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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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”.
Best 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.
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…
Best 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.
Best 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 Thrones, The Expanse (twice!) and Person of Interest. Once again we have a tie for last place.
Best 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.
Best 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.
Best 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
Best 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…
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.
John 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.