Jan 13 2011 6:17pm

Best SFF Novels of the Decade Poll Update 01/13

Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels of the Decade Poll on

We’ve tallied your votes from 1132 comments so far in the Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Novels of the Decade Poll and one particular book has made a big big jump! Today we’re also including a tally on books that are hovering below the Top 20 line. Check the list out below the cut.

We present the Top 20 voted novels as of 2:53 PM EST on Thursday, January 13th.

  1. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi - 250 votes
  2. American Gods by Neil Gaiman - 215 votes
  3. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss - 180 votes
  4. Blindsight by Peter Watts - 168 votes
  5. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke - 139 votes
  6. Anathem by Neal Stephenson -124 votes
  7. A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin - 118 votes
  8. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson - 112 votes
  9. Perdido Street Station by China Miéville - 110 votes
  10. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch - 88 votes

Following them...

  1. Spin by Robert Charles Wilson - 77 votes
  2. Night Watch by Terry Pratchett - 73 votes
  3. Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan - 69 votes
  4. Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson - 68 votes
  5. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling - 65 votes
  6. The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold - 64 votes
  7. Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson - 62 votes
  8. Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan - 58 votes / The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - 58 votes [TIE]
  9. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi - 55 votes

Below the Top 20 is a pretty interesting list all by itself, with a nice variation between titles, genre, and author. Some very high quality titles are in this range:

  1. The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson - 54 votes
  2. Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson - 54 votes
  3. Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds - 47 votes
  4. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger - 45 votes
  5. The Scar by China Mieville - 38
  6. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow - 36
  7. Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold - 35 votes
  8. His Majesty’s Dragon, Naomi Novik - 33 votes
  9. The City & the City by China Miéville - 33 votes
  10. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson - 31 votes
  11. The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie - 29 votes
  12. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon - 29 votes
  13. The Magicians, Lev Grossman - 29 votes
  14. The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi - 26 votes
  15. River of Gods, Ian McDonald - 25 votes
  16. Pandora’s Star, by Peter F. Hamilton - 25 votes
  17. The Long Price Quartet by Daniel Abraham - 24 votes
  18. Going Postal by Terry Pratchett - 24 votes
  19. Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson - 24 votes
  20. Sunshine by Robin McKinley - 23 votes
  21. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey - 22 votes
  22. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson - 22 votes
  23. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N. K. Jemisin - 22 votes
  24. Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds - 22 votes
  25. A Feast For Crows by George R. R. Martin - 21 votes
  26. Rainbow’s End by Vernor Vinge - 21 votes
  27. Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay - 20 votes

These represent popular votes, so we wonder...would the results of this poll would correspond with total overall sales of these books from the previous decade? Probably not, as the audience is too small in comparison to be reflective of book-buying audiences as a whole. But a correlation would still be pretty telling.

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

Best SFF Novels of the Decade Readers Poll: ‹ previous | index | next ›
1. Qurtyslyn
To quote Brandon Sanderson...

Scalzi! *Shakes fist*
2. TylerDLutz
Glad to see China Mieville up there! Especially Perdido, my favorite.
Sydo Zandstra
3. Fiddler
On a total side note, are you guys at TOR checking IP's too?

Because I saw a LOT of single posts voting for 'Blindsight by Peter Watts' and that book only today, and most of them were by unregistered users, and it looked like a machine gun was fired.

Maybe it's a very good book, but a lot of the references came in rather late, and a lot of them seem very much alike, textwise.

Maybe next time require to be registered at TOR to be able to vote, like with getting free previews for books? (works better for TOR too, since more people will register ;-) )

Irene (and the others involved), I'm interested in what you think about this :)

I'm happy with some new titles that are good and I missed, like Rothfuss and Clarke. And although I am not a fan of Sanderson, I'll give the sample chapters of 'Way of Kings' a try. But I don't think I'll soon be buying books by Scalzi or Watts; the voting there is too tainted as I perceive it right now...
4. Kaimaera
Nothing sneaky going on Fiddler, his readers were just made aware of the poll, that's all. His work is excellent. Scalzi and Gaiman (who I also read/follow) just pointed it out earlier in the week is all.

And you don't even need to purchase Blindsight if you'd like to see for yourself, he distributes it under creative commons from his site currently.
5. clpolk

you don't have to *buy* any books by peter watts. you can read them for free on his site...

so you can see for yourself without putting down any nickels.
6. Kaimaera
... Oh the irony.

Thanks clpolk! Now everyone knows we're actually just an army of clones ;P
Madeline Ashby
7. MadelineAshby
My impression is that most of the authors who appeared on this list told their readers about the poll. That's how polls work. Candidates tend to advertise. But that doesn't mean that the results are invalid. If we're talking about a Hugo system rather than a Nebula system, popularity and reach are indicators of success.
8. DarrenJL

Wednesday January 12, 2011 09:56pm EST

Blindsight by Peter Watts


Wednesday January 12, 2011 09:57pm EST

Blindsight. Peter Watts.

Wednesday January 12, 2011 09:59pm EST

Blindsight by Peter Watts


Wednesday January 12, 2011 10:02pm EST

Blindsight, by Peter Watts.

Look at the timestamps. This isn't suspicious?
9. Dovemem
When You Reach Me Rebecca Stead
The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 PJ Haarsma
WWW.Watch Robert Sawyer
The City of Ember Jeanne DuPrau
Lamentation Ken Scholes
Pathfinder Orson Scott Card
10. BlueFishSpawn
To address DarrenLJ's concerns:

DavidNickle may not be him, but David Nickle is the name of a sci-fi author.

David Nickle ( is an author that Peter Watts links to from his site. It would make very little sense for Nickle to either engage in spamming the site or in one of Watts' fans to chose the name of one of Mr. Watts' friends to 'spam' the poll.

When I voted, it took me about six minutes to make a single post after fighting my way through all the various 'I am not a robot' measures. To make that single post, it still kicked me off from final submission twice for 'too many anonymous comments in a short amount of time.' At that point, I had yet to make my single successful post.

I think, tragically, that one may be forced to accept the following:

1) Blindsight was a good book
2) Peter Watts has fans
3) A lot of those fans came here and voted in the poll.

I think that will go down smoother after having read Blindsight, which one can do for free.

Of course, I may also be an escaped clone from Peter Watt's laboratory... :P
Sylvia Wrigley
11. akaSylvia
I think it could also be interesting to see the valid entries that had only one vote - the outliers.
p l
12. p-l
It could also be that Peter Watts has blogged or twittered about this poll. In fact the number of votes is small enough that if he just mentioned the poll to a dozen of his friends, that could account for the entire vote surge.

I agree with AkaSylvia. I would love to see the outliers.
13. DarrenJL
A vote surge happening at regular 3-minute intervals? I'm sure he does have plenty of fans, but that sure looks like vote spamming.
16. ParanoidMuch
@DarrenJL and clpolk: Take a look at , Watts mentions the poll in his blog and tells his fans that he wouldn't mind being in the top-ten (you'll have to read the blog-post for the specific reason). Nothing nefarious going on here, just fans becoming aware of the poll at a certain time and voting for it. How do you think Scalzi got the top spot?

And btw., comparing IP is an incredibly erroneous method of detecting duplicates, delivers both false positives and negatives.
18. ParanoidMuch
Oops, meant @DarrenJL and Fiddler, of course.
19. DarrenJL
I like how you try to make the obvious sound like paranoia. Yeah, the fans read the blog, and then they agreed to post their votes exactly three minutes apart. I suppose they coordinated it by messenger? You have any more ridiculous arguments to make? If they all turn up from the same ip, I guess you'd argue that a Watts convention formed an ad hoc hotseat voting committee?

People DO spam internet votes. That's not paranoia. Sort of an established fact.
20. ParanoidMuch
@DarrenJL: I don't know where you get the "exactly three minutes apart" thing from, the sample you copypasted had the second post one minute after the first, the next two minutes, then three minutes then five? This in the midst of a flurry of votes cast for the book. I don't see anything suspicious in that, but then I'm not paranoid.

Sure, people will vote multiple times, this is an Internet poll so it won't be fair by definition. I just pointed out that you won't improve fairness by a measurable amount by looking at IPs. I use tor ( for example, so all my posts may look like they're coming from a different IP. Conversely, there may be a dozen posts coming from the same IP as one of mine, none of which originate anywhere near me, simply because the tor exit node other people used is the same as mine.

Anyone who is knowledgeable about the Net knows that IPs are useless for identification. Just trying to educate you about the fact.
21. Peter Watts
Not really sure what to make of this DarrenJL dude. As of last count Blindsight has 199 votes. Darren cites four in particular, claiming that a consistent 3-minute gap between them is evidence of foul play. Except the posts he cited (in Comment 8, above) were not made three minutes apart; by my count the gaps were 1, 2, and 3 minutes. So DJL cherry-picks 2% of the data, and attributes unto it a pattern to that's clearly false to anyone who can count to three. Then derides opposing arguments as "ridiculous".

I generally keep quiet when people shit on my writing, at least (you tend to look like a defensive asshole when you habitually whinge about bad reviews). This is different. I'm being accused of deliberately gaming the process, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever. So, Darren, if you're going to make unfounded accusations, please: at least learn to count first.
Steven Halter
22. stevenhalter
Fiddler@3:The Scalzi and Watts books are really quite good.
23. DarrenJL
@Peter... dude, I can count to three. I can also read whole posts. Where did I accuse you/Peter Watts of cheating? I accused SOMEONE of vote spamming, and provided a pretty suspect example. The only one who is attributing a conspiracy to you is whoever BlueFishSpawn is.
David Platt
24. The Not So Dark One
Er Folks - isnt this just a bit of fun? No money changing hands right? Then Relax.
Ive not heard of Mr Watts before but am going to pop over to his website now and check out his stuff.
Irene Gallo
25. Irene
Hi guys,

Our plan is to do another clean count when the voting is done, to act as a check against the daily count. At that point, we’ll watch out for duplicates and such but, so far I think the community has responded in the spirit in which it was meant — a fun and open conversation. Awards are great for raising awareness within the field as a whole while spotlighting a few books. But, while they often pick excellent works, there is no way to objectively pick “the” best of a given time period. After discussing various forms and surveys, it seemed much more fun to keep it an open and transparent conversation.
26. Hljothlegur
DarrenJL - I guarantee you that Dr. Watts is not spamming the vote. Guarantee you. Not his style; he takes his writing very seriously, and is very doctrinaire about his ethics and the internal consistency of his moral decision-making.

I, however, encourage Watts fans to vote early and often.

Thank you.
27. Efrost
If it's not too late, I'd like to just get back to the voting:

Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett
Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
Clinton Ausmus
29. Cragar
Blindsight just jumped to the top of my bedside books pile.
30. Barstool Babe
Has anyone ever considered that the writers with a large fan base have all those fans BECAUSE THEY'RE GREAT WRITERS? This poll is giving me a very large list of new authors to explore. Thanks for the poll Stubby, if for no other reason than that.
31. Theomanic
I'm surprised at the love for American Gods. I love Gaiman but that is my least favourite of his books (though, of course, it is still good). I would also like to see an outlier list!

Also, is it my imagination or is the Captcha here more hard to read than usual?
32. Edgewalker
The fact that the Malazan books aren't holding all the top spots calls into question this whole thing.
Dave Thompson
33. DKT
Barstool Babe@ 31: Yeah, the order of my TBR pile is changing quite a bit thanks to this poll. Also, several things will be added to it!
34. trench
I definetly agree with DKT and Barstool Babe. Thanks to this list I am now throughly enjoying Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, and Old man's War and American Gods now sit on my night stand waiting. I'll have to get around to some of the other books as well.

Also I dont think where a book places on this lists really matters. Just making it on the list means it is a good book. Heck, if it's in the top 40 that means its something worth checking out
Irene Gallo
35. Irene
Trench, I think you are absolutley right about the placement issue. We'll announce the numbers, but when we go to the abreactions, I'd like to do them either randomly or alpha order.

(And we get super excited anytime someone mentions discovering new books through this! Or anywhere on
36. ALF_writes_home
I agree with MadelineAshby. My sense is that the authors leading this poll (Gaiman and Scalzi), lead, IN PART, because they have an extremely strong internet presence.

(For Scalzi's stats, for example, see here:

Having said that, I do think they do belong in the top 10, if perhaps not in the spots I would have put them on.
Alayne McGregor
37. alaynem
I'd like to add a vote for
The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold,
which was a wonderful combination of excitement, creepiness, and a character who moved from despair to victory.
Andrew Mason
38. AnotherAndrew
I agree with MadelineAshby. My sense is that the authors leading this poll (Gaiman and Scalzi), lead, IN PART, because they have an extremely strong internet presence.

True - on the other hand, Neal Stephenson is still doing fine despite his notorious lack of an active web presence.
Bobby Stubbs
39. Valan
My To Be Read list just skyrocketed. Damn.
Sydo Zandstra
40. Fiddler
For the record, I only stated what I saw, and that looked weird.

Which is why I asked about IP checks.

And I don't think my suggestion of letting only registered users vote is that bad. Of course that is also not watertight, but it takes more effort. I know internet votings are often easy to manipulate. But I still want them as clean as possible.

@Peter Watts: I'm not sure if you got this, but my earlier post wasn't directed against you. I just made an observation based on what I noticed. I certainly wasn't accusing you of campaigning. :)
Goetz Kruppa
41. goetznl
Hey Stubby,
thanks for both having the Poll itself, but also these Meta-posts with updates!
It is really nice that you are now giving us the places down to 47 - even though I still have the hope that the whole complete count will be published or at least downloadable as an excel file or so.
There is a lot I find surprising from the list of 47:
Only 8 women on there?
Several authors missing that have been constantly on the Hugo shortlist (e.g. Charles Stross, Elizabeth Bear - is it just vote splitting on too many good books by them?)
The posts about re-reads of Wheel of Time and Malazan seem not to have alienated to many people (just happy that these serieses haven't completely taken over the poll).

And please, please, please - let's do it again for short fiction!!!
For as one of the best short fiction venues that would be a fitting follow up. OK, it might not generate 1476 posts, but I guess quite a lot of the post would be great to read.

I actually find it funny that you can almost see if the author has put the poll on their blog or facebook page - see tonight Kushiel's dart moving up by 80 votes....
42. Andoriah
I just voted for Kushiel's Dart tonight, in fact, because Jacqueline Carey posted on Fbook and brought this vote to my attention. I'm sure a number of her fans will be voting tonight as well, as a result of her post.
And this is a fantastic poll because like so many people have mentioned, suddenly I have a whole new list of must-read books to check out, which is super exciting! Thanks Tor.

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