richardthe23rd (richardthe23rd) wrote,
richardthe23rd
richardthe23rd

Why #SadPuppiesDon'tMatter ... That Much

Finally, Hugo statistics! I was hoping the nomination stats would show the kind of lockstep discipline among the Puppy camps that would let me discern the relative impact of the two groups...I suppose in my heart I was hoping to see that Sad Puppies were in fact fairly inconsequential in the scheme of things compared to the Rabids...but instead we can only draw the most general of conclusions.

Best Novel: It seems that in the most heavily-balloted category, neither the Sad Puppy nor Rabid Puppy slates on their own would have had the strength to put their candidates on the ballot. It took the combined strength of the Sads and Rabids to put four candidates on the ballot (two of whom were later withdrawn). Even then, they weren't sufficient to keep Ann Leckie off the ballot; as I had suspected (since Ancillary Justice had more nominating ballots than any previous candidate), hers was the one novel popular enough to make the ballot even in the face of the Puppies' bloc voting:

387 Skin Game, Jim Butcher
372 Monster Hunter Nemesis, Larry Correia
279 Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie
270 Lines of Departure, Marko Kloos
263 The Dark Between the Stars, Kevin J. Anderson

Correia declined and Kloos withdrew, which opened up slots for:

256 The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Anderson
210 The Three Body Problem, Liu Cixin

What's interesting are the two that just missed the cut. Brad Torgersen had Charles E. Gannon's Trial By Fire on his Sad Puppies slate. Theodore Beale dropped that from the Rabid Puppies slate and replaced it with...Brad Torgersen's The Chaplain's War. (Whether this was Beale poking Brad in the eye, since Brad had recused himself from Sad Puppies, or a wink-wink-nudge-nudge agreement to get him nominated anyway...who can say?) So bringing up the rear were:

199 Trial By Fire, Charles E. Gannon
196 The Chaplain’s War, Brad Torgersen

This would suggest that at best each Puppy slate was able to rally just under 200 supporters. It also suggests that without the combined support of both Puppy camps, neither had the strength to elevate a pick to the ballot on their own. What I find interesting is that rather than dwarfing the Sad Puppies' ranks, the Rabid Puppies seemed to have complementary numbers.

But apparently not everyone slavishly followed the party line. True, it would appear just about everybody loved Jim Butcher, and Puppy founder Larry Correia seemed to get everybody's votes. But apparently not everyone could agree on the quality of the other Puppy choices: there's a drop-off of about 100 votes between the two top dogs and the Kloos and Anderson novels, even though they received close to the same number of ballots.

(We also can't discount that the top two candidates might have received a lot of nominations from readers who wouldn't identify themselves as Puppies. But please.)

In a world free of Puppies, it looks as if Scalzi and Robert Jackson Bennett would have been nominees. The next most votes went to Andy Weir's The Martian which I assume would have been disqualified.

Best Novella: Maybe there's something to this Puppy lockstep business after all. Sad Puppies had three picks; the first two got exactly the same number of votes, and the third only trails by about forty votes. (But it wasn't from Castalia House. Make of that what you will.) The two additional Wright stories that Beale added trail them by in the neighborhood of 150 votes, suggesting again that the Rabids never mustered more than some 200 nominating voters, and that just like everyone else, their interest starts dropping off after Best Novel.

338 Big Boys Don’t Cry, Tom Kratman
338 One Bright Star to Guide Them, John C. Wright
292 "Flow" Arlan Andrews Sr
172 "The Plural of Helen of Troy" John C. Wright
145 "Pale Realms of Shade" John C. Wright

Unlike Best Novel, Sad Puppies could have taken the top spots in this category, but it took Rabid Puppies to lock it up. What might the ballot have looked like otherwise?

124 "The Slow Regard of Silent Things" Patrick Rothfuss
104 "The Regular" Ken Liu
103 "Yesterday’s Kin" Nancy Kress
95 "Grand Jete (The Great Leap)" Rachel Swirsky
83 "The Mothers of Voorhisville" Mary Rickert

Best Novelette: Again, Sad Puppies left a vacancy to fill and Beale stepped in: all four of the Sad Puppy picks made the ballot, plus the Wright story Beale added. But while the Sad Puppy picks are clustered together, there's about an 80-vote gap between them and the Rabid pick. Again, this suggests a divison between the two Puppy camps, but these shorter categories are such low-hanging fruit that either Puppy brigade could easily have locked them up:

267 "Championship B’tok" Edward M. Lerner
266 "Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium" Gray Rinehart
259 "The Journeyman: In the Stone House" Michael F. Flynn
248 "The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale" Rajnar Vajra
165 "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" John C. Wright

Wright's story was disqualified, making room for the eventual winner, Thomas Olde Heuvelt. Here's how the competition might have stacked up in a Puppy-free year:

72 "The Day the World Turned Upside Down" Thomas Olde Heuvelt
69 "Each to Each" Seanan McGuire
65 "The Devil In America" Kai Ashante Wilson
54 "The Litany of Earth" Ruthana Emrys
54 "The Magician and Laplace’s Demon" Tom Crosshill

Best Short Story: Indicative of the slapdash nature of the Sad Puppies slate is that another pick, Megan Gray's "Tuesdays With Molakesh The Destroyer," was ruled ineligible due to not being published until 2015. (Brad was not very...thorough in his quest for the best of 2014, was he?) But Beale dropped Gray's story and Steve Diamond's "A Single Samurai" from his slate, replacing them with Steve Rzasa's "Turncoat" and Wright's "The Parliament of Beasts and Birds." This had mixed results for Beale: "Turncoat" forces Diamond off the ballot but, ironically, Gray still gets enough votes to keep Wright off until her story was disqualified:

230 "Goodnight Stars" Annie Bellet
226 "Totaled" Kary English
185 "Tuesdays with Molakesh the Destroyer" Megan Grey
184 "On A Spiritual Plain" Lou Antonelli
162 "Turncoat" Steve Rzasa

After Gray's disqualification and Bellet's withdrawal, the two mixed breeds step up:
151 "The Parliament of Beasts and Birds" John C. Wright
132 "A Single Samurai" Steve Diamond

This still shows that it was a lot easier for a candidate to make the final ballot with both slates' support, and that Beale did retain some influence to keep Sad picks from the ballot by dropping them from his slate. Nonetheless either slate could easily have locked up this category; without Puppies this might have been the ballot instead:

76 "Jackalope Wives" Ursula Vernon
73 "The Breath of War" Aliette de Bodard
48 "The Truth About Owls" Amal El-Mohtar
44 "When it Ends, He Catches Her" Eugie Foster
41 "A Kiss With Teeth" Max Gladstone

Yeah. You heard me.

Best Related Work: Both Puppy slates were in accord on these five picks; note the stronger vote totals for nominees here than in the divided Short Story category. Still quite a dropoff from Best Novel, which suggested each camp had about 200 supporters, and even Pups couldn't agree on whether Williamson was worse than Antonelli:

273 Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth John C. Wright
265 "Why Science is Never Settled" Tedd Roberts
254 "The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF" Ken Burnside
236 Wisdom from my Internet Michael Z. Williamson
206 Letters from Gardner Lou Antonelli

Without Puppies, how might the category have looked?

105 What Makes This Book So Great Jo Walton
92 Chicks Dig Gaming Jennifer Brozek, Robert Smith, and Lars Pearson
83 Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, Howard Taylor
79 Invisible: Personal Essays on Representation in SF Jim C. Hines
77 Tropes vs Women: Women as Background Decoration Anita Sarkeesian

Yes, even without Puppies, the Heinlein bio just misses the cutoff with 62 ballots (and behind it, The Secret History of Wonder Woman). What's intriguing is that with the Puppies' seeming dropping-off in interest in this category, whether without the combined push of Sads and Rabids, some of these nominees might have made the cut?

Best Graphic Story: Both Puppy slates only had one pick, Carter Reid's Zombie Nation. Yet it only attracted barely 200 ballots; would some of these other candidates have stood a chance in a category which again seemed to have diminished Puppy interest? (Sans Puppies, it looks like the next nominee would be Saga 4, with 59 votes.)

201 The Zombie Nation Book #2: Reduce Reuse Reanimate
145 Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal
110 Saga 3
64 Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery
60 Sex Criminals, Volume 1: One Weird Trick

Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form: The most voted-on category during the nomination process after Best Novel, and one where the impact of Puppies might be the most negligible. The Puppy slates agreed on Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar, The Lego Movie and The Maze Runner. While the first two were the runaway favorites, their numbers suggest additional support way beyond the Puppies' influence. Perhaps their boost really did help elevate The Lego Movie into the third most popular.

But The Maze Runner (170 votes) finished below the cutoff under Big Hero 6 (183). Beale's additional pick for Rabid Puppies, Coherence, got a dismal 100 votes, finishing behind Snowpiercer and X-Men: Days of Future Passed. On their own or even combined, the Puppies do not seem to have the strength to dominate this category.

769 Guardians of the Galaxy
489 Interstellar
314 The Lego Movie
295 Captain America: The Winter Soldier
204 Edge of Tomorrow

Best Dramatic Presentation - Short Form: This is the strongest argument for the weakness of the Sad Puppies' influence, allowing that Brad did have two pretty quirky picks on his slate. The Sads and Rabids agreed on only two nominees: The Flash pilot and Grimm: "Once We Were Gods." These were the top two candidates, with almost identical numbers. But Beale replaced Brad's other two picks with the Game of Thrones and Supernatural episodes. Because the latter wasn't even eligible, Orphan Black sneaks onto the ballot and scores the win; otherwise Beale would have kept everyone except Doctor Who off the ballot.

170 The Flash (Pilot)
169 Grimm: "Once We Were Gods"
141 Game of Thrones: "The Mountain and the Viper"
89 Doctor Who: "Listen"
86 Supernatural: Dog Dean Afternoon

Brad's other two picks? Episodes of Adventure Time. How'd they do? Adventure Time got 41 votes and missed the ballot by more than five places. Regular Show didn't even make the top 15.

Best Editor - Short Form: This is of course one of two categories where Beale added himself (as "Vox Day") to his slate, and he got an almost identical number of nominating ballots for each, but far fewer than for those that were on both slates:

279 Mike Resnick
236 Jennifer Brozek
228 Edmund R. Schubert
217 Bryan Thomas Schmidt
162 Vox Day

Best Editor - Long Form: And again. Note there's no unanimity on the Puppy picks; hard to say for example how many more ballots Resnick and Weisskopf had from non-Pups.

368 Toni Weisskopf
292 Sheila Gilbert
276 Jim Minz
238 Anne Sowards
166 Vox Day

Best Professional Editor: Sad Puppies had only four candidates, Beale adding DouPounce to the Rabid slate. But even if John Eno hadn't been disqualified, Julie Dillon still makes the ballot. DouPounce only had 118 ballots; again, the Pups needed to combine their numbers to keep everyone but the most popular choices of the ballot.

188 Alan Pollack
181 Nick Greenwood
173 Carter Reid
160 Jon Eno
136 Julie Dillon

Best Semiprozine: Both Puppy slates only had one nominee, and it topped the balloting. But even with their combined strength focused on only one candidate, it only got 229 votes, so this category may not be as vulnerable as some thanks to diminished Puppy interest.

229 Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show
159 Lightspeed Magazine
152 Strange Horizons
111 Abyss & Apex
100 Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine

Best Fanzine: Obviously the fan categories are easy pickings. The Sads only had three nominees; Black Gate was a Rabid addition, and see how comparatively poorly it fared. Still, it easily made the ballot. If its editor had withdrawn it before the deadline, the fifth finalist would have been The Drink Tank.

208 Elitist Book Reviews
187 The Revenge of Hump Day
181 Tangent SF Online
119 Black Gate
68 Journey Planet

Best Fancast: The three joint Puppy picks easily led the balloting.

179 The Sci Phi Show
169 Adventures in SF Publishing
158 Dungeon Crawlers Radio
80 Galactic Suburbia
69 Tea and Jeopardy

Best Fanwriter: The weakness inherent in the Sads and Rabids splitting their votes really raises its head in this category. Beale dropped Dave Freer from his slate and replaced him with Dave Enness. Freer still got enough votes to make the top five...but just barely: Laura Mixson was only three votes behind him. And when Sturridge withdrew she made the cut and the win.

201 Cedar Sanderson
175 Amanda S Green
156 Jeffro Johnson
150 Matthew David Surridge
132 Dave Freer

Enness, the Rabid pick? He only got 66 votes and missed the cut-off by four places, behind Abigail Nussbaum, Liz Bourke, Natalie Luhrs and Mark Oshiro.

Even with as much support as rallied behind Mixon, though, a Sad Puppies slate with dedicated candidates would still have locked up this category by a whisker, and much more easily against fan writers with the usual number of backers.

Best Fan Artist: Not a Puppy category. Even though relics from the days of actual paper fanzines like Brad and Steve can get enough ballots to make the cut in this low-participation category, the final vote shows what I mean when I say "relics."
48 Steve Stiles
29 Brad W. Foster
28 Ninni Aalto
26 Spring Schoenhuth
23 Elizabeth Leggett

(Beale did come out supporting Leggett as his number one pick on his blog though, which no doubt is being trumpeted as a great Puppy victory even as I speak.)

Campbell Award: The Pups agreed on Cordova, English, and Raymond; Nelson was Beale's pick only, and again he placed significantly behind the others. With a fifth choice either could likely have sewn up this category though. Runners-up were Andy Weir (who I assume would have been disqualified), Alyssa Wong, Carmen Maria Machado, Django Wexler and Usman T. Malik. (Will the Puppies tell us again how much more diverse they are?)

229 Jason Cordova
224 Kary English
219 Eric S. Raymond
143 Rolf Nelson
106 Wesley Chu

What does this bode for the future? It's been suggested the final voting numbers show the Puppies combined were able to rally in the neighborhood of 1,600 votes. If the Puppies ran two slates again next year, even without replicating all their choices, and a sizeable chunk of those two blocs cast nominating ballots, they could probably lock up most of these categories other than Novel and Dramatic Presentation. What's not known is how many of those 3500 or so members who seemingly joined for the sole purpose of slapping down slate voters also cast nominating ballots next year, and how widely scattered their choices are (and in part on how many extremely popular choices like Leckie and Dillon there are).
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