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Topic: Tor.com announces the best SF&F of the decade

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Subject: Tor.com announces the best SF&F of the decade
Date Posted: 3/4/2011 12:17 AM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
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By popular vote:

  1. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi - 295 votes
  2. American Gods by Neil Gaiman - 270 votes
  3. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss - 231 votes
  4. Blindsight by Peter Watts - 221 votes
  5. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey - 194 votes
  6. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin - 179 votes
  7. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke - 167 votes
  8. Anathem by Neal Stephenson - 141 votes
  9. Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson - 125 votes
  10. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville - 124 votes


I'm surprised that there weren't more votes. Then again, two weeks ago I didn't even know Tor.com existed. (Thanks, Phoenix!)

I've read only Kushiel's Dart and I have Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell on my shelf to read, probably this year.

What do you all think of this list? Is it accurate?

Date Posted: 3/4/2011 12:27 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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This list seems. . . accurate about what authors got people excited the past decade. The only ones that surprised me were Blindsight and Anathem.

I've read. . . four of them, and alternate titles by two of the authors, and I have an additional two on Mt. TBR. The only ones I have no interest in reading are Blindsight (and Elizabeth Bear's review of that title seemed to me to be a great review while simultaneously making me want to read it even less, because I just don't find nihilism sexy) and A Storm of Swords (because I have an unconquerable prejudice against epic doorstopper fantasy). And I actually voted for two (or maybe three, I can't remember) of them! (Well, technically, I voted for Kushiel's Avatar, but that got lumped into the Kushiel's Dart voting by poll-taker fiat.)

Also, I am apparently in a parenthetical mood. . . ;)

Date Posted: 3/4/2011 7:02 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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It does match what I've heard people talking about over and over for the last couple of years, so I can't say I'm surprised.  Even with the two sci fi books I haven't heard of before, I've at least heard the authors highly recommended.

The 3 I've read (American Gods, Kushiel's Dart, Jonathan Strange) I really loved.  Of course, everyone knows by now I couldn't stand Perdido Street Station and gave up on it.

There's a few that I thought were lacking (I'd have liked to see Bujold on the list), but most of the ones I think really deserve it are at least in the top 20. 

What surprises me is that some of the series with huge followings aren't on the list.  For instance, the Southern Vampire Series only got one vote.  Twilight got none.  Supernatural Noir as a whole (other than Dresden Files) did pretty poorly.  I'm not saying they deserved being in the top 20 or 30 - just that I would have expected them to be higher up on it or just on it at all. 

I wonder how much the results were skewed by the poll being on a publisher's website instead of some more trafficed website.  Just the fact that it's on Tor's site means it's most likely to be seen by people who like the style of books Tor publishes.  Looking at the first 50 or so results, half were published by Tor.

Last Edited on: 3/4/11 7:03 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/5/2011 1:34 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
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I can understand why some of those popular series aren't higher in the list .... I love Sookie myself, but I would never vote for any of those books as the best book of anything, because they are basically "candy" books .... and don't make me think about anything other than how hot Eric is.

I love candy books .... but when I am thinking about "good" books, I usually go for books that either made me think about interesting ideas, or involved me emotionally. As much as I like Sookie, they ain't that. 

I am not surprised that others do the same thing (or at least, what I am assuming is the same thing).

I've read 6 of those books on the list.

In general, I think lists are stupid (no offense meant to anyone here). The big general lists like "best books of the decade"  are always skewed one way or another. I usually tend to find lists more useful when they have a narrower focus, like "best books written in the 90s by a female with a female protagonist", etc.

Date Posted: 3/5/2011 10:57 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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Despite it being a "best of" list, a lot of times people vote for what they personally liked best, rather than the best quality books out there.  As you mentioned, those aren't always the same books.

I don't think that those books deserved to win or even anywhere close to winning.  I just meant that if the list were posted most other places on the internet at least a few fans would have voted for their personal favorites.

Lists are always more useful when you have an idea of who it was that created them.  What's on them and what isn't can help you figure that out, along with where the question gets asked. 

Date Posted: 3/5/2011 7:03 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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What I've found really interesting is some of the breakdowns of the data the Tor.com staff is posting. . . things like what year had the most books voted for, and what the gender balance of the authors who received votes was, and how well the votes matched the books that won the big awards. . .

I take every list like that with a hefty grain of salt, but I <b>love</b> seeing how they turn out. Mostly because then I get to ponder <b>why</b> they turned out that way. . . ;D

Date Posted: 3/9/2011 11:18 AM ET
Member Since: 9/10/2009
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What does it say about me that I've tried reading three of the books, but gave up on them halfway (or less) through the book?

I like Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, but after getting to the halway point of the giant book the novelty of it wore off, and I realized that very little was happening.  Actually I think my biggest problem with the three I gave up on (which also includes Perdido Street Station and Anathem) is that they all seemed more concerned with writing something 'challenging' and 'innovative' rather than just telling a good story.  I was especially disappointed with Anathem, because I'd loved so much of Stephenson's previous work like Cryptonomicon.

Great to see American Gods, Mistborn and Storm of Swords on here -- all books I've read and enjoyed. 

Name of the Wind is on my WL and I hope it lands on the 'finished and loved' side of the ledger. 


Date Posted: 3/16/2011 5:03 PM ET
Member Since: 5/17/2006
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Perdido Street Station was pretty good, but I thought The Scar was far superior.  The Name of the Wind and American Gods were both excellent.  Can't speak for the rest though...

Date Posted: 3/16/2011 5:42 PM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2008
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Hmmm.  I've only read one of them, that's pretty sad (although another is on my TBR and another is on my WL and I've been anxious to get it).  And yes, it's Storm of Swords, which I have read (along with the other three published) a couple of times, because unlike Phoenix I am a bit of a sucker for doorstopper epic fantasy.  And I can't wait for the HBO adaptation - good to see Boromir getting more work.  ;)

Last Edited on: 3/16/11 5:44 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/19/2011 3:18 AM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2009
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I'm surprised not to see any of Kage Baker's books on the list. I was late discovering her (Thanks to PBS discussion group recommendations!) , but I like both the Company books and the ones set in Lord Ermenwyr's world so much that I had to get them all in hardback. I'm also very sad that we won't be seeing any more from her.