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

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  • Bill West
    If you ll permit anecdotal evidence, as an avid sf and fantasy reader since I was six years old, I paid special attention to the science fiction and fantasy
    Message 1 of 31 , Aug 4, 2011
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      If you'll permit anecdotal evidence, as an avid sf and fantasy reader since I was
      six years old, I paid special attention to the science fiction and fantasy sections
      in my twenty three years working for Lauriats and then Borders bookstores. Of those
      authors you mention, I've read Jemisin, Rothfuss, and Lynch who've all received good
      reviews and enjoyed them. They were among titles I'd recommend  to customers.
      One of my coworkers raved about Sanderson's series but I could never get into the
      first book. I did like the first book in his new series set in a different universe than the
      older series, and of course Sanderson's chief claim to fame at the moment is that he's
      finishing off Jordan's Wheel of Time series.

      The coworker who liked Sanderson also raved about Abercrombie and Bakker but
      again I wasn't particularly impressed. I suspect it might be a generational thing.
      I'm 63 and he's in his mid-twenties. House of Leaves was definitely a cult favorite 
      with several staff members who were not sf or fantasy readers who brought it up
      as the only book of the genre they liked.

      As for the rest, I'm familiar with most of them from helping customers find or order
      them. I've read nearly all the books on the "Top 100" list but must admit there are
      some on it that made me scratch my head.

      It's been two months since my Borders in Braintree Ma closed and I miss the
      conversations with customers and staff about books. Sigh.,

      Bill West 

      On Thu, Aug 4, 2011 at 7:45 AM, <WendellWag@...> wrote:
       

      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

    • Alana Joli Abbott
      On Thu, Aug 4, 2011 at 7:31 PM, Lisa Harrigan
      Message 31 of 31 , Aug 4, 2011
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        On Thu, Aug 4, 2011 at 7:31 PM, Lisa Harrigan <auntie_m_groups@...> wrote:
        Most of these should not be on a Best of All Time list, because they are
        Brand New, some trilogies have not even had book 3 printed yet, Series.
        How do they get on a Best of All Times List?

        This is a fair point. I do think it's valid to want to include things that are new, so you get the full range of classic to contemporary. But series that aren't completed yet really shouldn't qualify.

        -Alana 


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