Best Series Hugo: Reading Burden

There has been a lot of discussion about the amount of reading added for the scrupulous Hugo voter by the Best Series Hugo. So I decided to try to quantify it.

The problem, of course, is that “reading added” is subjective based on the voter. (If you’re up-to-date on a series and it shows up on the Best Series shortlist, then there’s obviously nothing new for you to read.) But I think we can use two primary classifications to get some idea of how many extra works are showing up on the Hugo ballot because of the Series category. First, there’s how long the series is in total at the time of nomination, less any parts of it that appear elsewhere on the ballot. Second, there’s the totality of the series minus any parts of it that have ever appeared on a Hugo ballot. (Including Campbell/Astounding nominations as well.) Obviously not all voters in a given year will have been members of previous Worldcons (especially relevant for the longest series—I was two years old when Falling Free showed up on the ballot), but again, we’re looking for a general sense of “how much of this series is new to Hugo voters.”

The best measurement would be word count, but I don’t have access to word counts for much of these series (having done my reading in hardcopy). Still, I think the counts I can provide are indicative.

2017

Series Total Length New to the Ballot
The Craft Sequence, by Max Gladstone 5 novels 3 novels
The Expanse, by James S.A. Corey 6 novels 5 novels
The October Daye Books, by Seanan McGuire 10 novels, 1 novella, 5 novelettes, 4 short stories 9 novels, 1 novella, 5 novelettes, 4 short stories
The Peter Grant / Rivers of London series, by Ben Aaronovitch 6 novels 6 novels
The Temeraire series, by Naomi Novik 9 novels 6 novels
The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold 16 novels, 4 novellas, 1 short story 5 novels, 2 novellas, 1 short story
TOTALS 52 novels, 5 novellas, 5 novelettes, 5 short stories 34 novels, 3 novellas, 5 novelettes, 5 short stories

Notes:

  • My copy of the 2017 Hugo packet is currently inaccessible so please let me know if there is anything I missed with these!
  • The Craft Sequence nomination also included two interactive games.
  • The Vorkosigan “short story” is the interstitial matter in Borders of Infinity. I excluded “Weatherman” because it’s more-or-less the first part of The Vor Game.
  • The “new to the ballot” column is particularly silly for the Vorkosigan Saga because the only new work since Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance was a Best Novel finalist was Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. Feel free to discount accordingly.

2018

Series Total Length New to the Ballot
The Books of the Raksura, by Martha Wells 5 novels, 4 novellas, 5 short stories 5 novels, 4 novellas, 5 short stories
The Divine Cities, by Robert Jackson Bennett 3 novels 3 novels
InCryptid, by Seanan McGuire 6 novels, 2 novellas, 18 novelettes, 11 short stories 6 novels, 2 novellas, 18 novelettes, 11 short stories
The Memoirs of Lady Trent, by Marie Brennan 5 novels, 1 short story 5 novels, 1 short story
The Stormlight Archive, by Brandon Sanderson 3 novels 3 novels
World of the Five Gods, by Lois McMaster Bujold 3 novels, 6 novellas 1 novel, 4 novellas
TOTALS 25 novels, 12 novellas, 18 novelettes, 17 short stories 23 novels, 10 novellas, 18 novelettes, 17 short stories

Notes:

  • This was a great year for the category in promoting works that mostly had been overlooked by the other Hugo categories. However this increased the total reading required by the typical Worldcon voter by a lot.
  • The Stormlight Archive‘s novels are all very long, so it’s probably more accurate to count them twice or thrice.
  • I excluded “Edgedancer” from the Stormlight count since it was not referenced in the series’s Hugo packet submission.

2019

Series Total Length New to the Ballot
The Centenal Cycle, by Malka Older 3 novels 2 novels
The Laundry Files, by Charles Stross 9 novels, 2 novellas, 2 novelettes 9 novels, 1 novelette
Machineries of Empire, by Yoon Ha Lee 2 novels n/a
The October Daye Series, by Seanan McGuire 10 novels, 3 novellas, 5 novelettes, 4 short stories 2 novels, 2 novellas
The Universe of Xuya, by Aliette de Bodard 2 novellas, 10 novelettes, 15 short stories 1 novella, 6 novelettes, 14 short stories
Wayfarers, by Becky Chambers 2 novels 1 novel
TOTALS 26 novels, 8 novellas, 17 novelettes, 19 short stories 14 novels, 3 novellas, 7 novelettes, 14 short stories

Notes:

  • Revenant Gun, Record of a Spaceborn Few, and The Tea Master and the Detective are excluded from this listing because they were already on the ballot in Novel and Novella.
  • The “new to the ballot” column is likely overstated to the extent that most readers will have read A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet before A Closed and Common Orbit, and also that it is unlikely that readers will have only read short-fiction Laundry works.

2020

Series Total Length New to the Ballot
The Expanse, by James S. A. Corey 8 novels 2 novels
InCryptid, by Seanan McGuire 8 novels, 4 novellas, 21 novelettes, 11 short stories 2 novels, 2 novellas, 3 novelettes
Luna, by Ian McDonald 3 novels 3 novels
Planetfall series, by Emma Newman 4 novels 4 novels
Winternight Trilogy, by Katherine Arden 3 novels 1 novel
The Wormwood Trilogy, by Tade Thompson 3 novels 3 novels
TOTALS 29 novels, 4 novellas, 21 novelettes, 1 short stories 15 novels, 2 novellas, 3 novelettes

Notes:

  • You could argue for including additional short fiction for both The Expanse and Luna. I omitted them due to lack of reference thereto in the voter packet.

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