January 17th, 2021


Whoniversaries 17 January

broadcast anniversaries

17 January 1970: broadcast of third episode of Spearhead from Space. Meg Seeley brings the swarm leader to the Doctor, Liz and the Brigadier; meanwhile General Scobie is confronted by his own double.

17 January 1974: publication by Target Books of Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion by Terrance Dicks and Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters by Malcolm Hulke, based on the 1970 stories Spearhead from Space and Doctor Who and the Silurians, kicking off the Target novelisations which remain the single biggest sequence of Doctor Who books.

17 January 1976: broadcast of third episode of The Brain of Morbius. The Doctor restores the Sisters' flame, and Solon forces Sarah to help him operate on Morbius.

17 January 1981: broadcast of third episode of Warriors' Gate. Romana is rescued by the Tharils and brought to join the Doctor at a feast on the other side of the Gate. K9's condition continues to deteriorate.

17 January 2012: broadcast of second part of K9's Question Time, which as noted yesterday is one of the three episodes here:

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DisCon III, the Hugos and me

This year's Worldcon, DisCon III, to be held in Washington DC, has had a difficult few days, with a number of people leaving the team.

I have been appointed the new Division Head of the WSFS Division, which is the part of the Worldcon that admininsters the Hugo Awards, the Business Meeting which reviews the rules, and the Site Selection process for the 2023 Worldcon (currently contested between Chengdu, China and Memphis, Tennessee) - the three obligatory things that every Worldcon must do.

I was previously the Administrator of the Hugo Awards in 2017 and 2019, and one of the deputy administrators last year; and also Division Head for Promotions at the London Worldcon in 2014. I had not anticipated having any executive role this year, but life does not always work out as we expect.

The Hugos have had some reputational issues to deal with. Having fought off direct assault by ill-wishers in 2015 and 2016, some pretty significant mistakes were made more recently. Many of those were outside the immediate responsibility of the Hugo Administrators, including most notably the awful botching of last year's Hugo ceremony and the Hugo Losers Party in 2019, and the hostile response from some in the community to the winners of the award for Best Related Work in both of those years (cases where I very much stand by the eligibility decisions that were made by teams that I was a part of).

I have made mistakes as well, and I hope that I have learned from them. In particular, it's clear, not least from the problems that arose in the last few days, that the Hugos as a whole need to be less siloed and need to improve communication in both directions with the rest of the Worldcon and with the wider stakeholder community (as my work colleagues would put it). DisCon III had already started putting structures in place that would improve this side of things, and I look forward to working with those and building on them.

The 2021 WSFS team structure currently has a lot of gaps, including the Site Selection Administrator and many of the supporting roles in Hugo Administration and the Business Meeting. Worldcon and the Hugos are entirely run by volunteers, and cannot survive without active support from fans. I do have some people in mind already, but nothing is set in stone and I would welcome (private) expressions of interest, to go please to wsfs at discon3 dot org rather than any of my other addresses.

And I cannot make any comment on what the physical arrangements for this year's Worldcon will actualy be, given the global situation. But it will happen, and there will be Hugo Awards, and I am glad to play my part.

The BSFA Best Novel long-list: Goodreads/LibraryThing rankings

The BSFA Long List is out. Here are the 56 (!) Best Novel nominees, ranked by the product of their number of owners on Goodreads and LibraryThing.

Goodreads LibraryThing
reviewers av rating owners av rating
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke 27,961 4.34 1,033 4.26
The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin 24,512 4.01 990 4.08
Network Effect by Martha Wells 22,649 4.43 729 4.42
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones 15,259 3.8 486 4.06
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir 13,520 4.3 465 4.21
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini 10,990 3.9 411 4.26
Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell 9,187 4.04 464 4.08
The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty 13,803 4.53 279 4.32
The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow 9,894 4.15 374 4.16
Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis 9,418 3.89 271 3.6
Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin 7,136 3.65 189 3.56
The New Wilderness by Diane Cook 5,260 3.8 171 3.81
Burn by Patrick Ness 4,401 3.82 196 3.98
The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey 3,744 4.11 207 4.03
Earthlings by Sayaka Murata 4,323 3.62 166 3.63
The Silence by Don DeLillo 3,824 2.8 184 2.86
The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal 3,075 4.45 187 4.49
The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez 2,626 4.11 172 3.94
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson 1,725 4.02 211 4.02
Afterland by Lauren Beukes 2,208 3.31 142 3.47
The God Game by Danny Tobey 2,758 3.74 113 3.68
Picard: The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack 2,236 4.07 93 3.93
Saints of Salvation by Peter F Hamilton 2,509 4.46 63 4.32
The Last Human by Zack Jordan 1,473 3.71 99 3.54
The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky 1,581 3.92 82 4.39
Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott 932 4.03 116 4.08
88 Names by Matt Ruff 1,046 3.44 66 3.21
Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow 736 4.11 73 4.13
Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang 574 3.43 83 3.5
Light of Impossible Stars by Gareth L. Powell 847 3.95 56 3.65
Beneath The Rising by Premee Mohamed 437 3.68 60 3.67
The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again by M. John Harrison 308 3.75 57 3.56
Mordew by Alex Pheby 220 3.92 54 3.4
Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston 183 3.75 58 3.5
Bridge 108 by Anne Charnock 274 3.58 27 3.44
Nophek Gloss by Essa Hansen 245 3.85 29 3.17
War of the Maps by Paul McAuley 194 3.8 35 3.5
Space Station Down by Ben Bova & Doug Beason 270 3.39 18 3.33
Ghost Species by James Bradley 330 3.84 11 3.75
Comet Weather by Liz Williams 81 4.46 38 4.25
Noumenon Ultra by Marina J. Lostetter 164 3.94 11 -
Chosen Spirits by Samit Basu 143 3.73 5 4.25
Saving Lucia by Anna Vaught 87 4.01 8 -
Liquid Crystal Nightingale by Eeleen Lee 39 3.56 17 4.25
The Breach by M.T. Hill 86 3.52 7 3.25
People of the Canyons by Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear 71 4.13 8 -
The Evidence by Christopher Priest 49 3.37 11 5
Threading the Labyrinth by Tiffani Angus 47 4.04 10 5
Fearless by Allen Stroud 51 4.04 7 4.25
Dark Angels Rising by Ian Whates 35 3.86 9 4.33
King of the Rising by Kacen Callender 75 3.59 3 -
Greensmith by Aliya Whiteley 23 4.13 6 3.5
Analogue/Virtual by Lavanya Lakshminarayan 13 4.31 7 -
Water Must Fall by Nick Wood 8 4.25 8 1.75
Ivory’s Story by Eugen Bacon 7 4.29 6 4.67
Club Ded by Nikhil Singh 3 4.67 2 -

This is of limited predictive value, but does give a sense of how far these books have penetrated the wider market.

Three books are in the upper quartile of all four metrics - Piranesi, Network Effect and The Empire of Gold. Striking how poorly The Silence seems to have landed with readers.

Last year's winner was 5th out of 46 in the equivalent table, which is rather better than 16th out of 45 on the corresponding ranking of the 2018 long list; 27th out of 48 in 2017, and 26th out of 34 in 2016, So this table is of limited predictive value.