Whose rocket?

< Edit. I’ve now conducted brief demographic studies on Best Novella, Best Novelette and Best Short Story. Main page for these little studies is here. >

On Twitter today I made a remark to the talented Mary Robinette Kowal about the demographics of the Hugos. On reflection I wasn’t confident that my conclusion was actually borne out by the numbers. I had no real idea (despite Sad Puppies and Bad Puppies and all the other fracas swallowing my feed) of what the demographics of the Hugo winners really looked like. I had a quick Google and couldn’t find anything helpful, so I thought I’d chuck some stuff together. Hope someone, somewhere is interested.

I decided to look at Best Novel (*) – which I’ll refer to as the Hugo from here – by sex and nationality. I was also going to include race but I couldn’t think of a way to do it tactfully and respectfully (**). 'Around_the_Moon'_by_Bayard_and_Neuville_38

Rocket History.

The first Hugo was awarded to Alfred Bester in 1953, for his novel The Demolished Man. For reasons I am too lazy to look up, no prize was awarded in 1954 and 1957. Normal service was resumed in ’58 and since then a Hugo has been awarded every year.

A total of 64 awards have been presented and there have been dual winners in 1955, 1966, 1993 and 2010.

 Some numbers.

American men won every award until 1968. The first break from this was John Brunner (British) in 1969. The next year Ursula K. Le Guin became the first woman to win the Rocket.

15 individuals have won more than one, led by Robert A. Heinlein and Lois McMaster Bujold who have both won four (!).

In total 46 (72%) Hugos have been awarded to men and 18 (28%) have gone to women.

In terms of the total number of individuals who have won (one or more) Hugos, 11 (26%) have been women and 32 (74%) men.

Only three nations (!) can claim to have won a Hugo. The breakdown goes like this (total wins, not individuals who have won); < Edit. Originally incorrectly listed Jo Walton as British, not Canadian. My apologies. Data below now fixed. >

American 52 (81%)
Female 15
Male 37
British 8 (13%)
Female 2
Male 6
Canadian 4 (6%)
Female 1
Male 3

Some flippant remarks.

<Edit for clarity> These are smart-arsed remarks based on the historical winners’ data. They’ve nothing to do with writing talent or politics or anything else.

Once you’ve written an amazingly good spec fic novel your best bet to win a Hugo is to be a man (72% of winners). If you need a nation as well as a sex, definitely be an American man (37 wins, ~57%). This is a bit of a no-brainer, as this ‘category’ has picked up more Hugos than the rest of the planet combined.

Failing that, try and be an American woman (15 wins, ~23%). Interestingly, American women have also outperformed all the non-Americans (e.g the rest of the human race) combined.

Some graphs.

Best Novel, PieBest Novel, Col

My data.

I basically just used Wikipedia. I’ve included the list I used below. I’m pretty comfortable with most of it, but please let me know if you spot any errors.

My rounding is always lazy, so if you see a tiny bit of flutter you know what happened.

My only serious concerns were;

1. I was unclear as to the nationality of William Gibson (does he even have one?). Have scored him as Canadian.

2. I was unclear as to the nationality of Robert Charles Wilson. Have scored him as Canadian. <Edit,  tells me he is definitely Canadian. Thanks!>

3. I was unclear as to the nationality of Jo Walton. Have scored her as British. < Edit, as above, Jo Walton has kindly pointed out that she is in fact Canadian. Corrected in tables and data. >

If any of these are incorrect, again, please let me know.

Year Author Novel Publisher or publication Nationality Sex
1953 Alfred Bester The Demolished Man Galaxy Science Fiction American Male
1955 Mark Clifton They’d Rather Be Right Astounding Science-Fiction American Male
1955 Frank Riley  They’d Rather be Right Astounding Science-Fiction American Male
1956 Robert A. Heinlein Double Star Astounding Science-Fiction American Male
1958 Fritz Leiber The Big Time Galaxy Science Fiction American Male
1959 James Blish A Case of Conscience Ballantine Books American Male
1960 Robert A. Heinlein Starship Troopers The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction American Male
1961 Walter M. Miller, Jr. A Canticle for Leibowitz J. B. Lippincott & Co. American Male
1962 Robert A. Heinlein Stranger in a Strange Land Putnam Publishing Group American Male
1963 Philip K. Dick The Man in the High Castle Putnam Publishing Group American Male
1964 Clifford D. Simak Here Gather the Stars Galaxy Science Fiction American Male
1965 Fritz Leiber The Wanderer Ballantine Books American Male
1966 Frank Herbert Dune Chilton Company American Male
1966 Roger Zelazny …And Call Me Conrad The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction American Male
1967 Robert A. Heinlein The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress If American Male
1968 Roger Zelazny Lord of Light Doubleday American Male
1969 John Brunner Stand on Zanzibar Doubleday British Male
1970 Ursula K. Le Guin The Left Hand of Darkness Ace Books American Female
1971 Larry Niven Ringworld Ballantine Books American Male
1972 Philip José Farmer To Your Scattered Bodies Go Putnam Publishing Group American Male
1973 Isaac Asimov The Gods Themselves Galaxy Science Fiction American Male
1974 Arthur C. Clarke Rendezvous with Rama Galaxy Science Fiction British Male
1975 Ursula K. Le Guin The Dispossessed Harper & Row American Female
1976 Joe Haldeman The Forever War St. Martin’s Press American Male
1977 Kate Wilhelm Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang Harper & Row American Female
1978 Frederik Pohl Gateway Galaxy Science Fiction American Male
1979 Vonda N. McIntyre Dreamsnake Houghton Mifflin American Female
1980 Arthur C. Clarke The Fountains of Paradise Victor Gollancz Ltd British Male
1981 Joan D. Vinge The Snow Queen Dial Press American Female
1982 C. J. Cherryh Downbelow Station DAW Books American Female
1983 Isaac Asimov Foundation’s Edge Doubleday American Male
1984 David Brin Startide Rising Bantam Books American Male
1985 William Gibson Neuromancer Ace Books Canadian Male
1986 Orson Scott Card Ender’s Game Tor Books American Male
1987 Orson Scott Card Speaker for the Dead Tor Books American Male
1988 David Brin The Uplift War Bantam Spectra American Male
1989 C. J. Cherryh Cyteen Warner Books American Female
1990 Dan Simmons Hyperion Doubleday American Male
1991 Lois McMaster Bujold The Vor Game Baen Books American Female
1992 Lois McMaster Bujold Barrayar Analog Science Fact & Fiction American Female
1993 Vernor Vinge A Fire Upon the Deep Tor Books American Male
1993 Connie Willis Doomsday Book Bantam Spectra American Female
1994 Kim Stanley Robinson Green Mars HarperCollins American Male
1995 Lois McMaster Bujold Mirror Dance Baen Books American Female
1996 Neal Stephenson The Diamond Age Bantam Spectra American Male
1997 Kim Stanley Robinson Blue Mars HarperCollins Voyager American Male
1998 Joe Haldeman Forever Peace Ace Books American Male
1999 Connie Willis To Say Nothing of the Dog Bantam Spectra American Female
2000 Vernor Vinge A Deepness in the Sky Tor Books American Male
2001 J. K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Bloomsbury Publishing British Female
2002 Neil Gaiman American Gods William Morrow and Company British Male
2003 Robert J. Sawyer Hominids Analog Science Fiction and Fact Canadian Male
2004 Lois McMaster Bujold Paladin of Souls Eos American Female
2005 Susanna Clarke Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Bloomsbury Publishing British Female
2006 Robert Charles Wilson Spin Tor Books Canadian Male
2007 Vernor Vinge Rainbows End Tor Books American Male
2008 Michael Chabon The Yiddish Policemen’s Union HarperCollins American Male
2009 Neil Gaiman The Graveyard Book HarperCollins British Male
2010 Paolo Bacigalupi The Windup Girl Night Shade Books American Male
2010 China Miéville The City & the City Del Rey Books British Male
2011 Connie Willis Blackout/All Clear Spectra Books American Female
2012 Jo Walton Among Others Tor Books Canadian Female
2013 John Scalzi Redshirts Tor Books American Male
2014 Ann Leckie Ancillary Justice Orbit Books American Female

(*) Sorry, sorry, sorry – but that’s what I think of when I say Hugo – and I’m lazy.

(**) If you’ve got suggestions or advice I’d love to hear them!

29 thoughts on “Whose rocket?

  1. Cheers, Jessie. And yeah to an Australian.

    Nationality really surprised me. Unfortunately I expected women to be poorly represented, but I didn’t realise how overwhelmingly American it was. (maybe naivety on my part!).

  2. Thanks for this. As Mary said: we do need more world in Worldcon. This has been something I’ve been saying and hoping for since 2013 (about two years after I started really paying attention to the Hugo). This has also led me to put together a survey to ask non-US fans about their perceptions of the Hugo, which I suspect will give me the result of “It’s super American.”

    • Well, I’m German and I’ve talked to a few fellow German friends (many who read SFF in both German and English) and the general consensus was: “US-award. US-politics. How cares?”

      Do you have a link for your survey?

      • Hi Daniela! Not yet, no. I started building it a while back, but I’ve been sidelined by various things, including a pile of grading and contracting a chest cold which has left me either feeling horrible or drugged up on my couch 😛

        But as soon as I get it, I’ll likely announce it on my Twitter feed and pin the Tweet. If you like, you can email me or something so I can ping you when it’s done.

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  4. Those numbers don’t surprise me at all.

    Which I guess is one of the reasosn why a huge part of the rest of the SFF world basically shrugs and says: “Well, I’m never going to win anyway, so why should I care about the current debate which is all US-centric politics ayway? For an US-centric award?”

    Of course, it’s not quiet as easy as that. I think part of the problem is also that English speaking countries don’t have much of a translation history and a lot of books, especially SFF, simply don’t get translated. And those that are translated often don’t reach the Worldcon-goers.

    I mean, how many have heard about Markus Heitz or Andreas Eschbach? One writes Fantasy, the other SF and those two are the most successfull SFF writers in Germany. They’ve also both been translated into English.

    • Interesting points, thank you. I appreciate the problems of translation – but other English speaking countries are also pretty thin on the ground.

      I haven’t heard of either of those guys – will try and have a look though.

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  6. Given that the voters are a subset of WorldCon attendees and supporting members, it would be interest to cross reference with where the cons were held.

    P.S. Andreas Eschbach’s books are great but only two have been translated into English that I know of.

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