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Do the math
james_nicoll
If I'm reading about 300 new fantasy and science fiction novels a year, what fraction of the total produced each year am I reading? I'm trying to work out if I can call myself well informed within the field or just a casual reader.

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Look at it this way:

You're reading about one novel a day. That's probably the most you can read and make an even remotely plausible claim to having a life.

You are thus as well-informed as it reasonable to be, regardless of the number of novels published. Read more than that, and you are probably a hopeless loser whose opinion shouldn't be taken seriously, and you won't have time to adequately review what you've read anyway.

I could double what I read and report on without seriously eating into my social time. In any case, work is life so more work is more life.

(Deleted comment)
IIRC, Gardner's annual round-up suggests there are about 2500 SF/F novels being produced annually in the US.

You are therefore poorly informed ... yet much more broadly read than I am, or most other folks!

I don't believe it's possible for a human being to read everything in the field for a year and stay sane.

Staying sane is vastly overrated.

You read more than one book a year, that makes you over qualified!


You're kidding, right?

300 novels a year isn't even ONE per DAY. You can't possibly be well-informed until you hit three a day.


Note that is my F&SF. I also read mystery, mainstream and non-fiction.

Volume is perhaps not as important as having read the books that are the most talked-about in terms of being "well-informed". Using award nominations as a proxy for signficance, of the 5-10 Hugo/Nebula nominee novels, how many are within your 300? What about other more specialized genre awards?

The ones I remember reading are bolded

I am treating things I read and forgot as not having read so I don't to check old reports.

Hugos: Best Novel

Anathem by Neal Stephenson (Morrow; Atlantic UK)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen; HarperVoyager UK)
Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)
Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi (Tor)


Best Novella

“The Erdmann Nexus” by Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2008)
“The Political Prisoner” by Charles Coleman Finlay (F&SF Aug 2008)
“The Tear” by Ian McDonald (Galactic Empires)

“True Names” by Benjamin Rosenbaum & Cory Doctorow (Fast Forward 2)
“Truth” by Robert Reed (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2008)

Best Novelette

“Alastair Baffle’s Emporium of Wonders” by Mike Resnick (Asimov’s Jan 2008)
“The Gambler” by Paolo Bacigalupi (Fast Forward 2)
“Pride and Prometheus” by John Kessel (F&SF Jan 2008)
“The Ray-Gun: A Love Story” by James Alan Gardner (Asimov’s Feb 2008)

“Shoggoths in Bloom” by Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s Mar 2008)

Best Short Story

“26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” by Kij Johnson (Asimov’s Jul 2008)
“Article of Faith” by Mike Resnick (Baen’s Universe Oct 2008)
“Evil Robot Monkey” by Mary Robinette Kowal (The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Volume Two)
“Exhalation” by Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
“From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled” by Michael Swanwick (Asimov’s Feb 2008)



Nebulas:


Novels

Little Brother - Cory Doctorow (Tor, Apr08)
Powers - Ursula K. Le Guin (Harcourt, Sep07)
Cauldron - Jack McDevitt (Ace, Nov07)
Brasyl - Ian McDonald (Pyr, May07)

Making Money - Terry Pratchett (Harper, Sep07)
Superpowers - David J. Schwartz (Three Rivers Press, Jun08)

Novellas

“The Spacetime Pool” - Catherine Asaro (Analog, Mar08)
“Dark Heaven” - Gregory Benford (Alien Crimes, Resnick, Mike, Ed., SFBC, Jan07)
“Dangerous Space” - Kelley Eskridge (Dangerous Space, Aquaduct Press, Jun07)
“The Political Prisoner” - Charles Coleman Finlay (F&SF, Aug08)

“The Duke in His Castle” - Vera Nazarian (Norilana Books, Jun08)

Novelettes

“If Angels Fight” - Richard Bowes (F&SF, Feb08)
“The Ray-Gun: A Love Story” - James Alan Gardner (Asimov’s, Feb08)

“Dark Rooms” - Lisa Goldstein (Asimov’s, Oct/Nov 07)
“Pride and Prometheus” - John Kessel (F&SF, Jan08)
“Night Wind” - Mary Rosenblum (Lace and Blade, ed. Deborah J. Ross, Norilana Books, Feb08)
“Baby Doll” - Johanna Sinisalo (The SFWA European Hall of Fame, James Morrow & Kathryn Morrow, Ed., Tor, Jun07 )
“Kaleidoscope” - K.D. Wentworth (F&SF, May07)

Short Stories

“The Button Bin” - Mike Allen (Helix: A Speculative Fiction Quarterly, Oct07)
“The Dreaming Wind” - Jeffrey Ford (The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, Ed., Viking, Jul07)
“Trophy Wives” - Nina Kiriki Hoffman (Fellowship Fantastic, ed. Greenberg and Hughes, Daw Jan08)
“26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” - Kij Johnson (Asimov’s, Jul08)
“The Tomb Wife” - Gwyneth Jones (F&SF, Aug07)
“Don’t Stop” - James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s, Jun07)
“Mars: A Traveler’s Guide” - Ruth Nestvold (F&SF, Jan08)



(Deleted comment)
I consider myself to be more than a casual reader, and last year I read 56 novels and 14 short stories (and a bunch of webcomics).

How many people do you think read a higher proportion of new releases than you do? <100, I would guess.

I suspect no one can call themselves "well" informed - you're as well informed as anyone!

For comparison, I read about one new SF a week, which might be the low end of average from what I can gather.

I would call 300 a year a more-than-adequate sample rate, if you want to be well-informed. If you want to be omniscient, then you're just going to have to pull your socks up and read faster. And forgo sleep.


A. If you don't, who would be?
B. Also, the ones you don't read, you read about them?

I'm reading about 300 new fantasy and science fiction novels a year

I misparsed the meaning of "about" in this part for a few seconds.

I suspect the average "hardcore fan" reads between 50 and 100 novels a year.

In addition, you are sent your material, if I gather correctly, by those Well Placed to Know what will be interesting. So, you probably get the cream of the crop of the yearly publishing.

So, barring speed readers, I'd say you probably ARE the best-read man in SF.

> I suspect the average "hardcore fan" reads between 50 and 100 novels a year.

I've very nearly read one this year!

I'm better at older-time stuff. It still seems to take me a couple years to get around to something everybody in rasfw's been talking about, though.


You should call yourself well-informed. I'm sure those six or seven hundred other books are pretty much like the three hundred you read.

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