The 2023 Hugo nomination statistics have finally been released – and we have questions

The long-awaited nomination statistics for the 2023 Hugo Awards have finally been published – at the last possible moment according to the WSFS constitution (and at a point when I really don’t have time for Hugo neepery). The voting statistics already came out sometimes in December and it turned out that several finalists won with very large majorities.

The full voting and nomination stats are here and there are several landmines in there, which makes me wonder whether “The Hugo admin was very busy with his day job” is the only reason the stats were delayed for so long.

So let’s delve right in:

The first landmine is lurking in Best Novel, because it turns out that Babel by R.F. Kuang, whose absence from the ballot was very notable, since pretty much everybody expected it to be nominated, started out with the third most nominations, but was knocked out by EPH on the final round (which it shouldn’t have been) and also declared ineligible. Babel was published in the US on September 1, 2022, it didn’t have any prior publication elsewhere and it’s obviously SFF, so how can it be ineligible?

The EPH data is also weird, because Babel doesn’t gain any points throughout, as the other nominees are eliminated, which is extremely unusual. Of course, most of the longlist is made up of Chinese novels, where there may be little overlap with western ballots, but I imagine that at least some of the 115 people who nominated The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler (another likely finalist conspicuous by its absence) or some of the 78 people who nominated A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys (which surprised me a little, though it’s a pleasant surprise) would have also nominated Babel. Also, it would be great if the stats listed at least the authors, because it’s annoying trying to google some of these works.

ETA: Several people have since come forward and stated that they voted for both Babel and The Mountain in the Sea or A Half-Built Garden or all three, so this should be visible in the EPH data.

ETA2: R.F. Kuang has made a statement on BlueSky.

ETA3: Camestros Felapton has asked several people to share their ballots and run his own analysis and comes to the conclusion that there are multiple issues here and that the numbers for Babel just don’t make any sense.

ETA 02-06-2024: Camestros has now analysed twenty Best Novel nomination ballots provided by volunteers. Even based on this small sample, he comes to the conclusion that the numbers definitely don’t add up, especially the EPH numbers for Babel, but also for Nettle and Bone and Nona the Ninth.

Also notable by its absence from the longlist is The World We Make by N.K. Jemisin. Now N.K. Jemisin is not just a great writer, she’s also extremely popular with Hugo voters and I find it unlikely that The World We Make got fewer nominations than the more obscure A Half-Built Garden.

Personally, I’m happier with The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, the finalist which made the ballot instead of Babel, because I bounced off R.F. Kuang’s Poppy War trilogy really hard. But this does not change the fact that Babel was obviously eligible and should have made the ballot. And we really need an explanation why it was declared ineligible.

Another pattern that’s really notable and that we will find throughout the ballot is the sharp drop-off in nominations. The top seven nominees – i.e. the six finalists plus Babel – received between 831 and 767 nominations. This number is much higher than usual, but then we had an influx of Chinese nominators and therefore more nomination ballots. However, the eighth place nominee, a Chinese novel entitled Age of the Godmakers (I couldn’t find out the author or anything else about this one) only got 150 nominations, 617 less than The Daughter of Doctor Moreau. This is a massive drop-off and extremely unusual.

ETA: Camestros Felapton discusses the cliff phenomenon and the sharp drop-off in nominations in this post.

ETA: It’s also been pointed out that in Best Novel and several other categories, the EPH numbers totalled exceed the number of total ballots cast, which should not be possible.

In Best Novella, it turns out that Becky Chambers declined a nomination for A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, which was another likely finalist conspicuous by its absence. We also have the sharp drop-off in nominations between place 5, A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow with 615 nominations, and place 6, What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher with 155 nominations. The longlist consists mainly of Chinese novellas as well as High Times in the Low Parliament by Kelly Robson and The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia.

In Best Novelette, the eventual winner “The Space Time Painter” got twice as many nominations as the second place finalist. It’s clear that “The Space Time Painter” is a story which really spoke to the Chinese fans nominating, especially since it also referred to a famous Chinese painting. We also have a Chinese novelette called “Color the World” declared ineligible, according to Neil Clarke, because it was published in the wrong year, i.e. it really is ineligible. We also have another case of a nomination declined for “Two Hands Wrapped in Gold” by S.B. Divya, who went public about declining the nomination for political reasons several months ago.

Another oddity is that a story named “Turing Food Court” by Wang Nuonuo, which appeared in English in this anthology of Chinese science fiction, is listed in both tenth and twelfth place on the longlist and would likely have made the ballot, if the nominations had been combined.

ETA: Apparently, the double placement of “Turing Food Court” was a copy and paste error and has been resolved.

In Best Short Story, “On the Razor’s Edge”, a story which I did not particularly care for, was actually leading in nominations, followed by “Rabbit Test” by Samatha Mills, a story which spoke very much to US voters due to the repeal of Roe vs. Wade. We have another story, “Fogong Temple Pagoda” by Hai Ya (also found in this anthology) declared ineligible, which may be another case of prior publication. Though apparently, it was a 2022 publication. “Destiny Delayed” by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki was knocked out by EPH in spite of 429 nominations and like Babel gained no points throughout. However, since the longlist is mostly comprised of Chinese stories, where the nominators were likelier to nominate other Chinese stories than a story by a Nigerian author that was published in Asimov’s, this is likelier than what happened with Babel.

ETA: “Fogong Temple Pagoda” first appeared in English in 2022 in the Galaxy Awards anthology, so it should have been eligible.

In Best Series, we have no nominations declined nor anything declared ineligible, but we have the strongest example of the massive drop-off in nominations on the whole ballot. The six finalist ranks had between 925 and 816 nominations, whereas the seventh placed finalist The Nsibidi Scripts a.k.a. the Akata Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor had only 52 nominations. I’m sorry, but this pattern is so unlikely to have occurred naturally that a meteor strike hitting the convention center during the Hugo ceremony is probably more likely.

I’m also thrilled to see Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock, the longest running SFF series written by a single author (the first story came out in 1961, the last story in 2023, i.e. that’s a whopping 62 years) make the longlist in twelfth place, alas with only 27 nominations. I very much championed Elric, because there are few people alive who deserve a Hugo more the Michael Moorcock and yet never got one. Elric is eligible again in 2024 due to the publication of “The Folks in the Forest” in New Edge Sword and Sorcery No. 1 (in which I have an essay, so I got to share a TOC with Michael Moorcock, so let’s get Michael Moorcock and Elric that long overdue nomination in 2024.

In Best Graphic Story, it’s notable that the eventual winner, the IMO rather unremarkable videogame tie-in comic Cyberpunk 2077: Big City Dreams as well the Dune graphic novel also got the most nominations. These works were on a recommendation list by the Chinese magazine Science Fiction World and are also apparently very popular with Chinese fans. The graphic novel Across a Field of Starlight by Blue Deliquanti, which actually sounds fascinating and would almost certainly have been a better finalist than Cyberpunk 2077 or Dune – again, just missed the ballot.

In Best Related, we have two works declared ineligible. The first is History of Chinese Science Fiction in the 20th Century, which was declared ineligible, because one of the author was on the Hugo committee. This is an absolutely valid reason to declare what was likely a worthy finalist ineligible and also appears to be a first in Hugo history. Another finalist declared ineligible was The Art of Ghosts of Tsushima, a video game related art book, due to prior publication in English. Nothing questionable about this.

We also have the drop-off in this category, though it’s not as huge as elsewhere. But “The Ghosts of Workshops Past” got 176 votes, the next highest place finalist “The Buffalito World Outreach Project” got only 34. This repeated pattern is really very unusual.

Looking further down the longlist, it’s notable that almost every nominee is actually a non-fiction book or sufficiently booklike object such as the 2022 Black Spec Fic Report. I’m also thrilled to see four books I featured as part of my non-fiction spotlight, make the longlist. There will be more non-fiction as well as fanzine and fancast spotlights in the run-up to the 2024 Hugos BTW.

In Best Dramatic Presentation Long, we have more oddities: Seasons 1 of Andor and The Sandman were both declared ineligible, because individual episodes got more votes in short form. This is standard practice and has happened before. It also turns out that Prey, a movie which not only was unexpectedly good but also a likely finalist, would have easily made the ballot, but the team behind the film decline the nomination. As one of the people who nominated Prey, I really would like to know why they declined. Political reasons? But then, Hollywood is actively chasing the big Chinese market, so that’s rather unlikely. And though the Hugos don’t have a lot of clout in Hollywood, I still find it unlikely that filmmakers wouldn’t want one, especially since genre films and TV shows are regularly snubbed at the major film and TV awards, as this recent round of “Let’s shower Oppenheimer, The Holdovers, Killers of the Flower Moon, Succession, The Bear and Beef with awards” proves.

It’s also notable that the longlist has as many complete TV seasons (Ms. Marvel, The Peripheral and Our Flag Means Death, which I fully expected to make the ballot, considering how beloved it is) as movies. I’m also really happy to see Neptune Frost, an Afrofuturist film from Rwanda, for which I co-signed an eligibility extension, just sneak onto the longlist in 15th place.

In Best Dramatic Short, things get odd again, because it turns out that an episode of The Sandman called “The Sound of Her Wings” was declared ineligible. Now season 1 of The Sandman was also declared ineligible in Best Dramatic Presentation Long, because an individual episode got more votes. However, “The Sound of Her Wings” not only was absolutely eligible, since it came out on August 5, 2022, it also got more than enough votes to make the ballot.

We also have an episode of Severance declared ineligible, because the whole season made the ballot in Long Form as well as the music video The Deep declared ineligible due to prior publication. The sharp drop-off between the first three places and place four is also notable here.

In Best Editor Long Form, the first thing that’s striking is that what traditionally is a low nomination category actually got a lot of nominations this year. Lee Harris of Tordotcom got a whopping 433 nominations, which normally would be Best Novel or Best Dramatic Presentation territory. It’s also notable that Carl Engle-Laird of Tordotcom and Priyanka Krishnan of William Morrow were both knocked out by EPH in spite of getting almost a hundred nominations more than Yao Haijun.

ETA: Camestros Felapton delves into the Best Editor Long category and notes that the data looks definitely odd.

There’s nothing overly notable in Best Editor Short except that Jonathan Strahan, Sheila Williams and Lynne and Michael Damian Thomas were all knocked out by EPH. However, this isn’t that unusual, since all three (as well as many of those who made the ballot) are likely to be nominated by the same people.

In Best Professional Artist, we have another nomination declined by Chinese Australian artist Guo Jian. There may be political reasons for this.

There’s nothing overly unusual in Best Semiprozine except that Clarkesworld is actually a prozine and has been for years now. I’m also happy to see my friends of Space Cowboy Books Presents: Simultaneous Times to just edge onto the longlist in 15th place.

In Best Fanzine, it’s notable that the top seven nominees (the six finalists plus Black Nerd Problems) are all very close to each other with more than 200 nominations each, then we get a sharp drop-off to The Full Lid with 55 nominations and then Speculative Fiction in Translation and Runalong the Shelves with 15 nominations each. I’m sorry, but these patterns are super unusual. The last time we saw something like this was during the puppy years and even then it wasn’t this extreme.

ETA: Camestros Felapton does a deep dive into the fanzine numbers and points out that they make no sense and also appear to be mislabeled.

In Best Fancast, we also have the massive drop-off between Coode Street Podcast in fourth place with 100 votes to Worldbuilding for Masochists in fifth with 56 and Kalanadi in sixth place with 20. I’m also happy to see my friends of The Skiffy and Fanty Show and If This Goes On, Don’t Panic make the longlist.

Best Fan Writer has another massive landmine, because Paul Weimer had the third highest number of nominations and yet was declared ineligible. This is complete nonsense, because Paul did plenty of fanwriting in 2022 and was obviously eligible. In fact, there are at least three nominees further down the longlist, whose eligiblity would be more in question, since they almost exclusively write for professional publications. And even that doesn’t really matter, since we have seen quite a few fan writer finalists with almost exclusively professional publications in the past few years. Paul has also confirmed that he was never contacted to clarify his eligibility, he simply was declared ineligible. He’s also understandably furious.

ETA: Paul Weimer shares two e-mails he sent to Hugo administrator Dave McCarty, demanding to know why exactly he was declared ineligible, when he very obviously wasn’t. Paul also points out that if the Chinese government has any issues with his writing, he needs to know, because he may eventually want to travel to China for business or personal reasons.

Also notable is that my pal Camestros Felapton was knocked out by EPH and that the pen name of finalist Arthur Liu “HeavenDuke” is misspelled as “HeavenDule”.

ETA: Camestros Felapton delves into the Best Fan Writer statistics and notes several oddities compared to 2022.

There are no shocking or unusual developments in Best Fan Artist, which makes it the only not even remotely controversial category on the ballot.

For the Lodestar, In the Serpent’s Wake by Rachel Hartman is actually listed twice, in fifth and seventh place. However, unlike “Turing Food Court” in Best Novelette, Rachel Hartman made the ballot anyway. Nonetheless, after taking three months to prepare the data, how can there still be such errors?

ETA: Camestros Felapton takes a deep dive into the Lodestar nomination data.

ETA 02-17-2024: The mystery of In the Serpent’s Wake being listed twice has been resolved. It should really be Unraveller by Frances Hardinge.

For the Astounding Award finally, we have another finalist randomly declared ineligible, namely Xiran Jay Zhao, who was on their first year of eligibility in 2022, so they should absolutely still have been eligible in 2023. Sunyi Dean also got knocked out by EPH in spite of getting the fifth highest number of votes.

ETA: Xiran Jay Zhao responds on Twitter to being declared ineligible. Like Paul, they were never contacted with questions regarding their eligibility. Like Paul, they are also justifiably angry.

ETA2: Now Xiran Jay Zhao’s TikTok post about being randomly declared ineligible for the Astounding Award has been removed for allegedly violating community rules. TikTok is owned by a Chinese company. Their upcoming book Heavenly Tyrant has also been delayed to 2025, though according to their tweet, this may also be related to Zhao’s views on the Gaza conflict. Nonetheless, this is about a lot more than just the Hugos by now.

ETA3: Xiran Jay Zhao also has an Instagram post about being declared ineligible, where you can also admire the gorgeous down they wore when they were an Astounding finalist in 2022.


This is the most unusual Hugo longlist I’ve ever seen, including the puppy years, and we really, really need some answers here:

Why were Babel, Paul Weimer, Xiran Jay Zhao and that Sandman episode declared ineligible, when they absolutely should have been eligible? Most of the Chinese nominees declared ineligible likely actually were ineligible due to prior publication, at least according to Neil Clarke who recognised several of the titles and authors. Though “Fogong Temple Pagoda” appears to be a 2022 publication, i.e. eligible. We definitely need answers here.

And what’s the reason behind the very strange voting patterns and sharp drop-off between first and fifteenth place nominations? Normally, this sort of pattern indicates slating, but a) EPH was supposed to reduce the impact of slates, and b) we have seen no public evidence of slates apart from a recommendation list (which is not against the rules) by Science Fiction World. And the Science Fiction World list alone does not explain these patterns.

Finally, while occasionally a nominee will fall victim to EPH, we have had several nominees knocked out by EPH, which is extremely unusual. That said, this might be explained by the very different voting patterns of Chinese and Western fans.

Nonetheless, a lot of people are justifiably angry, because these stats are a mess and make no sense at all. The conspiracy theories are already flying fast and furious. Most people seem to suspect tampering in some form.

The seemingly random ineligiblity is believed to be due to the affected nominees being considered politically undesirable in China, especially since two of the affected nominees, R.F. Kuang and Xiran Jay Zhao, are American and Canadian Chinese respectively. However, nothing I have read by R.F. Kuang suggests that she would be overly likely to criticise the Chinese government. Plus, we have other Chinese diaspora finalists on the ballot who were not declared ineligible. Nor does this explain why Paul Weimer or The Sandman or “Fogong Temple Pagoda” were declared ineligible.

ETA: One of Xiran Jay Zhao’s books apparently has an Uyghur main character, which would explain why they might be considered undesirable.

ETA 02-03-2024: Mary Robinette Kowal recounts how her novelette “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” was declared ineligible in 2013 due to being an audiobook and how this was clearly explained and the rules eventually adjusted.

The sharp drop-offs in nomination counts seem to suggest some kind of block voting or slating, except that the phenomenon wasn’t this notable even during the puppy years. Another, nastier theory is a whole swath of nominees were removed from the ballot and their votes redistributed in order to push finalists deemed more acceptable. This also explains the absence of works we would have expected to see on the longlist. However, if this was done, then why weren’t Babel, The Sandman, Paul Weimer and Xiran Jay Zhao removed in the same way?

Anyway, we need an explanation and we need it fast, lest the conspiracy theories get out of hand.

I didn’t vote for Chengdu, but I have been willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, even as inconsistencies and issues kept piling up, because the way the Chinese fans were treated by some western fans was disgusting.

However, if there was political influence on the Hugo ballot (and note that this is a big “if” at this moment) and if Dave McCarty or Ben Yalow allowed this to happen, then fuck them and fuck Chengdu! I don’t blame any of the Chinese organisers for going along with possible political pressure, because they have to live in China and face genuine risks. But McCarty, Yalow or any other western SMOFs involved should have sounded the alarm or at the very least resigned. The Chinese government has no power over them. So shame on them, if they went along with this. Also shame on them, if they thought that burying the data would mean people wouldn’t notice the problem.

Note that this is all just theory and conjecture at this point. We don’t know for sure what happened. And this is why we need answers and an explanation and we need it now. The people who were randomly declared ineligible needs answers and the finalists who made the ballot or won also need answers, because this is tainting their nominations and wins as well, if they don’t know if they really made the ballot or won organically.

Also, we need changes to the WSFS constitution that a) if a finalist is declared ineligible, an explanation needs to be given (which I assumed already was a requirement, but apparently not). Also finalists where the eligibility is in question should be contacted and given the chance to clarify their eligibility.

ETA: Camestros Felapton also muses about possible changes to the WSFS constitution.

Finally, while I am supportive of Worldcons outside the usual US/UK/Canada/Australia/maybe western Europe corridor, potential bidders need to accept that local politics, preferences and censorship should not influence the Hugo ballot. I don’t care if Uganda or Florida (or Hungary or Russia) get their knickers in a twist about LGBTQ finalists or if Israel gets their knickers in a twist over Palestinian finalists or if a Muslim majority country gets its knickers in a twist over Jewish finalists. Your country’s politics, whatever they are, should not influence the Hugo ballot. Any potential bidder needs to accept this or they can’t host a Worldcon. And yes, I feel sorry for countries with shitty politics and shitty governments (which includes western countries at times), but in this case, I care more about the integrity of the Hugo Awards.

Also, Chengdu has just made it a lot more unlikely for any future non-western or non-traditional bid (mainly Uganda at this point, since Egypt withdrew and the Tel Aviv bid seems to be dead for all intents and purposes) to ever win a Worldcon again. This is also a slap in the face for those of us who defended Chengdu, so thanks a lot.

For more analysis and spirited discussion, see Camestros Felapton’s analysis post and the comments at File 770. There’s also a post on File 770, addressing the many oddity on the longlist.

ETA: Camestros has also posted the questions he sent to the Hugo admin team and did another dive into the data, particularly the sharp drop-off in nominations seen in many categories.

ETA: Heather Rose Jones taks a deep dive into the Hugo nomination data and the unusual vote distribution patterns and compares 2023 to several earlier years.

ETA: Jameson Quinn, who is not just a specialist in voting systems but also helped to design the EPH algorithm to reduce the impact of slate voting, delves into the inconsistencies in this BlueSky thread.

ETA: Best Fan Writer finalist Jason Sanford weighs in on the Hugo nomination uproar in his latest Genre Grapevine column.

ETA2: Jason Sanford has written another Genre Grapevine column, summing up the latest developments in the Hugo nomination uproar.

ETA: Joe Sherry of the 2021 Best Fanzine and 2023 Ignyte Award winner nerds of a feather takes a look at the many issues and irregularities with the 2023 Hugo nominations.

ETA: Mr Philip’s Library offers a summary of the many issues and delays affecting the Chengdu Worldcon and the 2023 Hugo Awards.

Cheryl Morgan also weighs in and points out that putting out nomination data which clearly indicate shenangigans may be a way of protesting what happened by making it obvious that something happened. Because if someone falsified the data, they did so very clumsily.

ETA: Tammy Coxen weighs in on Facebook and notes that if no reason for declaring several finalists ineligible was given, then no reason can be given. She also assumes it’s all irrelevant anyway, because Worldcon will be dead in ten years anyway due to a lack of viable bids.

ETA: Simon McNeil weighs in with a predictably bad take with a few good points mixed in and thinks the Hugos should die already, because they are irrelevant.

ETA: At Pajiba, Nate Parker offers a summary of the 2023 Hugo drama and also relitigates some past Worldcon and Hugo drama from the Sad and Rabid puppies to the Raytheon debacle of 2021.

ETA 02-04-2024: On his YouTube channel, Damien Walter discusses what he calls “the strange sad death of the Hugo Awards” and also offers a summary of the history of the Hugos and Worldcon. He does make some good points, namely that there was also a lot of money and business deals connected to the Chengdu Worldcon, even though Worldcon is traditionally a non-profit, volunteer-run event. However, he’s a bit quick to declare the Hugos, especially considering that he actually addresses various previous controversies.

ETA: At Blog of the Moon, Raj weighs in and points out that bad as the 2023 Hugo nomination mess is, it is also a problem limited to one specific Worldcon and Hugo team and that this does not actually mean that the Hugos are permanently tarnished or dead, as some people seem to assume or hope.

I also have to admit that I really don’t understand those people who almost gleefully cheer that the Worldcon and the Hugos have been irrevocably tarnished, especially since most of them aren’t puppies (who have been saying that the Hugos are dead since 2015), but come from the left side of the genre spectrum. In some cases, there is old resentment involved, often linked to the AO3 drama of 2019, but I don’t understand why anybody would want something to die that other people enjoy.

ETA: Here is a blogpost from the right side of the SFF spectrum by James Pyles at Powered By RobotsAs Camestros Felapton points out there is very little reaction otherwise from the former Sad and Rabid Puppies.

ETA: Camestros also notes that the data and discrepancies are just too weird and contradictory to point either to one big conspiracy or incompetence and that there appears to be more than one issue at play here. He also points out that we don’t know if we can trust any of the 2023 nomination and voting data at this point. Because the voting data was also unsual with several finalists winning on first pass.

ETA2: Camestros has now found a 2023 Hugo statistic which does not look overly weird.

ETA 02-07-2024: Camestros has shared some graphs showing the relationship between raw votes and EPH points and also the relationship between nominee rank and number of votes. Unsurprisingly, the data for Chengdu looks extremely weird and also visualises the cliff, where the top ranks received many more nominations than those just below.

ETA: Nicholas Whyte, who has been Hugo administrator multiple times, always got the nomination data released within hours of the ceremony and has always been extremely scrupulous in establishing whether a finalist was eligible, in cases there were doubts, weighs in on the 2023 nomination drama and… notes that he has nothing useful to add to what has been already said. I find this extremely worrying, especially since I’m sure that if Nicholas had been Hugo administrator last year, the data wouldn’t be such an unholy mess.

ETA: Meanwhile, 2023 Hugo administrator Dave McCarty is still deflecting and giving non-answers and also being snippy about it. I know Hugo admins don’t grow on trees, but I hope every future Worldcon reconsiders before appointing Dave McCarty again.

File 770 has more screenshots from the comment section at Dave McCarty’s Facebook, so you won’t have to wade into Mark Zuckerberg’s evil empire. These include multiple Hugo winner Neil Gaiman and 2023 Best Novel finalist Silvia Moreno-Garcia calling out Dave McCarty as well as a hint that one or multiple Chinese members of the team might be at risk, if more was said. And indeed “Someone would be in genuine danger, if we said more” is about the only explanation I would accept at this point.

ETA2: File 770 reports that Dave McCarty has apologised for behaving like a jerk on Facebook and closed comments there and asks people to direct any questions they may still have to the Chengdu Hugo team via e-mail. Unfortunately, as Camestros Felapton points out, this is the same e-mail address to which several mails already bounced. Also note that Dave McCarty still hasn’t actually answered any of the questions.

ETA 02-06-2024: And Camestros Felapton reports that Dave McCarty has now either deleted or made his Facebook posts about the Hugo nomination debacle and indeed anything to do with the Chengdu Worldcon private. Sigh. Why am I not surprised?

ETA: 2021 Best Fanzine winner and 2023 finalist nerds of a feather have issued a statement in which they point out that their e-mails to the Chengdu Hugo team bounced and that they demand answers. So do we all.

ETA: Fandom being what it is, there is now a website called, which demands that Dave McCarty finally give a good answer to the questions many people have asked, and that he be kept away from positions of power at any Worldcon or other con going forwards. I completely agree with those points.

ETA: File 770 reports that Dave McCarty and Chen Shi of the Chengdu Hugo team as well as Chegdu co-chair Ben Yalow and Mark Protection Committee member Kevin Standlee have been reprimanded or censured by World Intellectual Property who hold the Worldcon and Hugo service marks. Dave McCarty has also resigned as director of Worldcon Intellectual Property, while Kevin Standlee has resigned as chairman of the board.

ETA: Camestros wonders whether the whole issue may be due to complete and utter incompetence rather than any malicious intent.

ETA:At File 770, ErsatzCulture shares another update on the state of the Hugo nomination debate, which includes a machine translation of a Weibo post by La Zi, editor of Science Fiction World magazine and the Galaxy Awards anthology as well as one of the vice chairs of the Chengdu Worldcon, which hints at trouble behind the scenes and that La Zi wanted nothing to do with it.

Angie Wang shares screenshots and translations of several Chinese social media posts on BlueSky. Chinese fans are clearly as angry about the whole mess as western fans, especially since this also messes up their efforts for Chinese SFF to gain acceptance on the world stage. Because make no mistake, whether there were voting irregularities in the 2021 site selection vote or not, the Chengdu Worldcon had genuine support from Chinese fans and these fans are now angry and disappointed and feel betrayed. So this isn’t an issue of China versus the West, it’s an issue of Dave McCarty and his Hugo team messing up the nominations and randomly declaring viable finalists ineligible for unknown reasons.

ETA: For another Chinese view on the Hugo nomination uproar, see this guest post by Chinese fan Zimozi Natsuco at File 770, which confirms what we’ve seen elsewhere, namely that Chinese fans are as angry as western fans about the Hugo nomination mess and the general issues with the Chengdu Worldcon. Zimozi Natsuco also points out that a lot of the Chinese members of the Chengdu con com were not actually fans, but media executives looking for business opportunities, and that some of these folks apparently ended up on the Hugo subcommittee and are as guilty as Dave McCarty. The fact that business-minded folks from outside fandom apparently came in and took over the Chengdu is something we’ve heard a few times from Chinese fans before – e.g. when the dates and venue were abruptly changed – but these statements didn’t get enough attention outside China, probably most western fans just don’t know enough about Chinese fandom.

ETA 02-09-2024: Hugo winner Chris Garcia weighs in on the Hugo nomination uproar in issue 66 of his fanzine The Claims Department and declares that Dave McCarty betrayed fandom and the Hugos be giving in to pressure or perceived pressure to remove certain works from the ballot. Chris also goes into a screenshot from Chinese social media that was shared on File 770, according to which the Chengdu Anti-Pornography and Anti-Illgel Affairs Office boasted of having reviewed and removed worked deemed problematic from the dealers room and the Hugo ballot. If this really does refer to the Hugo ballot, they didn’t do a very thorough job, since John Chu’s Hugo-nominated novelette is a gay love story by an openly gay Chinese diaspora author and yet was allowed to remain on the ballot. The Best Dramatic Presentation Long winner Everything Everywhere All At Once also has prominent LGBTQ characters, ditto for Best Dramatic Presentation Short finalist Andor, which is also super-political. The main mystery here really is why censor these specific works and people and not others.

ETA: 2023 Best Novel finalist John Scalzi weighs in on the Hugo nomination uproar and the baffling disqualification of Babel and others at Whatever and links to this very blog, which is also the reason this already much read post is getting even more views now.

Aidan Moher also weighs in on the Hugo statistics at the new home of Astrolabe.

ETA 02-05-2024: Doris V. Sutherland weighs in on the Hugo nomination uproar at Women Write About Comics.

ETA: Charles Stross weighs in one the Hugo nominations statistics mess and the Chengdu Worldcon in general at Antipope and also notes that the Chegdu Worldcon was taken over by corporate interests, who pushed out the Chinese fans.

ETA: Alex Acks weighs in on the Hugo nomination disaster.

ETA: 2023 Best Fancast finalist Octothorpe weighs in on the Hugo nomination irregularities. Also check out Alison Scott’s artwork for this episode.

ETA: 2014 Best Novel winner Ann Leckie weighs in on BlueSky.

ETA: Two-time Hugo finalist Chuck Tingle weighs in on Twitter and points out that his own Space Raptor Butt Invasion was not disqualified in 2015, even though there would have been arguments in favour of that, so why were Babel, Xiran Jay Zhao, The Sandman and Paul Weimer disqualified for seemingly no reason?

ETA: Camestros Felapton points out that two Chinese stories, “Colour the World” and “Fogong Temple Pagoda” have also been declared ineligible without any explanation, though these two stories are barely mentioned in most accounts (and a lot of mainstream articles forget Paul as well). “Colour the World” actually does appear to be ineligible due to having appeared in Chinese in 2019 and in English in 2021, but “Fogong Temple Pagoda” was first published in English in 2022, i.e. it should have been eligible.

ETA: Renay weighs in at the Hugo winning fanzine Lady Business and also links to other takes and posts.

ETA 02-02-2024: Hamsterwoman weighs on the 2023 Hugo winners, finalists and the nomination drama at Dreamwidth. You have to scroll down past some photos of what looks like a great gift parcel.

ETA: The Stitch and Bitch YouTube channel discusses the many issues with the 2024 Hugo nominations and have even brought their tinfoil hats.

ETA: Daniel Greene, a popular YouTuber, also weighs in one the Hugo controversy, though he apparently doesn’t know much about how the Hugos work and considers them something of a joke, probably because the sort of books he frequently reviews (Brandon Sanderson) rarely win or get nominated.

ETA: The Binary System Podcast also weighs in on the Hugo nomination debacle amidst discussion of the 2024 Oscar nominations (not blogging about those, since I haven’t seen most of those films and have zero interest in watching them), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Lore Olympus.

ETA 02-02-2024: At File 770, Ingvar shares a story called “Trigger Snowflake and the Dequalifications”, which is directly inspired by the Hugo nominations uproar.

ETA: The issue is beginning to hit the mainstream media, for Cheryl Eddy at io9 offers a summary of the controversy.

ETA: Jenn Northington offers a good summary of the uproar at BookRiot.

ETA: Dean Simons offers a summary of the controversy at Comics Beat and also goes into the unexpected win for the Cyberpunk 2077 tie-in comic in the Graphic Story category.

ETA: And the Hugo nomination scandal has now hit the Guardian, where China correspondent Amy Hawkins reports about the issue. The last time the Guardian reported about the Hugos was during the puppy years.

ETA: Sadie Gennis and Susana Polo share a summary of the 2023 Hugo drama as well as past Hugo-related uproars at Polygon.

ETA 02-02-2024: The Hugo controversy has now hit Esquire, where Adam Morgan offers a pretty good summary of the issues with the 2023 Hugo nominations as well as past scandals like the Sad and Rabid Puppy debacle. Though I have to note that the header image actually shows a 2020 CoNZealand Hugo trophy and not a 2023 Chengdu Hugo trophy. I’ve also never heard anybody refer to the Hugo administrator as the “Hugo pope”, but always as the Hugo administrator.

ETA: At Winter is Coming, Daniel Roman offers a very thorough article about the 2023 Hugo nomination uproar.

ETA: 2014 Best Fan Writer winner Abigail Nussbaum weighs in on the Hugo nomination uproar, wonders how we can prevent a repetition of this going forward and points out that the Hugos have survived worse.

And indeed, steps are already being taken to prevent this from ever happening again. For Cheryl Morgan and Kevin Standlee have drafted a resolution for the 2024 WSFS Business Meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, for decoupling the Hugos from the current Worldcon and putting them under the umbrella of the mark protection committee to prevent future Worldcons from tampering with the Hugos. The full text is here.

ETA 02-05-2024: Brad Templeton also weighs in with a summary of the 2023 Hugo nominatiosn uproar and some suggestions for preventing it from ever happening again. One of the suggestions, “Stop selling memberships to outsiders” is pretty terrible, because every Worldcon is someone’s first Worldcon.

ETA 02-05-2024: Camestros Felapton delves even deeper into EPH and the many issues with the Chengdu Hugo nomination data. Cam also comes up with a way of preemptively checking whether a given Worldcon is actually able to properly process nominations and votes and run EPH.

ETA 01-11-2024: Camestros Felapton has done even more analysis of the 2023 Hugo nominations statistics and has now probably spent more time analysing the statistics than Dave McCarty and pals spent preparing them. I’m not linking to the individual posts anymore, but you can find all of Cam’s 2023 Hugo analysis posts here. Basically, Cam’s analyses confirm what we already knew, namely that the 2023 Hugo nomination statistics are a complete and utter mess and that we likely can’t trust any of the data at all.

ETA: The Hugo Book Club Blog wonders whether EPH, the mechanism devised to lessen the impact of slates in the wake of the Sad and Rabid Puppy debacle of 2015/16, is more trouble than it’s worth.

ETA: Ada Palmer has a great examination of how censorship works in general and how much of it as actually self-censorship.

ETA: Best Fan Writer finalist Arthur Liu weighs in on Twitter and points out several other issues with the nomination data that I hadn’t noticed, not being that familiar with Chinese SFF.

Arthur Liu is also unhappy to realise he made the ballot because Paul Weimer was disqualified. And this is why all this is so infuriating and unfair, not just towards those who were declared ineligible, but also towards those who made the ballot and now question their nominations. And this is something no Hugo finalist deserves.

ETA: 2023 Best Fan Writer winner Chris M. Barkley also weighs in. Chris is also upset, because like other winners in categories where a finalist was randomly declared ineligible he will never know if he would have won, if Paul had made the ballot.

Many Hugo finalists already suffer from imposter syndrome – the first time I was nominated was at the start of the covid pandemic and I suspected that I only made the ballot because all twenty people who would have been ahead of me had declined for fear of catching covid at the con (it turned out no one had declined and I won the fifth highest number of nominations) – so doing this to Hugo finalists and winners is just cruel, because many of us are already insecure enough.

Finally, we had some very good and worthy Hugo finalists and winners in 2023 and I hate that a lot of them now question whether they were nominated or won legitimately.

ETA: Apparently, there are now calls to declare the 2023 Hugos illegitimate and redo them. I certainly understand the reasoning behind this, but taking away the wins from the 2023 winners – many of whom are already questioning whether they won fair and square – would be cruel. Let’s not forget that there are human beings involved here.

ETA2: Chris M. Barkley also discusses the issue with the 2023 Hugo nominations again in his regular column at File 770 from the POV of someone who actually attended the Chengdu Worldcon. He also responds to calls for the 2023 Hugo winners to return their trophies (most of which haven’t even shipped yet) by pointing out that no, he won’t return his trophy. I full agree with Chris here. We occasionally see calls for Hugo finalists or winners to recuse themselves, walk out or return their trophies, usually from people who’ve never been within spitting distance of a Hugo trophy. But this is a call that every finalist must make for themselves and the rest of us must accept that decision.

And for the record, while I’m glad I wasn’t nominated in 2023 and therefore had nothing to do with the whole mess, I wouldn’t have returned my trophy either.

ETA 02-05-2024: In his latest column at File 770, Chris M. Barkley actually interviews 2023 Hugo administrator Dave McCarty. There’s a lot of waffling and few clear answers, but McCarty talks a lot about the cultural differences between China and the US and how he had to bridge and respect those differences and how no one pressured him to remove anything from the ballot and how he never even interacted with any government officials higher up than the major of Chengdu and how he followed the WSFS consitution to the letter.

ETA 02-05-2024: There’s now also a transcript of the interview available, though it’s just more excuses and word salad from Dave McCarty.

ETA 02-06-2024: Here is a somewhat cleaned up transcript of the interview, with less gibberish but no more meaningful information.

It’s of course a shitload of nonsense. Yes, cultural differences affect Worldcons, but that means things like traditional room and bid parties being difficult to do in Helsinki, because Finland (and all of Scandinavia actually) is really weird about alcohol, or how Ireland’s strict fire codes affected queuing for panels at the Dublin Worldcon. It should not mean that finalists are randomly declared ineligible, because someone fears they might not be appropriate. Though McCarty’s statements strongly imply that we are dealing with pre-emptive self-censorship here rather than actual government pressure. He also appears to be afraid that saying more will make his Chinese colleagues look bad. Though at this point, I don’t think that there’s anything that can make them worse than they already look. Never mind that Chinese fans are as angry about the way the Chengdu Worldcon and the Hugos went as western fans.

ETA 02-05-2024: Camestros Felapton responds to the Dave McCarty interview and particularly to McCarty’s weak explanation for why there are so many obvious issues with the data.

ETA 02-05-2024: On BlueSky, Meg Frank recounts that Dave McCarty talked about manipulating Hugo votes and throwing out ballots to prevent that 5% rule taking effect during the 2014 Worldcon in London. So McCarty behaving as if the Hugos are his personal fiefdom isn’t new.

In other news, Chris also received a damaged Hugo trophy, since most of the Chengdu trophies seem to have been damaged in transit from China due to insufficient packaging. Considering the same thing happened to me, we should maybe also make sure that Hugo trophies are packaged better.

ETA: Nominations for the 2024 Hugo Awards are now open.

ETA 02-06-2024: It is only fitting that this endless and much amended saga (hopefully) ends with The Tragedy of MacCarty, Pope of Hugos by William Shakespeare, as performed by Timothy the Talking Cat on the kitchen table with multiple wigs and hats.”

ETA 02-15-2024: There have been significant new developments, so I wrote another post here.

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100 Responses to The 2023 Hugo nomination statistics have finally been released – and we have questions

  1. Marshall Ryan Maresca says:

    As I noted on Bluesky, there is something wrong with the math, namely EPH totals exceeding the number of ballots cast, which should be impossible:

  2. The double placement of “Turing Food Court” is a cut-and-paste error, and it has been corrected. Reload the page and you’ll the the correct figures.

    • Cora says:

      Okay, thanks.

      What about In the Serpent’s Wake by Rachel Hartman, which is also listed twice for the Lodestar? I assume that’s another copy and paste error.

    • Marshall Ryan Maresca says:

      Odd to address the hangnail while leaving the knife wounds untreated there.

      • Cora says:

        I mean it’s nice that the “Turing Food Court” issue has been resolved, but there are much bigger issues here that haven’t even been addressed.

  3. Madame Hardy says:

    Thank you so much for pulling it all together.

    • Cora says:

      You’re very welcome, though I wish I didn’t have to do this, especially not today, where I don’t really have time for this.

  4. Damn, I forgot about the odd absence of The World We Make. None of this adds up

  5. I ran into this on File770 some time ago: Liu uses the nickname HeavenDuke but online URL/username “Heavendule” (since the proper one was occupied, or the like), so it is not really a misspelling but a case of understandable confusion.

    Thanks for the overview.

    • Cora says:

      Yes, I noticed that’s his Twitter handle, but he was annoyed about that.

      Anyway, glad you enjoyed the overview.

      • Ah, my apologies to all – I was on my phone, so hadn’t seen the results PDF yet and took “it can’t even spell my name right” followed by the mention of the mistaken re-translation at the con to mean something else, to do with a “real” name. But then I saw that the Chinese characters in the file seem correct.

        (Still, I find it a bit unfortunate that the tweets say just “Arthur Liu @HeavenDule”, and even the profile does not mention he is known as HeavenDuke / ?? . I wonder how many other people got confused like me?)

        Again, thanks for the updates, I try to follow the discussions but would have missed many of these.

  6. Cat Ivanovich says:

    Gaiman is a prominent supporter of, and ambassador for, UNHCR – which has been deeply critical of the Chinese government over the treatment of the Uyghurs.

    The exclusion of such a promenient figure could easily be a “malicious compliance” way of signalling to non-Chinese folk that political pressure was indeed applied by the State.

    • Cora says:

      Thanks for this. This might be an explanation for declaring The Sandman TV show illegible, especially since Neil Gaiman usually shows up to accept in person, when one of his works or a TV show or movie he is involved with is nominated.

  7. Joachim Boaz says:

    I put Elric of Melniboné on my list. And I’m confused/miffed about Paul as well.

    Thank you for putting this all together in an easily digestible form. As someone who has quit Twitter and doesn’t stay too abreast of contemporary fandom, I found this deeply useful.


  8. Kip Williams says:

    That’s a very well-done rundown, Cora. I had no idea about any of this until I was awakened by a loud bang. I don’t know enough to say anything but thanks!

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  10. Lisa Hertel says:

    In Best Related, we have two works declared ineligible. The first is History of Chinese Science Fiction in the 20th Century, which was declared ineligible, because one of the author was on the Hugo committee. This is an absolutely valid reason to declare what was likely a worthy finalist ineligible and also appears to be a first in Hugo history.

    Actually, Hal Clement (the pen name of Harry Stubbs) was kicked off of the Noreascon 3 Hugo Committee because, as the nominations came in, it seemed likely he was going to get one. Indeed, that is the usual SOP.

    • Cora says:

      Thanks for that. I didn’t know that, but it does make sense. And in recent years, Worldcon chairs who were also Hugo finalists made sure they had no connection to the Hugo subcommittee.

  11. Laura says:

    Babel was not knocked out by EPH. If it hadn’t been ruled ineligible, it would have knocked out Daughter. Daughter and Babel had the lowest EPH scores, but Babel had more nominations. Still Babel’s EPH scores staying the same for those rounds is obviously incorrect. They would have changed on round 4 based on my own nominations alone. So who knows if Babel was the one that Daughter should have been compared with. Maybe Daughter should have kicked Kaiju off.

    • Cora says:

      Yes, the EPH data for Babel makes no sense, because several people have said that they nominated both The Mountain and the Sea and/or A Half-Built Garden and Babel. In general, I’m not sure how much we can trust this data at all, since there are so many oddities and issues.

  12. Steve Wright says:

    R.F. Kuang is a very grim and gritty sort of writer (seriously, do NOT try to sell her protagonists life insurance), but her grimness and grittiness is often directed at targets such as colonialism and imperialism. Even though the empire being reproved in “Babel” is the British Empire, it may still be the case that a book which actively valorizes a rebellion against authority… will not be exactly welcomed under the current Chinese regime.

    I have wondered if there’s a sort of “book group” effect going on with some of the nominations – if a large number of Chinese fans were reading material from a curated list, it *might* create large blocks for the things on that list, while still being organic enough not to trigger EPH. Some caveats here, though:-

    1. I know absolutely nothing about Chinese fandom, so I don’t know if this actually happens at all.
    2. Even if it does happen, I wonder if it’s enough to explain all the statistical anomalies we’ve seen here.
    3. It certainly does not explain the disqualifications, or the way there are more EPH points than ballots cast.

    I would be very much against the idea of having curated lists of approved works, on the grounds that this hands far too much influence to the curators and approvers. And, as I say, I have no evidence that any such lists ever existed…. I suppose what I’m trying to do, here, is to see if there’s any way we can give the concom the benefit of the doubt, here. But it does look, very much, as though they’ve been leaned on by the Powers That Be in China. I can’t say I would expect the committee to stand up to such pressure – the Chinese authorities can lean pretty heavily, after all.

    I suppose this poses a lot of questions about how a WorldCon can function in an authoritarian state – questions which might strike a lot closer to home than we would like. After all, would it be safe to hold a WorldCon in a country where peaceful protest has been criminalized, and where the government is actively proposing to curtail basic human rights for those it deems unworthy of them? Because that’s where the 2024 WorldCon is happening….

    • Cora says:

      We do know that there was at least one recommendation list put out by Science Fiction World and Best Fan Writer finalist Arthur Liu has mentioned other recommendation lists by publishers. Though I don’t think recommendation lists alone can explain the odd nomination distribution and the EPH issues.

    • Trialia says:

      If it helps at all, there are a lot more folk fighting the toxic strands woven through politics in Scotland, than there would have been had the event gone back to England, as in 2014. As much as that hurts me to know and recognise, given that I live in England and am non-binary, queer, disabled and marginalised in various other ways.

      There’s a general election coming up before the next Worldcon IIRC, which may be a plus. I don’t think Labour are looking all that much better than the Tories at the moment (if at all, given their own machinations within their party in destroying any political balance), but I also don’t think the latter will manage to hang on to their sitting government this time around. They’ve done too much harm to too many people over the last fifteen years, and there are a lot of activists out here trying to make sure the rest of the country opens their eyes to that, and to the likely ramifications. So it’s an improvement, if a limited one. Britain desperately needs proportional representation to oust FPTP, for a start, but you’re right, this is the most authoritarian – and the most corrupt! – cabinet we’ve been stuck with in years.

      Anyway, not to derail, but I can’t offhand think of a single country that doesn’t have some problematic aspects so far as hosting a truly unlimited Worldcon could go. If you can, I’d sincerely like to hear about it, as one of those marginalised fans stepping (or wheeling) over eggshells lately – provided, of course, that it wouldn’t be an excessive amount of emotional labour on your part? If it is, of course, all you need do is say it. And thanks, either way.

      • Cora says:

        Yes, there are issues in most countries and parts of them, even supposedly democratic western countries. There are cities in Germany where it wouldn’t be a great idea to host a Worldcon in spite of great facilities. And just last week, it was revealed that the far right AfD is planning to deport not just all refugees, asylum seeker and illegal immigrants, but also every person of immigrant origin from Germany and even 100% “pure” German people who have worked with and helped refugees. That would be about a quarter of total population, ironically including several AfD members. So yes, there is crap in every country.

  13. Thanks for this, Cora. Great analysis, as always.

  14. Janet says:

    For those of us who are not “in the know” on Hugo terminology, I beg you, please explain: what is an EPH?

  15. Trialia says:

    I hate to have even my tiny extra piece to add to this because it’s already worrying as can be, and I don’t feel right self-centring on anything, but I found myself entirely unable to submit any vote for Best New Writer this year when filling out the voting form – the site reset my vote every time I tried it, despite switching platforms, browsers, IP addresses and even, eventually, the positions of a couple of the authors further down my list, all to try to get it through.

    I tried to contact the Chengdu team about it, went all over the place as best I could, but all I got was a Facebook comment telling me to DM their team there, after numerous bouncing email addresses.

    And that’s *without* making a deep dive into the nightmare that was the basic accessibility of email contacts, the voter packets *and* the voter form in general, this time around. Let’s just say it was far from being ideally designed for those of us who run our lives through smartphones, or have visual impairments. The access team was one of those emails that I found repeatedly bouncing. ?

    I wanted Chengdu to succeed for the benefit of the fans, but like Uganda, I would never have been able to attend regardless of the pandemic, because I had concerns for my personal safety. But I’d really hoped that the awards themselves wouldn’t be impacted for the worse by this new location, and that’s starting to seem as though it may have been a hope in vain.

    I really hope I’m mistaken.

    Thanks for all the links and information, Cora, I always appreciate your ability to sum up a situation without losing any of the important pieces of the puzzle.

    • Cora says:

      Actually, that’s a very important comment, because a lot of us, including myself, had issues submitting nominations and votes. I couldn’t even log into the nomination page for a long time, because my e-mail provider kept rejecting e-mails from Chengdu, so I never received the voting token. I also got my votes submitted literally at the last minute – my father was dying at the time (and actually died maybe 2 hours after Hugo voting closed) and I somehow managed to get them submitted inbetween hospital visits. I can only hope they were actually counted.

      Like you I also wanted Chengdu (and Uganda, should they win) to succeed, simply because I want Worldcon to be an actual WORLDcon, whether I would personally attend or not. But Chengdu destroyed a lot of trust in non-western and non-traditional Worldcon bids and it will take a long time to recover. I also feel really sorry for the enthusiastic Chinese fans who made this Worldcon happen and were then betrayed by the organisers.

      I’m also glad the post was useful.

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  18. Gabriel Shepperd says:

    Very detailed and helpful analysis. Thanks for the handwork. I completely agree with your comments at the end. Well said.

  19. Mike says:

    Cora, thanks for the coverage here.

    A question. Who is the 2024 Hugo administrator?

  20. Steven says:

    Xiran Jay Zhou’s most recent book, Zachary Ying and the Dragons Emperor, pretty heavily criticizes the CCRP so I 100% wouldn’t be surprised if that was the reason

  21. Shrinking Violet says:

    A good compilation, Cora; thank you for putting it together.

    Streamers Stitch & Bitch/BreeReadsBooks have released an hour-and-a-half-long video, with a detailed look at the nomination document. “We are now robbed of having our normal reactions to the longlist.” Quite true. What’s worse? This fiasco, they acknowledge, has spoiled the Hugos experience for every hard-working creative person involved, whether or not they were awarded.

    Ada Palmer’s examination of censorship was an informative read. It’s a pity that one of her commenters saw fit to imply that Palmer herself was speaking irresponsibly: “I’m just pointing out that there’s risk when you start waving loaded words around, and it’s essential to know how to operate them safely.” There’s a subtle irony in that. ?

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  23. Gary Farber says:

    We’re not going to get answers. That’s not how the Communist Party of China works or rules or does things. Asking is a waste of time and breath.

    If the Chengdu bid could have been defeated at the vote awarding it the Worldcon, that would have prevented this. After that it was all a dead issue, as many of us pointed out for years before the vote, during the vote, and since the vote. This is what happens with collaborating with a totalitarian regime.

    I’d love to say something more cheerful, but I don’t see anything to do but work to amend the WSFS Constitution in some fashion to prevent the Worldcon from going to repressive regimes in future. If that’s possible. Getting a majority of the Business Meeting to agree to anything is a bitch, let alone something this complicated.

    But the 2023 Worldcon is now past and moot. There’s nothing that can be done about it. We can only address the future.

    “potential bidders need to accept that local politics, preferences and censorship should not influence the Hugo ballot. I don’t care if Uganda or Florida (or Hungary or Russia) get their knickers in a twist about LGBTQ finalists or if Israel gets their knickers in a twist over Palestinian finalists or if a Muslim majority country gets its knickers in a twist over Jewish finalists. Your country’s politics, whatever they are, should not influence the Hugo ballot.”

    This is like insisting that Worldcons refuse to go along with the laws of gravity. It’s not how countries work. Worldcons can’t defy the laws of the countries they are in. Not without risking people going to jail or even potentially the con being shut down.

    It’s the reverse: WSFS has to do what it can to prevent the Worldcon from going to countries at risk of being interfered with by host governments as regards free speech in any way. THAT we can control. Laws of host governments are not something we can control or change or opt out of.

    Anyone who didn’t see limitations on free speech as regards Chengdu coming as soon as the bid was bruited clearly had no interest in how China works and no interest in learning. It was beyond naive and foolish.

    • Cora says:

      A lot of western fans were not happy with Chengdu winning the site selection vote in 2021. But a large part of the problem was that Nice and Memphis dropped out of the race – Nice because their venue was being demolished under their feet after a local election and Memphis because the bid com had problems. Winnipeg came in as a last minute contestant and their sole campaign seemed to be “Well, at least we’re not Chengdu”, which simply wasn’t enough.

      Plus, western fandom forgot that there are more than a billion Chinese people, many of whom are science fiction fans and some of whom are willing and able to pony up the money required for a supporting membership and site selection vote. Any irregularities with site selection voting that may have occurred in 2021 should have been investigated, but there was a genuine fan support behind the Chengdu bid. And the Chinese fans are as annoyed as the western ones.

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  25. Just. A Bean says:

    The Xiran Jay Zhao responds on Twitter to being declared ineligible. link goes to a different facebook post.

    Thanks for putting this all together! It’s really helpful to have a good summary to link to.

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  30. Ash says:

    If there’s censorship or political pressure (however indirect) occurring than the exclusion with some of these Nominations may be due to reasons outside the author or that specific work.

    E.g. It’s public knowledge, and in at least 1 Guardian article, that RF Kuang’s father was a student protester at Tiananmen Square and watched his friends die.

    Given the CCP’s sensitivities on Tiananmen I wouldn’t be surprised if Kuang was excluded because her or her father went public on that piece of history.

    • Cora says:

      That definitely makes sense, though former Tienanmen square student protesters are not banned from China per se. A translator colleague of mine took part in the protests and frequently travels to China, though she also never was as public a figure as R.F. Kuang or her father.

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  51. Gérard Kraus says:

    Thank you for this meticulous collection of information and links.
    I just wanted to know what the ‘The Deep’ Music Video is you make reference too, please?

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  53. ben says:

    What I’m getting from all this is something I already figured out years ago before puppy stuff… The Hugo Awards are no longer a valid indicator of whether I would like the work or not. Before 2010 or so, I knew if a book won a Hugo I would probably like it. Now if a book wins a Hugo, I usually don’t like it very much. Tastes change, sure… But I don’t think that’s what this is.

    • Cora says:

      I suspect changing tastes is very much what it is. There was a period in the late 1990s to up to about 2010, where I disliked a lot of Hugo winning and nominated novels (after liking many of the earlier ones). Now I’m a lot happier with the winners and finalists, though there still are books that aren’t for me.

      However, whether I personally like a winner or not, the process must be fair.

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  58. Nena Mathieu says:

    Hi Thanks putting this together! I wonder what AI will do in this space over the next five years.

  59. Jenora Feuer says:

    I don’t know how common an occurrence this sort of thing would be, but date-stamping all the ETA notes so we can see which ones were added when and in what order might be something to consider for next time…

    • Cora says:

      I hear you. To be fair, I didn’t expect this to escalate the way it did and didn’t want to start a new post either, when links kept coming in.

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