April 29th, 2016

shakespeare

30 days of Shakespeare: Day 11 - Your least favourite play

No difficulty in choosing here: The Taming of the Shrew. The basic storyline is simply too unpleasant: Katherina, obviously a very unhappy person, is intimidated into submission by a bloke called Petruchio who appears out of nowhere and for no apparent reason decides to marry her. There is lots of beating of servants; how hilarious.

It's not totally awful. The suitors trying to court Katherina's sister Bianca are moderately funny, and the Katherina / Petruchio relationship, though generally very dodgy, is almost sweet in the penultimate scene. But it's not really enough to mask the general nastiness of the plot. I did wonder a bit to what extent the complex father-child relationships, and the difficulties of managing households in two different cities, were drawn from Shakespeare's own experience.

There's also a particularly poor framing narrative about mocking a groundling, which isn't even resolved properly.

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buzz

Hugo finalists and Clarke Award shortlist: Goodreads/LibraryThing stats

As ever, I've run this week's announcements through Goodreads and LibraryThing to count the number of owners and record the average ratings.

2016 Hugo finalists
Goodreads LibraryThing
owners av rating owners av rating
Uprooted, by Naomi Novik 111,631 4.17 933 4.24
Seveneves, by Neil Stephenson 86,903 3.97 1,021 3.88
The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s
Windlass
, by Jim Butcher
44,102 4.20 356 4.02
The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin 37,162 4.32 388 4.28
Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie 18,393 4.23 536 4.24

Two of these have clearly done much better than the other three in terms of market impact. Notable, however, that the multitudes who have read Seveneves are not all that enthusiastic about it.


1941 Retro Hugo finalists
Goodreads LibraryThing
owners av rating owners av rating
The Ill‐Made Knight, by T.H. White
(numbers for The Once And Future King)
139,375 4.07 10,838 4.10
Slan, by A.E. van Vogt 4,200 3.73 1,136 3.50
Kallocain, by Karin Boye 4,071 3.80 422 3.79
Gray Lensman, by E.E. "Doc" Smith 3,426 3.96 950 3.59
The Reign of Wizardry, by Jack Williamson 63 2.96 77 3.50

A clear leader here on all counts, and it will be a bit surprising if it doesn't win. The other three were well ahead of the field in my earlier survey. After them, I had thought that Kuttner or Wellman might get the last spot, but the Williamson book is not bad (though bottom of the table in both ownership rankings and reader ratings).


Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist
Goodreads LibraryThing
owners av rating owners av rating
The Long Way to a Small Angry
Planet
, by Becky Chambers
16,536 4.20 205 4.08
Arcadia, by Iain Pears 4,512 3.95 145 3.84
The Book of Phoenix, by Nnedi Okorafor 3,358 3.92 77 4.00
Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky 3,014 4.28 41 4.00
Way Down Dark, by James Smythe 1,882 3.79 17 3.75
Europe at Midnight, by Dave Hutchinson 662 4.17 46 4.19

The leader in terms of ownership is also second highest rated on both GR and LT. But I'm also cheered by the enthusiasm of the smaller band of Hutchinson fans.

This has been a rather imperfect predictor of success in the past, but it does give some robust statistics of relative popularity in terms of books sold and logged in readers' online catalogues.