More Hugo predictions

One Aled Morgan responds to the Chaos Horizon Hugo predictions, which were as follows:

  1. Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer
  2. Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie
  3. Monster Hunter Nemesis, Larry Correia
  4. The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison
  5. Skin Game, Jim Butcher  

First, the two I’d be astonished not to see on the ballot:

Lock In
Ancilliary Sword

Then very likely:

The Three Body Problem

Then at about the same level of probability fighting for the fifth slot:

Monster Hunter Nemesis
My Real Children
The Goblin Emperor

Possible but unlikely:

The Peripheral
The Darkling Sea

What you’re overlooking about Scalzi is that he has a massively popular blog, he has orders of magnitude more readers than the “Sad Puppies”, and while he never opersteps the line he encourages his fans to nominate him… and they do. The same goes for Grant, who has made the ballot so often already but doedn’t win — she has the same kind of nominating fans.

For the Hugos, what’s important is not wide readership but readership within Worldcon going fandom. Lots of the measures you’re assessing would be great if this were a wide-constituency vote, but it isn’t. It’ll be around two thousand people. SFWA’s even smaller, and everyone in SFWA knows each other. Butcher’s really really popular in the wider constituency, but his books don’t feel like the kind of thing people nominate for Hugos to the people who nominate, so I’d say it has zero chance except with Sad Puppies. And I expect a backlash against Sad Puppies this year.

I have to admit, The Three-Body Problem looks pretty good. I find the concept interesting, seeing as I used a variant of it to explain some of the problems with Keynesian economic theory in RGD. As a fan of Japanese literature both ancient and modern, I’m curious to see what Chinese SF is like. I tried Vandermeer’s Balzac’s War and ended up putting it down before long, but perhaps his Southern Reach Trilogy is better. In any event, Holmwood, who both reads the occasional Scalzi book and is a Sad Puppy supporter, offers a mild correction:

John Scalzi is a good author. I enjoyed both Old Man’s War and Agent to the Stars. His books are pushed heavily by his publisher (deservedly so) and Lock-In was a better work than Redshirts which won previously. That said, I believe his blog’s readership is a good deal smaller than (say) that of Vox Day, and certainly smaller than Day, Correia, Wright, Torgersen, Hoyt, etc combined.

Back to the general topic of Puppies, sad and otherwise.

I would be both surprised and disappointed if Puppies locked up overwhelmingly to vote a slate en masse without regard to quality. So far that’s not been the case, though I’m well aware there are those who’d love to poke a stick in the putative SF establishment fans’ collective eyes and do just that.

But this, while very well and good, VIOLATES THE NARRATIVE. Tudor leaps in to explain that Whatever is not merely big. It is ENORMOUS:

Scalzi’s blog is not big, is enormous. There are many good SF writers, but there are only a handful NY Times Bestsellers. Scalzi became one because of his blog. I only like some of his books but even I read his blog regularly. And if an author will write on his blog about her/his new book, than it’s certain that its sales will receive a great boost.

And so it fell to me to actually provide the relevant facts of the matter:

John Scalzi’s blog, Whatever, is not reasonably described as “enormous” and his blog readership is considerably smaller than mine, let alone the combined readership of the various Sad and Rabid Puppy authors. The most traffic Mr. Scalzi ever had is just over 1 million Google pageviews per month back in May 2012. Since then, his blog traffic has declined to around 450,000 pageviews per month. By comparison, my blogs alone now enjoy traffic of 1.5 million pageviews per month, about three times that of Mr. Scalzi’s Whatever.

In 2014, Mr. Scalzi’s blog had 5.6 million annual pageviews whereas mine had 15.7 million. Where Mr. Scalzi is very popular, however, is on Twitter, where his 70k+ followers are more than all of the aforementioned authors combined. Whether Twitter followers or blog readerships are more predictive of Hugo success, I leave to Chaos Horizon to predict.

The reason many people have a false impression of Mr. Scalzi’s blog is that Mr. Scalzi has historically been prone to a considerable amount of exaggeration. For example, in an August 2010 interview with Lightspeed magazine, he claimed Whatever had 2 million monthly pageviews. The actual number of pageviews that month was 305 thousand, or about 15 percent of the amount claimed.

I do find it intriguing that more than a year after the greater part of Mr. Scalzi’s claimed blog traffic was exposed as nonexistent, there are still those pinkshirts who fail to recognize that the numbers in the science fiction market simply do not add up in the way they apparently believe they do. I wonder what would suffice to convince them otherwise?

As for Holmewood’s concern about quality, I would simply urge the prospective Worldcon voter to compare the Rabid Puppy slate to last year’s Hugo winners. I contend that the Rabid Puppies are, across the board, considerably superior in terms of both science fiction essence and and science fiction quality to the 2014 winners.