Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Voting systems and the Hugo awards

The ciiiiiiiiiii-iiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-iiiiiiiiii-iiiiiiiiiiircle of life! It turns! The stars wheel around (as do we), and another year has passed: welcome back to the announcement of Hugo nominees! As in past years (2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009) I am going to try to read all the fiction (novels, novellae, novelettes, shorts stories) and think about them. (You'll notice that my extensive retroblogging project continues with these lists.) No promises how far I'll get through posting my thoughts this year, but links will follow.

One note before we begin. A fortuitous confluence of events means that I recently heard a seminar by Rida Laraki, on the subject of voting systems. It was a fantastic seminar, and I am certainly going to read some of his research. The takeaway points were these:

  1. All voting systems are "wrong" for some scenario of voters and gaming the system. (We just have to decide which flaws we prefer to other flaws. Thanks for the pessimism, Arrow's theorem and similar.)
  2. Most of the time spent making a decision should be spent selecting the voting mechanism and explaining it to voters, not campaigning.

How does this relate to the Hugo awards? Well, there's a giant kerfuffle happening right now over a campaign ("Sad Puppies") which produced a voting bloc and dominated the nominations in several categories. It is political, and social, and polarizing in some corners of the blagoweb. My main reaction is that I am sad that this strategy has been so effective, because it quashed the dispersed-voice-nomination-effect which brought me so many wonderful reading lists in past years. I'll still try to read the list below, but I'm appending another list of books I suspect might have made it onto the ballot in the absence of bitter canine whelps.

I feel that (1) trumps (2), since any adjustment to the voting system now will be reactionary, and if we change the voting system every time it produces a result we don't like, that doesn't seem too far (in theoretical terms) from simply weighting certain votes as "better" than others. It's meta-gerrymandering.

Best novel:
  • Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
  • The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
  • Lines of Departure by Marko Kloos
  • Skin Game by Jim Butcher
Best novella:
Best novelette:
Best short story:

Suggestions I've gleaned from elsewhere:
  • Echopraxia by Peter Watts
  • The Peripheral by William Gibson
  • Lock In by Jon Scalzi
  • The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • My Real Children by Jo Walton
  • Annihilation / Authority / Acceptance (trilogy) by Jeff Vandermeer
  • The City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennet
  • Cibola Burn by James S. A. Corey
  • Defenders by Will McIntosh
  • The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  • The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey
  • The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
  • Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson
  • Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta
  • The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
  • Trial by Fire by Charles E. Gannon
  • Coming Home by Jack McDevitt
... and now I am out of time to look for more possible-nominees, so I will certainly not have the time to read this entire list. The fun is in the attempt, of course.

This post's theme word is febrile, "of, relating to, or characterizing a fever; feverish." She entered a state of febrile reading.

No comments: