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22554Re: [mythsoc] NPR top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy titles poll

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  • scribbler@scribblerworks.us
    Aug 4, 2011
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      Well, I hadn't heard of Kim Harrison before now, but I just read the
      latest volume in the Hollows Series to review for Mythprint. Alternate
      history contemporary urban fantasy. And apparently popular - though I
      think for the market that reads the Twilight Saga type "fantasy".

      And yes, I feel snobbish about it. "THIS is fantasy these days?" *sigh*

      > I think that there's something strange about the list. It's not the fact
      > that I don't like some of the books or that some of my favorite books
      > aren't there. After all, who cares, even me? In any list compiled by
      > polling
      > many people, any one person's personal tastes won't be satisfied. For
      > years
      > I have been collected lists of favorite films. The interesting thing
      > about the lists, especially when they are one person's favorites and not
      > the
      > results of voting among a large group of people, is that there will be a
      > few
      > movies on them that aren't on anyone else's list of favorites. My problem
      > is also not whether I disagree with their definition of science fiction or
      > fantasy. Again, who cares? Every book about science fiction that I read
      > has a slightly different definition of the genre. Something that's
      > noticeable is that the list is skewed toward recent books. This really
      > isn't that
      > surprising, I suppose. This always happens with lists compiled by voting
      > when the voters include lots of people who only recently got into
      > appreciating the subject. A radio station will solicit votes by phone
      > for the
      > greatest rock and roll of all time and then find that the resulting list
      > contains
      > an awful lot of music from the past five years.
      >
      > My problem is that there is stuff on the list that I never heard of by
      > authors I never heard of. I think I've read and, more important, heard of
      > an
      > enormous amount of science fiction and fantasy over the years. When I
      > see
      > a list like this that's compiled by voting among a lot of people (as
      > opposed
      > to a list of a single person's favorites) which contains a lot of things
      > that I'm pretty sure are neither critical, popular, nor cult favorites,
      > my
      > assumption is that the ballot box was stuffed. I suspect that there were
      > some campaigns to put certain books on the lists either by a publisher or
      > an
      > author persuading a lot of people to vote who had no interest in the field
      > in general but were fans of a single author or else just by figuring out
      > some way to vote multiple times. Consider the following books:
      >
      > The Acts Of Caine Series, by Matthew Woodring Stover
      > Armor, by John Steakley
      > The Black Jewels Series, by Anne Bishop
      > The Eisenhorn Omnibus, by Dan Abnett
      > The First Law Trilogy, by Joe Abercrombie
      > The Gone-Away World, by Nick Harkaway
      > The Hollows Series, by Kim Harrison
      > House Of Leaves, by Mark Danielewski
      > The Inheritance Trilogy, by N.K. Jemisin
      > The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
      > The Lies Of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch
      > The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
      > The Newsflesh Triology, by Mira Grant
      > The Passage, by Justin Cronin
      > The Prince Of Nothing Trilogy, by R. Scott Bakker
      > The Saga Of Recluce, by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
      >
      > I was actually fairly conservative in compiling the list above. I didn't
      > include some books and authors who I had heard of but who I suspected
      > weren't actually that popular. The list of books above make me want to
      > say,
      > "What are these books? Who are these authors?" Are these books really
      > critical, popular, or cult favorites, or does this look like ballot
      > stuffing?
      >
      > Wendell Wagner
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