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The Hugo shortlist

Thanks to everyone who nominated me, SATURN'S CHILDREN is on the Hugo shortlist for best novel.

I'd like to thank you all for nominating, but I have this to say: I am not going to win.

(a) I am up against Neal and Neil, not to mention Cory and Scalzi. This is not a weak year, and I think SATURN'S CHILDREN is my weakest novel to make the shortlist in a while. (Notwithstanding the one aspect of stunt writing it relies on: a novel with no human beings at all!)

(b) More importantly, I am currently working on a record-breaking streak of losses. The previous record for consecutive failures to win the Hugo for best novel was set by Robert Silverberg in the early 70s. He had a novel on the shortlist (and failed to win) four years running; if I fail to win this one, I'll blow the doors off his record with six. And I'll have beaten the odds (five places, six consecutive fails — what are those odds?) to run up a truly impressive record that will undoubtedly stand as a monument to epic failure for decades to come.

Oh, and (c) this is definitely my last consecutive year on the novel shortlist (unless Ace do something truly weird to the publication schedule for THE FULLER MEMORANDUM). Next year's "novel" is a short story collection (plus "The Trade of Queens", but Merchant Princes books are ineligible for Hugo noms — it's in one of the by-laws, or something). If I'm very lucky folks might like "Palimpsest" enough that I'll be in the running in a non-novel category, but I'm not going to fail to win the Hugo for best novel seven years in a row. Can't be done!

Finally, congratulations to everyone else who's on the shortlist! (And special congratulations to John Scalzi, who with three nominations in different categories, joins a rather exclusive club as only the fourteenth person ever to do that.)

38 Comments

1:

Congratulations, Charlie - even sharing space in that line-up is something to be really insufferable about.

2:

Congratulations to you, Charlie! But damn, for a second, you made me think Asher had finally gotten his shot. All the best and it's a clever strategy to let them know that they can't vote for you next year, so they cannot avoid leaving you on that losing streak if they don't vote for you now.

3:

PrivateIron: I've already got a Hugo (for best novella, 2005). I'm somewhat competitive, and the "best novel" is the big one to go for, but already having won one takes a lot of the pressure off: win or lose, this one isn't going to change my life, so why not relax and enjoy the show?

4:

I liked Saturn's Children - but you could hardly describe it as weak. It did not have your usual book humour but i can live with that.

5:

Congratulations, Charlie. At least one thing you know: no matter who gets a Hugo, we'll be reading your novels.

6:

Unfortunately (or fortunately) I have to agree with Charlie. Saturn's Children was a damn fine novel, but I personally don't think it rises to the level of Stephenson's or Doctorow's this year (haven't read Gaiman's, so no judgement there).

That said, having read 4 of the 5 novel nominations, this was an incredible year for quality SF. If only I had more time to read everything on the list...

7:

Congratulations, it's a hell of a list this year. The only one I've not read is Scalzi's but it's on my list.

8:

"but I'm not going to fail to win the Hugo for best novel seven years in a row. Can't be done!"

Come on, Charlie, that's QUITTER TALK! Pull some strings and make sure that record is unreachable. Become the Lance Armstrong of not winning Hugo Awards!

I kid. Bigger picture, it's been a great year for us, the readers. Thank you for your contribution to that -- award or not.

You'll get yours (uh, Hugo that is... that was not some vow of vengeance without a proper antecedent).

9:

Congratulations on the nomination!

...but Merchant Princes books are ineligible for Hugo noms — it's in one of the by-laws, or something...

I don't see why. There's nothing in the rules that says a book in a series is ineligible. The WSFS Constitution notes, "3.2.6: Works appearing in a series are eligible as individual works, but the series as a whole is not eligible. However, a work appearing in a number of parts shall be eligible for the year of the final part."

You might be eligible for both "Trade of Queens" and the whole set, if it is arguably one honkin' big book divided into parts, rather than being a series. But, at the very least, "Trade of Queens" could be nominated.

10:

Congratulations on the nomination!

...but Merchant Princes books are ineligible for Hugo noms — it's in one of the by-laws, or something...

I don't see why. There's nothing in the rules that says a book in a series is ineligible. The WSFS Constitution notes, "3.2.6: Works appearing in a series are eligible as individual works, but the series as a whole is not eligible. However, a work appearing in a number of parts shall be eligible for the year of the final part."

You might be eligible for both "Trade of Queens" and the whole set, if it is arguably one honkin' big book divided into parts, rather than being a series. But, at the very least, "Trade of Queens" could be nominated.

11:

Well I certainly won't complain if they do give you a chance to lose again next year ...

Nevertheless, I do have to admit that if I were the one to chose the winner, it would probably be Stephenson .. but I'm a compulsive infodump-devourer, so maybe I'm odd.

12:

It's not a problem with series; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire won one.

I think he's referring to the Sekrit SMOF Annex to the publicly know rules. Remember, the SMOFs are allowed to do anything; and if you get one sufficiently drunk in the con suite, he'll tell you so. There is obviously a conspiracy against the Merchant Princes books (probably directed by WARBUCKS) that can only be explained by an undisclosed provision of the Sekrit SMOF Annex.

13:

Congratulations!

And congratulations too for consecutive nominations. You wouldn't have received that many without consistently excellent writing. That's an amazing (astounding? thrilling? I'll stop with the magazine names now) achievement.

14:

Deb: none of the Merchant Princes books ever made the shortlist. It's a tradition or an old charter or something.

15:

Sheridan @4: "It did not have your usual book humour but i can live with that." But it did! A hotel building fucking a robot not funny? Gold! That said, everyone's a fanboy for Neil and Neal. But my normal rule is that a novel ought to be less than 400 pages or be Dune. I'll have my fingers crossed that you won't beat Silverberg's streak.

16:

Yay for dubious achievements on the losing streak layer! Definitely not the most fun you can have, but on the other hand - achievement is achievement.
Shame you won't be on the listing next year, though I hold my hopes out for a change to the Fuller Memorandum, I don't hold them TOO far out as to a publisher changing things.

That said, the Hugo's this year are a pretty tight competition. Looks like it'll be nicely heated up.

17:

...but I'm not going to fail to win the Hugo for best novel seven years in a row. Can't be done!

So you're going to fail to fail seven years in a row? That sounds like a really big fail if you fail to read the context closely.

Congratulations on not failing to be nominated this year.

18:

There ought to be a Hugo for Best Runner-Up or Lifetime Misachievement or perhaps Best Re-EXPN of BOFH.

19:

Honestly, I am trying to work out going to Worldcon, and if I do am seriously considering voting for you. I still have yet to read Anathem, but so far your novel has made me think the deepest about what it means to be human and what a future in space might be like, or might be constrained by. Thank you for that.

This would be the first time I'd be eligible to vote, and I'm trying to think seriously about what it means to win the hugo in order to cast a wise vote. In any event I applaud you for creating a novel that both celebrated the traditions of science fiction and tried to explore the future.

Regardless, I'm in your camp if you can somehow manage to get a novel published next year. If you don't win a hugo this year, let's work on getting you firmly into hugo history!

20:

Forgot to add, damn!, if you're going to finish a streak, this is the field to finish that losing streak with!

I am especially trying to attend because of the profound level of quality of nominees this year, in all categories. It seems like a very good year.

21:

Anthony @18: I'd be a long way down the list for such an award -- David Hartwell was nominated something like 18 times before he finally won.

22:

I think we as fans should club together and get Charlie an epic fail Hugo made up, you know. Just to pick him up..er..or not.

Well I know the shortlist is a tough one this year, but I've got my fingers crossed for you. Personally I recon that the Fuller Memorandum (just going of past degrees of awesome) will get on that years shortlist, and be a win.

I'm thinking of putting £5 on it!

23:
epic fail Hugo
A statue of a Vanguard rocket just starting to explode as it rises to 4 feet off the pad. On the base is inscribed "EPIC FAIL: Not Quite High Enough To Crash".

No, Charlie shouldn't get one of these for another 15 or 20 years. If he hasn't got a Hugo by then, well maybe. But I'm betting he'll have at least a couple long before then.

24:

Bruce, I've already got a Hugo. Just not one for best novel.

25:

Congratulations Charlie.

Long time lurker, first time poster.

I just finished Saturn's Children, I loved the premise and the whole feel of the book. Who doesn't love dwarf ninjas and anime aristocrats?

To be honest, you're the only one on the list I've read, though Zoe's Tale is in my to read pile. I gave up on Stephenson after the first of the Quicksilver cycle, as it felt like I was reading the whole internet to get to a short story, and I decided life was too short to finish the trilogy.

Good luck.

26:

Charlie: my apologies for the misstatement. You clearly deserve one for a novel too. Glasshouse and The Atrocity Archive each deserve one at a minimum, and Singularity Sky and The Jennifer Morgue should get one against any but the strongest competing field. IMNSHO.

27:

Congratulations on the nomination.

As you aksed, the chances of six consecutive losses in a field of five competitors (assuming independence, equal chance of any competitor winning etc) is 0.262144, or about one in four.

28:

Congrats Charlie. I still think the nomination is well-deserved.

One of your tiny tidbits of news raised a question for me about Fuller.

Is there no Golden Gryphon hc? Straight to an Ace pb, then?

If so, that's a shame, I was looking forward to adding another hc to my matched set. I think GG does a great job with their editions, and their covers are some of the best you've had.

Anyway, all the best,

JKS

29:

"stunt writing" wow that's a new one, I love it.

Saturns Child in my opinion, trades blows with it's competition well, but what a a-list! It's certainly not the bottom of the heap in the line up, but it very hard to guess the winner this year. I'd be happy to see any of these books take top honors.

30:

JKStephens @28: No, "The Fuller Memorandum" isn't going to Golden Gryphon.

Golden Gryphon is a small press -- currently they publish two novels a year, in small print runs. "The Atrocity Archives" was, at the time, their second best-selling title ever. "The Jennifer Morgue" doubled its sales. Based on the paperback sales figures for those two books, after some soul-searching, my agent and I decided that it would be potentially disastrous to give the third book to GG: the necessary print run would be something like three years' normal production, and the returns alone could cripple or kill them. So there's going to be an Ace hardcover edition this time round.

31:

I have to admit that I found Anathem a deeply impressive work. It's incredibly ambitious, and in many ways it succeeds. Call me strange, but I thought it was far too short, and not the opposite.

32:

mensley@19: it is not necessary to attend Worldcon to vote. There isn't a show of hands, or anything like that. In fact, voting is by post (and likely on-line) and normally closes before the start of the con, so that the trophies can be prepared. To vote, you need to buy a "supporting" membership of Anticipation, which doesn't give you the right to attend, but does give you the right to votes on the Hugos and various other things. It currently costs $50. Details here: http://www.thehugoawards.org/?page_id=130

33:

Charlie@30: So .. will the Hc of Fuller Memorandum at least somehow fit next to the other two books? In a "look nice" sense and have similar exterior dimensions? Would be a shame to have a non-matching set ...

34:

Michael: alas, the book design is entirely up to Ace. It'll probably be a different size, and have cover art matching the Ace paperbacks, not the two books from GG. (I'm hoping to keep the same copy editor, though that's not something I've got much pull over.)

35:

Comparison: consider the list of literary giants who did NOT win a Nobel Prize in Literature, versus how often the international response to the winner is: "Who?"

For that matter, although some Nobel Laureates have written Science Fiction, none were awarded FOR their Science Fiction.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke was a perennial Nobel Peace Prize short list figure, but we don't have written proof.

In the Hugos, the Best Novel category has been called "The Big One." The late Norman Mailer insisted, having been a Pulitzer Prize winner, that the Nobel Prize in Literature is "The Big One."

Finally, as first published about the Tony Awards (for Broadway shows):

First, if you're nominated, you vote for yourself.

Second, you vote against your enemies.

Third, you vote for your friends.

Last, if you have any votes left, you vote on merit.

36:

Congratulations, Charlie, on 6 novel nominations in a row. You remind me of something I researched last year when you officially set the record for most years in a row with a novel nomination. Other impressive near streaks, but not quite complete streaks, come from Lois McMaster Bujold and Robert J. Sawyer. But a close look at Silverberg's streak reveals how impressive it really is, because he had multiple nominations in some years.

A nomination in 1968, then 6(!) in the four years from 1970 through 1973, then 1 more in each of 1976 and 1977, for a total of 9 novel nominations in 10 years. (And that doesn't count Nebula nominations -- if you allow both, I think his streak runs to something like 10 years in a row with a novel on at least one or the other ballot. Of course, counting Nebulas messes up his "losing streak", because he did win one for A Time of Changes.)

Anyway, congratulations. And as to why the Merchant Princes novels don't get nominations -- partly I suspect it's down to still lingering anti-Fantasy bias (through from my POV they read more SFnal than Fantastical) -- and as the series continues, it's harder to have new readers who are caught up with the whole thing.

37:

Everyone knows Gaiman's going to win it. Word is he hired a bunch of desperate B list Hollywood actresses to run around and "influence" things. Stephenson tried to make the Karl Rove Play and include gay marriage on the ballot to "get out the base," but got bogged down trying to squeeze a five page infodump into one sentence and then realized that crowd in question, despite being unapologetic fanboys (and -girls, but how would you know under the Klingon costume or 501st Legion armor), wouldn't care. At least not about gay marriage. Glad you're above this kind of thing Charles. :-)

38:

Charlie, you wrote: "Deb: none of the Merchant Princes books ever made the shortlist. It's a tradition or an old charter or something."

The top 15 recipients of Hugo nominations are published each year after the ceremony (you can still see the data on past Worldcon websites) and looking back I can see that in 2005 'Iron Sunrise' was second (and therefore on the final ballot) and 'The Family Trade' was twelfth. There is nothing in the WSFS rules to prevent a nomination for individual works from the Merchant Princes series, as far as I know....

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