Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Hugo Longlist Project

Every year, after the Hugo Awards are announced, the constitution of the World Science Fiction Society requires the administrators of the award to release statistical data related to that year's awards. In addition to the voting totals that determined the winning finalist, the statistical data also includes the top fifteen nominees in each category. This list of the fifteen top nominees is sometimes informally referred to as the "Hugo longlist". I should emphasize at the outset that this terminology is entirely unofficial, as this list is not used in the actual Hugo voting process, as it is not released until after the award has been bestowed.

As I noted a few days ago, it does not appear that anyone is tracking the nominees on the Hugo longlist. There are plausible reasons for this, the most important of which is that it is entirely informal and unofficial. The Hugo administrators usually do not even bother to determine if a particular nominee is eligible in the category they have been nominated in unless it makes the list of finalists. This does not mean, however, that this data is not without value. Thus far, however, it has not been compiled into a coherent whole. This project is intended to fill in this gap by compiling all of the Hugo longlist data into a series of posts so it is all accessible in one location.

Some notes:
  1. Though the Hugo statistical data that is released concerning the top fifteen nominees lists the total number of nominations each work received and ranks them accordingly, they are presented here in alphabetical order. Perusing the statistics, it is not uncommon for a work to receive the most nominations in the nominating round, but not win the Hugo award in the award selection round. This indicates to me that the raw number of nominations is not a worthwhile guide to whether one work is "better" than another in the eyes of the Hugo voters.

  2. The nominees are split into two groups: Finalists and the other longlisted works. This is because it can be assumed that the works that reached the finalist list have had their eligibility verified, and the nominees have been given the opportunity to decline their nomination. Similar assumptions cannot be made about the works that did not make the list of finalists. Because of this distinction, I believe that it makes sense to report these two sets of nominees separately.

  3. I'm going to try to assemble all of the data I can, but I have no idea how far back records are available. The amendment to the WSFS constitution requiring disclosure of the nominating and voting data was not passed until the 1980s, and a perusal of the available records from that time period indicates that the data that was released may not have been complete. Given that this was the very earliest days of the internet, the somewhat sketchy records is not entirely surprising.

  4. Because I don't know how far back the records to support this project extend, I'm going to be working backwards through the years, starting with the 2015 Hugo Awards. I will work back as far as I can find data, and, if I can, see if there are any records accessible that are not already online and incorporate those.
The list of years for which there are known longlist data available follows. As I obtain more data, it will be added to the list:

Hugo Awards:

2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003

2002  2001  1984

Retro Hugo Awards:

1941 (awarded in 2016)

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  1. This is an excellent project.

    Tracking down pre-internet data is a challenge/ The amendment requiring disclosure of the voting statistics was passed in 1978 and became effective in 1980. (Ask me how I know...)

    There are at least two earlier years for which final round voting statistics have become public. The 1964 set you should be able to find with Google.

    1. @Migly: I'm guessing that you know because you were there and voted on it. I am always amazed at the institutional knowledge that is stored in the minds of long time fans. I will definitely look for the earlier data.

    2. Here's the link to the 1964 final round voting results:

    3. @Joshua: Thanks for the link. Unfortunately, that doesn't include the nomination totals, which is how the "longlist" is formed. If I do a related project of ranking all of the Hugo finalists by how they placed in the voting, that link will come in handy.

  2. Is the plan to create a database from this information? If so, then that would be great!

    I've used the science fiction awards database to look for awards and nominations. But that is limited to finalists and winners. The longer trail of information isn't available.

    Also, the Hugo website only has PDF'd information that isn't really searchable in any meaningful manner.

    Sooooo.....if a database is coming, then what a fantastic idea!!

    1. @dann665: The plan is to get all of the data in one place first. After that, if I can, I will consider putting it into a searchable database.

  3. Great idea. I think I've suggested to David Steffen he might want to do older Hugo longlist anthologies.

    1. @Tasha Turner: More longlist anthologies would be fantastic. At the very least, I hope that Steffen does a longlist anthology in all future years.