I Declare This Focus Week Open

If I were a proper blogger, I would no doubt have a banner of some kind with which to preface this post. As it is, you’ll have to make do with text: welcome to the start of a week of discussion of sf by women.

A quick review of how this came about is in order. Back in October, Tricia Sullivan gave an interview in which, among other things, she discussed the fact that the proportion of Arthur C Clarke Awards going to women has nose-dived in the last ten years — one winner between 2001 and 2010, compared to five between 1991 and 2000. I spun this off into a discussion here, which eventually ranged far and wide over possible causes and effects.

My follow-up to the discussion has, so far, had two parts. First, I’ve been reading sf by women, most of it recent, to provide material for discussion this week. And second, of course, I’ve been running a poll to determine what people collectively think are the best science fiction novels by women published between 2001 and 2010, as a starting point to address the more rapid canonisation of works by men, via representation on award ballots and in promotions such as the Gollancz Future Classics.

So another thing I’ll be doing this week is posting the top ten, and a couple of other cuts of the data. Some notes on the limitations and quality of the dataset are in order first, however.

In total, 101 people nominated 205 novels by 133 writers: so not an enormous voting population, but a pretty healthy one, and one that looks like it’s acheived quite healthy coverage of the field. About 45% of voters were men, compared to 40% women and 15% unknown; about 40% of voters were British, compared to 15% American, 10% from the rest of the world, and 35% unknown. (I suspect the unknowns were disproportionately American, based on voting patterns and the fact that I’m more likely to already know British readers, so I don’t think the sample is quite as British-biased as it looks.) The median number of nominations was 10, and the mean was 6, and indeed a fair number of people noted that they hadn’t read as widely as they might, and wondered if this might bias the poll results. For that reason, I would continue to direct your attention to the individual lists that have been posted over the past two months, whose idiosyncracies are a necessary counterpart to the lists I’m going to post here this week. I’ll be linking to recent discussions of sf by women throughout the week, so if anyone else wants to post their own top ten in the next few days, please do, and I’ll round them all up on Friday.

And with all that said: let the discussion commence.

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19 thoughts on “I Declare This Focus Week Open

  1. I’m going to seriously try and get my piece on Gwyneth Jones’ Bold as Love Cycle finished and posted on my blog this week. I’ve yet to read the fifth book in L Timmel Duchamp’s Marq’ssan Cycle, so that’ll probably have to wait until the new year.

  2. Out of pure curiosity, how have you determined where a response came from? I’d be interested to see an analysis of voting patterns vs. origin (not that you haven’t got enough to do, of course!)

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