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Abusing the Strange Horizons 2015 Count for Personal Benefit

Strange Horizons has just posted their sixth “SF count” of representation in SF reviewing. It’s very interesting and I recommend you look at it. Sadly, they never have the space to include this site so I’ve helpfully created a table with entries for James Nicoll Reviews, both for the whole of 2015 and also for 2016 thus far.

 Enjoy!


Key: WNB stands for “women and non-binary genders”, while POC stands for “person of colour”. R/R stands for “reviews/reviewers”. Figures in brackets are percentages; for R/R the percentage represents the site’s R/R over my 2015 R/R.


Review source

Total

WNB (%)

POC (%)

Reviewers

R/R (%)

James Nicoll Reviews 2015

329

195 (59)

45 (14)

1

329 (100)

Locus

324

163 (50)

22 (7)

17

19 (5.7)

SFX

165

48 (29)

10 (6)

30

5.5 (1.5)

Romantic Times

146

84 (57)

14 (10)

23

6.3 (1.9)

Tor

141

66 (47)

18 (13)

27

5.2 (1.6)

Strange Horizons

139

66 (48)

30 (22)

80

1.7 (0.5)

James Nicoll Reviews 2016

88

57 (65)

21 (25)

1

88 (n/a)

Rising Shadows

83

25 (30)

1 (1)

2

41.5 (12.6)

Interzone

67

21 (31)

7 (10)

19

3.5 (1)

F&SF

59

32 (54)

5 (9)

5

11.8 (3.6)

Analog

58

10 (17)

3 (4)

1

58 (17.6)

Io9

56

17 (30)

12 (21)

10

5.6 (1.7)

Asimov’s

53

21 (23)

3 (6)

3

17.7 (5.4)

Vector

52

18 (35)

4 (8)

26

2 (0.6)

SFS

45

48 (21)

2 (4)

38

1.2 (0.3)

NYRSF

42

11 (26)

6 (13)

24

1.8 (0.5)

Foundation

38

9 (24)

1 (3)

27

1.4 (0.4)

LARB

35

11 (31)

7 (20)

28

1.3 (0.4)

Lightspeed

28

16? (57)

14 (50)

3

9.3 (2.8)

CSZ

23

19 (80)

8 (35)

17

1.4 (0.4)

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April 2016 in Review

21 books reviewed. 15 by women, 6 by men. F/T = 0.71

4 books by POC, or 19%

Year to date

82 books read. 51 by women (0.62), 29 by men (0.35), 2 by authors who identifies as neither (0.02). 21 by POC (0.26)

One way to look at 21 books by POC is “a lot fewer than I wanted by this point”, but another way is to look at where I was this time last year:

MonthTotal 2015/ Total 2016POC 2015/ POC 2016% 2016/ %2016
January25/220/30/14
February24/182/88/44
March28/212/67/29
April26/210/40/19%
Total103/824/214/26

You have to squint to see the difference but it is there.

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March 2016 in Review

21 books reviewed. 12 by women, 8 by men. 1 by an author who identifies as neither. F/T = 0.57

6 books by POC, or 29%

Year to date

61 books read. 36 by women (0.59), 23 by men (0.38), 2 by an author who identifies as neither (0.03). 17 by POC (0.28)

61 books in 91 days. I feel physically ill. My productivity is still crap

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February 2016 in review

I’ve had savage beatings that affected my ability to work less than did FASS 2016. Oh, well.

18 books reviewed. 12 by women, 5 by men. 1 by an author who identifies as neither, which I am a bit embarrassed to admit is a first for me. F/T = 0.67

My Big Plan for February was to honour Black History month. Every book I read on my own time (non-sponsored, and not part of the Tanith Lee project) was to be by a black author. How well did I do, you ask? 8 books by POC, or 44% But 8 isn’t a big number: the only reason it’s 44% is because I basically read almost nothing in February. Worse, I read two books by Butler when it would have been trivial to avoid such a cliched choice of author to read twice in this context. But at least I have a long list of books to read.

Year to date

40 books read. 24 by women (0.60), 15 by men (0.38), 1 by an author who identifies as neither (0.02). 11 by POC (0.28)

40 books in 60 days. I feel physically ill.


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January 2016 in review

I was involved in FASS 2016 in a fairly senior role. This ate into my ability to work a lot more seriously than I expected so these stats are going to be pretty ugly:

22 books read. 12 by women, ten by men. F/T = 0.54

3 books by POC1. POC/T = 14%. But I had a plan to make sure my February numbers would be better. More to come….

1: I’ve been using “could be deported or worse by President Trump” as a litmus test. Given Trump’s now backed by Duke and Farrakhan, should I be counting Jews as POC?


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2015 in Review

Total for the year is 329. This means I read and review more books than any one of the sites that made Strange Horizon’s round up: Locus (296), Tor (271) SFX (199), Romantic Times (127-specfic only), Strange Horizons (115), Interzone (79), io9 (74), F&SF (59), Vector (59), Analog (58), Asimov’s (47), NYRSF (45), Science Fiction Studies (43), Foundation (29), CSZ (22), LARB (17). Only more than the sum of Vector, Analog, Asimov’s, NYRSF, Science Fiction Studies, Foundation, CSZ and LARB’s numbers, though, so there’s a goal for 2016.

Not that I am keeping a grudge because I was snubbed.

195 of those books were by women, for an F/T of 0.59.

My total for writers of colour (using the “Assuming a Trump Presidency, could their race be used to justify deporting them from the US, even in the cases of people who were born in the US’ for edge cases): 45 (14%) for the year. Bah. Hoped to be at least a point or two higher. Another goal for 2016.


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Merry Christmas!





My second since this site was launched.

Merry Christmas to all my readers and especially Adrienne L. Travis for creating and managing this site, Karen Lofstrom for turning my daily word salad into reviews, all of my patreon supporters for supporting me[1], and everyone who has ever commissioned a review. And everyone who suggested an interesting book for me to try.

1: Some of whom I owe reviews. Working on it.


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November in Review

28 works reviewed. 15 by women, 13 by men. F/T = 0.53

Total for the year so far is 301. This put me past Locus’ total for 2014 but since I for some reason thought that total was 299 and not the correct value of 296, I managed to miss the event when it happened.

My total for writers of colour (using the “Assuming a Trump Presidency, could their race be used to justify deporting them from the US, even in the cases of people who were born in the US’ for edge cases): 7 (25%) for November, 41 (14%) for the year.

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November Suggestion Box!

At some point there will an actual suggestion box but until then I will try a monthly request.

Which books do you think should go onto my “consider for non-sponsored review” list? In particular, which new or upcoming books come to mind? Feel free to explain why you picked the book or books that you chose.

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October in Review

29 works reviewed. 15 by women, 14 by men. F/T = 0.52

For some reason, my commissions in October were dominated by books by men.

Total for the year so far is 273, exceeding tor.com’s 271 total for 2014. On track to pass Locus’ 299 in November.

My total for writers of colour (using the “Assuming a Trump Presidency, could their race be used to justify deporting them from the US, even in the cases of people who were born in the US’ for edge cases): 8 (28%) for October, 34 (12%) for the year.

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A Year of Tanith Lee



Tanith Lee died earlier this year. She was extraordinarily prolific, writing more than ninety novels in a career that spanned six decades. Too many of her books to list here were nominated for awards but her wins include Death’s Master (BFA), The Gorgon (WFA), Elle Est Trois, and (La Mort) (WFA); in 2013, she was presented by a Life Achievement WFA. Clearly she was a writer of significance but in recent years she had not received the attention her talent deserved.

When I heard the news of her death, I decided to commemorate her career in this very small way, by reviewing a wide selection of her published works.

My tentative list, created after soliciting selections from Lee fans is as follows. I may modify it depending on availability.


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September in Review


28 works reviewed. 16.5 by women, 11.5 by men. F/T = 0.59

Total for the year so far is 244, so still short of both tor.com’s 271 and Locus’ 299. James has a sad.

My total for writers of colour (using the “Assuming a Trump Presidency, could their race be used to justify deporting them from the US, even in the cases of people who were born in the US’ for edge cases): 7 (25%) for September, 26 (11%) for the year.

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August in Review

28 books reviewed. 22 by women, 6 by men. F/T = 0.79

Thus far in 2015, I have reviewed more books by women than all of the sites that made Strange Horizon’s round up for 2014: Tor, SFX, Romantic Times (specfic only), Strange Horizons, Interzone, io9, F&SF, Vector, Analog, Asimov’s, NYRSF, Science Fiction Studies, Foundation, CSZ, and LARB .

Thus far in 2015, I have reviewed more books in general than any of the following: SFX (199), Romantic Times (127-specfic only), Strange Horizons (115), Interzone (79), io9 (74), F&SF (59), Vector (59), Analog (58), Asimov’s (47), NYRSF (45), Science Fiction Studies (43), Foundation (29), CSZ (22), LARB (17). Beating the numbers for Locus (299), and Tor (271) remains in my future.

My totals for writer of colour remains both dismal and competitive: 5/28 (18%) for August and 18 or 19/216 (9%) for 2015 to date.

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James Tiptree, Jr. Award Reviews

The James Tiptree, Jr. Award is an “annual literary prize for science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender.” Details on its history and why it has the name it does, as well as a list of winners, the honor lists and other notable works can be found here.

I had the privilege to be a jurist in 2011. For that and other reasons, this is an award for which I have a personal interest, as should you all. Accordingly, over the next year or so, I will be reviewing the Tiptree winners in the chronological order in which they won, more or less [1], as copies fall into my hand.

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July in review

28 books reviewed. 17 by women, 11 by men. F/T = 61%

Year to date: 188 books, 110 by women, 78 by men. This means that I have exceeded the number of books I reviewed here in 2014, as well as the number of spec fic books reviewed in 2014 by the following review sources Strange Horizons deigned to acknowledge in their annual round up: Romantic Times (127), Strange Horizons (115), Interzone (79), io9 (74), F&SF (59), Vector (59), Analog (58), Asimov’s (47), NYRSF (45), Science Fiction Studies (43), Foundation (29), CSZ (22), LARB (17). Beating the numbers for Locus (299), Tor (271) and SFX (199) remains in my future (near future for SFX).

Where books by women are concerned, however, of all the review sources named above, only Locus edges me out and only narrowly: about 118 to my 110. Thus far.

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July Suggestion Box!

At some point there will an actual suggestion box but until then I will try a monthly request.

Which books do you think should go onto my “consider for non-sponsored review” list? In particular, which new or upcoming books come to mind? Feel free to explain why you picked the book or books that you chose.


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Graveyard Orbits

Graveyard Orbits will be a very irregular series of reviews of noteworthy books that were also their author’s final books due to Author Existence Failure.

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For the million zillion Scalzi fans who just showed up here for the first time

How to Commission a Review

A: You can buy a review for a book for $100 or by supporting my Patreon: see its page for specific details. I am very open to various media of payment.

B: Authors may not buy reviews of their own books nor can their family members, publishers or agents. This is for two reasons: Yog’s Law and also the possibility that a confused minority might expect if they pay me to read their book they are then entitled to a positive review.

Authors may point out to me that their qualifying books are now out (or back in print) and while I cannot promise to read said books, there will not be a charge if I do.

C: I have the right to decline any book; this is not to be taken as a negative comment on the author or book.

D: Generally, I am not willing to review any book where I would not then allow the author right of reply. I think writers commenting on reviews can go south pretty precipitously but I leave it to their judgement.

I reserve the right to break my own rules except for B because, wow, can authors buying reviews go horribly wrong fast.

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Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

Yeah, that’s not my original name for this series of reviews but it occurred to me my original choice could be censored by nannyware.

There are lots of books that fall under either military science fiction or military fantasy; the first is generally shortened to MilSF and the second runs into very similar nannyware issues as the original series title. Most published MilSF and MilF embodies Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of everything is crud (1). I will be reviewing military speculative fiction I believe falls into that last 10%, MilSpecFic that isn’t an egregious insult to the reader’s sensibilities.

I will be using two rules of thumb to determine if something is MilSpecFic:

A: rec.arts.sf.written’s old definition (expanded to include fantasy): Military sf is sf about people who are in a chain of command.

B: I know it when I see it.

Personally, I draw a distinction between modern MilSpecFic and its precursors; various conventions had not been set in stone when the older books were written and published. Some of the older books I have in mind for this series may seem a bit odd if the MilSpecFic you’ve read is exclusively of what I like to call the Jerry Pournelle lineage; I hope that’s odd in an interesting way.

1: You might think I would take the opportunity to take a cheap shot at Baen at this juncture, but while much of their output is dreadful, not all of it is. They are not the worst publishers of MilSF and MilF out there, not by a long shot. Entertain yourself by speculating which publisher I have in mind as the worst.

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A policy change

Since Baen’s publisher Toni Weisskopf is part of the Puppies slate for the second year running, I will no longer accept new commissions where the only edition is from Baen. While I will finish current projects involving Baen Books, I won’t link to the Baen edition. I certainly will not be buying anything from Baen in the future.

I urge everyone (particularly people with review sites) to do the same.

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