Thursday, August 14, 2008

20 in 20 Lists (and more lists)

Cheryl Morgan has, as promised, put up the 5 lists produced by the 5 panelists at this year's WorldCon "20 Essential Books from the Last 20 Years" panel. Niall Harrison has some good discussion (and his own list) up over at Torque Control, and before the panel had even occured SFSignal had an active comment thread over the topic.

Because I have way too much time on my hands, I decided to do a little data mining. I wanted to see which books gathered the most acclaim. The first list here is the books ordered by how many of the panelists voted for them. I continued my cheating ways by claiming that a series was voted for if any book from it was voted for (a vote for Hyperion and one for Fall of Hyperion become two votes for Hyperion Cantos). This allowed a little more consensus to develop.

5 River of Gods
5 Hyperion Cantos
3 Diaspora
3 Nanotech cycle (Goonan)
3 Fairyland
3 Revelation Space
3 Accelerando
3 Spin & Axis
3 Mars Trilogy
3 Culture Series
2 Evolution
2 Pattern Recognition
2 Grass
2 Snow Crash
2 Fall Revolution
2 Light
2 Aleutian Trilogy (Jones)
2 Stories of Your Life
2 Cloud Atlas
2 Air
2 Arabesk Trilogy (Grimwood)
Mother of Storms
Queen of Angels
Holy Fire
Gate to Women's Country
Difference Engine
Book of the Long Sun
Parable of the Sower, Talents
Furious Gulf
Counting Heads
Child Garden
China Mountain Zhang
Beggars in Spain
Sarah Canary
Fire Upon the Deep
Bridge Trilogy
Against the Day
Capitol Science
Hard Boiled Wonderland at the End of the World
Commonwealth Duology
Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad
Magic for Beginners
Pump 6
Doomsday Book
Altered Carbon
SFWA European Hall of Fame
Diamond Age
Perdido Street Station
Holdfast Chronicles
Course of the Heart
Soldier of Arete
Waking the Moon
Rats and Gargoyles
Sandman: Dream Chronicles
Fortunate Fall

Next up is the same list, with the same methodology, with Niall Harrison's list shuffled in (For brevity I'm cutting the list at the 2+ vote line, and only adding 1 vote titles if they're new from Niall's input)

6 River of Gods
5 Hyperion Cantos
4 Fairyland
4 Accelerando
4 Mars Trilogy
4 Culture Series
3 Diaspora
3 Nanotech cycle
3 Revelation Space
3 Spin, Axis
3 Pattern Recognition
3 Snow Crash
3 Light
3 Aleutian Trilogy
3 Stories of Your Life
3 Cloud Atlas
3 Air
2 Evolution
2 Grass
2 Fall Revolution
2 Arabesk Trilogy
2 China Mt. Zhang
2 Fire Upon the Deep
2 Sparrow
Vacuum Diagrams
Best of the Best
Yiddish Policemens Union

From this list, here is a list of those that have won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus or BSFA awards in the eligible years (Thanks to John DeNardo at SFSignal!)

River of Gods
Hyperion Cantos
Mars Trilogy
Culture Series
Spin, Axis
Stories of Your Life
Fall Revolution
Arabesk Trilogy
Fire Upon the Deep
Parable of the Sower, Talents
Doomsday Book
Diamond Age
Sandmand: Dream Chronicles
Yiddish Policemens Union

For those counting, that's 19 out of a total list of 67 (28%) that won awards in their years, although I would note that many more of them were nominated for awards.

And for a twist, here's the list when the inputs from the SFSignal comment thread are shuffled in:

9 Hyperion Cantos
8 River of Gods
7 Mars Trilogy
6 Culture Series
6 Spin, Axis
5 Accelerando
5 Snow Crash
5 Light
5 Stories of Your Life
5 Fire Upon the Deep
4 Fairyland
4 Cloud Atlas
4 Air
4 Sparrow
4 Diamond Age
3 Diaspora
3 Nanotech cycle
3 Revelation Space
3 Pattern Recognition
3 Aleutian Trilogy
3 Doomsday Book
3 Altered Carbon
2 Evolution
2 Grass
2 Fall Revolution
2 Arabesk Trilogy
2 China Mt. Zhang
2 Queen of Angels
2 Holy Fire
2 Difference Engine
2 Separation
2 Counting Heads
2 Beggars in Spain
2 Sarah Canary
2 Pump 6
2 Perdido Street Station
2 Deepness in the Sky
2 Stations of the Tide
Small and Remarkable Life
From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain
American Gods
Forever Peace
Harry Potter Goblet of Fire
Terminal Experiment
City of Pearl
The Road
Iron Dragon's Daughter
Calculating God
Carpet Makers

Finally, returning to the original panelists plus Niall, here is the breakdown on the authors that everyone liked, independent of individual works:

6 Ian McDonald
6 Kim Stanley Robinson
5 William Gibson
5 Dan Simmons
5 Neal Stephenson
4 Greg Egan
4 Paul McAuley
4 Charles Stross
4 Iain M. Banks
4 M. John Harrison
4 Geoff Ryman
3 Stephen Baxter
3 Kathleen Ann Goonan
3 Bruce Sterling
3 Robert Charles Wilson
3 Gwyneth Jones
3 Ted Chiang
3 David Mitchell
3 Sherri S. Tepper
3 Alastair Reynolds
2 Gene Wolfe
2 Ken MacLeod
2 Maureen McHugh
2 Vernor Vinge
2 Mary Doria Russell
2 Elizabeth Hand
2 Mary Gentle
2 Jon Courtenay Grimwood
John Barnes
Greg Bear
Octavia Butler
Gregory Benford
Christopher Priest
David Marusek
Nancy Kress
Karen Joy Fowler
Thomas Pynchon
Haruki Murakami
Peter F. Hamitlon
Minister Faust
Kelly Link
Paolo Bacigalup
Connie Willis
James & Kathryn Morrow (as editors)
China Mieville
Suzy McKee Charnas
Pat Cadigan
Neil Gaiman
Raphael Carter
Ian McLeod
Gardner Dozois (as editor)
Michael Chabon

That makes 28 authors with more than one vote as opposed to 24 books with that sort of consensus.

Don't know what all that adds up to, but thought people might find it interesting.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your data massage, Karen. It helps consolidate lots of good thinking.

I've been pleased to see these lists, since I missed the panel. The majority of these are on my to-read shelves, and so now I've reorganized my shelves so that I choose from the "essentials" more frequently.

However, now I'm wishing that there would be a similar discussion of fantasy.

I'm sorry I wasn't able to stay to see your entire panel on Saturday, but I enjoyed catching up with you and Curtis.

Karen Burnham said...


Ask and you shall receive! Niall Harrison is running the comparable fantasy discussion over at Torque Control.

It was good to see you too! It sounds like you had a better time at Denver than you did in LA, which is great.