Mar 1 2011 3:38pm

Best of the Decade Data: Voting Trends, Timelines & More

Trends in Voting in the Tor.com Best SFF Novel of the Decade Reader’s PollIf there’s one thing that the average trends in the Best SFF Novels of the Decade data showed, it was that the average book of the decade was published in 2009, and was nominated for, but did not win, a Hugo Award. Also that it was a parallel-world fantasy of epic proportions (or at least deadly), the first book in an unfinished series of undetermined length (possibly a trilogy, but perhaps not), and was written by a male author (with a middle initial of J. or maybe M.), and with at least one other book on the list.

It was also called something like The Shadow War of the Night Dragon, Book One: The Dead City. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

A later data-set will go more in focus on the above averages, but before we can do that, we'll need to lay some foundation with this executive summary of data from the Reader’s Poll:

  • Total number of books with at least one vote: 1692
  • Total number of votes: 10,333
  • Number of years in a Tor.com decade: 11
  • Number of books earning at least one vote that were not published in this “decade”: 87
  • Most votes for a book not published in this decade: 25
  • Minimum number of books that were fanfiction: 1


  • Portion of eligible books that received only one vote: 52.57%
  • Portion of all elibigle book votes: 8.44%

Trends in Voting in the Tor.com Best SFF Novel of the Decade Reader’s Poll

Download a PDF of the above chart here.


  • Portion of eligible books receiving more than 100 votes each: 1.05% (17 books)
  • Portion of all votes going toward those 17 books: 27.41%
  • Portion of eligible books receiving more than 10 votes each: 12% (195 books)
  • Portion of all votes going toward those 12 percent of books: 70.63%


  • Number of eligible books with more than 50 votes: 36


  • Most books on the list by a single author: 25 (L.E. Modessit Jr.)
  • Most books on the list by a single author with more than 10 average votes per book: 19 (Jim Butcher, average vote per book 14.8). Terry Pratchett comes in with fewer books (13), but more votes per book (average 29).


  • Most impressive book:vote ratio: 1:231 (Patrick Rothfuss)


Top Ten Timeline in the Tor.com Best SFF Novel of the Decade Reader’s Poll

Download a PDF of the above chart here.


Above is a timeline of the status of the top ten voted titles as they progressed through the week of voting. Some books show a steady progression while others undergo large spikes as fans of that book or author found out about the poll.

Numbers in the “Final” numbers are the result of several recounts. This corrects for some human error involved in the day-to-day updates, and explains the apparent drop (and sudden gain) in some titles between January 14th and the final count.


There’s more data to come! Tomorrow we’ll be looking at how the genres stack up against each other in popularity, how the years compare with each other, along with how this poll parallels with the major SFF awards.

Gerd K
1. Kah-thurak
Is it possible to have a top 10 list counting only the votes of users that allready were registered to the site before the vote started? I would find that fairly interesting. Most likely too much work though.
Sydo Zandstra
2. Fiddler
Having suggested that during the voting time, I second Kah-thuraks'question. :)
Irene Gallo
3. Irene
We didn't actually require registration to vote. Theoretically we could guess but it wouldn’t take into account people registering for other reason....Of which there are plenty! So, everyone, register and be part of the family. :-)
Steve Buchheit
4. steve_buchheit
Ooo, ooo, ooo, I love me those informational graphics.
5. Dank6
Can we overlay the timeline with the time when each author mentioned the vote on their personal blogs?
Sydo Zandstra
6. Fiddler

That was the ToR benefit I mentioned there. ;-)


No need for that. It already shows in the very steep lines for some books ;-)

On a general note: thank you, people at TOR for doing this, especially to the vote counters. :-)
Adam Shaeffer
7. ashaef
This whole project is awesome. I love it!
8. trench
I cant wait to get my hands on a copy of SWotND: tDC
Brandon Daggerhart
9. TankSpill
I want to know which book got 25 votes that wasn't even in the decade. :)
Chris Hawks
10. SaltManZ
@9: From the Google Doc link given in the summary post, it looks like it was A Clash of Kings from 1998.
Sydo Zandstra
11. Fiddler
@Tankspill and SaltManZ:

That could have been a result of some people naming the book, and then the decision by TOR to award points to every book in a mentioned series... ;)
12. madscientistnz
So what were these 17 books that got 27% of the vote?
Amy G. Dala
13. amygdala11
I'm interested in the downward trend in the last data points for Perdido Street Station and Anathem.

What's up with that?
Chris Lough
14. TorChris
@13. That means we overcounted on the initial hand-count, which was the most prone to human error. The subsequent recounts ironed those numbers out.

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