Novella

1) No Award
2) “Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)
3) The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells (Privateer Press)
4) “The Chaplain’s Legacy” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)
5) “Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com, 10-2013) *

Best Novelette

1) No Award
2) “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” by Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)
3) “The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam)
4) “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com / Tor.com, 09-2013)
5) “Opera Vita Aeterna” by Vox Day (The Last Witchking, Marcher Lord Hinterlands)
6) “The Exchange Officers” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013)

Best Short Story

1) “Selkie Stories Are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)
2) No Award
2) “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)
3) “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor.com, 04-2013)
5) “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013) *

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Written by Martin

24 July 2014 at 08:14

Posted in awards, books, sf, short stories

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9 Responses

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  1. You realise that because of the peculiar vote counting system that the Hugos use, by listing any book after No Award you are giving that book a vote. If No Award is eliminated early in the voting process (as usually happens), your other votes count. So you’ve just given Wheel of Time and Vox Day and Brad Torgerson and the rest an extra vote.

    Paul Kincaid

    24 July 2014 at 08:35

  2. I haven’t given Wheel Of Time an extra vote because it is the bottom of my ballot and therefore all my other preferences would have had to be eliminated first at which point it would already have won. I have given ‘The Chaplain’s Legacy’ and ‘Opera Vita Aeterna’ an extra vote should my other preferences be discarded because, as I say, I’d prefer them to win than the story I’ve ranked below. Or am I misunderstanding and the Hugos don’t actually use IRV?

    Martin

    24 July 2014 at 08:45

  3. The Hugo voting system is described here (in a rather long-winded and patronizing fashion, but maybe that’s necessary given the number of people who seem to misunderstand it). It’s just instant-runoff followed by a single-round run-off between the winner (if any) and No Award.

    Gareth Rees

    24 July 2014 at 09:17

  4. Okay, that’s what I thought. I think that Weasel King has ended up being quite unhelpful, I wish more people had seen this one (which I’ve only just seen): http://www.kith.org/journals/jed/2014/05/15/14904.html

    Martin

    24 July 2014 at 09:49

  5. I will add another view: If there are in the list works I haven’t read before voting, I shall put them BEFORE the No Award, and those that I have read and do not want to vote for AFTER. Putting No Award in the first rank would mean that 1 I have read ALL the proposed works 2 And I DO desire that they are not awarded. Which will quite never be the case…. Georges

    Georges Bormand

    24 July 2014 at 10:06

  6. Actually, as I understand it, works you leave off your ballot are treated as tied for the first open slot on the ballot. If you vote:
    1) Story A
    2) No Award

    and leave the rest blank, stories B, C, D, and E are considered as tied for third place–which is a position that might still be an advantage to one of them in the voting. If you think that story C is really the worst, you need to put it in position 5 (if not using No Award) or position 6. And that means you need to rank stories B, D, and E above it in some order–but they have to be ranked to take slots to force story C into the bottom slot.

    So I’ve gone ahead and ranked things below No Award where called for. If I didn’t use No Award in a category, it was because I thought everything in the category was worthy, even if my favorite didn’t win.

    Cat

    24 July 2014 at 12:47

  7. […] On balance, probably more interesting than the fiction categories. […]

  8. Another year, another set of Hugo shortlists, and people still don’t understand No Award. Kevin Standlee has a helpful summary but the key point is in the comments: “stuff you place below No Award doesn’t help decide what wins anymore–it only helps decide what loses.”

    Perhaps more on the nominees themselves at a later date…

    Martin

    6 April 2015 at 08:39

  9. […] it but here are some good pieces which summarise the issues. The upshot is that this year – as last year – I am going to use No Award a lot but unusually lots of other people might join me. This is […]


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