Hooray! The first of the sf award shortlists of this year are out, the pleasingly eclectic Kitschies, which celebrate "progressive, intelligent and entertaining books that contain elements of the speculative or fantastic". This also means I can do my first number-crunching of the year by looking up how many people list the shortlisted works on the two major library sites, Goodreads and LibraryThing, and what average rating the books have been given. (I'll note that while Goodreads has extended its lead over LibraryThing in terms of numbers of users, my sense is that both sites continue to expand.)
The Kitschies come in three categories. First the Red Tentacle, equivalent of Best Novel:
|A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki||9962||4.18||677||4.19|
|More Than This, Patrick Ness||3033||4.02||199||3.95|
|Bleeding Edge, Thomas Pynchon||2405||3.57||349||3.71|
|Red Doc>, Anne Carson||378||4.12||90||4.3|
|The Machine, James Smythe||55||4.07||12||3|
A Tale for the Time Being has clearly caught the public mood, with more copies owned by both GR and LT users than the other five nominees put together. But I am intrigued by the high user ratings given to Red Doc> - and by the comparatively low ratings for Bleeding Edge.
Then we have the Golden Tentacle, awarded for best debut novel - must be the writer's first novel in any genre.
|Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan||40300||3.78||2289||3.92|
|Nexus, Ramez Naam||1721||4.14||155||3.77|
|Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie||1603||4.03||234||4.17|
|A Calculated Life, Anne Charnock||72||3.72||12||4|
|Stray, Monica Hesse||45||4.36||2||-|
The intriguingly titled Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is far ahead of all of the other books in either category combined, in terms of popularity. On the other hand Stray almost falls off the LT charts; neither LT user who has logged it has yet rated it. In the mid-section, Ancillary Justice's numbers look good.
The third category, the Inky Tentacle for cover art, is not really susceptible to the same sort of analysis. (I must say that, of the shortlisted works, I do like the cover of Stray.)
As I said in my roundup post from last year's awards, this is a good way of identifying books that have built up a wide audience, but may not actually prove a reliable predictor of the winners.