< 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 (**).
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.
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. >
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.
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,
@didic 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|
|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!
This is really interesting! So glad you’ve put this together 🙂 We need to get an Australian on this list!
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!).
Wow. We really need more world in WorldCon.
It does seem a bit like the ‘world’ in the World Series. 😦
Possible Chinese will join the nationalities this year.
Especially considering the quality of that novel!
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.”
No trouble. I’m glad people are finding it interesting. And yeah, re the survey I think you might be right…
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?
Should be “Who cares?” of course.
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.
I’m Canadian. Thanks.
Cheers Jo. I’ll fix up asap. Sorry, it can be a bit hard to sort from Wiki!
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Thanks for the analysis.
Perhaps I’m missing something, but have you swapped the colours (Like Jo Walton, I’m Canadian too!) in the “by sex” bar graph?
No, that’s not quite it. Maybe just for the 50s and 60s. Should be all red, no?
Gah. Late night brain snap. Thanks for the pickup, Blair. Fixed.
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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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.
That would be really interesting. After all, if you aren’t going to the con $40 is a fair bit to just vote.
This is a really interesting study, Aidan. It’s not a surprising result but it’s great to have it documented and up for discussion.
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Thanks for this work! I’m surprised VIDA Women in the Literary Arts doesn’t do this for the awards.
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