End of the Puppy Monopoly in Short Fic, Plus Some Figures

There have been some interesting developments in the Hugo ballot. Two items were dropped due to eligibility issues, and two new nominees were brought in to replace them.

John C. Wright is no longer the person with the most nominations on the same year, even though he is the first man ever to achieve that. He has five nominations, same as Seanan McGuire in 2013.

More revealing, however, is the effect this change had on novelette category. There’s now one work of short fiction on the ballot that is not from neither Sad nor Rabid Puppy slate, “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, published in Lightspeed. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m happy that something from Lightspeed made it, because the magazine has published some wonderful fiction this year and it was a shame nothing got into the ballot. One of the things I especially liked and nominated for Hugos myself is “Cimmeria: From the Journal of Imaginary Anthropology”, a great short story by Theodora Goss. I hope that Heuvelt’s story is as good.

This wrinkle in the system also gives us some further insight into the nomination mathematics. Because the nomination vote ranges were published with the original novelette ballot, we know that the least-nominated Puppy work got 165 votes. My guess is that it was actually Wright’s novelette, because that was only on the Rapid Puppies slate (the other four appeared on both Rabid and Sad slates).

As I’ve said before, it’s a huge number, significantly bigger than 118, the nominating vote count of “Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal last year — and that one got the most nominations then. Admittedly, more people nominated now, and the percentages of Kowal’s and Wright’s stories are roughly the same, about 16%. That’s still an insane number for a fifth story, and that demonstrates quite conclusively why voting blocs are bad for business in a vote like this — a large enough (15% of the voters or something like that) bloc that votes tactically is nearly impossible to beat.

So, there are at least 165 Rabid Puppy minded voters in the Hugo race, and at least 100 more of the Sad Puppy flavor (if we take a guess based on the high end of the ranges in novelette, short story related work and editor short form categories) — probably more, because you can’t have everybody bloc-voting in absolute lockstep and there’s bound to be some dispersing.

Chaos Horizon puts the maximum Puppy influenced vote somewhere in the 360 range that we saw in the novella category, but there were some John C. Wright, Tom Kratman or Arlan Andrews, Sr fans who were not ready to share the love for other works on the slate in different categories.

What about Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s nominating votes? He got 72 votes, 7%. It’s somewhat on the low end really when you compare it to the last year’s list:

  • “Lady Astronaut of Mars”, Mary Robinette Kowal, 118 votes, 16.2%
  • “The Exchange Officers”, Brad R. Torgersen, 92 votes, 12.6%
  • “The Waiting Stars Aliette de Bodard”, 79 votes, 10.9%
  • “The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling”, Ted Chiang, 75 votes, 10.3%
  • “Opera Vita Aeterna”, Vox Day, 69 votes, 9.5%

On the other hand, “Lady Astronaut of Mars” was well-known due to its disqualification the previous year. Aliette de Bodard and Ken Liu are both established professionals with Hugo, Nebula, Locus and BSFA awards undeir their belts. Torgersen and Day were on the Sad Puppy 2 ballot, which helped their novelettes.

72 nominating votes is actually pretty solid for somebody who is not so well-established in the SFF scene, and in a year without obvious hit pieces by high profile writers it should be enough to get you on the ballot. In 2013, it would have been on the high end vote-wise and low-end percentage-wise, but still on the ballot (check out the numbers in Kowal’s blog post). This year, with the slates in the game, Olde Heuvelt’s story didn’t stand a chance without a divine intervention, though. Happily for him and his fans, one just happened.

The novelette category might actually be the first one where all the works are available for the voters (and everybody else) for reading right now for free:

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