2016 Without Rabid Puppies: The Hugos that Could Have Been

The Hugos that Could Have Been

Following the Hugo Awards ceremony that was held on Saturday, the awards’ administrators released a PDF file with thorough breakdowns of the voting data. This means that we can get some idea of what the ballot would have looked like without interference from the Rabid Puppies campaign.

Before we start, we will need to estimate the scale of that campaign. Here are a few of the nominees closely linked to Vox Day, Castalia House or Gamergate; in short, the nominees least likely to have made the ballot without Rabid Puppy assistance. Alongside them are their respective voting tallies from the nominations phase…

  • “Safe Space as Rape Room”: 466
  • SJWs Always Lie: 442
  • “Seven Kill Tiger”: 424
  • “If You Were and Award, My Love”: 398
  • “Space Raptor Butt Invasion”: 387
  • Kukuruyo: 321

So, roughly speaking, we can say that around 400 Rabid Puppies supporters took part in the nomination process.

From there, compiling an alternate ballot is a simple matter of detracting 400 votes from each of the nominees that appeared on the Rabid Puppies slate, and then seeing what is left in the top five. I experimented with lowering that number to 300 for the categories that had lower voting turnouts, but found that—in practice—that made little difference to the results.

For reasons that I went into here, the impact of the Sad Puppies campaign on the ballot is almost impossible to quantify; it would be simplest to leave this matter as a potential variable.

Bear in mind that this post is a rough-and-ready affair, and should not be taken as airtight. Nonetheless, I am confident that the following list will give a pretty good impression of what the 2016 Hugo Awards ballot would have looked like without the Rabid Puppies.


Bold: Appeared on final ballot

Bolt italic: Appeared on final ballot and Rabid Puppies slate

Bold underlined: Category winner

Grey: Debatable status

Aurora, by Kim Stanley RobinsonBest Novel

  • Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie: 797
  • The Fifth Season, by N. K. Jemisin: 761
  • Uprooted, by Naomi Novik: 715
  • Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson: 477
  • Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson: 325

This category had only two Rabid Puppy finalists, and it is safe to say that one of them—Seveneves—would have been nominated even without being slated.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher was a different matter: had it not been for the Rabids, the last slot would likely have been taken by Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora instead.

 The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn, by Usman T. MalikBest Novella

  • Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor: 725
  • Penric’s Demon, by Lois McMaster Bujold: 542
  • The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn, by Usman T. Malik: 307
  • Waters of Versailles, by Kelly Robson: 227
  • The Citadel of Weeping Pearls, Aliette de Bodard: 217

This category, on the other hand, is quite different to the final ballot.

Allow me to admit making a truly boneheaded oversight when I wrote my reviews of the novellas. I predicted that Binti would win, but I also commented that we should not rule out Perfect State as Brandon Sanderson is a popular author with Worldcon. What I neglected to mention was that Lois McMaster Bujold is also very popular there—even minus 400 points, her story, Penric’s Demon, did pretty dang well in the nominations phase. Perfect State, incidentally, is left with 202 votes after reductions; this makes it a close side-runner to The Citadel of Weeping Pearls, and it could easily have made the ballot.

Cover of Asimov's, June 2015.Best Novelette

  • And You Shall Know Her By The Trail Of Dead, by Brooke Bolander: 245
  • Our Lady of the Open Road, by Sarah Pinsker: 214
  • So Much Cooking, by Naomi Kritzer: 196
  • Folding Beijing, by Hao Jingfang: 176
  • Another Word for World, by Ann Leckie: 157
  • The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild, by Catherynne M. Valente: 157

Another category with a very different set of stories to the final ballot. “Folding Beijing”, the eventual winner, was a Rabid choice, but one that received a reasonably healthy number of votes from non-Rabid members. Note that two stories are tied for the final slot, bumping this category from five to six titles.

Cover of Nightmare, October 2015 issue.Best Short Story

  • Cat Pictures Please, by Naomi Kritzer: 367
  • Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers, by Alyssa Wong: 253
  • Wooden Feathers, by Ursula Vernon: 200
  • Today I Am Paul, by Martin L. Shoemaker: 189
  • Tuesdays with Molakesh the Destroyer, by Megan Grey: 181
  • Madeleine, by Amal El-Mohtar: 177
  • Pocosin, by Ursula Vernon: 177

Out of the four prose fiction categories, Best Short Story sustained the most damage from the Rabid Puppies; we should not be surprised that the alternate ballot is almost totally different.

I’ve labelled “Tuesdays with Molakesh the Destroyer” as a debatable nominee, as it was on the 2015 Sad Puppies (but not Rabid Puppies) slate; the fact that it was published in early 2016 led to its disqualification last time around. Its 181 votes this year may have owed something to the Puppies. If we remove it from the ballot, then the final slot is taken by two tied entries: “Madeleine” and “Pocosin”.

Letters to TiptreeBest Related Work

  • Letters to Tiptree, by Alisa Krasnostein and Alexandra Pierce: 359
  • You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost), by Felicia Day: 216
  • Invisible 2, edited by Jim Hines: 188
  • John Scalzi Is Not A Very Popular Author, by “Theophilus Pratt”: 149
  • Lois McMaster Bujold, by Edward James: 108
  • The Wheel of Time Companion, by Alan Romanczuk ad Maria Simons: 107

This category was dominated by the Rabid Puppies, so the alternate ballot is completely different. Again the list has a debateable entry: John Scalzi Is Not A Very Popular Author by “Theophilus Pratt” (actually Alexandra Erin) is a parody of Vox Day’s SJWs Always Lie, and almost certainly received a voting boost from people wishing to stick it to the Rabid Puppies. In an alternate timeline where the Puppies never existed, then, it would probably not have made the ballot—freeing up space for one more nominee, The Wheel of Time Companion.

 Cover of Bitch Planet Book One.Best Graphic Story

  • Bitch Planet Vol 1: 271
  • Nimona: 265
  • Saga Volume 5: 258
  • Ms. Marvel Vol 2: 205
  • Squirrel Girl Vol 1: 174

Here we have what is perhaps the biggest surprise on the alternate ballot. While Neil Gaiman is a favourite author at Worldcon, it looks as though The Sandman: Overture would never have been nominated without the Rabid Puppies: subtract 400 votes, and poor old Morpheus is left at tenth place on the longlist.

The top five, meanwhile, is completely different to the final ballot. Bitch Planet is in a narrow lead, but Nimona and Saga are close behind…

insideoutposterBest Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)

  • The Martian: 1414
  • Mad Max: 1256
  • Star Wars VII: 1157
  • Ex Machina: 696
  • Inside Out: 396

The Rabid Puppies had little impact on this category. The only difference between the above line-up and the actual ballot is that one of the better-received Pixar films has replaced one of the more disappointing Marvel films; not especially surprising.

Birgitte Hjort Sørensen in A Game of ThronesBest Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)

  • Doctor Who, “Heaven Sent”: 261
  • Jessica Jones, “AKA Smile”: 200
  • A Game of Thrones, “Hardhome”: 180
  • The Expanse, “CQB”: 160
  • The Expanse, “Dulcinea”: 157
  • Person of Interest, “If-Then-Else”: 157

Remove the Rabid-slated Grimm, Supernatural and My Little Pony, and the ballot gets Game of ThronesThe Expanse (twice!) and Person of Interest. Once again we have a tie for last place.

C. C. FinlayBest Editor (Short Form)

  • John Joseph Adams: 478
  • Neil Clarke: 342
  • Ellen Datlow: 290
  • Sheila Williams: 257
  • C. C. Finlay: 203

The Rabid Puppies slate contained but one nominee in this category: Jerry Pournelle. On the Rabid-free ballot, he is replaced with The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction‘s C. C. Finlay.

Anne GroellBest Editor (Long Form)

  • Toni Weisskopf: 401
  • Sheila Gilbert: 302
  • Liz Gorinsky: 287
  • Anne Lesley Groell: 229
  • Devi Pillai: 204

Toni Weisskopf woz robbed! Even after deducting 400 votes, she was clearly the most popular candidate in the nomination process—and yet, come final voting, she was placed below No Award by Worldcon. Seems a rather harsh reaction to her being slated by the Rabids.

The new additions to the ballot, meanwhile, are Random House’s Anne Lesley Groell (pictured with a George R. R. Martin manuscript) and Devi Pillai of Orbit Books.

Clarkesworld issue 100Best Professional Artist

  • Julie Dillon: 244
  • Galen Dara: 147
  • John Picacio: 147
  • Cynthia Sheppard: 132
  • Richard Anderson: 114

Another category that is completely different when we deduct the Rabid Puppy votes.

Julie Dillon, an illustrator best known for her sumptuous covers to the Clarkesworld and Lightspeed magazines, is in a clear lead.

The Book Smugglers

Best Semiprozine

  • Uncanny Magazine: 461
  • Strange Horizons: 334
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies: 232
  • The Book Smugglers: 193
  • Lightspeed Magazine: 179
  • Interzone: 94

Strange Horizons and Beneath Ceaseless Skies were both on the Rabid slate, but it turns out that they didn’t need that help. Lightspeed Magazine made the longlist, but from what I have been told, it is now classed as a professional magazine and therefore no longer eligible for Semiprozine; if we remove it, Interzone will take the last slot.

Journey Planet issue 24.Best Fanzine

  • File 770: 627
  • Lady Business: 125
  • Journey Planet: 108
  • A Dribble of Ink: 85
  • Rocket Stack Rank: 66

Four out of five of the fanzines on the final ballot were Rabid choices, but File 770 is a clear leader even when we deduct 400 points. Seriously, just compare the numbers: talk about a big fish in a small pond…

Tea and JeopardyBest Fancast

  • Tea and Jeopardy: 212
  • Galactic Suburbia: 135
  • Verity: 102
  • The Skiffy and Fanty Show: 91
  • Fangirl Happy Hour: 89

Another small pond, but without a big fish. Also another category that’s completely different when we take the Rabids out.

John Scalzi Is Not A Very Popular Author And I Myself Am Quite Popular, by Theo PrattBest Fan Writer

  • Mike Glyer: 243
  • Alexandra Erin: 213
  • Natalie Luhrs: 182
  • Mark Oshiro: 161
  • Eric Flint: 142

Out of the newcomers, Alexandra Erin (alias Theo Pratt) takes a modest lead. Of course, some of the people in this list would have received votes due to their writing on the Puppy controversy, so a true timeline-without-Puppies ballot might look quite different. I will leave that piece of disentangling to someone else, however…

Harley Quinn fanart by Megan Lara Best Fan Artist

  • Steve Stiles: 88
  • Megan Lara: 60
  • Karezoid: 57
  • Likhain: 55
  • Brad W. Foster: 42
  • Richard Man: 42

Remember how I said that deducting 300 rather than 400 points had little impact on the results? Well, here’s the exception: if we take just 300 votes off the Rabid choices, then Matthew Callahan would squeeze in at second place and bump off the tied artists at the bottom. Leading the newcomers is Megan Lara, whose art nouveau-inspired work is sampled here.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky ChambersJohn W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

  • Andy Weir: 646
  • Alyssa Wong: 456
  • Becky Chambers: 247
  • Kelly Robson: 214
  • Sunil Patel: 197

The voting data PDF on the Hugo Awards website misspells his name as “John W. Cambell”. Oh dear. Anyway, here we have a rather different set of finalists, although The Martian author Andy Weir is unsurprisingly still in the lead.

Thoughts on the contents of this alternate ballot? Criticisms of my methodology? Any feedback is welcome…

UPDATE, 1 SEPTEMBER: After receiving some comments and corrections, I have amended the sections for Fan Writer, Professional Artist and Semiprozine. Amongst other things, the original version of the article incorrectly stated that Best Fan Writer winner Mike Glyer was on the Rabid Puppies list; I have since fixed this and would like to apologise for my error.

Doris V. Sutherland

Doris V. Sutherland

Horror historian, animation addict and tubular transdudette. Catch me on Twitter @dorvsutherland, or view my site at dorisvsutherland.com. If you like my writing enough to fling money my way, then please visit patreon.com/dorvsutherland or ko-fi.com/dorvsutherland.

10 thoughts on “2016 Without Rabid Puppies: The Hugos that Could Have Been

  1. Mike Glyer was not on the Rabid Slate for Best Fan Writer. You’ve erroneously deducted all his nominations. He would have been first in the category.

    Also, Lightspeed is now a Prozine, and was not eligible, so the fifth entry in that category would be Interzone.

    I have appreciated your columns analyzing the Hugos and the Puppies. Thanks for doing them.

    1. You’re entirely right; I must have confused the Rabid list with the Sad list, since Mike was included on the latter. I was surprised at his absence on the alternate ballot, given how well File 770 did in Best Fanzine, so I really should have double-checked. I’ve fixed this mistake (along with the eligibility of Lightspeed) and would like to apologise to everyone concerned.

    1. Erm, unless I’m missing something, I didn’t misspell his name, I simply used a shorter variation.

      It’s true that, if you subtract 300 rather than 400 votes, The Sandman comes in ahead of Ms. Marvel and Squirrel Girl. But considering that Full Frontal Nerdity and Erin Dies Alone got 376 and 362 votes respectively, I honestly believe that the contribution made to that category by the Rabid Puppies and their satellites was higher than just 300 votes – I’d estimate more around 350 votes, and deducting that number still leaves The Sandman off the ballot (albeit in a close sixth place, a few votes behind Squirrel Girl)

      The post you linked to makes a good case for the Rabid-and-Rabidesque voters being around 200 or so in the final voting, but bear in mind that I’m talking about the nominations phase – if I understand correctly, weren’t the 2015 members allowed to participate in nominations but the final votes this year? Wouldn’t surprise me of a good chunk of Rabids didn’t renew their memberships.

  2. Wow I am loving the irony of Gaiman attacking the puppies so vehemently in his speech …. without which he actually would’t have been in contention. Very interesting. Obviously I would never have been near the list without slating, but it seems an unnecessarily confrontational thing to do to people who are ultimately fans. Thanks for this article.

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