Uncategorized

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SL Huang: Awards Eligibility 2017
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“How Can I Help?” #FictionFightsBack
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A Call To Words: #FictionFightsBack
4
MEGA BOOK RELEASE PARTY AND SUPER SALE
5
A Book 4, A Bundle, and An Official Release Date!
6
Up and Coming: Stories by the 2016 Campbell-Eligible Authors
7
Announcing: UP AND COMING — a 2016 anthology of Campbell-eligible authors!
8
S.L. Huang Awards Eligibility Post 2016
9
On This Day In History X Years Ago
10
Using Statistics to Choose What People Think Is Best: Not As Straightforward As You Might Think

SL Huang: Awards Eligibility 2017

Time for a list of my published works from 2016 that are eligible for awards nomination in 2017!  For this year, the categories I would highlight for readers who want to narrow it down are Novelette (“The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist”) and Series (Russell’s Attic), though of course I am honored by any consideration you might give to any piece of mine.

All Eligible Works:

Series

Novel

Novelette

Short Stories

The Carl Brandon Awards

I am a writer of color, and thus my works are all eligible for the Carl Brandon Parallax Award.

The Tiptree Award

I have one piece this year with core themes that involve gender: “The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist.”

I am no longer eligible for the Campbell Award.

For nominating purposes, I am happy to hook anyone up with review copies of any of the above works. Please email me for review copies at sl AT slhuang DOT com.

“How Can I Help?” #FictionFightsBack

Original post — A Call to Words: #FictionFightsBack

Thanks for spreading the word, everyone. We here at Bad Menagerie are grateful #FictionFightsBack is seeing so much support.

I’m getting a lot of questions along the lines of, What can I do if I don’t have that big of a fanbase? Or, How can I help if I’m not a writer?

First of all, if #FictionFightsBack doesn’t fit your options, there are many other ways you can stand up. But if you want to help this initiative in particular, here are some ideas. (This is just me spitballing! Adapt this campaign into whatever works for you.)

  • If you don’t think your writing will earn enough on its own, put together a bundle or anthology with other writers you know. We here at Bad Menagerie are looking at doing that ourselves, but we can never have too many. The more stories selling with these aims, the more impact it can have.
  • If you’re not a writer yourself or you’re otherwise not able to join in, signal boost. Continue to signal boost as authors start releasing work and during the weeks and months to come when the initial anger from many has died down. Particularly useful is if people can start spreading this idea to genres outside of SFF, since I don’t have many contacts in those communities.
  • If you have other skills, hook up with people who are writing and offer to donate cover design, editing, ebook formatting, or paperbook formatting to the effort. Feel free to use the comments section here to find people or to volunteer.
  • Write to, tweet at, or otherwise contact your favorite authors asking if they’ve seen it.
  • Ask the publishers or magazines you are a fan of if they’ve seen it.
  • If you are a publisher or a magazine and you want to participate, there are lots of ways! For instance, you could do a special donation issue or particular donation stories, whatever fits best with your framework. If you’re a press with the capability, you could reach out to your authors to see who might like to release works for which the royalties would be donated, or hook up with a group of authors to publish an anthology they’re putting together. Whatever fits your strengths and abilities as a business. By all means come up with your own way of participating, and publicize it with us.
  • Buy work that is being promoted with the hashtag.
  • Promote work being released under the hashtag.
  • If you see something that fits this — there are many people in fiction doing many good things right now — tag it with #FictionFightsBack so that others can find it. We want the hashtag to help signal boost and cross-promote everyone doing something similar. Also, if you’re someone doing something similar, feel free to cross-pollinate your project with this tag, too. It doesn’t have to be exactly like what we’ve suggested, as long as it’s fiction related to protecting people’s rights (which you can consider to have as wide a definition as you feel is right to you) and the proceeds are being donated to help protect people’s rights.
  • If you’re a writer but you feel like you don’t write along these themes, please consider that the objective here is very wide. This is not just about rebellion-against-tyranny stories, but stories about refusing to be erased from existence, or giving voice to marginalized experiences, or fighting against what makes us powerless. Play to your strengths as a writer, pledge to donate the proceeds, and join us.
  • Feel free to come up with your own method of participating or make other suggestions in comments. Or just donate directly to your organizations of choice.
  • Remember that this is a slow burn, not a one-time event. There’s no deadline. If you can’t participate now but want to do so a few months from now, please do. And please keep signal boosting.

I’m sure this will be one initiative of many among the fiction community. We want to support the others, not be the only one. Act in the ways you are able and join us if you can, but if you choose a different way of helping, I absolutely support you. I’ll be doing other things, too — this is a beginning, not enough.

And I absolutely know that there are writers who might like this idea but can’t participate right now for myriad reasons. Please stay safe and healthy if you can, and do whatever you are able to. That’s what I’m trying to do, too.

Coming soon, by request: A list of publishing resources for people who are looking at self-publishing something for the first time.

Comments are screened.

A Call To Words: #FictionFightsBack

 

UPDATES

Update #1: For people asking “how can I help?”


I spent a day feeling powerless, angry, and afraid. I’m still angry and afraid, but now I’m figuring out what I can do.

This will be the first thing.

Yesterday I thought, I might write a story in the Russell’s Attic universe about the characters reacting to this. Then I thought, I’ll do that, and I’ll donate all the proceeds to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, charities for trans teens, and other similar organizations… I’m going to commit to regular donations anyway, but I don’t have a lot of money myself, and I do have a few thousand readers, so that seemed like a good idea.

And then I thought, well, I have some readers, but lots of other people have lots more.

So this is a call to join me.

Modify these suggested guidelines in whatever way you like, as long as the purpose remains using your fiction to raise money for organizations that will fight authoritarianism and/or work to protect people’s rights:

  • Write a story of any length along the theme of standing up to authoritarianism — whether it’s specifically about current events or a parallel situation in another time or place is up to you.
  • Though authors with pre-existing series or universes have an advantage in calling on their fanbases for those characters, authors wishing to write standalones and authors who are not yet published are also strongly encouraged to join us.
  • Publish it in some way — self-publishing may be easiest but if some authors have publishers willing to join them, all power to you! — with the commitment that all proceeds will be donated to your listed organization(s) of choice. (Mine are below, and you are welcome to copy from that list.)
  • If you like — I will be doing this — offer the story directly in some way, so that people can donate the list price directly and then read the story (so that the whole list price goes to the organizations without taking out the retailer’s cut).
  • If you wish, include the hashtag #FictionFightsBack directly in the title, subtitle, or blurb.
  • Write as many of these as you want.
  • Signal boost! Signal boost us even if you don’t write with us. Ask the authors you are a fan of to join us. Encourage your author friends to join us, particularly those with large fanbases. Tell the world that #FictionFightsBack
  • Magazines and publishers are of course welcome to join in whatever way works best for them!
  • Everyone should modify these guidelines in whatever way works best for them, as long as they retain the commitment of writing to protect people’s rights in order to give money to protect people’s rights.

Stories are powerful. Let’s change the world.

My personal list of organizations for my donations, to start:

I’ll be posting further helpful details for help on how to set things up as I get my own campaign going. And as people join in, the members here at Bad Menagerie will be looking for lots of ways to help publicize stories by participating authors and keep the movement going.

Feel free to share this post or reblog it in any way, and please do signal boost! #FictionFightsBack!

Tweet: Writers: Put your worlds into action. Help #FictionFightsBack fund a diversity of charities http://ctt.ec/dT6ZW+

Comments are screened.

MEGA BOOK RELEASE PARTY AND SUPER SALE

PlasticSmile.v4.Amazon

Plastic Smile is OUT! Get it now at your retailer of choice:

Amazon

Amazon UK

Apple

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

My first readers are generally of the opinion that this is the Best. Book. Yet.


RA1to33Dv2Amazon

Oh, and remember the bundle? The box set of books 1, 2, AND 3?

IT IS ON SALE

LIKE, SUPER SALE

LIKE, SUPER MEGA AWESOME SALE

Seriously, for this upcoming week only, you can get ALL THREE of the first three books for just 99 cents.

Nintey-nine. Cents. For THREE BOOKS.

If you haven’t picked up book 3 yet, this is also a great opportunity to get that mega cheap!

Choose your retailer:

Amazon

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Apple

Note: The Kobo link has changed. The above link will be the correct link going forward.

 

A Book 4, A Bundle, and An Official Release Date!

News news news news news!

We have a Russell’s Attic book 4! It is available for preorder on Amazon! And more retailers will be coming soon — here is the the official Book Page that will be updated with links.

The Book 4 has a cover!  It is gorgeous, as all Najla Qamber’s covers are:

PlasticSmile.v4.Amazon

The Book 4 has a release date! That release date is June 30.

What to know what it’s about? Here is the blurb:

Cas Russell, antisocial mercenary, has decided to Fight Crime. With capital letters, like in one of her friend’s comic books.After all, she has a real-life superpower: with her instantaneous mathematical ability, she can neuter bombs or out-shoot an army. And it’s Cas’s own fault violence has been spiking in the world’s cities lately — she’s the one who crushed the organization of telepaths that had been keeping the world’s worst offenders under control. Now every drive-by or gang shooting reminds Cas how she’s failed, and taking out these scumbags one at a time is never going to be enough.

She needs to find a way to stop all the violence. At once.

But Cas’s own power has a history, one she can’t remember — or control. A history that’s creeping into the cracks in her mind and fracturing her sanity . . . just when she’s gotten herself on the hit list of every crime lord on the West Coast.

Cas isn’t going to be able to save the world. She might not even be able to save herself.

Oh, you might be wondering about the title. All the titles are number titles, you might say. What’s with Book 4? Well, there actually is such a thing as the plastic number. It’s equal to about 1.32471…, and its applications have to do with the ratios of numbers humans are able to perceive. As usual, it’s a bit of both a mathematical and thematic pun on the events of the book.


There is also a bundle! The bundle is the first three books in the series, plus the short stories. It gives me something else to run sales and such on, too. It exists now! On retailers! (Amazon, Kobo, and Apple, at least; B&N is still lagging.)

It also has a cover!  It is gorgeous and 3D:

 

RA1to33Dv2Amazon

What about BOOK 5?!  Book 5 is written and in editing, and just came back from its first round of beta. What about BOOKS 6 THROUGH 8?!! They are in the beginning stages of being written!  WHAT ABOUT BOOK 9?!!! It… has a title. Don’t ask me about book 10.

I will also hopefully have some fun announcements soon about some non-Cas Russell projects. Because I don’t always write mathematical fiction with kickass women and lots of guns. Sometimes I write fantasy with kickass women and lots of guns. Or swords, or staves, or slingshots…

I may have a type.

Up and Coming: Stories by the 2016 Campbell-Eligible Authors

It’s HERE! Get over a million words of fiction from this year’s Campbell-eligible authors!

Up and Coming: Stories by the 2016 Campbell-Eligible Authors

This anthology includes 120 authors—who contributed 230 works totaling approximately 1.1 MILLION words of fiction. These pieces all originally appeared in 2014, 2015, or 2016 from writers who are new professionals to the SFF field, and they represent a breathtaking range of work from the next generation of speculative storytelling.

All of these authors are eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2016. We hope you’ll use this anthology as a guide in nominating for that award as well as a way of exploring many vibrant new voices in the genre.

This anthology will be offered as a free download through March 31, 2016 only.

The availability window has ended!  Over 15,000 people downloaded UP AND COMING.


**** Note: If you are on Firefox, you have to right-click on the Download button and choose “Save Link As.” ****

Up and Coming in EPUB (3.2 MB):

(download link removed)

9461 Downloads

 

Up and Coming in MOBI (12.3 MB):

(download link removed)

6862 Downloads

Thanks to our mirror partners at Writertopia for helping us spread the file!


 

Announcing: UP AND COMING — a 2016 anthology of Campbell-eligible authors!

UPDATES: Submissions are now closed!  We had OVER A HUNDRED AUTHORS send us their work. Updates on the anthology coming soon!  (If you want live updates on the build, follow @sl_huang on Twitter.)

We have a cover!  By the amazing Holly Heisey. See below.

We also have a title! Thanks to a suggestion by Effie Seiberg, the anthology will be called UP AND COMING: STORIES BY THE 2016 CAMPBELL-ELIGIBLE AUTHORS.

If you would like updates on this project via email, mailing list information is now at the end of this post.

Up and Coming: Stories by the 2016 Campbell-Eligible Authors

Cover by Holly Heisey, http://hollyheiseydesign.com/

I’m happy to announce that fellow SFF author Kurt Hunt and I will be building a Campbell anthology this year!

The original CAMPBELLIAN ANTHOLOGY is the brainchild of author M. David Blake, and he’s put a monumental amount of effort into making it happen in prior years. Since he decided not to make one this year due to slate voting (as he explains here), we asked his blessing to step up and build a similar book for 2016. We expect to be the curators of such an anthology for this year only.

What is a Campbell anthology? It is an anthology open to any writers eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. The intent is to familiarize voters and readers with new writers in the SFF field. This anthology will be offered for download, for free, for a very limited time only (only until the nomination period closes on March 31), with an aimed release in early March.  This anthology is not affiliated with any of the people who administer the Campbell Award or the Hugos; it is purely a community effort.

Eligibility criteria for the Campbell Award are here. We will be using this list to determine individual authors’ eligibility, so if you’re eligible but not on Writertopia’s list, get yourself on there before you submit your work to us.

You may submit up to 3 pieces for inclusion. There is no firm word limit, but please keep it reasonable (around 10k-20k words total across all three pieces). Novels and long novellas should be excerpted. Authors who submit significantly more than 20k words of fiction risk having their pieces excluded in order to keep the anthology file size reasonable.

The submissions form is here. The deadline will be February 28, 8:00am Tokyo time (this is FEBRUARY 27 in the Western Hemisphere).

We apologize for the short deadline — we want nominators to have time to read before nominations close on March 31.

DETAILED SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:

1. You MUST be on Writertopia’s “Eligible Authors for 2016 Campbell Award” list. If you’re eligible and not listed, go get yourself listed first before submitting.

2. If you submit a story that is under the exclusive control of a publisher (check your contract), you MUST have that publisher’s written permission to reprint that story in the anthology. If your contract’s exclusivity clause allows republication in an annual “best of” anthology, you still need permission — this is not a best-of anthology. If you don’t provide the original publisher’s exclusivity waiver on request, the affected story may be excluded.

3. Deadline: February 28, 8:00am Tokyo time, which is February 27 in Western Hemisphere time zones. This deadline is firm. No exceptions will be made, even if the reason is that your publisher hasn’t gotten back to you about waiving exclusivity (sorry — we know it’s a fast schedule).

4. The work you send must have been previously published during or after your first eligibility year (if you became eligible in 2014, you may include work from 2014 on; if you became eligible in 2015, you may include work from 2015 on). The work must be in English, and must be speculative fiction. No nonfiction or other genres. No unpublished work. (Self-published counts as published.)

5. Maximum 3 pieces.  Novels and long novellas must be excerpted.  Keep the total wordcount reasonable — please aim for between 10,000 and 20,000 words total in your submission. This cap will not be strictly enforced, but we ask you to please honor our request for a reasonable word count and use good judgment. Authors who submit significantly more than 20,000 words may have their work excluded from the anthology for file size reasons.

6. How to submit — the submission form is forthcoming once our contract info is in place. It will ask for the following information on each piece:

a) The title as you want it to appear. Do not include quotes or all caps unless that is part of the title.
b) Your byline name, as you want it to appear under the story title
c) Where and when the piece was originally published
d) Any “originally published in” text that should appear below the title and byline, exactly as you want it to appear — please consult with your publisher about this if you are still under exclusivity
e) The length according to the Hugo categories — Short Story, Novelette, Novella, Excerpt of Novella, or Excerpt of Novel
f) Necessary formatting information (as described below). Please note that pieces will in general not be formatted manually.

7. Format: Each work must be submitted in a separate file in .doc, .docx, or .rtf format. Please generally use standard manuscript format while following the notes below. Don’t worry about header info; only the body text will be copied out.

Stories are not being formatted individually.  If your story is in SMF, most stories will work out fine with little to no modification — but if you wish to make sure your piece reads excellently, or if it has irregular needs, please adhere to the following:

  • Section breaks: # on a line by itself. (Section breaks must be marked ONLY with # on a line by itself. Other markers will not be searched for.)
  • End signal: Do NOT write “The end” or “###” or anything else at the end of the story unless you want it to be in the story, uncentered, like another paragraph.
  • Tab stops: There will be a question on the sub form asking how you indented your paragraphs when you were typing. (Possible answers: tab key, it happens automatically, hit the space bar 5 times, hit the space bar 7 times…). Don’t fret about it, just tell us which you do.
  • Special formatting other than italics (eg., bold, small caps, underlines that are supposed to be underlines instead of italics, etc): You must say so on the submissions form; otherwise it will show up wrong. Extremely extensive special formatting may not be able to be accommodated — sorry! — but if you give us details on the form we will make every effort.
  • If you have section or chapter headings: Put them in BOLD and mark on the submission form that you have chapter headings (unless you also have bold in your text — then format them in a way that doesn’t appear in the rest of your content and say in the sub form that this is what you’ve done). These headings will be put in bold and centered, with a page break before them.
  • Paragraph spacing: Do not put an extra return between your paragraphs unless you want one in the ebook.
  • Font: unimportant
  • Page headers/footers with non-story content: unimportant
  • Italics: can be italics or underlined
  • Em dashes: can be an em dash or double hyphen
  • Ellipses: can be the ellipsis character, 3-4 periods, or 3-4 periods with spaces between
  • Quotes: can be straight or smart
  • Any other special characters: Many common special characters will be checked for, but if you know you have any, please mark as such on the form and say what and where they are. Otherwise you risk them not showing up or showing up as a question mark. In particular, mention if you have a “#” sign in the text, as otherwise that may turn into a section break. (Special characters are anything other than English alphanumerics and the following punctuation marks: apostrophe / single quote, parentheses, colon, comma, full stop (period), em dash, ellipsis, exclamation mark, hyphen, question mark, quotation marks (English), semicolon).
  • Images: Not for this anthology, sorry.
  • Different fonts: Not for this anthology, sorry.  (Exceptions will be made if a particular font is needed for non-English lines in the story text and/or the byline.)
  • Complicated text flow: Efforts will be made for accommodation, but it depends how complicated. Where possible, “list stories” should be submitted in a way that can be rendered as regular paragraphs. If you have a story you want to send that includes footnoting, lists that can’t be rendered as regular paragraphs, or some other semi-complicated flow, please inquire in the comments below or send a query as early as possible.
  • Links: No, sorry. Each author will have 1 link to their author website (or preferred social media site) included with their name. No links in text. (Plaintext URLs that are part of the story are fine. URLs can be included at the end of novel/novella excerpts but they must also be plaintext, not links.)
  • I have something REALLY COOL that has loads of absolutely-necessary special formatting PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE: Drop a comment below or query us as soon as possible. One possible option for more complicated formatting is if the author or a friend can make a text file of clean, ereader-ready HTML with inline CSS (nothing that has to be added to the stylesheet in the head) and send it to us instead of SMF. Please talk to us first if you are interested in doing that. (Pieces submitted in HTML would have to be relatively short so they can be manually checked.)

The submission form has specific questions where you can describe any of the above formatting needs.

If you do need special formatting, please send your pieces as soon as humanly possible after submissions open and/or query us about them beforehand. We will make every effort to accommodate people’s pieces. If you have not communicated with us about your special characters or formatting and they end up breaking the anthology’s rendering, the story may have to be removed from inclusion.

8. Questions? Comment below, or send us an email.

We look forward to including as many new authors as possible in the anthology!

 

MAILING LISTS:

Are you a Campbell-eligible AUTHOR who wants notifications of submitter-relevant information, such as when the sub form is posted?

Are you a READER? Are you a NOMINATOR who’s thinking about casting votes for the Campbell? Sign up for release-related announcements here:

The release announcement will go to both lists. Your email will not be used for anything except announcements expressly related to this book.

S.L. Huang Awards Eligibility Post 2016

Below is a categorized list of my published work from 2015 that is eligible for awards nomination in 2016.  The best quick entry point into my work for this year is “By Degrees and Dilatory Time” (short story category), as it is both a standalone and has been well-received.

The Campbell

I am in my second year of Campbell eligibility.

Novels

Short Stories

Novelette

Best Related Work

  • Invisible 2 (contributor), edited by Jim C. Hines – My essay is one of 19 in this nonfiction anthology about representation in science fiction and fantasy.

The Carl Brandon Awards

I am a writer of color, and thus my works are all eligible for the Carl Brandon Parallax Award.

 

The short stories are free at the links. For nominating purposes, I am happy to hook anyone up with review copies of any of the rest (or facilitate such hooking up with, in the case of Invisible 2). Please email me for review copies at sl AT slhuang DOT com.

On This Day In History X Years Ago

Closed sign Hawkins

By Ken Hawkins from SC, USA (Closed sign) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Some number of years ago, while I was still at university, I was very pumped up the day before Thanksgiving.  Not because of the holiday, but because I was in one of those moods in which I was getting a ton of shit done, being super productive . . . I finished my classes and bounced off to do errands, which included some research for a class at one of the libraries, running to a few stores, etc..  (I never went home for Thanksgiving in college, and that year was very excited to use the opportunity for some extra productivity.)

I started off on my errands and was shocked to find that everywhere I needed to go had closed early.

Everywhere.

I ended up standing outside one of the MIT libraries, staring at the printed sign taped to the door which announced it had closed at 3pm, and yelling, “WAY TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST PEOPLE WHO HAVE NO LIVES!”

And that is what I remember about Thanksgiving that year.

Using Statistics to Choose What People Think Is Best: Not As Straightforward As You Might Think

The Goodreads Choice Awards are in their first round of voting, which prompted some discussion on Twitter concerning the fact that their shortlist for Best Science Fiction has only one woman on it (out of 15 books).

Goodreads states that they “analyze statistics from the millions of books added, rated, and reviewed on Goodreads” to choose the shortlists.

Well, this seems pretty straightforward, right?  Their awards are about what books their users think are best.  So they pick the top 15 books according to their user database, and bang!  Shortlist!  If there aren’t that many women on it, it just means more people have to read and give high ratings to books written by women.  There’s nothing Goodreads can do without sullying the math of their awards process — right?

Except . . .

What does “best” mean?  When they’re doing their statistics, how are they choosing what are the top-rated books?

Believe it or not, this is a nontrivial mathematical problem.

For a good series of articles on the mathematics of ranking algorithms, try these three posts.  But here’s a simple example to show why it’s not always so simple.  Say we were trying to compare two books in a ranking system, and one had 500 reviews with a 4.6 rating, and the other had 1000 reviews with a 4.4 rating.

Which book is “better?”

More importantly — which book do we want to be better?  Because really, we could make a case for ranking either one higher.  What ranking math like in the links above does is find some reasonably consistent way of making the rankings come out in the way we think they should.

But people are going to have different opinions on which bits of data they think should be privileged.  They’re going to have different opinions on what “how it should be” looks like.

I want to make clear: privileging one stripe of data or another is not necessarily wrong math.  But we can judge it against systems that privilege the data in other ways, and argue that one or the other system is giving us the most intuitive, useful, or reflective ranking.  It’s not a matter of math anymore at that point; it’s a matter of what we want the ranking system to do.

For instance, let’s say (this is made up; I have no insider knowledge) that GR is looking at star rating and number of reviews as its two most important criteria.  If it has to privilege one of those, which should it be?  Number of reviews would probably favor more established authors; star rating would probably favor less established authors.  What if GR wants to include other criteria, or at least needs some tiebreaking data?  Should they privilege the author with a higher overall author ranking or engagement?  That might make some sense intuitively, but it will again favor more established pros.  And if we’re looking for the best books, there’s a good argument that given two books with roughly equivalent buzz, the less established author’s book should be privileged, as it had a larger hump to get over to get the buzz it did.  So should GR privilege the book with the lower rated author overall?

Here’s another way Goodreads might hypothetically analyze their data (and again, all of this is MADE UP; I have no idea how Goodreads chooses their nominees or whether anything like the ranking trends I’m about to pull out of the air actually exist).  Goodreads examines books released in the past year from November to November.  But it’s logical to think that maybe the rankings and reviews curve will look different over time.  For instance, hypothetically, maybe books tend to drop half a star rating from the time they come out (when diehard fans read them) to the time they level out a few months later.  During the same time, the number of reviews will increase as the time the book’s been out increases — a book that’s just come out will, all else being equal, have fewer reviews than one that’s been out for a few months.

So most people would say it would make some sense for GR to adjust their best-of ranking algorithms to take this into account.  Adjust the number of reviews up for books that have been out for less time, adjust it down for books that have been out for more time, adjust the star rating down for books that have just come out and up for books that have been out for a while, and then get their top picks off that data.  That seems fair, right?

But you could make the exact same argument for, say, books by men versus books that aren’t by men.  Now, I’m not saying I advocate GR doing this, and I don’t think they even collect author gender data — and there are good reasons we wouldn’t necessarily want them to start.  But there’s an argument to be made that books by, say, women — as a whole — at least get less exposure, so their number of reviews should maybe be adjusted up, curving the data until the average female author is getting the same number of reviews as the average male author.

In my opinion, adjusting according to gender is logically equivalent to adjusting according to date.  Just like we could say a man might deserve the buzz he got above a woman, in our example we could likewise make the argument that a book that just came out might be awesome enough to maintain its star rating even if other books tend to drop.  But you’d find a lot more people who’d be okay with adjusting by date than people who’d be okay with adjusting by gender.

Incidentally, I’d be one of them!  (If for no other reason than the data-gathering issues I mentioned.)  But I think we have to be very careful when we use numbers and statistics to justify saying something is “best” according to an audience.  Because the math really does have different legitimate sides to it, and two people working from the exact same numerical data set could reasonably come up with two different best-of lists.

I’m still suffering comment-response-guilt over my last two “math in genre” posts, so I’m closing comments for my own sanity.  Please feel free to link this elsewhere and to approach me on Twitter (@sl_huang) to discuss it.

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