Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Locus Awards Results and Reactions

The 2010 Locus Awards winners were announced June 26.  Here are the novel-length categories:

Science Fiction Novel: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (Tor)
Fantasy Novel: The City & The City by China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan UK)
First Novel: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade Books)
Young Adult Novel: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (Simon Pulse; Simon & Schuster UK)

Congratulations to the winners. As reported in the July issue of Locus. There were 680 valid ballots. Of these 36 were paper ballots, and the remaining 644 were electronic submissions. Locus subscribers cast 306 votes, or 45 percent of the vote. Since 2008, when online voters outnumbered subscribers, Charles N. Brown changed the system, doubling the point value of subscriber votes to better reflect Locus readership.

Then comes this quote: "It didn't make a difference in the winner of any category this year." That may be true, strictly speaking, regarding the revised point system, but what were the Locus subscriber results? Aren't there two polls going on here with quite different sensibilities? In describing the SF novel results: "Subscribers put the Robinson first by only 100 points, not enough to dent the large lead non-subscribers gave the Priest." That's Kim Stanley Robinson's Galileo's Dream. That's the poll I want to know about. Priest's novel is a fine young-adult steampunk adventure novel, but really rather slight. I am surprised it was on the short list, much less the winner. (For the SF Strangelove review of Boneshaker follow here.)

Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl, which won the Nebula Award, placed only 15th among Locus Poll SF Novels. What they don't mention is that it wasn't part of the pull-down list of SF novels that the online voting form offered as choices. Every vote for The Windup Girl for SF Novel was a write-in vote, which couldn't help but reduce the number of votes it received. Since it was a first novel, that was the only category where it appeared in a pre-built list in the online form.

The Locus Poll is interesting and rather complicated. As I've already mentioned, there are two polls here that have been mashed together: the subscribers and the non-subscribers. Why not report them separately? The numerous categories are sometimes ill-defined. Isn't Boneshaker better listed as a fantasy novel or a young-adult novel? Is The City & The City really fantasy and not science fiction? Why shouldn't The Windup Girl have been present in the list of SF novels built into the online poll?

For a brief overview of Locus Poll results, follow here.

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