Hugo versus Nebula Awards

3 views
Skip to first unread message

Magnusfarce

unread,
Dec 28, 2003, 10:01:07 PM12/28/03
to
Maybe this is an old point of discussion, but I thought I'd toss it out
anyway. After some time off, I'm trying to catch up on more recent science
fiction, and have listed several year's worth of Hugo and Nebula winners to
find and read. I have my own thoughts on this, but how would other fans
describe the differences between the types of novels that win each of these
awards? In other words, how is the average Hugo award winning novel
different than the average Nebula award novel?

- Magnusfarce


Mike Ward

unread,
Dec 29, 2003, 12:38:35 AM12/29/03
to
"Magnusfarce" <magnus...@earthlink.net> wrote in
news:TNMHb.9804$lo3....@newsread2.news.pas.earthlink.net:

I've not read a lot of Nebula winners but two of the ones I have read "Red
Mars" and "The Terminal Experiment" were both horrible so I don't but a lot
of stock in that award myself.

As for the Hugo, I think it tends to be a bit haphazardly awarded. Certain
authurs seem to be favored by the Worldcon attendees and they get undue
attention IMO.

I think that you'd get a better selection of good recent SF by asking this
group for recommendations than you'd get from either the Hugo or Nebula
awards.

Mike

Justin Bacon

unread,
Dec 29, 2003, 1:19:53 AM12/29/03
to
Magnusfarce wrote:
>In other words, how is the average Hugo award winning novel
>different than the average Nebula award novel?

On average they aren't particularly different at all. The actual winners may
differ noticeably on an aggregate basis, but if you look at the nominations
each year I think it becomes relatively clear that they're sharing a
substantially similar pool.

The main difference is a direct result of the people voting on the awards, and
it's a fairly minor effect: The Hugo Award has a slight bias towards popular
authors. The Nebula Award has a slight bias to lesser-known authors who are
well known by members in the industry.

I also have a suggestion: You will probably have as much or better luck looking
at the nominations for the awards, rather than just those novels which won the
award.

Justin Bacon
tria...@aol.com

Nicholas Whyte

unread,
Dec 29, 2003, 5:16:52 AM12/29/03
to
"Magnusfarce" <magnus...@earthlink.net> wrote in message news:<TNMHb.9804$lo3....@newsread2.news.pas.earthlink.net>...

First of all, I echo someone else's comment that the shortlists will
be at least as interesting as the winners and of course provide much
more reading material!

However I have not found the Nebula Award final ballot very useful for
me in identifying novels that I would like to read, and two of the
last four awards for Best Novel are, in my humble opinion, completely
incomprehensible (_Darwin's Radio_ and _The Quantum Rose_). The Hugo
shortlist, on the other hand, always includes several books that I
already own and I usually enjoy tracking down and reading the others;
and while I disagree with all of the last four Hugos for Best Novel, I
can at least understand what the voters saw in them (even if it's only
loyalty to the local candidate as with this year's award to
_Hominids_). I actually find that the shortlists (and winners) of the
British Science Fiction Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award are much
better guidelines for my own personal taste, but your mileage may
vary.

In terms of how the average Hugo winner differs from the average
Nebula winner, the Nebulas are more likely to go to left-wing writers;
are more likely to go to women writers; and are more likely to go to
new writers. I don't think any of these are necessarily bad things.
It's a shame that the Nebulas are also more likely to go to inferior
books.

Nicholas
my real email address is explorers at whyte dot com
ages of Hugo and Nebula winners:
http://explorers.whyte.com/sf/sfages.htm
more pointless statistics: http://explorers.whyte.com/sf/sfmore.htm

Rick Kleffel

unread,
Dec 29, 2003, 8:41:58 AM12/29/03
to
"Magnusfarce" <magnus...@earthlink.net> wrote in message news:<TNMHb.9804$lo3....@newsread2.news.pas.earthlink.net>...

I just wrote a large article on this for my website, surveying all the
awards that I manage to pay attention to. In a nutshell, the Hugo
bends towards popularity and the Nebulas bend towards professionalism.
Which one of these is going to be more rewarding to you depends on
what you enjoy reading. In practice, the overlap is great.

For the full deal....

http://trashotron.com/agony/columns/2003/12-20-03.htm

Thanks,

Rick Kleffel
The Agony Column Book Reviews and Commentary
http://trashotron.com/agony/

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 29, 2003, 10:34:47 AM12/29/03
to
In article <7b33cc41.03122...@posting.google.com>,
Nicholas Whyte <nichol...@hotmail.com> wrote:

>and while I disagree with all of the last four Hugos for Best Novel, I
>can at least understand what the voters saw in them (even if it's only
>loyalty to the local candidate as with this year's award to
>_Hominids_).

Having said unkind things here about some of his fiction I can now
say something in Sawyer's defense: the local vote at Torcon 3 was smaller
than it would have been at any other NorAm con. Apparently Canadians are
stingy bastards who were relatively unwilling to fork over the green to
attend a Worldcon. There were certainly fewer of Canadians as a fraction
of the crowd than there should have been, given that 60% of us live within
a 6 hr train trip. I don't know how the locals voted but I do know there
were fewer of them than would be expected elsewhere.

And in any case Sawyer has shown he can convince Americans to
vote for him: see _The Terminal Experiment_.

--
"The Union Nationale has brought [Quebec] to the edge of an abyss.
With Social Credit you will take one step forward."

Camil Samson

Htn963

unread,
Dec 29, 2003, 6:45:12 PM12/29/03
to
ag...@trashotron.com (Rick Kleffel) wrote in message news:<c46de353.0312...@posting.google.com>...

>
> I just wrote a large article on this for my website,

Why, of course!

> surveying all the
> awards that I manage to pay attention to. In a nutshell, the Hugo

> bends towards popularity and the Nebulas bend towards [professionalism].

You misspelled politics. A good media analogy is that the Hugo
is the equivalent of the People's Choice Award while the Nebula is the
Oscar. But there is a difference in that the Hugo has more prestige,
which says something about how sf writers as a group are still
regarded --only slightly above the teamster's union.

> Which one of these is going to be more rewarding to you depends on
> what you enjoy reading. In practice, the overlap is great.

Not in terms of sexual orientation (and I agree with a previous
comment that the Nebula leaning is more leftist). AFAIK, no gay or bi
author has ever won the Hugo (I don't recall Delany winning one).

--
Ht

raycun

unread,
Dec 30, 2003, 6:09:55 AM12/30/03
to
ag...@trashotron.com (Rick Kleffel) wrote in message news:<c46de353.0312...@posting.google.com>...

> I just wrote a large article on this for my website, surveying all the


> awards that I manage to pay attention to.

By the way, your summary of the Booker nomination process is
inaccurate.
"UK publishers can submit up to two books per year, with five
additional titles for consideration. Nobody who's been in the contest
for the past ten years can be entered or win a prize..."

On the contrary, "any title by an author who has won the Booker Prize
and any title by an author who has been shortlisted in the last ten
years may be submitted." (in addition to the normal two per publisher)

Margaret Atwood, for example, won the prize a couple of years ago for
The Blind Assassin, and was shortlisted this year for Oryx and Crake,
and Rushdie won it for Midnight's Children, and was shortlisted a few
years later for The Satanic Verses. And there are many authors who
have been shortlisted repeatedly, or shortlisted one year and won in a
later year.

Ray

Brandon

unread,
Dec 30, 2003, 9:31:50 PM12/30/03
to

Htn963 wrote:
>
>
> Not in terms of sexual orientation (and I agree with a previous
> comment that the Nebula leaning is more leftist). AFAIK, no gay or bi
> author has ever won the Hugo (I don't recall Delany winning one).

Arthur C. Clarke, in 1974 and in 1980.

--
Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable
from malice. -- seen on Usenet, 10/22/03 (with apologies to
Arthur C. Clarke)

Richard Horton

unread,
Dec 30, 2003, 10:11:23 PM12/30/03
to
On Tue, 30 Dec 2003 19:31:50 -0700, Brandon <jch...@avalon.net>
wrote:

>
>
>Htn963 wrote:
>>
>>
>> Not in terms of sexual orientation (and I agree with a previous
>> comment that the Nebula leaning is more leftist). AFAIK, no gay or bi
>> author has ever won the Hugo (I don't recall Delany winning one).
>
>Arthur C. Clarke, in 1974 and in 1980.

I'm pretty sure Clarke was gay back in 1956 or whenever "The Star"
won, too.

There are a number of Hugo winners whose sexual orientation I don't
know, and about at least one of those I recall seeing a quote to the
effect that he or she was gay, in terms that suggested this was common
knowledge.


--
Rich Horton | Stable Email: mailto://richard...@sff.net
Home Page: http://www.sff.net/people/richard.horton
Also visit SF Site (http://www.sfsite.com) and Tangent Online (http://www.tangentonline.com)

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 30, 2003, 11:29:33 PM12/30/03
to
In article <3FF234FE...@avalon.net>, Brandon <jch...@avalon.net> wrote:
>Htn963 wrote:
>>
>>
>> Not in terms of sexual orientation (and I agree with a previous
>> comment that the Nebula leaning is more leftist). AFAIK, no gay or bi
>> author has ever won the Hugo (I don't recall Delany winning one).
>
>Arthur C. Clarke, in 1974 and in 1980.

Bzzt! I call He Has Never Confirmed It, Prefering to Answer
"Are You Gay" with "No, Just Cheerful" on you.

Robert A. Woodward

unread,
Dec 31, 2003, 1:38:51 AM12/31/03
to
In article <bcef0661.03122...@posting.google.com>,
Htn...@peoplepc.com (Htn963) wrote:

> ag...@trashotron.com (Rick Kleffel) wrote in message
> news:<c46de353.0312...@posting.google.com>...

<snip various comparisons of Hugo and Nebula awards>


>
> > Which one of these is going to be more rewarding to you depends on
> > what you enjoy reading. In practice, the overlap is great.
>
> Not in terms of sexual orientation (and I agree with a previous
> comment that the Nebula leaning is more leftist). AFAIK, no gay or bi
> author has ever won the Hugo (I don't recall Delany winning one).

Delany has never won a Hugo for Best Novel, but "Time Considered as a
Helix of Semi-Precious Stones" was the 1970 Best Short Story winner (and
won for same category in the 1969 Nebula awards) and _The Motion of
Light in Water ..._ was the 1989 Related Non-Fiction winner.

--
Robert Woodward <robe...@drizzle.com>
<http://www.drizzle.com/~robertaw

Nicholas Whyte

unread,
Dec 31, 2003, 9:58:04 AM12/31/03
to
On 29 Dec 2003 10:34:47 -0500, jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll)
wrote:

>In article <7b33cc41.03122...@posting.google.com>,
>Nicholas Whyte <nichol...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>>and while I disagree with all of the last four Hugos for Best Novel, I
>>can at least understand what the voters saw in them (even if it's only
>>loyalty to the local candidate as with this year's award to
>>_Hominids_).
>
> Having said unkind things here about some of his fiction I can now
>say something in Sawyer's defense: the local vote at Torcon 3 was smaller
>than it would have been at any other NorAm con. Apparently Canadians are
>stingy bastards who were relatively unwilling to fork over the green to
>attend a Worldcon. There were certainly fewer of Canadians as a fraction
>of the crowd than there should have been, given that 60% of us live within
>a 6 hr train trip. I don't know how the locals voted but I do know there
>were fewer of them than would be expected elsewhere.

Interesting point. Can you think of other recent Hugos which were
affected by local sentiment?

Nicholas

Richard Horton

unread,
Dec 31, 2003, 2:34:11 PM12/31/03
to

The obvious possibility is Egan's "Oceanic", which won a very close
race as I recall, in a year that Worldcon was in Australia. I didn't
mind myself, as a) I'm pretty sure I preferred "Oceanic" to whatever
was second; and b) I wanted Egan to get a Hugo, which I think he has
deserved for several stories (though, to be honest, not necessarily
for "Oceanic").

Brandon

unread,
Dec 31, 2003, 10:25:16 PM12/31/03
to

Richard Horton wrote:
>
> On Tue, 30 Dec 2003 19:31:50 -0700, Brandon <jch...@avalon.net>
> wrote:
>
> >
> >
> >Htn963 wrote:
> >>
> >>
> >> Not in terms of sexual orientation (and I agree with a previous
> >> comment that the Nebula leaning is more leftist). AFAIK, no gay or bi
> >> author has ever won the Hugo (I don't recall Delany winning one).
> >
> >Arthur C. Clarke, in 1974 and in 1980.
>
> I'm pretty sure Clarke was gay back in 1956 or whenever "The Star"
> won, too.

Right, but the original discussion was of novels that won
the Hugo, so that's what I was counting.

David Goldfarb

unread,
Dec 31, 2003, 11:58:44 PM12/31/03
to
In article <TwFIb.9853$qE6....@newssvr33.news.prodigy.com>,

Richard Horton <rrho...@prodigy.net> wrote:
>On Wed, 31 Dec 2003 14:58:04 GMT, nichola...@pandora.be (Nicholas
>Whyte) wrote:
>>Can you think of other recent Hugos which were
>>affected by local sentiment?
>
>The obvious possibility is Egan's "Oceanic", which won a very close
>race as I recall, in a year that Worldcon was in Australia. I didn't
>mind myself, as a) I'm pretty sure I preferred "Oceanic" to whatever
>was second; and b) I wanted Egan to get a Hugo, which I think he has
>deserved for several stories (though, to be honest, not necessarily
>for "Oceanic").

I agree with your point b....

Another one would be Vernor Vinge's "Fast Times at Fairmont High", which
won in a year when Vinge was Guest of Honor at the Worldcon. It might
well have won anyway, but the GoHship certainly couldn't have hurt.

--
David Goldfarb <*>|"I'm sorry officer, but ever since I started
gold...@ocf.berkeley.edu | wearing the Wonderbra I've been inexplicably
gold...@csua.berkeley.edu | drawn around town preventing crimes."
| -- Bizarro

William December Starr

unread,
Jan 2, 2004, 4:12:58 AM1/2/04
to
In article <TwFIb.9853$qE6....@newssvr33.news.prodigy.com>,
Richard Horton <rrho...@prodigy.net> said:

> The obvious possibility is Egan's "Oceanic", which won a very close
> race as I recall, in a year that Worldcon was in Australia. I
> didn't mind myself, as a) I'm pretty sure I preferred "Oceanic" to
> whatever was second; and b) I wanted Egan to get a Hugo, which I
> think he has deserved for several stories (though, to be honest,
> not necessarily for "Oceanic").

The ISFDB at

Linkname: 1999
URL: http://isfdb.tamu.edu/cgi-bin/ay.cgi?Hu1999

says:

1999 Hugo Award

[ *snip* ]

Best Novella
o Oceanic Greg Egan
Aurora in Four Voices Catherine Asaro
Story of Your Life Ted Chiang
Get Me to the Church on Time Terry Bisson
The Summer Isles Ian R. MacLeod
Nominations Below Cutoff:
Ancestral Voices Gardner Dozois and
Michael Swanwick
The Days of Solomon Gursky Ian McDonald
A Princess of Helium R. Garcia y Robertson

I assume that they list those in descending order or Winner, 2nd
place, 3rd place, etc., since it doesn't seem to be alphabetical by
title or author; if so it was the Asaro piece that got beaten out.

Of all of those, I've only read "Oceanic," "Story of Your Life" and,
below the nomination cut, "The Days of Solomon Gursky." Wasn't
really blown away by any of those three.

(No, wait, was "The Summer Isles" the one about an alternate-history
British fascist, told by a former schoolteacher of his? If so, I've
read that one too. I seem to lack the Ian McDonald appreciation
gene, along with the one for Ted Chiang.)

-- William December Starr <wds...@panix.com>

Richard Horton

unread,
Jan 2, 2004, 9:33:36 PM1/2/04
to
On 2 Jan 2004 04:12:58 -0500, wds...@panix.com (William December
Starr) wrote:

>
>I assume that they list those in descending order or Winner, 2nd
>place, 3rd place, etc., since it doesn't seem to be alphabetical by
>title or author; if so it was the Asaro piece that got beaten out.
>
>Of all of those, I've only read "Oceanic," "Story of Your Life" and,
>below the nomination cut, "The Days of Solomon Gursky." Wasn't
>really blown away by any of those three.
>
>(No, wait, was "The Summer Isles" the one about an alternate-history
>British fascist, told by a former schoolteacher of his? If so, I've
>read that one too. I seem to lack the Ian McDonald appreciation
>gene, along with the one for Ted Chiang.)

It's by Ian MacLeod, actually, though that is the story. However I
suspect the Ian McDonald appreciation gene and the Ian MacLeod
appreciation gene are at least on the same chromosome.

My choice for Hugo winner was, by a huge margin, "Story of Your Life".
But it was as I recall "Aurora in Four Voices" that finished second in
a close race to "Oceanic", and I prefer "Oceanic".

H. E. Taylor

unread,
Jan 4, 2004, 10:47:33 PM1/4/04
to
In article <bstjbd$9mn$1...@panix3.panix.com>,

<jdni...@panix.com> James Nicoll wrote:
> In article <3FF234FE...@avalon.net>, Brandon <jch...@avalon.net> wrote:
>>Htn963 wrote:
>>>
>>> Not in terms of sexual orientation (and I agree with a previous
>>> comment that the Nebula leaning is more leftist). AFAIK, no gay or bi
>>> author has ever won the Hugo (I don't recall Delany winning one).
>>
>>Arthur C. Clarke, in 1974 and in 1980.
>
> Bzzt! I call He Has Never Confirmed It, Prefering to Answer
> "Are You Gay" with "No, Just Cheerful" on you.
>

Which reminds me of Quentin Crisp's line:
"Not tonight, thank you."

<gleep>
-het

--
"Sacred cows make the best hamburger." -Abby Hoffman

PV FAQ: http://www.autobahn.mb.ca/~het/energy/pv_faq.html
H.E. Taylor http://www.autobahn.mb.ca/~het/

Mike Schilling

unread,
Jan 4, 2004, 9:36:06 PM1/4/04
to
> >>> Not in terms of sexual orientation (and I agree with a previous
> >>> comment that the Nebula leaning is more leftist). AFAIK, no gay or bi
> >>> author has ever won the Hugo (I don't recall Delany winning one).

He did, though, for "Time Considered as a Helix of Semiprecious Stones",
which unmistakably discusses gay SM.


Catherine Asaro

unread,
Jan 8, 2004, 6:06:37 PM1/8/04
to
wds...@panix.com (William December Starr) wrote in message news:<bt3cmq$pq4$1...@panix2.panix.com>...

Hi, WIlliam. Yes, it was "Aurora in Four Voices" that was second.
And Richard is right (waving at Richard :-), it was close. It lost by
two votes.

"Aurora" actually won the first go through, but not by enough votes.
So the Australian balloting system kicked in, which meant it went four
more rounds (or three; I don't remember now). It was ahead until the
final round, where it lost by two votes. Someone else here can
probably explain how the balloting system works!

Greg Egan is one of my favorite authors, the Worldcon was in Australia
that year, and he was long overdue for a Hugo. If anyone deserved it
that year, it was him.

Grag's story, "Wang's Carpets," is one of the best hard SF stories
I've ever read. When I got to the part where he describes the
intelligence of the lifeform they had, it was a very cool Eureka
moment. I've never seen such a fine, creative use of Fourier
transforms in SF before.

Best regards
Catherine Asaro
www.sff.net/people/asaro/

Jan Vanek jr.

unread,
Jan 12, 2004, 7:33:08 AM1/12/04
to
Htn...@peoplepc.com (Htn963) wrote in message news:<bcef0661.03122...@posting.google.com>...

> ag...@trashotron.com (Rick Kleffel) wrote

> > In a nutshell, the Hugo
> > bends towards popularity and the Nebulas bend towards [professionalism].
>
> You misspelled politics.

Well put Or, to make my long rant, for which I don't have the time
now, short: while a list of Hugo nominees from the last decade gives
you a pretty good overview of the state and development of the genre,
way too many Nebula nominees or even winners are never heard of
before, and often even after.

As it happens, I was just looking for the term for the deplorable (and
-ed) practice which is at the root of the problem but without success,
apparently because I don't even recall which of synonyms to use: was
it trading, or swapping, or what? And nomination-, nominations- or
even nominee- ? Can somebody remind me?

Thanks,

--
Jan Vanek jr.

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages