Gender Balance in Hugo Nominees

Disclaimer 1: I am not a statistician. I studied some stats as a psych major, but that was two decades ago. I’m pretty good with math, but don’t ask me to calculate standard deviations or give you exact models of statistical significance here.

Disclaimer 2: This is a simplified look at the gender breakdown of Hugo Award nominees from 2010 – 2015. I used binary M/F gender for simplicity.

I started by looking at the nominees in the four fiction categories: Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Novelette, and Best Short Story. Data comes from the Hugo Awards website.

Gender Balance in Hugo Fiction Nominees

I’ve seen a lot of back-and-forth about whether or not the Sad and Rabid Puppy campaigns were racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. I highly doubt Brad Torgersen (leader of the current Sad Puppy campaign) was deliberately, consciously, and intentionally trying to favor men over women. That said, the effect of the campaigns is pretty clear here, and breaks a pattern of better gender balance going back at least five years.

Next, I checked the other categories where a single individual was nominated. (Again, I was going for simplicity here.) Those categories include the Best Editor for Short and Long Forms, Best Professional Artist, Best Fan Artist, Best Fan Writer, and the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. The Campbell is not a Hugo, but as it’s part of the same voting process and ballot, I thought I’d include it.

Gender Balance in Hugo Nominees

Both the history and the effect of the 2015 puppy campaigns are less clear cut here. While I’m not a statistician, the balance of male and female nominees in 2015 seems to fall within the range of normal variation. It breaks the four-year trend of increasing female representation, but it’s not the drastic imbalance we see in the fiction categories.

What can we conclude from this? Not too much. Diversity and representation are intersectional, and can be examined in many different ways. This is just one.

What we can say is that, when you put everything together, the puppies have brought us the most male-dominated ballot in the past six years, sharply reversing a trend toward gender equality.

Hugo Gender Balance (Total)

Now, the first defense to this kind of thing tends to be, “I don’t care about gender (or race, or orientation, or whatever); I just want to read good stories.” To which I’d ask, “Okay…then why is it you seem to believe it’s mostly men writing those ‘good’ stories? Or is it just that your reading is biased toward male authors, so that’s all you know?”

How to wrap this up? I’m gonna do so by recommending some awesome female authors for folks to check out:

  • Marie Brennan
  • Nnedi Okorafor
  • Elizabeth Bear
  • Delilah Dawson
  • Aliette de Bodard
  • Karen Lord
  • SL Huang
  • Charlie Jane Anders
  • Ambelin Kwaymullina
  • Deborah Blake
  • Jaime Lee Moyer
  • Tanya Huff
  • Eugie Foster
  • Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Alethea Kontis
  • Seanan McGuire
  • Katherine Addison
  • N. K. Jemisin

I’ve reviewed many of these folks’ books over at Goodreads. If your reading has been rather imbalanced, there’s no time like the present to broaden your horizons.

Feel free to leave other suggestions in the comments!

Hugo Thoughts: The Editors

Hugo Award LogoHugo voting has officially begun. It sounds like the Hugo voters’ packet won’t be available until later this month, so I’ll probably hold off on sharing my thoughts on most categories, but I thought I could at least jump in and look at the editors on the ballot.

For those looking for a completely puppy-free ballot, there are zero candidates in these two categories who weren’t on the Sad Puppy and/or Rabid Puppy slates. The (SR) after a person’s name means the individual was on both slates. The (R) by Vox Day’s name indicates that he only appeared on his own slate.

Best Editor, Long Form

  • Sheila Gilbert (SR): Disclaimer – Sheila is my editor, and has been for almost a decade. Sheila is one of two senior editors and co-owner of DAW. She was on the Sad Puppy slate this year, but has also made the Hugo ballot twice before without bloc voting or ballot-stuffing shenanigans. I think she could have earned this nomination without canine assistance, just as she’s done in the past. Beyond that, I think she’s a good editor and a good human being. I count myself lucky to be able to continue working with her.
  • Toni Weisskopf (SR): Weisskopf took over at Baen Books after the death of Jim Baen. This is her third year on the ballot. Sad Puppies have pushed her nomination all three years. While I disagree with her on some things (the same could be said about anyone), she’s done some excellent work at Baen.
  • Jim Minz (SR): Minz is the second Baen editor on the ballot this year. (Trivia: He originally worked for Tor.) He’s edited folks like Larry Correia, John Ringo, Hal Duncan, Eric Flint, Terry Goodkind, Nancy Kress, Mercedes Lackey, Elizabeth Moon, Frederik Pohl,and many more. This is Minz’ first time on the ballot, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable for him to be there.
  • Anne Sowards (SR): Sowards is an editor at Ace, and her authors include Jim Butcher, Kat Richardson, Kelly McCullough, and others. She’s never made the Hugo ballot before, but like Minz, she’s certainly earned some cred as an editor.
  • Vox Day (R): No.

Best Editor, Short Form

  • Edmund R. Schubert (SR): “My name is Edmund R. Schubert, and I am announcing my withdrawal from the Hugo category of Best Editor (Short Form). My withdrawal comes with complications, but if you’ll bear with me, I’ll do my best to explain…” His full post is very much worth reading, if you haven’t seen it yet.
  • Jennifer Brozek (SR): Disclaimer – I had a story in Brozek’s anthology Human for a Day. Brozek is a hard-working editor and author, and has been making a name for herself in several areas. She edited four anthologies that came out in 2014: Bless Your Mechanical Heart, Beast Within 4: Gears & Growls, Chicks Dig Gaming (non-fiction), and Shattered Shields (with Bryan Thomas Schmidt). This is her first Hugo nomination, and in many ways, I think that’s a shame, because I think she’s been reaching the point where she could have gotten there without the puppies.
  • Mike Resnick (SR): Resnick has won at least five Hugos, but he’s never won for his work as an editor, though he’s been nominated in that category twice before. He’s the editor of Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, and has edited a number of anthologies over the years, though I’m not seeing any from 2014. (It’s possible I’m just not finding them.) Reading the 2014 issues of Galaxy’s Edge would probably be the best way to get a sense of Resnick’s editorial tastes and skill.
  • Bryan Thomas Schmidt (SR): Disclaimer – I’m one of the folks Schmidt denounced as “rotten meat looking for a place to stink” last year. Schmidt has been moving up in the editorial world, including co-editing a couple of anthologies for Baen. That said, I don’t believe there’s any chance he’d have made the ballot at this point in his career without the Rabid and Sad Puppies. I also question his editorial professionalism, based on things like the submission guidelines he posted last year for World Encounters. Among other things, stating “no assholes allowed” and that he won’t bother with anyone who has “slandered [his] name” or “resents [him] for not sharing your views” seems inappropriate to me, particularly when I’ve watched Schmidt’s overreactions to disagreement and seen the kinds of things he characterizes as slander.
  • Vox Day (R): No.

I’ll be voting No Award over at least some of the candidates here. Others, in my opinion, have earned some recognition through their work in the field. It annoys me that I can’t support any of them without in some way also supporting or validating the slate-voting mechanism that got them there. It’s a problem I expect to have in most of the categories.

Basically, is my desire to vote for a handful of these candidates stronger than my desire to vote against the bloc voting and other destructive crap?

10 Hugo Thoughts

The 2015 Hugo nominees were announced yesterday. As much of the internet has noted, the vast majority of the nominees come from the Sad and/or Rabid Puppies slates. Most reactions seem to fall into either anger/grief or gloating/triumph, with very little in between. Personally, I’m happy about a few of the nominees, intrigued by a couple, and rolling my eyes at others.

Some thoughts before I get back to writing…

1. The puppies broke the rules! Well, no. Putting forth an organized slate, recruiting GamerGaters and others who buy into the “War Against the SJWs, for FREEDOM!” nonsense is perfectly legal. Tacky and at times dishonest? Sure. But not against the rules.

2. The puppies are only doing what the Other Side did first! Some folks blame John Scalzi for starting this, but try as I might, I can’t find anything about his Bacon Kittens campaign to take the Hugos back from…I don’t even know. I’ve seen references to SJW conspiracies and secret meetings in smoke-filled rooms, again with no evidence whatsoever. Some people try to point to voting numbers as “proof” of organized campaigns, which…just no. (Kevin Standlee dismantles this one in the follow-up comment.) As far as I can tell, there’s a widespread assumption that the “other side” was somehow organizing secret campaigns and block-voting, and that assumption is being used to justify the puppies organizing a campaign and block-voting.

3. They’re destroying the genre! Whatever “they” you’re thinking of, I don’t buy it. The genre is so much bigger than the Hugos, Worldcon, GamerGate, and the rest. The majority of SF/F fans have only the vaguest awareness of what the Hugo is, let alone the in-fighting and politics and such. Don’t worry, the genre will be just fine.

4. They’re destroying the Hugos! There were claims that the Hugos could be gamed and manipulated, and I think the puppies have effectively proven that’s true, at least for the short list. Does this mean the Hugos are broken? Not necessarily. Does it mean the rules should be changed to make it more difficult to game the system? I don’t really have an opinion on that yet, though I’m sure there will be plenty of discussion in the near future…

5. People should read the works and judge based on quality/People should rank all puppy-related works below No Award. My thinking is that people should read and vote however they want to. If you prefer to read everything, go for it. But I’m not going to tell someone they should force themselves to read the work of someone who publicly denounces a prominent black author as an “ignorant half-savage,” or an author who refers to bisexuality as “sexual aberration.” And if organizing a slate is within the rules, so is choosing to put every item on that slate below No Award on the final ballot.

6. They’re just trying to expand the ballot and make it more inclusive/representative/diverse. I can see a little of that, if I squint. The puppies pushed to get a successful self-published author onto the ballot, for example. They talked about getting tie-in works nominated, but didn’t actually include any on their slate. They did give tie-in author Kevin J. Anderson his first Hugo nom for one of his original books. But if your campaign ends up putting the same author on the ballot in six different spots, then no, you weren’t looking very broadly for nominees. And far more of the comments and rhetoric seemed to be about sticking it to SJWs…

7. The people who asked to be removed from the puppy ballots did so out of fear of SJW attacks. That certainly plays well into the wag-the-dog-style “War Against the SJWs” rhetoric. If you’re interested in people’s actual reasons, Matthew David Surridge has a long and thoughtful post about why he declined to be on the slate. Dave Creek’s reasons for declining are on File770.

8. What about that one story about the dinosaur? Holy crap, some people are so fixated on the fact that Rachel Swirsky’s If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love got on the Hugo ballot last year. (It did not win.) That one story keeps getting pointed out as proof of everything that’s wrong with the Hugos/liberals/the genre/feminism/society/the universe. The amusing part is when the folks saying they want to tear down the mythical gatekeepers are simultaneously losing their shit because they don’t think a story counts as real SF/F.

9. Conservatives are evil! Liberals are evil! SJWs are narrowminded bigots! Right-wingers are narrowminded bigots! Look, all groups have their share of assholes. I do think the Sad Puppy clique has a disproportionate number of assholes, but sweeping generalizations are just…annoying. Can we not, please?

10. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain. Bullshit. Nobody should be required to cough up a minimum of $40 in order to have an opinion.

And that’s already more time than I wanted to spend on this today. I’m gonna go back to work on Revisionary now. Enjoy what’s left of your weekend, folks!

Hugo Wars, Part CCXVIII

I debated whether to join the conversation about the recently announced Hugo Awards Ballot. I eventually said the following on Twitter, and figured that would be the end of it for me:

  • I know awards have always had an element of popularity contest to them, and that any system can be played. (1/5)
  • Likewise, there have always been people who want to cheapen them for jealousy, bitterness, politics, attention, or whatever. (2/5)
  • Call me naïve, but I want the Hugos to be about the best authors, artists, & editors in our field. That’s what I’ll be reading for. (3/5)
  • Yeah, there’s been some annoying hypocrisy and chest-thumping. There are also some amazing people and works on the Hugo ballot. (4/5)
  • I’m not interested in letting anyone turn the Hugos into their personal political statement. I’m interested in celebrating awesomeness (5/5)

I didn’t originally plan to say more than that, but I’ve been reading along, and feeling more and more bummed about the fallout. So I finally decided I needed to get a few more things out. I’ll certainly understand if you’re burnt out on Hugo-related posts and choose to skip this one.


Grumbling About the Hugo Awards

The 2013 Hugo nominees have been announced! That means it’s time for the complaining to begin!

First of all, what’s up with John Scalzi getting a Best Novel nomination for Redshirts [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy]? That’s two years in a row he’s made the ballot for something humorous. Are we actually taking humor seriously now? Come on, people. Only Deep And Serious stories should be recognized for awards! The next thing you know, we’ll be treating urban fantasy or tie-in authors with respect. WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO???

And then there’s the gender balance. 2/5 women on the Best Novel Ballot? 3/5 in Novella, and 4/5 in Novelette? 2/3 in Best Short Story? IT’S CLEARLY A POLITICALLY CORRECT CONSPIRACY, BECAUSE EVERYONE KNOWS GIRLS CAN’T WRITE SF/F! What happened to the good old days when we only nominated old white dudes??? Have we lived and fought in vain?

Seanan McGuire made the ballot a record-setting FIVE TIMES!!! This is a Very Serious Problem, people! It’s OBVIOUSLY some kind of voting conspiracy wherein Seanan writes popular, fun, thought-provoking stuff, in addition to helping to create a widely-loved podcast, and in return, people vote for her. It’s a TRAVESTY of democracy!!! WE MUST REVISE THE RULES AT ONCE TO MAKE SURE THE HUGOS ARE A POPULARITY CONTEST WHERE ONLY THE PEOPLE I THINK DESERVE TO BE ON THE BALLOT ACTUALLY END UP ON THE BALLOT!

Sheila Gilbert of DAW Books is on the ballot for Best Long Form editor. How could this happen? Sheila doesn’t have an active blog or online presence, which means she must have gotten on the ballot purely by being an awesome editor. Thanks SO much for completely shattering my understanding of how this process works, Gilbert!

Wait, they let Throne of the Crescent Moon [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] by Saladin Ahmed onto the Best Novel ballot too? THE PC POLICE ARE RUINING THE HUGOS AND THE WHOLE DAMN GENRE BY NOMINATING AWESOME STORIES THAT AREN’T ABOUT WHITE PEOPLE!!!

Three more Doctor Who episodes made the Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form category. What’s up with that? ALL YOU PEOPLE WHO LOVE DOCTOR WHO SO MUCH AND THINK IT’S WONDERFUL SHOULD ACCEPT THAT YOU’RE WRONG AND STOP VOTING FOR THINGS YOU LOVE!

Look, the bottom line here is that the final ballot for the Hugos doesn’t precisely match my own nominations, and therefore all of y’all who nominated Wrong Stuff are Bad People, and you should feel bad!


Seriously, huge congratulations to all of the nominees! It’s true the final ballot doesn’t exactly match my picks, but I’m thrilled at many of the names and titles on the list, and I’m going to have a heck of a hard time trying to decide how to vote in many of these categories.

Big hugs to all of my friends who made the list! You’re amazing people, and I’m honored to to know you.

Voting Time!

SFWA Election ballots have gone out, and need to be completed and received by April 26. My thoughts on the presidential candidates are here. I’ll note that since writing that post, I’ve seen a bit more of both candidates’ approach on the SFWA discussion forums, and I’ve come to appreciate Steven Gould’s level-headed and down-to-earth style.

My only other comment on the elections is to note that my own candidacy for South Central Regional Director appears to have annoyed the folks at The Write Agenda, judging by their post and a few delightfully clueless trolls who popped up in the comments. I was amused to see how much virtual ink they’ve spent on me. If you’re not familiar with TWA, I refer you to my blog post about them from 2011. Beyond that, I’ll just point out that they’re supporting Theodore Beale for president…

Hugo Nominations are due March 10. Nominations can be submitted online by anyone with a supporting or attending membership at Chicon 7, LoneStarCon 3, and Loncon 3.

  • Best Fan Writer: I talked about possible nominees for this category here and here.
  • Best Novel: So, any of you eligible voters need a last-minute copy of Libriomancer? 😉
  • Best Fan Artist: I became aware that folks were wanting to nominate me for this one based on my cover pose work. I explained why this made me uncomfortable, and said I’d decline the nomination. Farah Mendlesohn disagreed with that choice, and made some convincing arguments as to why. I’m still conflicted here, but she’s right. The Hugos aren’t just about the winners; they’re also about the people who vote. So I won’t tell you who to nominate, and if by chance I end up on the ballot, I’ll reconsider things. The one thing I would ask is that if you do this, please list both Jim and Amy Hines. Amy was my photographer for every one of the cover poses from 2012, and they wouldn’t have been half as good without her help and patience.
  • Best Editor, Long Form: Last year, Betsy Wollheim won this category, the first such win for DAW. Sheila Gilbert is my editor at DAW, and has more than forty years of editorial experience. Not only did she help with Libriomancer, but she’s supported me as an author for seven years now, helping me to build a career and grow as an author. Just as she’s done for countless others.
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Seanan McGuire makes the case for Phineas and Ferb season three, episode 18, “Excaliferb.” I second her opinion on this one for so many ways, from the in-jokes to the soundtrack.
  • Best Related Work: A friend brought “I Have an Idea for a Book…”: The Bibliography of Martin H. Greenberg to my attention earlier this week. I haven’t had the chance to check it out yet, but it includes essays and as complete and thorough a list as possible of the thousands of books Greenberg helped bring about.
  • The Hugo Recommendation LJ Community has other suggestions if you’re not sure what else to nominate.

Please feel free to share your own thoughts on either the election or the Hugo noms!

Declining a Hugo Nom

The deadline for Hugo Award nominations is March 10. (Which reminds me, I’ve got to finish getting my list of stuff-I-think-deserves-shiny-rocketships together.)

Last week, a friend mentioned that they were seeing posts on Twitter encouraging folks to nominate me for Best Fan Artist, based on the cover poses I’ve done.

I wasn’t expecting that. Thank you so much. It means a great deal to see how much people appreciate the whole cover pose project.

But I’m conflicted. The cover pics certainly seem to qualify as fan art, and they were done in 2012, so to my mind this would be a perfectly valid nomination. And I’ve got to say, winning a Hugo last year was amazing. It was one of the best moments of my life, and something I’d love to do again someday.

At the same time, even though the Hugo I received in Chicago was technically for my blog work in 2011, I’d be deluding myself to think the popularity of the cover poses wasn’t a factor. Accepting a nomination for Fan Artist would feel like I was trying to cash in twice for the same project.

Basically, the idea makes me uncomfortable. I won’t tell you who to nominate, but I will say that in the unlikely chance that I made the ballot for Best Fan Artist, I would decline the nomination.

Of course, if you wanted to nominate Libriomancer for Best Novel, that would be awesome and I’d love you forever. But when it comes to Best Fan Artist, it just doesn’t feel right. You honored me last year for my fan writing, and I can’t thank you enough for that. But there are are too many skilled, hard-working artists who deserve to be on that ballot this year.

In fact, if you have any thoughts on who should get a nod for Best Fan Artist or Writer this year, please share names and links in the comments.

Thank you.

Five More Potential Hugo Fan Writer Nominees

Thanks for all of the suggestions and discussion on my Hugo Fan Writer post yesterday.

I’ve been struggling for a little while now to balance blogging, the fundraiser from last month, finishing CODEX BORN, and other stuff. Looking back, I realize that I rushed to get yesterday’s post done, which resulted in it feeling clunkier and a bit less thoughtful than usual. My apologies for that.

As I was reading through the names people suggested, I immediately kicked myself for not including some of them. Others were unfamiliar, which is awesome, as it gave me new people to go check out.

One of the most interesting recommendations was for Racheline Maltese, who writes both essays and fanfiction. Which got me thinking … so I checked out the category definition over at the Hugo site. As far as I can tell, wouldn’t fanfiction writers be eligible for the Best Fan Writer award?

::Bracing myself for the outraged backlash::

Anyway, here are some more names to check out, both for potential nominating purposes and just because they write stuff that’s worth reading. Please note that this is not meant to be an all-inclusive list, and I would love to see more suggestions and recommendations.

Charles A. Tan – This is definitely a “kicking myself” recommendation. I’ve been following Tan’s roundup of writing/publishing/spec fic links for ages. He’s an active reviewer, and also contributes essays to places like the World SF Blog. I will almost certainly be nominating him for Best Fan Writer.

Bogi Takacs – I hadn’t come across Takacs’ blog before, but it received multiple recommendations in the comments. I read through some of Takacs’ reviews, which focus on underrepresented groups in SF/F. You can see a master list of tagged reviews here, or check out Takacs’ Hugo Eligibility post.

Ana Mardoll – Naomi Kritzer recommended Mardoll’s essay about Twilight and disability, specifically with regards to Bella’s clumsiness. I live with someone who deals with chronic pain, and for whom a fall can mean a trip to the ER, so a lot of this resonated with me. I continued reading about Mardoll’s thoughts on video games, bullying in Narnia, and eventually decided that if I was getting this drawn into her blog, I definitely needed to give her a shout-out.

Foz Meadows – Her top ten posts from 2012 include essays on bullying and Goodreads, rape culture in gaming, racism in Revealing Eden … how come I’m not already reading this person’s blog? I blame ALL OF YOU for not bringing Meadows to my attention sooner!

Tansy Rayner Roberts – Another “kicking myself” name, because Roberts is another person I’ve been reading for a while now. She’s written about women in comics, unpacking fantasy vs. historical sexism, Doctor Who, and so much more.

Hugo Fan Writer Nominees

During my acceptance speech last year, I said, “There are so many brilliant and wonderful fan writers out there. I don’t know if there are enough rocket trophies in the world to recognize everyone who’s written passionate, insightful, clever, funny, and flat-out awesome articles and essays about our community. But I’d love to see us honor as many of those diverse voices as we can.”

Pop quiz: when was the last time more than one woman made the final ballot for the Best Fan Writer Hugo?[1. 2006] And when was the last time more women than men made the final ballot?[2. 1974, if my research is correct.]

I’m not saying the people who made the ballot didn’t deserve it. But this sort of trend makes me believe fandom needs to broaden our scope. To that end, I’m trying to pull together some of the fan writing (mostly blog posts, because that’s what I tend to read) that stood out for me last year.

I would love to hear your thoughts on who else deserves recognition, because I know there are a lot of great fan writers I’m either not aware of or else I’m just forgetting, because of brain-leaks. I’ll probably do a follow-up on this, or maybe run a few spotlight blog posts for people I believe should be on that ballot.

N. K. Jemisin: Things People Need to Understand, Issue 223.2. I like Jemisin’s writing, both fiction and nonfiction, and this piece makes a number of good points about the state of fandom and the so-called agenda of people pushing for change and accountability.

Cat Valente: Let Me Tell You About the Birds and the Bees: Gender and the Fallout Over Christopher Priest. Addressing and documenting the differences in how men and women are treated online.

Seanan McGuire: Things I Will Not Do to my Characters. Ever. In which McGuire responds to the question, “When are Toby or one of the Price girls going to be raped?” Because apparently this must happen in order for her work to be “realistic,” which is both messed-up and symptomatic of larger issues.

Genevieve Valentine. For her writing about sexism and objectification in the SF/F community.

S. S. White, aka calico-reaction. Purely for the number of good reviews and discussions of SF/F books, stories, and shows.

These are just a few of the people who come to mind as contributing to the ongoing conversations in fandom. But there are so many more. (I know the instant I post this, I’m going to kick myself for omitting someone.)

Who do you think should be honored this year for their fan writing? Please leave your suggestions in the comments, along with links and whatever additional thoughts you’d like to share. If the links cause your comment to go into moderation, don’t worry about it – I’ll be keeping an eye on the comments and free those up as quickly as I can.

Goblins on a Hugo

First off, a quick announcement. The Stepsister Scheme is now available from as an audio book. The rest of the princess series will be getting the audio treatment as well, but I don’t have the release dates for the other books.

Earlier this year, I said that if I actually won a Hugo, I’d have to pose my goblins with it. I also did a back-and-forth dialogue in which the goblins talked about taking their shiny rocket to the moon and dropping moon rocks on the humans from their lunar goblin colony.

Tonight I finally found our digital camera, and voila! I give you: Goblins on a Hugo.

I had a plan if I lost, too. You see, all of the nominees get a Hugo pin…

Jim C. Hines