Tue
Jan 11 2011 7:34pm

Best SFF Novels of the Decade Poll Update 01/11

Best SFF Novels of the Decade on Tor.com

We’ve tallied your votes from 700 comments so far in the Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Novels of the Decade Poll and from that we’ve got some new frontrunners! Check the list out below the cut. 

As we continue onward with the Best Of, we thought user Moebius Street brought up a thoughtful point regarding one’s personal criteria for the best books in the past decade eleven years.

...judging by some of what others listed, votes are being made for “favorite books” rather than for “best books,” which is a similar but different criteria. It’s perfectly possible to greatly enjoy a book while accepting that it’s pure fun without any “greatness.” Conversely, one can acknowledge greatness in a book that one doesn’t personally enjoy (although that’s more of a stretch).

There’s also a small debate regarding whether to include mentions for series and it’s one that mirrors our own discussions. (And, we assume, discussions behind any Best Of or Award that spans a significant amount of time.) On one hand, many series run together as one story and it seems worthy to recognize that storytelling achievement and the fulfillment it’s provided to a reader.

On the other hand, a new author with only a couple books under their belt can’t hope to match the heft of a series with a legacy. And a series can crowd out a lot of deserving titles.

For the moment, we’re keeping track of single novels and series in tandem, but not including series mentions in with the single novel votes, so we’ll see how it all falls out by this Friday. (So if you’ve already voted for a series, don’t worry, you’ve been counted.) The discussion is an interesting one, though, so we’ve opened up comments on this entry so there’s a place to talk about it.

Please do not vote in this post. The voting thread is here. Votes in this post’s thread will not be counted.


We present the Top 20 voted novels as of 2:00 PM EST on Tuesday, January 11th.

  1. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi - 180 votes
  2. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss - 135 votes
  3. American Gods by Neil Gaiman - 127 votes
  4. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke - 93 votes
  5. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson - 88 votes
  6. A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin - 87 votes
  7. Anathem by Neal Stephenson - 76 votes
  8. Perdido Street Station by China Miéville - 70 votes
  9. Spin by Robert Charles Wilson - 63 votes
  10. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch - 56 votes

Following them...[Updated at 7:26 PM, 1/11]

  1. Blindsight by Peter Watts - 50 votes
  2. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling - 48 votes / Night Watch by Terry Pratchett - 48 votes [TIE]
  3. Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson - 46 votes / Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan - 46 votes [TIE]
  4. The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold - 44 votes / Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson [TIE]
  5. The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson - 43 votes
  6. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi - 42 votes
  7. Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan - 41 votes

Scal-zi! Author Jon Scalzi rallied like a champ and shot to the top of the heap today. Rothfuss and Gaiman better step it up here. Way of Kings and Storm of Swords cooled some, but Way of Kings managed to just overtake its blood-soaked rival. Rowling separated herself from the Wheel of Time and began her ascent while dark horse Niffenegger fell off the chart. She hovers there, just out of sight, with Deadhouse Gates, The Hunger Games, and The Graveyard Book.

This is mostly the same batch of leading books as yesterday’s list, so it remains to be seen whether we’ll see too much differentiation from here on out. We certainly hope so!

16 comments
trench
1. trench
I have one idea for the seperation of series from single novels. How about for every vote for a series of books or for a blanket list of authors gets, have each individal vote cout as +1 for the highest book for that series/author. So if ToM has 42 votes and KoD 41 and tGS has 39, while WoT has 30. Total count for ToM is 72, while KoD and tGS remain the same.

With this method, every vote is counted but WOT dosen't begin to over shadow the list. While still reflecting the total count. and hey if they wanted to list every WoT book they should have taken the time to do so.
Luke M
2. lmelior
Observations:

1 - Curious that the Curse of Chalion would be there over its Hugo-winning sequel Paladin of Souls. I've only read the former but I still thought it surprising.

2 - It'll be interesting to see the series votes. Mistborn and WoT are in there a lot, and ASoIaF will get a boost from that as well.

3 - It's kind of frightening how many books with at least one vote that I've read but completely forgot about.

4 - Even more frightening is how many books with at least one vote that I've meant to read but haven't. I have yet to read Old Man's War, despite being the recipient of the ebook from Tor.com's free ebook giveaway waaay back before it even launched! This I shall have to rectify as soon as possible. I have also not read Name of the Wind, which by all accounts I will love. As I scroll through the list I get more and more dismayed at how many authors I've missed out on. I shall now go into the corner and hang my head in shame.
larry shirk
3. lorenzo
I think that it has become appropriate to just report series votes as a second report. Yes, it wasn't the way the vote was originally designed, but many readers are thinking of it that way. Some series - such as the wheel of time - have become much greater as a series than any single novel in the series was as a stand-alone (did any except the first actually work without any of the others?).
I did notice the tendancy of some voters to pick favorites - such as every book by one author. This, I think, is perfectly fine, in that it gives a person a chance to rave up an author; since each book will get only one vote, it only affects that person's chance to vote for a work that's truly great.
Suzanne Palmer
4. suzanne
Robert Charles Wilson's "Spin" and Karl Schroeder's "Sun of Suns", which together made me fall in love with SF all over again.
Irene Gallo
5. Irene
Truth be told, the more we thought about laying down rules, the more we thought it would be more fun to let the community shape the results as they want. We’re having a blast watching it go. (Well, most of us are. Poor Adam’s head is spinning from all the counting and note taking.)
Madeline Ferwerda
6. MadelineF
I think trench's idea fits best with what people intended when voting!

I know when I voted for series in addition to named titles, I was saying that any of the books would be ok with me... I specifically said that, in fact, when I voted for Naomi Novik's stuff. Sure, _Victory of Eagles_ was a better book, but I'm ok with my vote going to _His Majesty's Dragon_.

Also:
more votes now than the Hugos. :)
Dave Smith
7. davesmith1983
To me, there is no distinction between what is "great" and what is my favorite. I feel that my favorites are great books. I enjoyed them immensely, and that is my own personal criteria for what makes a book great. A book can be well-written yet absolutely boring (in my opinion at least), and to me, that is not a great book. Someone else may think that the book I thought was boring was great, but that doesn't give them the right to look down on me for thinking a book I enjoy reading is great.
trench
8. Heron77
The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss
Knife of Dreams - Robert Jordan
The Gathering Storm - RJ and BS
Mistborn the Final Empire - Brandon Sanderson
The Magicians - Lev Grossman
trench
9. NA Johansson
Scalzi's "Old Man's War"

Also; Stephenson's "Anathem" and Lynch's "The Lies of Locke Lamora".
trench
10. outist
Blindsight - Peter Watts
trench
11. adrian-writes
Neil Gaiman - "American Gods".
Gerd K
12. Kah-thurak
"Please do not vote in this post. The voting thread is here. Votes in this post’s thread will not be counted."

....
Peter Stone
13. Peter1742
What about, not series, but portmanteaus (in the sense of Lewis Carrol)?

The Gathering Storm of Swords, by Jordan R.R. Sanderson,
Old Man's Warbreaker, by Brandon Scalzi,
The Name of the Windup Girl, by Patrick Bacigalupi.
R O T
14. rogerothornhill
@12 The original voting page now takes forever to load!

What I'm most surprised by is the total lack of any Charles Stross titles in the top 20, since he is easily my favorite new scifi writer of the 21st century. I'm also surprised that there's no Cory Doctorow, given all the publicity he's gotten over the last few years.

If I had to pick one Stross book, it would be "Halting State," which has a wonderfully imagined near-future. If I had to pick a Doctorow, it would be "For the Win," because the ambition of that book is breathtaking at points. If I had to go with one of the current top 20 votegetters, it would be "American Gods."
William Uniac
15. Billiac
I would like to see series/trilogies given their own list at the end, or maybe even their own thread.

Like nearly everyone else I am enjoying seeing what other people have enjoyed reading over the past decade, and give a "thank you!" every time I see an underappreciated favourite show up in someone else's list. Those moments help balance out the "But you liked "A"! How can you possibly have enjoyed "B"??" ones.

Maybe there's something here that Tor.com could take away in the vein of allowing more social networking of user accounts? Even just a searchable library or currently reading type of function?
trench
16. Jamesxxxxx
Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Sunshine by Robin McKinley

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