Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

The Appliance Of Science

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Lots of people tried to guess this year’s Arthur C Clarke Award shortlist. The shortlist has now been announced and it is interesting to compare the guesses to the actual list. Quite a few people got three of the six book correct but only a few got four and no one got five. Nicholas Whyte went one step further than just guessing though, he ranked the submissions according to Goodreads and Librarything and then applied several steps:

  • Removed all the books that weren’t science fiction (quite a few this year)
  • Removed the two Connie Willis books since they formed the two halves of a single novel
  • Removed the books with very low Goodreads averages
  • Removed the books with a high ratio of Goodreads users to Librarything users
  • Removed the Robert J Sawyer book because it was written by Robert J Sawyer

This produced the following list:

  • Reamde by Neal Stephenson
  • Embassytown by China Miéville
  • Rule 34 by Charles Stross
  • The End Specialist by Drew Magary
  • Equations of Life by Simon Morden
  • The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers

Not bad at all: four out of six. But Whyte was slightly wrong footed by the fact Readme isn’t a science fiction novel and should have been struck off under his first step. The novel under The Testament of Jessie Lamb was The Waters Rising by Sheri S Tepper which would have given him five out of six. It is also interesting to note that Whyte could have got two thirds of the shortlist just by applying his first two step:

  • Embassytown by China Miéville
  • Zone One by Colson Whitehead
  • Rule 34 by Charles Stross
  • Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
  • Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear
  • The End Specialist by Drew Magary

When I started reading Whyte’s methodology, I thought it was just going to produce a popularist list since, as he acknowledges, the BSFA Award shortlisted novels were down the bottom. But it worked. I hope it doesn’t work every year though, it would take all the fun out of it!

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Written by Martin

26 March 2012 at 08:50

Posted in awards, sf

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. […] The BSFA 2011 Shortlists!Clarke award shortli… on Contest: Guess the 2012 Arthur…The Appliance Of Sci… on Contest: Guess the 2012 Arthur…Sean on Contest: Guess the 2012 Arthur…Ice « […]

  2. […] Roberts’ By Light Alone, the absence of which strikes me as rather wrongheaded. Martin Lewis notes that Nicholas Whyte correctly predicted four of the novels based on the popularity of the novels as […]


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