Phil Sandifer's Hugo Ballot


Let me start by making something as clear as I possibly can.

This is not a slate. These are not recommendations. If you submit a Hugo ballot that looks exactly like this you are a deeply lame human being who should feel bad about yourself.

That said, I maintain my position that talking openly about our Hugo preferences and thoughts is the best way to combat attempts to hijack the Hugos while we wait for E Pluribus Hugo to pass in August. And probably beyond that, because frankly, it’s just a good idea to have a public conversation so that more casual fans who want to play the Game of Rockets can do so.

So here we go, with selected commentary. Retro Hugos will be done another day.


Best Novel

The Fifth Season (N.K. Jemisin)

Easily the best of the pack here. Really hoping Patreon backers pick it for a bonus essay. This is a genuine masterpiece with a last line almost as astonishing as its first.

The Dark Forest (Cixin Liu)

Better than the first volume, as I’ve said, and the first volume was a perfectly acceptable Hugo winner.

The Vorrh (Brian Catling)

I’ve been switching this and Seveneves back and forth repeatedly, and may continue to do so as the voting deadline approaches. Or maybe I’ll drop the next one.

The Shepherd’s Crown (Terry Pratchett)

I admit this as a ridiculously sentimental pick that would not be on my ballot were it not the author’s last book. Still, a Hugo ballot without it feels unimaginable to me.

The Water Knife (Paolo Bacigalupi)

Brutally materialist SF.



Chasm (Nick Land)

More interesting and compelling right-wing science fiction than literally anything on the ballot last year. The failure of the Puppies to nominate Phyl-Undhu last year is really the best demonstration available of how, much like “Men’s Rights Advocates” do not actually advocate for the rights of men so much as attack women, they do not actually advocate for a right-wing literature so much as complain that people enjoy different books than them. I mean, Land’s even a blithering racist. What more could they possibly want?

Witches of Lynchford (Paul Cornell)

As a Paul Cornell fan who eagerly awaited the release of No Future, it’s thrilling to see him killing it in the mainstream.

Binti (Nnedi Okorafor)

I went looking for some compelling afrofuturism, because this seemed like a really good year to honor it. Man did I find it.

The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps (Kai Ashante Wilson)

Rolling in the Deep (Mira Grant)



An Evolutionary Myth (Bo-Young Kim)

Stumbled on this late while trawling the Hugo Nominees Wikia for a fifth choice, and was absolutely blown away by it. Easily my pick of the five.

Elektrograd: Rusted Blood (Warren Ellis)

The Dusty Hat (China Mieville)

The Corpse Archives (Kameron Hurley)

The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild (Catherynne M. Valente)


Short Story

Pocosin (Ursula Vernon)

Another category with a clear and unquestionable frontrunner for me, this is one of my favorite authors at her best. You can fairly complain that Vernon has written this exact story before. It doesn’t matter; this is one of her best.

Ghost Champagne (Charlie Jane Anders)

The Goat Variations (Jeff VanderMeer)

Women at Exhibition (E. Lily Yu)

It’s About Ethics in Revolution (Kameron Hurley)

Reader, I loled.


Related Work

Guided by the Beauty of Their Weapons (Phil Sandifer)

TARDIS Eruditorum (Phil Sandifer)

I won’t lie, I think both of them are the equal of anything that’s won in this category in recent memory. I’m also hopelessly biased. Nevertheless, i’m nominating them. That said, the Hugos are, by design, a popularity contest, and I doubt I’m popular enough. Seriously, don’t copy my ballot exactly.

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings (Philip and Carol Zaleski)

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Felicia Day)

In a quantum superposition with Warren Ellis’s Cunning Plans. I probably enjoyed the Ellis more, but in a category long on my own idiosyncrasies due to my two self-noms I decided to err on the side of popular taste. Probably.

Invisible 2 (Edited by Jim C. Hines)


Graphic Story

Questionable Content (Jeph Jacques)

Doesn’t look like there was a new print collection of this, so it would just be for the 2015 strips, but it’s been a consistently amazing comic, and a list that includes it, Ms. Marvel, XKCD, Digger, and Saga would make me happy.

The Wicked + The Divine Vol 2: Fandemonium (Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie)

It’s WicDiv; easily my favorite comic series.

Bitch Planet Vol 1: Extraordinary Machine (Kelly Sue DeConnick and Vallentine De Landro)

This is not a category where I’m comfortable saying I have a clear frontrunner - these are just too good a set of five - this is certainly the one I am most invested in seeing on the ballot.

Crossed +100

A properly surprising Alan Moore comic, in that I don’t think anyone expected a fiercely intelligent, genuinely terrifying sci-fi/zombie story from him in 2015. He gave us one anyway.


A late addition that caused me to regretfully nudge Ms. Marvel off, this is Warren Ellis tackling accelerationism, with a direct parody of the CCRU from which Nick Land emerged. Beautiful and intelligent and vibrantly 2015, and also I just have no idea which of the three volumes of Ms. Marvel to drop in 2015 to pick.


Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)


Hat tip to Vox Day for the realization/reminder that video games are eligible for Best Dramatic Presentation. Although his selections are an underwhelming set of mediocrities, it’s a good idea, and 2015 did bring us a SF/F game whose contributions to storytelling are going to be remembered and discussed for decades; a game that’s already been voted the greatest ever. Consider this my one outright recommendation - nominate Undertale for a Hugo. Please.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

I wish people would nominate whole seasons of TV more in this category. This is an obvious one, being a discrete and single tale over seven hours.

Ex Machina

Unequivocally the best sci-fi film of the year.

Jessica Jones Season 1

I can’t imagine nominating a Netflix series in any other category than long form.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Conspicuously edging out both Star Wars and The Martian. Notably, it’s an astonishingly good year for science fiction when neither of those films make your Hugo ballot.


Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)

The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion

Heaven Sent/Hell Bent

Two nominees from Doctor Who, but in my defense, it remains the best science fiction/fantasy show on television by a mile.


I almost considered Game of Thrones for long form, as its real genius this year lay in taming Martin’s two worst books, but this episode was simply too good to pass up nominating, and long form was awfully crowded.

Blackstar music video

David Bowie is eligible for a Hugo. This is not a statement that will ever be true again (“Lazarus” isn’t SF/F). Seriously, an episode of The Flash or something edging this off the ballot would be as appalling as Annie Hall beating Star Wars for the Oscar.

John Scalzi is Not a Very Popular Author and I Myself am Quite Popular audiobook

Cause it’s funny.


Editor (Long Form)

Liz Gorinsky

Beth Meacham

Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Lee Harris

David G. Hartwell

One of several categories in which my selections were constructed partially on the logic that the people Vox Day screwed out of Hugos last year should get another bite at the apple. Hartwell was not in the top five of the screwed, but given his recent passing it felt right to put him on. Yes, I know he refused the nomination for several years. But he can’t do that anymore, now can he?


Editor (Short Form)

John Joseph Adams

Neil Clarke

Ellen Datlow

Jonathan Strahan

Sheila Williams


Professional Artist

Jamie McKelvie

Fiona Staples

J.H. Williams III

Julie Dillon

John Picacio

Three comics artists of the sort who don’t get recognized in this category as often as they should, two safe pick perennials.



The Book Smugglers

Uncanny Magazine

Apex Magazine


Strange Horizons

A mixture of last year’s contenders and places that published stuff I liked this year.



The Drink Tank

Lady Business

A Dribble of Ink

Banana Wings

File 770



Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men

Strong favorite of the picks in which I am not hopelessly biased.


Pex Lives

The obvious compromise candidate: a leftist podcast that’s had Vox Day on it.

The Coode Street Podcast

The Skiffy and Fanty Show


Fan Writer

Alexandra Erin

Jack Graham

Jane Campbell

Richard Jones

For his astonishingly good reviews of Phonogram and his equally brilliant Have Them Fight God Tumblr.

George R.R. Martin

His not-a-blog contained what was probably the most materially important anti-Puppy writing, even if I think he took a hopelessly compromised moderate position. Also, it would be funny.


Fan Artist

James Taylor

Cover artist for all Eruditorum Press books, but paid low enough that this is the right category for him.

Spring Schenhuth

Ninni Aalto

Steve Stiles

Brad W. Foster


The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Andy Weir

Not thrilled that he’s on Vox’s slate, obviously, but what do you want? The phrase “deserves a Hugo” is problematic in many ways, but this award is famously not a Hugo, and it’s frankly unimaginable that Weir wouldn’t get it.

Alyssa Wong

Kelly Robson

Matt Wallace

Scott Hawkins


Comment deleted 5 years ago

Aylwin 5 years ago

Fuck me, we're being spammed by the Culture.

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Kate 5 years ago


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Kate 5 years ago

It's kind of groovy how different our ballots are - you have read lots more than me, and in different areas than me. OTOH my ballot is still a work in progress - I can cram in at least one more anthology before the deadline. (Why is there no Best Anthology category?! For me, anthos are central to SF!)

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James Wylder 5 years ago

The lack of this category has puzzled me for as long as I've known of the Hugos.

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Jack Graham 5 years ago

I don't want to get overexcited about this. But I think I'm definitely going to win.

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Sean Dillon 5 years ago

I look forward to nominating some of these (as I had forgotten some came out this year) just as soon as the admins fix whatever's wrong with my Hugo information.

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The Flan in the High Castle 5 years ago

Very happy to see Blackstar make the list. For my money, it's the best science fiction film of the year, and finally edges out Ashes to Ashes to become my favourite music video of all time. (It actually causes me an inordinate amount of distress that iTunes's 10-minute song limit means we'll never see the intended 11-and-a-bit-minute version.)

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Anonymous 5 years ago

I don't know how to contact you so here's an unrelated comment about Tardis Eruditorum. Several entries are missing from the main page list, namely Outside the Government 15, Pop Between Realities 72 and several of the Doctors Revisited. There may be more, obviously. Please fix this.

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Dadalama 5 years ago

Undertale is incredible. One of the few games that actually was able to blend gameplay with the story properly.

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Kevin 5 years ago

I'm already preparing my Hugo Award acceptance speech.

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Camestros Felapton 5 years ago

Apex and Lightspeed are worthy picks in semiprozine but...they have indicated they aren't eligible anymore as they have transcended to prozine (i.e. no longer semi).

Clarkesworld semiprozine directory has a good overview of current eligibile 'zines.

I think there will be a big overlap with my choices on semiprozine (e.g. Uncanny has had a good year IMHO).
Giganotosaurus is one I'll probably been including.

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Adam T 5 years ago

Do you know if those twhofers add up to less than 90 minutes? I think I'll just vote for Heaven Sent.

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taiey 5 years ago

HS/HB is 114 minutes.
TZIx2 is 91.

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Elizabeth Sandifer 5 years ago

Notably, both Army of Ghosts/Doomsday (92 minutes) and Pandorica Opens/Big Bang (103 minutes) have been allowed on the ballot, the latter actually winning. There's also at least one Long Form nominee that was <90 minutes. So I'm inclined to guess there's a bit of leeway in order to generally keep feature films to Long Form and two-part episodes of hourlong dramas to Short Form.

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Adam T 5 years ago

Thanks. Nice to know.

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Jesse 5 years ago

Annie Hall is one of the few Best Picture winners to deserve the award.

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Elizabeth Sandifer 5 years ago

The perversity of the metaphor was not accidental.

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Jesse 5 years ago

Good to know. I have seen otherwise sensible people make the same comment with a straight face.

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Reinder Dijkhuis 5 years ago

Is The Vorrh eligible? Wikipedia says it was published in 2012.

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Elizabeth Sandifer 5 years ago

Works first published outside of the US get a second shot at eligibility after their first US publication.

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Reinder Dijkhuis 4 years, 12 months ago

Oooh, that means Lagoon qualifies. That's one more slot filled for me then.

(And I've purchased The Vorrh, so I'll get on with reading that)

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