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Film/TV Favorites: SF/F/H 1970-1979

I’ve been binging science fiction, fantasy, and supernatural-themed horror films and/or short TV series from the 70s lately. Among other things, I’ve watched nearly all nominees for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. I don’t really mean to re-evaluate the Hugos per se–they’re just a good starting point for coverage of some things fans in the 70s were aware of and a familiar format for looking at SF/F media year by year. So more or less following Hugo eligibility rules–mixing and matching versions of the rules that have changed over time–I’ve organized my own list of favorites below. For each year, I’ve selected 4-6 ‘nominees’ plus a ‘winner’ or top pick(s) in bold.

1970

Donkey Skin, a.k.a. Peau d’âne (Letterboxd) – Jacques Demy’s campy musical adaptation of the classic fairy tale about a king who decides to marry his daughter is a delight, full of odd whimsical bits and great songs. Yeah, in theory, the theme is super cringeworthy–certainly worth being aware of beforehand–but the movie gets through the premise with some plainly absurd set-up scenes and some mock seriousness from legendary actor Jean Marais and soon moves on to much more charming scenes featuring Catherine Deneuve and Delphine Seyrig. I especially liked “Les Conseils de la fée des lilas” (“Advice from the lilac fairy”) but “Le Cake d’amour” (“The cake of love”) is a classic for good reason.

Colossus: The Forbin Project (Letterboxd; trailer) – An AI-themed thriller with a straightforward premise (the AI gets out of hand), the story nonetheless remains reasonably taut and occasionally surprising. In 1971, it was nominated for the Hugo but lost to “No Award,” which I think is a shame–the ballot that year was weak, but Colossus was decent and might be better remembered had it won. I don’t know that I’d ever heard of it outside of the Hugo nominee list, though it’s based on a novel.

The Owl Service (IMDb) – A languid yet engaging mini-series for children that draws on Welsh mythology and New Wave cinematography, this story about the youngest generation of two intertwined families and the extent to which they’ll re-enact a certain myth as the previous generation might also have done is based on the novel by Alan Garner (also known for The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, etc.) and stars Gillian Hills (also known as the singer of “Zou Bisou Bisou,” etc.). The first three of its eight episodes aired in 1969, but according to Hugo rules today, it’s the last episode that establishes the year of eligibility.

The Vampire Doll, a.k.a. 幽霊屋敷の恐怖 血を吸う人形 (Letterboxd; Trailer) – A spooky modern day Gothic horror mystery, comparable to an especially compelling Hammer film, the story begins with a young woman worried about her brother, who hasn’t been heard from since he went to visit his fiancée … This is the first of Michio Yamamoto’s Bloodthirsty trilogy, and like all three films, it stands alone, it’s pretty good, and it has a vampire theme in common with the others–in this case, not a very typical vampire but close enough.

Blind Woman’s Curse, a.k.a. 怪談昇り竜 (Letterboxd; Trailer) – A gang of women with dragon tattoos, following their leader who was cursed by a black cat following an incident in which she accidentally blinded another woman, are hunted by that blind woman in the midst of an ongoing gang war. The supernatural theme is a little tangential yet frequently evoked, and this film is just wild–yeah, it’s as disjointed as it sounds, but it’s still a blast.

1971

A Touch of Zen, a.k.a. 俠女 (Letterboxd) – One of the very best wuxia movies–a great story, beautifully filmed, that combines over-the-top action with a sort of Gothic setting (an abandoned fort rumored to be haunted) and eventually at least one supernatural element that is kind of awesome. Watching this led me to watch several other King Hu films from the 70s, and among them, I did really like The Fate of Lee Khan (1973) and especially Raining in the Mountain (1979), although these aren’t SF/F aside from a few heroic leaps.

The Andromeda Strain (Letterboxd; Trailer) – After a satellite crashes near a small town in New Mexico, everyone nearby seems to be dead. The team sent to recover the satellite seems to be dead too. From the opening scenes exploring the extent and causes of these mysterious events to the methodical research scenes forming the bulk of the movie, this remains a pretty gripping SF medical thriller almost 50 years after its release. It’s based on the novel by Michael Crichton, but Crichton himself wasn’t yet a screenwriter or director.

Brother John (Letterboxd; Trailer) – A magical realist film written and directed by guys who are not themselves African American, this story about an African American man with a mysterious past and inexplicable intuitions may evoke a problematic trope and/or romanticize resilience to racism–I’m not sure. At the same time, I thought it was a compelling story about someone who has seen too much, and it focuses on its many Black characters and offers little redemption and no forgiveness to white people.

Godzilla vs. Hedorah, a.k.a. Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster or ゴジラ対ヘドラ (Letterboxd; Trailer) – Wonderfully dark and at times psychedelic, this is definitely my favorite kaiju movie from the 70s. There’s not a lot to say about the plot–you guessed it, Godzilla fights a Smog Monster–but the Smog Monster is an odd opponent, the fights are very moody, and the incidental material focused on humans is more engaging than usual. Kaiju movies aren’t supposed to aim for dark or psychedelic, I guess, but someone forgot to tell Yoshimitsu Banno, who evidently tried to make this one more interesting–more violent, weirder, etc. And yeah he basically got fired for it, but I think he was on the right track.

The Lady Hermit, a.k.a. 鍾馗娘子 (Letterboxd) – Another excellent wuxia film, this one focuses on two women swordfighters and the vow they share to kill a bad guy named Black Demon. The supernatural theme here is light, but it exists, among other things in a clear discussion of focusing your qi to achieve essentially magical power. But the strengths of the film definitely lie in the interpersonal relationships and the colorful and surprising action/violence.

Cuadecuc, Vampir (Letterboxd; Trailer) – An enthralling, hypnotic sequence of black & white film shots–in many cases, lingering to the point where they resemble ‘stills’–capturing eerie moments in the production of an ordinary horror film (in fact, Count Dracula from 1970, which has its moments, though it’s definitely not necessary to watch it first). Cuadecuc is less of a documentary and more of a cinematic SF/horror-themed experiment, in the same ballpark as Tscherkassky’s Cinemascope trilogy. The soundtrack varies from ambient to drone to white noise. At 66 minutes in length, just settle in for something kind of like a dream–an awesome, mysterious dream–about having been involved in making a vampire flick.

* Following current Hugo rules for the maximum number of nominees in a year, I’ve listed my six top favorites from 1971, but the fact that it has never been translated gives me an opportunity to mention a seventh favorite without counting it against the total: La Brigade des maléfices (IMDb) – “The Hex Brigade” is a light occult detective / police procedural show. As its intro says, Inspector Martin Paumier is the “Holmes of fairyland, Maigret of modern witchcraft.” He’s an eccentric who hangs out in a caftan talking to his sidekick Albert and an African gray parrot until a case comes in that the police can’t crack. His cases put a modern spin on fairies, demons, Venusians (!), vampires, and ghosts living in and around Paris, and the stories are all fun. France’s Institut national de l’audiovisuel has put the first two episodes on Youtube, and the other four are available on INA’s subscription-based website.

1972

Solaris, a.k.a. Солярис (Letterboxd) – Strange things are happening on the dilapidated space station orbiting the planet Solaris. Well, not too strange. I thought I had heard Tarkovsky’s film based on the novel by Stanislaw Lem was difficult to follow, but it was mostly pensive and enigmatic–what’s going on is eventually explained, even if it’s a bit fantastic. Anyway, I also found the neglected, messy, furnished yet nearly empty space station pretty striking–in some ways like an abandoned 70s office building, which is kind of funny to imagine floating around in space. It felt like a response to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and yep, Tarkovsky thought 2001 was “cold and sterile.”

Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx, a.k.a. 子連れ狼 三途の川の乳母車 (Letterboxd; Trailer) – OK, either this film–the second in a series of six based on the manga–is retroactively in a fantasy world because the sixth entry is definitely fantasy or it’s on the border between SF and fantasy thanks to its hero’s advanced weapons gadgeteering, but I have to count it here, because it’s amazing. Ogami Ittō is an itinerant assassin, a dropout from high society where he’d been an official executioner before he was framed for a crime, and he wanders Japan with his son, hunted by the clan that framed him and taking assassination commissions for a price that includes hearing the reasons for the contract. In this episode, his work is repeatedly interrupted by a bunch of other assassins–mostly women–who are likewise amazing. It’s a rich spectacle of bloody and improbable violence mixed with colorful characterization.

A Warning to the Curious (Letterboxd) – A classic ghost story by M.R. James, adapted for television as part of the BBC’s Ghost Story for Christmas series, this is a scenic yet occasionally chilling story that–like many stories by M.R. James–combines antiquarian research with supernatural encounters. Worth it even just for the muted coastal vistas.

Slaughterhouse-Five (Letterboxd; Trailer) – A faithful adaptation of the novel by Kurt Vonnegut and also a decent film, I think this rises above simply being an illustrated guide to the story of a man famously ‘unstuck in time’ and conveys its poignancy reasonably well. Hugo voters seem to agree–they gave it the award. On the other hand, the satellite roles that women play in the story–revolving around the hero and defined by their relationships with him–contribute an atmosphere of self-involvement that either undermines its kindness/wisdom or perhaps deflates it with implied but too subtle self-deprecation.

The People (Letterboxd) – An appropriately quiet, low-key adaptation of Zenna Henderson’s People stories, this made-for-TV movie accurately captures the gentleness and deep empathy that the source material is all about. So while the production values may be low and the action unhurried compared to Escape to Witch Mountain (1975), a movie with similar science fiction themes, I think it’s a much more emotionally engaging work, and it exemplifies a pleasant sort of naturalism common in 70s movies: a life-like tempo, not so obviously driven by scene goals and plot beats.

1973

The Exorcist (Letterboxd) – Adapted from a novel, this is an ur-text of horror cinema–well-filmed, scary, and worth watching for all the famous scenes but also for carefully composed incidental material. But I hadn’t seen it since I was probably a teenager, and I was surprised on re-watching by how much it’s also a fairy tale / allegory about families trying to cope with severe mental illness. The daughter is prescribed Ritalin, Thorazine, etc. without success, and her exorcism is neither a direct nor an unambiguous move toward religion for relief.

Westworld (Letterboxd; Trailer) – Written and directed by Michael Crichton, this well-known film about a theme park based on super science accidentally allowing its creations to get out of control has a good bit in common with … The Terminator: there’s a slow but relentless pursuit of humans by an expressionless yet charismatic gun-toting android dressed in black, and some of what happens along the way is similar too. Of course, it’s also similar to Crichton’s 1990 novel Jurassic Park. Anyway, as its own thing Westworld is pretty entertaining, even if it isn’t the kind of fast-paced blockbuster it may have influenced.

The Wicker Man (Letterboxd; Trailer) – Is it a mystery? Is it a musical? Is it supernatural-themed folk horror? All of the above, I guess–The Wicker Man is a strange treasure. A policeman visits a tight-knit island community to conduct an investigation in search of a missing girl, and what he finds there is certainly unreal, though inspired by folk traditions across Europe such as those evoked in Charles Fréger’s 2010-2011 “Wilder Mann” project.

Idaho Transfer (Letterboxd) – More low key 70s naturalism, in this case directed by Peter Fonda, this is a very quiet, neat little time travel / survivalist film set near Idaho’s Craters of the Moon lava fields in the Snake River Plain, and the landscapes are to a great extent the stars of the movie, because the acting is mostly untutored and the action is paced realistically. Anyway, at a tiny research facility in Idaho, people in their late teens are employed as time travelers, because anyone older would be injured by the process. Then, the plot of the film is really set in motion when the government comes to shut down the facility.

World on a Wire, a.k.a. Welt am Draht (Letterboxd; Trailer) – Based on the novel Simulacron-3 by Daniel F. Galouye, this is Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s fairly long, two-part, made-for-TV film that prefigures both The Matrix in wondering about whether we live in a virtual reality and Inception in showing people moving up and down a ladder of unrealities within unrealities. I suspect the story could have been told more briefly to good effect, and yet I enjoyed seeing the themes I associate with much later films explored at length with 70s design sensibilities and atmosphere.

1974

Céline and Julie Go Boating, a.k.a. Céline et Julie vont en bateau (Letterboxd) – Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of Jacques Rivette–his films vaguely resemble LARPs (live-action roleplaying games) in that they involve some improv based on an outline, as well as costumes and FX resembling LARPs too. But they’re like very odd, low key, and thoughtful LARPs, and the outcome in this case was frequently charming. Two women starting a relationship together each visit a house that casts them back in time and/or to an alternate reality to play a role in a set sequence of events that they can’t fully recall upon exiting the house. The mystery unfolds very gradually (it’s a long movie), and it becomes sort of meta-fictional–but also fun, as the main characters laugh together and enjoy what they’re doing.

Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell, a.k.a. 子連れ狼 地獄へ行くぞ!大五郎 (Letterboxd; Trailer) – Among the Lone Wolf and Cub movies, Baby Cart at the River Styx (see 1972, above) is undoubtedly my favorite, but this sixth and final installment is the only one to include explicit supernatural elements alongside the somewhat advanced weapon gadgetry, and it’s pretty good too. It’s definitely not the right place to start with the series though. The main clan that’s out to kill Ogami Ittō is running out of family members to send against him, so its leader speaks to his estranged/unacknowledged son–who is himself leader of the Underground Spider clan and by the way also an insane necromancer–and hyperbolic violence ensues.

Morel’s Invention, a.k.a. L’Invenzione di Morel (Letterboxd; Trailer) – In a story based on the novella of the same name, a castaway(?) lands on a desert island and makes several discoveries: a strange building, inexplicable machines, and–eventually–a bunch of well-dressed people who seem unreal. I have to say the first half of the movie was beautifully filmed yet so slow-paced and intentionally obscure that I nearly lost interest. But around the midpoint, what’s going on was given some explanation, and in the end it turned out to be a very neat film, full of allegorical potential, not least to do with movie-making itself. I can’t remember another movie that turned my opinion around so sharply.

Space is the Place (Letterboxd; Trailer) – Sun Ra’s trippy introduction to his own personal mythos, this film has a great Afrofuturist design aesthetic and delivers a strong positive message of Black liberation. Villains of the story are overtly misogynistic, but that too is resolved by the end. There isn’t a whole lot of plot overall, but it’s an engaging fable with plenty of surprising imagery. I wasn’t aware beforehand, but it turns out Sun Ra was pretty serious about his connection to outer space in a way that reminded me of Philip K. Dick’s seriousness about the paranormal–but Sun Ra makes it into something very hopeful.

The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, a.k.a. No profanar el sueño de los muertos (Letterboxd; Trailer) – By far my favorite zombie movie from the 1970s is The Grapes of Death (1978), but I appreciated several things about this one too: the soundtrack, the eerie countryside, the flash photography scenes, the zombies’ eyes, and a plot that negotiated its many character clichés into something reasonably effective in the end.

1975

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Letterboxd) – Well, this held up. To be clear about where I’m coming from, I can’t recall listening to the Monty Python albums, never finished watching the TV show, etc.–I wouldn’t say I’m much more than casually familiar with their work. And I also find it pretty hard to talk about movies that are deeply welded into the history of pop culture–like, what is left to say? But this movie is so rapid-fire witty that I do appreciate its influence, and things like the absurd humor of Lancelot’s ultra-violence still seem very contemporary.

Chac: The Rain God (Letterboxd; Trailer) – Chilean director Rolando Klein’s remarkable Mayan language (Tzeltal) film with Mayan actors portraying a story connected with Mayan folk beliefs about divination is notable too for its brief recitation by campfire of the main story of the Popol Vuh. Compare the movie with the Harvard Chiapas Project (e.g. the ethnography of the Tzotzil community Zinacantán and its critique) if you’re interested in a non-fiction perspective on the area from near the same time, because the movie is highly fictionalized with magical meteors, mythical mountain men, a shape-changing Jesuit(?), kookaburra(!) sounds in the jungle, and so on. Categorizing it as fantasy or even folk horror seems right. On the other hand, it’s mostly low key and well constructed, and it seems committed to locally-informed storytelling.

The Stepford Wives (Letterboxd; Trailer) – An adaptation of the novel about a community where women’s conformity to stereotypes seems to be enforced by super science (or something), I think this film is often taken as an instance of second wave feminism, which certainly influenced it, and it stands up pretty well as light entertainment. At the same time, it was created by men (e.g. screenwriter William Goldman, more well-known as the author of The Princess Bride), and it was received poorly by feminists such as Betty Friedan, who among other things saw it as co-opting the movement. So while I liked Stepford more, I think it’s worth comparing it to 1974’s The Cloning of Clifford Swimmer, directed by Lela Swift: both stories have a similar science fictional premise, but in Clifford Swimmer the lens remains focused on a critical representation of the title character’s sexism, abusiveness, etc. in contrast to his simply kind and reasonable clone, where The Stepford Wives manages to spend a lot of time representing stereotype/male-fantasy versions of the women it ostensibly supports.

Infra-Man, a.k.a. 中國超人 or essentially “Chinese Ultraman” (Letterboxd; Trailer) – I’m not usually a fan of so-bad-they’re-good movies, but I’ll make an exception here, not just out of nostalgia. When Princess Dragon Mom awakens from 10 million years of slumber and sends out her army of monsters to dominate humanity, a local scientist turns a volunteer into a superhero to take them all on. Infra-Man was by chance the first PG movie I saw in theaters–I remember the newspaper ad and begging my parents to let me see it–but I had basically zero recollection of the film itself. On re-watching it, I found it to be very silly: a completely ludicrous mishmash of Ultraman, Kamen Rider, kung fu films, and 50s science fiction films. But it’s also so campy and inventive that it’s pretty fun to watch.

The Changes (Letterboxd) – In this BBC children’s mini-series based on a trilogy of books by Peter Dickinson, an eerie magical apocalypse causes white and/or Christian people in the UK to be repulsed by technology. A white schoolgirl is separated from her family and takes up residence with a small Sikh community, still able to work with technology, and this is by far the best part of the series: the ‘moral’ to it is very basic and minimally tolerant, but the characters seem portrayed with genuine sympathy, and the plot unfolds with a thoughtful naturalism to it. The rest of the series is more cliché–particularly the ending–but a lengthy section to do with a witchcraft trial develops with a mix of clichés and some additional, more engaging naturalism.

1976

The Little Mermaid, a.k.a. Malá morská víla (Letterboxd) – This beautiful, dreamy, Czech version of “The Little Mermaid” is one of several great Czech fairy tale films from the 70s, including Three Wishes for Cinderella (a delightful girl-power version of the story, repeatedly shown at Christmas), Beauty and the Beast (which makes the beast into a wonderfully creepy crow-person), and How to Wake a Princess (which is sweet and light). But what makes The Little Mermaid notable are its long undersea segments–like a strange ballet in soft focus–and the fact that it pulls no punches in its depictions of longing, frailty, disappointment, and tragedy.

The Signalman (Letterboxd) – A classic ghost story by Charles Dickens, adapted for television as part of the BBC’s Ghost Story for Christmas series, this is a creepy, foggy enigma–very effective. Only 38 minutes long, it would compete for the short form Hugo today, but in the 70s, it would have competed right along with feature films–and maybe should have, given that all the actual nominees on the 1977 ballot lost to “No Award.”

The Magic Blade, a.k.a. 天涯明月刀 (Letterboxd; Trailer) – Delightfully silly wuxia movie in which the complicated set-up mostly resolves to a series of mini-boss fights followed by a final boss fight, but swordplay combines with comedic Holmes-like deduction scenes and Bond-like gadgets (sometimes magical? close enough) to keep changing things up in interesting ways. Aimed at adults for sure, yet colorful and absurd.

Freaky Friday (Letterboxd) – The classic story of a young woman who mysteriously changes bodies with her mother is a cultural touchstone, and I suspect it has a hard time living up to the awareness viewers bring to it. But compared specifically to live action fantasy films from the 70s–and especially other Disney films from the time–I found it very enjoyable. There’s surprising depth in some interactions that feel intentionally deflated, where another film might have committed too straightforwardly to the joke, and I think a key moment occurs when the mom inhabited by the daughter rejects the school principal’s attempt to psychoanalyze her Freudian slip–a transposed reference to her husband/father–as if the film itself (incidentally, written by a woman, based on a novel by a woman) wants to reject obvious readings. The second wave feminism criticizing the husband and demonstrating the wife’s under-appreciated knowledge of history seems straightforward though. Anyway, like any good Disney movie from the 70s, it ends with a wacky car chase, and it’s fun.

The Man Who Fell to Earth (Letterboxd; Trailer) – It’s easy to see why Nicholas Roeg’s adaptation of the novel by Walter Tevis was nominated for a Hugo: David Bowie is a perfect fit as the main character–an alien stuck on Earth is a close match for his own Ziggy Stardust persona–and the film’s depictions of loneliness are frequently poignant. Dry landscapes traversed by a strange figure … A man watching a dozen banal TV shows on different TVs at the same time … Weird, clinical close-ups of Bowie … Frustratingly, the alien’s resentment toward his situation also manifests as misogynistic contempt–an attitude also found elsewhere in the film–and several scenes are pretty tense. But Candy Clark’s performance is good too, and her character’s arc is easy to sympathize with. At some level the film is an allegory about self-absorption and self-pity as obstacles to human connection, and she’s definitely not the problem.

1977

Star Wars (Letterboxd) – What could I possibly have to say about Star Wars? I did re-watch it for this project, but nothing non-obvious came to mind. Yeah, it’s not like most 70s SF/F. It’s very fast, like a comic book trying to press as much world and story as possible into every panel. It’s unconcerned with coincidences like whether it ‘makes sense’ for the Death Star to be at Alderaan, for the heroes to pop in right after Alderaan’s destruction, or for the Death Star to travel onward to Yavin so quickly yet find the rebels ready for a fight. That all just needs to happen for the story to work, and the story is compelling enough that we rationalize it automatically. Its special effects are tremendous. And in general, its visual language synopsizes fifty years of pulp fiction space operas in two hours.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Letterboxd) – As a kid, I didn’t appreciate Close Encounters all that much–Star Trek and Star Wars had fixed in my mind much of what I wanted from science fiction media, so Close Encounters seemed too human, too focused on Earth, and not adventurous enough. As an adult, I find it astonishing: thanks in part to Spielberg’s later success but also thanks to its own achievements, Close Encounters feels like an 80s blockbuster, dropped squarely into the 70s. Its enigmatic moments of fear, wonder, and exaltation all still work just great.

Suspiria (Letterboxd; Trailer) – A young woman arrives at a mysterious ballet academy on a dark and stormy night and finds herself embroiled in something very strange … Known for its remarkable use of color and a number of unusual death scenes, Dario Argento’s classic of supernatural horror is loosely inspired by Thomas de Quincey’s essays / prose poems / opium visions gathered in Suspiria de Profundis, and it’s a masterpiece of Gothic and/or Decadent film-making. I think I agree with folks who distinguish it from giallo movies of the 70s, which may have supernatural elements but even then tend to have more pulp crime tropes. I mean, Argento was a leading figure in giallo films too, but compared to the other supernatural gialli I watched for this project, Suspiria does stand out for the influences it draws on and what it makes out of them.

Tomorrow I’ll Wake Up and Scald Myself with Tea, a.k.a. Zítra vstanu a opařím se čajem (Letterboxd) – This is a silly but delightfully complicated Czech time travel comedy–the kind of time travel movie that heaps paradox on top of paradox for fun to arrive at some ingenious outcome. In this case, the story starts a bit worryingly with a plot to help Hitler win WWII, but it quickly turns into a different set of problems while mocking Nazis in a familiar, satirical way. Anyhow, if there’s an earlier film that has as many interlocking time loops, I’m not aware of it, but I guess there are a lot of time travel films from prior decades that I haven’t yet seen.

House, a.k.a. ハウス (Letterboxd; Trailer) – As I mentioned above, I’m not really into so-bad-they’re-good movies, but there’s a case to be made that House is just plain good, because it’s substantially aiming at a representation of the childhood fears of the director’s pre-teen daughter. From that perspective, the fact that it looks like a goofy G-rated movie gone deeply, horrifyingly wrong in a surreal, hilarious, gross-out kind of way is perfect. Imagine a low budget Japanese ‘idol’ show innocently wandering into the plot of Evil Dead II–that’s not exactly House, but perhaps it conveys what an odd blend of styles it is.

Mind-Slaughter (Worldcat) – A short film about terraforming Venus, made by Kentucky Educational Television as part of a series called “The Universe & I,” I have to include this both out of nostalgia and because it’s solid, old school, thoroughly didactic “hard” SF teaching kids about the greenhouse effect, the effects of sulfuric acid, and that kind of stuff. For 20 minutes, the narrator reflects on his growth as a scientist, the project he led to seed Venus’s upper atmosphere with algae, and the twist that made him regret it all. I remember watching it in middle school, and the impact on me as a young SF fan was huge.

1978

Future Boy Conan, a.k.a. 未来少年コナン (Letterboxd) – This ~12 hour anime series based on a post-apocalyptic novel for young adults is often called Hayao Miyazaki’s directorial debut, because it’s the first long work he was responsible for from the start, and it has a lot in common with his later work: children full of innocence, roaming beautiful green countryside or adventuring underwater; a ruined world, destroyed by superweapons; insect swarms; odd flying machines; food scenes; blank-faced masks; and many moments of compassion and bravery. It’s not just for Miyazaki completists though–it compares very favorably with anime being made today.

The Grapes of Death, a.k.a. Les Raisins de la mort (Letterboxd; Trailer) – The title sounds silly–at least in English–but The Grapes of Death is no joke. A pesticide used in the vineyards around a small town in France turns local residents into zombies who terrorize a young woman trying to visit her fiancé at the winery, and it’s pretty intense. The zombies are fairly disturbing–in fact, if I have a criticism of this film, it’s that it relies on disfigurement for too much of its horror–but many scenes are low-key creepy and atmospheric in a way I really appreciate: the scenes out in the countryside are even beautiful. Director Jean Rollin is better known for admirably weird vampire movies that tend to emphasize nudity imagery over storytelling, but this film was well-constructed and just terrific overall.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Letterboxd; Trailer) – The well-known story of a silent alien invasion, based on both the novel and the first film version, I remember being terrified by some portions of this as a kid, probably via the ABC Sunday Night Movie broadcast. As an adult, I think it has some creepy moments, but what’s most striking is its atmospheric approach to the eeriness of modernity: the pervasive sound of garbage trucks, paranoid phone conversations, dangerous traffic, the health department as a hegemonizing bureacracy, and crowds in general–all looking very 70s. I like how they wrapped it up too–unforgettable.

The Medusa Touch (Letterboxd; Trailer) – Both a psychological thriller and also an SF/F story about psychic powers, this film has a lot to do with the extravagant and towering anger of the main character, and it’s a good role for Richard Burton–not many actors could make an allegory about narcissism as watchable. Apparently the novel the film is based on is part of a series featuring the same police inspector, and he’s certainly the more likable character.

1979

Alien (Letterboxd) – Alien feels so familiar that I don’t even know what to say about it. On re-watching it, I guess I was struck by how many elements of it would show up again in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner: the nature of one crew member; his sudden violence; the grimy industrial feel of the set; the interplay between strobing colors and shadow; the main character being hunted in a final showdown; etc. Incidentally, when watching Dark Star (co-written by Dan O’Bannon), I was struck by how many elements of it would show up in Alien, though in vastly more serious and polished forms (e.g. a starship on a long-range mission; its sort of blue collar, matter of fact, and even morose crew; an alien getting loose on the ship and becoming a problem for a crew member to hunt down …).

Stalker, a.k.a. Сталкер (Letterboxd) – Andrei Tarkovsky’s sublime reinterpretation of one of my favorite science fiction novels, Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, hints at some of the more animated and violent dangers of the book but focuses on developing its sense of dread and creating an industrial/nuclear waste aesthetic, years before Chernobyl would give the world a Zone in real life. It’s a long, mysterious, and pensive movie in which relatively little happens, but to my mind, the time passes quickly: in the Zone, every step you take is supposed to be made very carefully, and it’s as if Tarkovsky made every shot count with similarly precise care.

Nezha Conquers the Dragon King, a.k.a. 哪吒闹海 (Letterboxd) – Based on chapters 12-14 of the 100-chapter 16th Century novel Investiture of the Gods, this Chinese animated film is beautiful throughout and often surprising. It’s the story of a young hero who angers the dragon king who lives under the sea, and it’s full of fantasy imagery and colorful layouts. A scene in which the young hero kills himself (albeit temporarily) could be traumatizing to children, if not adults, but good fairy tales are sometimes harsh and strange.

The Brood (Letterboxd; Trailer) – David Cronenberg’s psionic-powered divorce story eventually makes a hard swerve into body horror, because of course it does. That’s not my usual cup of tea, but in this case, it works like a fairly conventional horror movie: something strange is going on, some people get attacked, maybe there’s some connection to a mad scientist guy–the very 70s smooth-talking pseudo-psychiatrist type wearing a turtleneck–etc., etc. It’s well-filmed and mostly not too disturbing, and along the way, any number of psychoanalytically-relevant topics arise, making the movie interesting to consider–though it may also be some sort of personal jab at Cronenberg’s ex-wife.

The Very Same Munchhausen, a.k.a. Тот самый Мюнхгаузен (Letterboxd) – There have been quite a few film adaptations of Rudolf Erich Raspe’s 1785 novel of tall tales (illustrated version), including two in 1979: the fairly straightforward and untranslated French animated film, Les fabuleuses aventures du légendaire Baron de Munchausen, and the more interesting Russian live-action film, The Very Same Munchhausen (sic). The Russian version is not very literal. It’s low key, low budget, as silly and verbal as you’d expect from a Munchausen story, and also reliant on the charm of the principal actors. Furthermore, in the second half it takes a fairly serious satirical turn, encouraging people to hold on to what they know is true regardless of state pressure–a message that seems surprising in a Soviet-era TV movie.

A Walk Through H: The Reincarnation of an Ornithologist (Letterboxd) – This short film by Peter Greenaway is a cerebrally funny, tongue-in-cheek commentary on a series of “maps” (essentially, close-ups of abstract art) that the narrator used on an imaginary trip through mostly made-up places. It’s very inventive and vaguely reminiscent of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, so I’ll call it fantasy. The best lines from it would have fit in something much shorter than its 41 minute runtime, but sprinkling them around in something rambling and hypnotic works here too because the art is nice.

Board game rank change report for Q3 + most of 2019

Just like last year, it’s time for a round-up of games that have become especially popular at BGG over the past year. And first, here’s a belated report on what games showed the most positive movement in rank between 7/1/2018 and 10/5/2019.

Fast, positive movers among 'Board games':
092 (+109) Nemesis
127 (+134) Underwater Cities
356 (+144) Just One

Fast, positive movers among 'Strategy games':
214 (+286) Aeon's End: Legacy
215 (+285) Pax Pamir (Second Edition)
251 (+249) Vindication
293 (+207) Tapestry

Fast, positive movers among 'War games':
156 (+344) Undaunted: Normandy
247 (+253) Gandhi: The Decolonization of British India, 1917 – 1947
291 (+209) Commands & Colors: Medieval

Fast, positive movers among 'Family games':
038 (+462) Stockpile
090 (+410) Twice As Clever
094 (+406) Dice Throne: Season Two – Battle Chest
156 (+344) Camel Up (Second Edition)
189 (+311) Escape Room: The Game
198 (+302) Villagers
230 (+270) Hadara

Fast, positive movers among 'Collectible games':
053 (+447) Aventuria: Adventure Card Game
094 (+406) Brass Empire

Fast, positive movers among 'Thematic games':
188 (+312) The Reckoners
219 (+281) Horrified
243 (+257) Call to Adventure
264 (+236) DinoGenics

And here’s the report on what happened across most of 2019 (1/1 to 11/29 — Black Friday):

Fast, positive movers among 'Board games':
030 (+470) Wingspan
055 (+445) Nemesis
076 (+226) Teotihuacan: City of Gods
082 (+218) Architects of the West Kingdom
090 (+146) Everdell
097 (+403) Underwater Cities
111 (+158) Chronicles of Crime
115 (+134) Decrypto
119 (+381) The Quacks of Quedlinburg
122 (+100) Endeavor: Age of Sail
137 (+123) Welcome To...
152 (+155) That's Pretty Clever
155 (+334) Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game
156 (+344) The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth
172 (+162) Coimbra
200 (+161) Aeon's End: War Eternal
206 (+129) Lords of Hellas
287 (+213) Just One
289 (+211) Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra
298 (+202) Tapestry
310 (+190) Cryptid
312 (+188) Gùgōng
313 (+187) Western Legends
326 (+174) Gizmos
329 (+171) Thunderstone Quest
337 (+163) Res Arcana
353 (+147) Space Base
354 (+146) Dominion (Second Edition)
357 (+113) Bunny Kingdom
363 (+137) Vindication
370 (+130) Pax Pamir (Second Edition)
386 (+114) Newton

Fast, positive movers among 'Strategy games':
027 (+473) Wingspan
055 (+388) Underwater Cities
158 (+342) Pax Pamir (Second Edition)
193 (+307) Aeon's End: Legacy
194 (+306) Res Arcana
195 (+305) Vindication
196 (+262) Cryptid
197 (+303) Tapestry
207 (+273) Newton
222 (+278) Dominion (Second Edition)
223 (+277) Pandemic: Fall of Rome
228 (+272) Escape Plan
240 (+260) Carpe Diem
252 (+248) Pax Renaissance
254 (+246) Too Many Bones: Undertow
265 (+235) Paladins of the West Kingdom
291 (+209) Blackout: Hong Kong

Fast, positive movers among 'War games':
084 (+416) Undaunted: Normandy
130 (+370) Nexus Ops
169 (+331) Star Wars: X-Wing (Second Edition)
209 (+291) Gandhi: The Decolonization of British India, 1917 – 1947
229 (+252) Pavlov's House
239 (+261) Gunslinger
242 (+258) Commands & Colors: Medieval
258 (+242) A Song of Ice & Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game – Stark vs Lannister Starter Set
286 (+214) Roads to Gettysburg II: Lee Strikes North

Fast, positive movers among 'Family games':
001 (+499) Wingspan
007 (+493) Everdell
040 (+460) Stockpile
064 (+436) Abyss
072 (+428) Tiny Towns
079 (+421) Twice As Clever
082 (+418) Dice Throne: Season Two – Battle Chest
104 (+396) Dice Throne: Season One
110 (+390) Exit: The Game – The Secret Lab
112 (+388) Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig
114 (+386) Web of Power
130 (+370) Camel Up (Second Edition)
139 (+361) Fantasy Realms
140 (+360) PARKS
141 (+359) Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale
160 (+340) Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails
168 (+332) Villagers
182 (+318) Treasure Island
186 (+314) Sprawlopolis
187 (+313) Hadara
198 (+302) Escape Room: The Game
200 (+300) Railroad Ink: Blazing Red Edition
213 (+287) Century: A New World
221 (+279) Point Salad
224 (+276) Menara
229 (+271) Exit: The Game – The Polar Station
236 (+264) Dice Hospital
285 (+215) Raccoon Tycoon
293 (+207) Artifacts, Inc.
299 (+201) One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows

Fast, positive movers among 'Collectible games':
002 (+498) Marvel Champions: The Card Game
017 (+483) Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game – Villains
020 (+480) Star Wars: X-Wing (Second Edition)
055 (+445) Aventuria: Adventure Card Game
056 (+444) Sorcerer
095 (+405) Brass Empire
158 (+342) Halo ActionClix

Fast, positive movers among 'Thematic games':
024 (+476) The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth
034 (+466) BattleLore (Second Edition)
045 (+455) Aeon's End: Legacy
049 (+451) Too Many Bones: Undertow
071 (+429) Arcadia Quest: Inferno
090 (+410) Star Wars: Outer Rim
125 (+375) Batman: Gotham City Chronicles
127 (+373) Horrified
150 (+350) Adrenaline
153 (+347) Unlock! Squeek & Sausage
154 (+346) Claustrophobia 1643
168 (+332) PARKS
175 (+325) Treasure Island
190 (+310) The Reckoners
193 (+307) Middara: Unintentional Malum – Act 1
206 (+294) Heroes of Terrinoth
211 (+289) Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon
213 (+287) UBOOT: The Board Game
231 (+269) Watergate
236 (+264) Hellboy: The Board Game
239 (+261) Call to Adventure
244 (+256) Street Masters
245 (+255) One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows
252 (+248) Escape Tales: The Awakening
263 (+237) DinoGenics
266 (+234) Axis & Allies Pacific 1940
271 (+229) Dune
272 (+228) Time of Legends: Joan of Arc
273 (+227) Exit: The Game – The Forbidden Castle
274 (+226) Frostgrave
279 (+221) Detective: City of Angels
291 (+209) Jaws
295 (+205) Legendary: Buffy The Vampire Slayer
299 (+201) A Song of Ice & Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game – Stark vs Lannister Starter Set

Popular 19th C. French Literature in Translation

A few years ago, I assembled a list of “100 Books with 100 Authors“–a ranking of fiction at Project Gutenberg according to my usual metric of popularity but selecting only the most popular work for each author–and I thought it might be fun to do something kind of like that for 19th C. French literature, though not based on PG. So I didn’t have a set list of possibilities to work off of, but I poked around at a number of sources (such as this and this) to build a list of French-language fiction, non-fiction, and poetry from the 19th C., ranked it according to the square of each title’s normalized Goodreads rating multiplied by the log of the number of raters, and selected the top title for each author per category (allowing trifectas for figures like Hugo and Lamartine). But going a little further, I dug into the results in search of the most popular edition of each title and aimed to list editions that are in print and/or available online. Here’s the result, ordered by popularity:

  1. Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo
  2. Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
  3. Charles Baudelaire, The Flowers of Evil
  4. Arthur Rimbaud, Complete Works, Selected Letters
  5. Hector Malot, Nobody’s Boy (seriously)
  6. Jules Verne, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
  7. Émile Zola, Germinal
  8. Alexandre Dumas, fils, La Dame aux Camélias
  9. Honoré de Balzac, Lost Illusions
  10. Stendhal, The Red and the Black
  11. Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
  12. Comte de Lautréamont, Maldoror
  13. Guy de Maupassant, Bel-Ami
  14. Jan Potocki, The Manuscript Found in Saragossa
  15. Joris-Karl Huysmans, À rebours
  16. Paul Verlaine, Selected Poems
  17. Comtesse de Ségur, Les Malheurs de Sophie
  18. George Sand, La Petite Fadette
  19. Marcel Schwob, The Book of Monelle
  20. Stéphane Mallarmé, Collected Poems and Other Verse
  21. Alphonse Daudet, Letters from My Windmill
  22. Gérard de Nerval, Selected Writings
  23. Théophile Gautier, Mademoiselle de Maupin
  24. Octave Mirbeau, Torture Garden
  25. François-René de Chateaubriand, Memoirs from Beyond the Grave
  26. Victor Hugo, Selected Poems
  27. Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly, Diaboliques
  28. Henri Bergson, Time and Free Will
  29. Edmond & Jules de Goncourt, Pages from the Goncourt Journals
  30. Eugène Sue, Mysteries of Paris
  31. Georges Rodenbach, Bruges-la-Morte
  32. Henri Murger, Scènes de la vie de Bohême
  33. Alfred de Musset, The Confession of a Child of the Century
  34. Philippe-Paul de Ségur, Defeat: Napoleon’s Russian Campaign
  35. Herculine Barbin, Herculine Barbin: Being the Recently Discovered Memoirs of a Nineteenth-Century French Hermaphrodite
  36. Henri-Frédéric Amiel, Amiel’s Journal (vol. 2)
  37. Anatole France, Thaïs
  38. Benjamin Constant, Adolphe
  39. George Sand, Story of My Life
  40. Prosper Mérimée, Carmen and Other Stories
  41. Jean Lorrain, Nightmares of an Ether Drinker
  42. Henriette-Lucy, Marquise de La Tour du Pin Gouvernet, Recollections of the Revolution and the Empire
  43. Alphonse Daudet, In the Land of Pain
  44. Jules Renard, Nature Stories
  45. Aloysius Bertrand, Gaspard de la nuit
  46. Alfred Jarry, Three Early Novels
  47. Rachilde, Monsieur Venus
  48. Pierre Louÿs, Aphrodite
  49. Émile Gaboriau, Monsieur Lecoq
  50. Claire de Duras, Ourika
  51. Elisabeth Louise Vigée Lebrun, Memoirs of Madame Vigée Lebrun
  52. Gustave Flaubert, Flaubert in Egypt
  53. Gérard de Nerval, Journey to the Orient
  54. Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne, Memoirs of Napoleon
  55. Alphonse de Lamartine, Graziella
  56. Léon Bloy, Disagreeable Tales
  57. Germaine de Staël, Corinne, or Italy
  58. François-René de Chateaubriand, Atala / René
  59. Jules Vallès, The Child
  60. Flora Tristan, Peregrinations of a Pariah (selections)
  61. Louise Michel, The Red Virgin
  62. Charles Nodier, Smarra & Trilby
  63. Victor Hugo, The Rhine
  64. Petrus Borel, Champavert: Immoral Tales
  65. Paul Féval, Vampire City
  66. Emmanuel-Auguste-Dieudonné Las Cases, Memoirs of the Life, Exile, and Conversations of the Emperor Napoleon (vol. 2vol. 3vol. 4)
  67. Catulle Mendès, Bluebirds
  68. Jules Michelet, History of the French Revolution
  69. Rémy de Gourmont, Angels of Perversity
  70. Étienne Pivert de Senancour, Obermann (vol. 2)
  71. Villiers de L’Isle-Adam, The Vampire Soul and Other Sardonic Tales
  72. Erckmann-Chatrian, The Conscript
  73. Emile Verhaeren, Poems of Emile Verhaeren
  74. Juliette Drouet, The Love Letters of Juliette Drouet to Victor Hugo
  75. Émile Souvestre, An Attic Philosopher in Paris
  76. Charlemagne Ischir Defontenay, Star
  77. Alexandre Dumas, My Pets
  78. Alfred de Vigny, Cinq Mars
  79. Pierre Loti, My Brother Yves
  80. Celeste Mogador, Memoirs of a Courtesan in Nineteenth-Century Paris
  81. Tristan Corbière, The Centenary Corbière
  82. Anatole Le Braz, La Légende de la mort
  83. Marie Nizet, Captain Vampire
  84. Jules Clarétie, Camille Desmoulins and His Wife
  85. Émile Zola, The Experimental Novel and Other Essays
  86. Paul de Kock, The Barber of Paris
  87. Sibylle Riqueti de Mirabeau, Chiffon’s Marriage
  88. Louise Colet, Lui, A View of Him
  89. Jean Richepin, The Crazy Corner
  90. François Coppée, Ten Tales
  91. Xavier de Maistre, A Nocturnal Expedition Round My Room (sequel to the delightful A Journey Round My Room)
  92. Prosper Mérimée, Letters to an Incognita
  93. Louis Gallet, The Adventures of Cyrano de Bergerac
  94. Eugénie Foa, The Boy Life of Napoleon
  95. René Bazin, The Ink-Stain
  96. Delphine de Girardin, Balzac’s Cane
  97. Octave Feuillet, Monsieur de Camors
  98. Fortuné du Boisgobey, The Red Lottery Ticket
  99. Étienne-Léon de Lamothe-Langon, The Virgin Vampire
  100. Jules Laforgue, Berlin: The City and the Court
  101. Jules Laforgue, Essential Poems & Prose of Jules Laforgue
  102. Paul LaCroix, Danse Macabre
  103. Ernest-Aimé Feydeau, Fanny
  104. Jules Sandeau, Mademoiselle de la Seiglière
  105. Rose de Freycinet, A Woman of Courage: The Journal of Rose de Freycinet on Her Voyage Around the World, 1817-1820
  106. Jenny d’Héricourt, A Woman’s Philosophy of Woman
  107. Victor Cherbuliez, Count Kostia
  108. Jules Janin, The Magnetized Corpse
  109. Stuart Merrill, The White Tomb
  110. Louis Ulbach, The Steel Hammer
  111. Benjamin Leopold Farjeon, Devlin the Barber
  112. Georges Ohnet, In Deep Abyss
  113. Xavier Hommaire de Hell, Travels in the Steppes of the Caspian Sea, the Crimea, the Caucasus, &c.
  114. Charlotte-Adelaïde Dard, Shipwreck of the Medusa
  115. Gustave Kahn, The Tale of Gold and Silence
  116. Sophie Cottin, Elizabeth, or The Exiles of Siberia

The following titles had no ratings at Goodreads, but I thought they might be worth including anyway for one reason or another:

Board game rank change report for 2019Q2

Here are the titles advancing substantially in the top 500 this quarter at BGG–the usual caveats apply.

Fast, positive movers among 'Board games':
218 (+116) The Quacks of Quedlinburg
248 (+252) The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth
261 (+239) Underwater Cities
385 (+111) Thunderstone Quest

Fast, positive movers among 'Strategy games':
None

Fast, positive movers among 'War games':
002 (+498) War of the Ring (Second Edition)
244 (+256) Gunslinger

Fast, positive movers among 'Family games':
002 (+498) Wingspan
108 (+392) Dice Throne: Season One
146 (+354) Tiny Towns
167 (+333) Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails

Fast, positive movers among 'Collectible games':
012 (+488) Star Realms: Frontiers
019 (+481) Legendary: Villains – A Marvel Deck Building Game
059 (+441) Sorcerer

Fast, positive movers among 'Thematic games':
031 (+469) The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth
146 (+354) Batman: Gotham City Chronicles
211 (+289) Treasure Island
213 (+287) Heroes of Terrinoth
248 (+252) Middara: Unintentional Malum Act 1
254 (+246) Axis & Allies Pacific 1940
267 (+233) Exit: The Game – The Forbidden Castle
289 (+211) Star Wars: Outer Rim
297 (+203) Legendary: Buffy The Vampire Slayer
300 (+200) Hellboy: The Board Game

Around 11 Years of Translated Books Ranked by Popularity

I’ve taken Goodreads entries for a list of translations compiled originally at Three Percent, sorted them by a popularity metric (the log of the number of raters multiplied by the square of the average rating expressed as a percentage), and listed the top 20 entries for each year below. There are several problems with using Goodreads ratings in this way. Goodreads tries to use the same entry for each edition of a book, so if the book originates in a country where Goodreads itself is popular, there will be many ratings and reviews long before the book is translated. Also, Goodreads doesn’t always succeed in grouping different editions together, and if I wasn’t able to find the entry with the most ratings, it won’t do well here. Along the way, I also excluded some TV novelizations and children’s books, because they were for some reason overrepresented in about three years of the data, but I did reclassify popular YA or general interest graphic novels into categories that would count (fiction, nonfiction, and poetry).

Entries in bold are those that were not only popular—they also met the relatively strict criterion of having > 33% more 5 star ratings than 4 star ratings, > 33% more 4 star ratings than 3 star ratings, and so on.

2008

Stieg Larsson, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Roberto Bolano, 2666
Nisioisin, Death Note: Another Note
Jose Saramago, Death with Interruptions
Muriel Barbery, Elegance of the Hedgehog
Arnaldur Indridason, Draining Lake
Boris Akunin, Special Assignments
Stefan Zweig, Post-Office Girl
Fred Vargas, This Night’s Foul Work
Henning Mankell, Pyramid
Giorgio Faletti, I Kill
Andrea Camilleri, Paper Moon
Stefan Brijs, Angel Maker
Peter Zilahy, Last Window-Giraffe
Jiang Rong, Wolf Totem
Willem Frederik Hermans, Darkroom of Damocles
Naguib Mahfouz, Cairo Modern
Elena Ferrante, Lost Daughter
Mo Yan, Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out
Johan Theorin, Echoes from the Dead

2009

Stieg Larsson, Girl Who Played with Fire
Jo Nesbo, Nemesis
Fernando Pessoa, Collected Poems of Alvaro de Campos: Volume 2
Sebastian Fitzek, Therapy
Hiroshi Sakurazaka, All You Need Is Kill
Eduardo Galeano, Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone
Yoko Ogawa, Housekeeper and the Professor
Walter Moers, Alchemaster’s Apprentice
Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, Mind at Peace
Javier Marias, Your Face Tomorrow Volume Three: Poison, Shadow, and Farewell
Jonathan Littell, Kindly Ones
Max Frei, Stranger: Labyrinths of Eho, Book One
Mahmoud Darwish, Almond Blossoms and Beyond
Markus Heitz, Dwarves
Jan Guillou, Road to Jerusalem
Miyuki Miyabe, Brave Story
Fernando del Paso, News from the Empire
Philippe Claudel, Brodeck
Ricardas Gavelis, Vilnius Poker
Hape Kerkeling, I’m Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago

2010

Stieg Larsson, Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
Jo Nesbo, Devil’s Star
Cornelia Funke, Inkdeath
Isabel Allende, Island Beneath the Sea
Giacomo Leopardi, Canti
Oliver Potzsch, Hangman’s Daughter
Olga Tokarczuk, Primeval and Other Times
Camilla Lackberg, Ice Princess
Deon Meyer, Thirteen Hours
Markus Heitz, War of the Dwarves
Sofi Oksanen, Purge
David Grossman, To the End of the Land
Henrik Pontoppidan, Lucky Per
Wislawa Szymborska, Here
Arnaldur Indridason, Hypothermia
Ahmed Mourad, Vertigo
Joses Rodrigues dos Santos, Einstein Enigma
Hiroshi Yamamoto, Stories of Ibis
Paolo Giaordano, Solitude of Prime Numbers
Amelie Nothomb, Hygiene and the Assassin

2011

Jo Nesbo, Snowman
Haruki Murakami, 1Q84
Jo Nesbo, Leopard
Jussi Adler-Olsen, Keeper of Lost Causes
Keigo Higashino, Devotion of Suspect X
Carsten Jensen, We, the Drowned
Margaret Mazzantini, Twice Born
Max Frei, Stranger’s Woes
Mahmoud Darwish, In the Presence of Absence
Henning Mankell, Troubled Man
Jose Saramago, Cain
Daniel Glattauer, Love Virtually
Jo Nesbo, Headhunters
Kyung-sook Shin, Please Look After Mom
Jan Guilllou, Birth of the Kingdom
Ferdinand von Schirach, Crime: Stories
Lars Kepler, Hypnotist
Edouard Leve, Suicide
Wieslaw Mysliwski, Stone Upon Stone
Fabio Geda, In the Sea There Are Crocodiles

2012

Kerstin Gier, Sapphire Blue, Book 2
Ibrahim Nasrallah, Time of White Horses
Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend
Jo Nesbo, Phantom
Jan-Philipp Sendker, Art of Hearing Heartbeats
Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Prisoner of Heaven
Jonas Jonasson, 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle: Book One
Hector Abad, Oblivion: A Memoir
Laurent Binet, HHhH
Ursula Poznanski, Erebos
Donato Carrisi, Whisperer
Max Frei, Stranger’s Magic
Sarah Lark, In the Land of the Long White Cloud
Antonia Michaelis, Storyteller
Jussi Adler-Olsen, Absent One
Michel Houellebecq, Map and the Territory
Camilla Lackberg, Stonecutter
Oliver Potzsch, Dark Monk
Anne Voorhoeve, My Family for the War

2013

Elena Ferrante, Story of a New Name
Andrzej Sapkowski, Time of Contempt
Melissa Muller, Anne Frank: The Biography
Jo Nesbo, Police: A Harry Hole Novel
Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle: Book Two
Christiane F., Zoo Station: The Story of Christiane F.
Andrea Hirata, Rainbow Troops
Jo Nesbo, Redeemer
Jussi Adler-Olsen, Conspiracy of Faith
Aleksandra Mizielinska, Maps
Lars Kepler, Fire Witness
Parinoush Saniee, Book of Fate
Jussi Adler-Olsen, Purity of Vengeance
Florencia Bonelli, Obsession
Max Frei, Stranger’s Shadow
Cornelia Funke, Fearless: Book 2
Maurice Druon, Iron King
Pierre Lemaitre, Alex
Sarah Lark, Song of the Spirits
Oliver Potzsch, Beggar King

2014

Fredrik Backman, Man Called Ove
Elena Ferrante, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay
Radwa Ashour, Woman from Tantoura
Cixin Liu, Three-Body Problem
Joel Dicker, Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair
Leonardo Padura, Man Who Loved Dogs
Jo Nesbo, Son
Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Marina
Jang Jin-Sung, Dear Leader: Poet, Spy, Escapee–A Look Inside North Korea
Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
Florencia Bonelli, Possession
David Van Reybrouck, Congo: The Epic History of a People
Florencia Bonelli, Passion
Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century
Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle: Book Three
Delphine De Vigan, Nothing Holds Back the Night
Jan-Philipp Sendker, Well-Tempered Heart
Mariusz Szczygiel, Gottland: Mostly True Stories from Half of Czechoslovakia
Camilla Lackberg, Hidden Child
Sarah Lark, Call of the Kiwi

2015

Elena Ferrante, Story of the Lost Child
Cixin Liu, Dark Forest
Saud Alsanousi, Bamboo Stalk
Jaume Cabre, Confessions
Ibrahim Nasrallah, Lanterns of the King of Galilee
David Lagercrantz, Girl in the Spider’s Web
Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle: Book Four
Tonke Dragt, Letter for the King
Irma Joubert, Girl from the Train
Eugene Vodolazkin, Laurus
Orhan Pamuk, Strangeness in My Mind
Isabel Allende, Japanese Lover
Pierre Lemaitre, Great Swindle
Oliver Potzsch, Werewolf of Bamberg
Etgar Keret, Seven Good Years
Andrus Kivirahk, Man Who Spoke Snakish
Leila Chudori, Home
Bernhard Hennen, Elven
Petra Durst-Benning, American Lady
Clarice Lispector, Complete Stories

2016

Cixin Liu, Death's End
Fredrik Backman, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer
Fredrik Backman, Britt-Marie Was Here
Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle: Book Five
Keigo Higashino, Under the Midnight Sun
Giuseppe Catozzella, Don't Tell Me You're Afraid
Benyamin, Goat Days
Samuel Bjork, I'm Traveling Alone
Arkady Strugatsky, Doomed City
David Foenkinos, Charlotte: A Novel
Parinoush Saniee, I Hid My Voice
Petra Durst-Benning, Champagne Queen
Sarah Lark, Toward the Sea of Freedom
Robert Seethaler, Whole Life
Yusuf Atilgan, Motherland Hotel
Armando Lucas Correa, German Girl
Paul Pen, Light of Fireflies
Petra Durst-Benning, While the World Is Still Asleep
Pierre Lemaitre, Blood Wedding
Han Kang, Vegetarian

2017

Fredrik Backman, Beartown
Sabahattin Ali, Madonna in a Fur Coat
Jo Nesbo, Thirst
Mustafa Khalifa, Shell: Memoirs of a Hidden Observer
Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Aranyak: Of the Forest
Mina Baites, Silver Music Box
Han Kang, Human Acts
Juan Villoro, Wild Book
Oliver Potzsch, Play of Death
Mariam Petrosyan, Gray House
Deon Meyer, Fever
Julia Drosten, Lioness of Morocco
Dee Lestari, Paper Boats
Boris Akunin, State Counsellor
Petra Durst-Benning, Queen of Beauty
Anais Barbeau-Lavalette, Suzanne
Hasan Ali Toptas, Shadowless
David Lagercrantz, Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye
Lena Manta, House by the River
Hendrik Groen, Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old

2018

Fredrik Backman, Us Against You
Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Labyrinth of the Spirits
Masaji Ishikawa, River in Darkness
Hiro Arikawa, Travelling Cat Chronicles
Lars Kepler, Sandman
Christelle Dabos, Winter’s Promise
Gael Faye, Small Country
Oliver Potzsch, Council of Twelve
Paolo Cognetti, Eight Mountains
Dolores Redondo, All This I Will Give to You
Carlo Rovelli, Order of Time
Karl Ove Knausgaard, Spring
Maria Parr, Astrid the Unstoppable
Haruki Murakami, Killing Commendatore
Antanas Skema, White Shroud
Andrzej Sapkowski, Season of Storms
Marina Dyachenko, Vita Nostra
Marc Levy, Last of the Stanfields
Sayaka Murata, Convenience Store Woman
Negar Djavadi, Disoriental

2019

Note: It’s only June, so there’s a lot of 2019 left.

Christelle Dabos, Missing of Clairdelune
Guzel Yakhina, Zuleikha
Benedict Wells, End of Loneliness
Sofia Segovia, Murmur of Bees
Magda Szabo, Abigail
Boris Akunin, Coronation
Marc Levy, Strange Journey of Alice Pendelbury
Donatella Di Pietrantonio, Girl Returned
Sofia Lundberg, Red Address Book
Alessandro D’Avenia, What Hell Is Not
Stephane Larue, Dishwasher
Han Kang, White Book
Susana Lopez Rubio, Price of Paradise
Linn Ullmann, Unquiet
Selahattin Demirtas, Dawn
Edouard Louis, Who Killed My Father
Samanta Schweblin, Mouthful of Birds
Hedi Fried, Questions I Am Asked About the Holocaust
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I’m Not Here to Give a Speech
Jonas Jonasson, Accidental Further Adventures of the 100-Year-Old Man

Board game rank change report for 2019Q1 and 2018Q4

Here are the titles advancing substantially in the top 500 this quarter at BGG–the usual caveats apply.

Fast, positive movers among 'Board games':
081 (+419) Wingspan
112 (+188) Architects of the West Kingdom
117 (+185) Teotihuacan: City of Gods
152 (+117) Chronicles of Crime
218 (+116) Coimbra
257 (+232) Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game
292 (+208) Nemesis
334 (+166) The Quacks of Quedlinburg
382 (+118) Western Legends
389 (+111) Gùgōng

Fast, positive movers among 'Strategy games':
054 (+446) Wingspan
248 (+252) Pax Renaissance
280 (+200) Newton
293 (+207) Dominion (Second Edition)

Fast, positive movers among 'War games':
126 (+374) Nexus Ops

Fast, positive movers among 'Family games':
015 (+485) Everdell
095 (+405) Exit: The Game – The Secret Lab
101 (+399) Web of Power
151 (+349) Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig
203 (+297) Fantasy Realms
278 (+222) Love Letter: The Hobbit – The Battle of the Five Armies
288 (+212) Railroad Ink: Blazing Red Edition
296 (+204) Treasure Island
297 (+203) Dice Hospital

Fast, positive movers among 'Collectible games':
031 (+469) Star Wars: X-Wing (Second Edition)
156 (+344) Halo ActionClix

Fast, positive movers among 'Thematic games':
030 (+470) BattleLore (Second Edition)
070 (+430) Arcadia Quest: Inferno
093 (+407) Too Many Bones: Undertow
140 (+360) Adrenaline
150 (+350) Unlock! Squeek & Sausage
266 (+234) Claustrophobia 1643
278 (+222) Frostgrave
282 (+218) Kepler-3042
300 (+200) Legacy: Gears of Time

Also, here’s a report on Q4–my earlier report covered an irregular span of time:

Fast, positive movers among 'Board games':
034 (+153) Brass: Birmingham
222 (+278) Endeavor: Age of Sail
235 (+265) KeyForge: Call of the Archons
236 (+232) Everdell
249 (+133) Decrypto
260 (+240) Welcome To...
269 (+231) Chronicles of Crime
300 (+200) Architects of the West Kingdom
302 (+198) Teotihuacan: City of Gods
307 (+160) Ganz schön clever
334 (+166) Coimbra

Fast, positive movers among 'Strategy games':
113 (+387) Endeavor: Age of Sail
139 (+361) Teotihuacan: City of Gods
158 (+342) Architects of the West Kingdom
173 (+327) Coimbra

Fast, positive movers among 'War games':
102 (+398) Quartermaster General
217 (+283) Diplomacy

Fast, positive movers among 'Family games':
111 (+389) Gizmos
131 (+369) Reef
141 (+359) Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra
170 (+330) Kitchen Rush
178 (+322) Cryptid
200 (+211) My Little Scythe
253 (+247) Ticket to Ride: New York
296 (+204) Railroad Ink: Deep Blue Edition
297 (+203) Unlock! The House on the Hill

Fast, positive movers among 'Collectible games':
006 (+494) KeyForge: Call of the Archons
211 (+289) Hatalom Kártyái Kártyajáték

Fast, positive movers among 'Thematic games':
029 (+471) Dinosaur Island
040 (+460) Chronicles of Crime
141 (+357) Nemesis
158 (+342) Kitchen Rush
166 (+334) Arkham Horror (Third Edition)
190 (+310) AuZtralia
242 (+258) Unlock! The House on the Hill
247 (+253) Betrayal Legacy
259 (+241) Deep Madness
265 (+235) Betrayal at Baldur's Gate
271 (+229) Sub Terra

Board game rank change report for Q3 + most of 2018

It’s time once again for a round-up of games that have become especially popular at BGG over the past year. But first, here’s a belated report on what games showed the most positive movement in rank between 6/30/2018 and 9/30/2018.

Fast, positive movers among 'Board games':
180 (+320) Root
187 (+313) Brass: Birmingham
349 (+140) Century: Golem Edition
382 (+118) Decrypto

Fast, positive movers among 'Strategy games':
068 (+432) Brass: Birmingham
091 (+409) Root
249 (+251) Everdell

Fast, positive movers among 'War games':
034 (+466) Root
040 (+460) Wir sind das Volk!
253 (+247) Cataclysm: A Second World War
292 (+208) Skies Above the Reich
300 (+200) Gaslands

Fast, positive movers among 'Family games':
024 (+476) Evolution: Climate
099 (+401) Welcome To...
123 (+377) Century: Eastern Wonders
126 (+374) Ex Libris
199 (+301) Jump Drive
250 (+250) Odin's Ravens (Second Edition)
297 (+203) Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft

Fast, positive movers among 'Collectible games':
045 (+455) Aristeia!

Fast, positive movers among 'Thematic games':
127 (+373) Zombicide: Green Horde
132 (+368) Witness
138 (+362) Wasteland Express Delivery Service
164 (+336) The Big Book of Madness
187 (+313) Dragonfire
195 (+305) Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game
292 (+208) Western Legends
297 (+203) The World of SMOG: Rise of Moloch

And here’s a report on what happened across most of 2018 (1/22 to 12/8):

Fast, positive movers among 'Board games':
015 (+103) Twilight Imperium (Fourth Edition)
021 (+165) Spirit Island
041 (+459) Brass: Birmingham
051 (+449) Rising Sun
093 (+101) Agricola (Revised Edition)
103 (+100) Raiders of the North Sea
106 (+394) Root
138 (+285) Clank! In! Space!
162 (+140) This War of Mine: The Board Game
178 (+159) Too Many Bones
189 (+311) Dinosaur Island
219 (+281) Rajas of the Ganges
238 (+164) Roll Player
244 (+138) Flamme Rouge
249 (+105) Hanamikoji
256 (+244) Everdell
270 (+230) Pulsar 2849
283 (+217) Decrypto
285 (+215) Welcome To...
301 (+199) KeyForge: Call of the Archons
303 (+197) The Quest for El Dorado
304 (+196) Century: Golem Edition
305 (+131) Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures
307 (+193) Mythic Battles: Pantheon
320 (+125) Bärenpark
322 (+126) Photosynthesis
339 (+161) Altiplano
342 (+158) Heaven & Ale
344 (+138) The Godfather: Corleone's Empire
346 (+154) Ganz schön clever
354 (+146) Lords of Hellas
366 (+134) Endeavor: Age of Sail
380 (+120) Aeon's End: War Eternal
386 (+114) Santa Maria

Fast, positive movers among 'Strategy games':
014 (+486) Brass: Birmingham
041 (+459) Rising Sun
063 (+437) Root
119 (+381) Dinosaur Island
128 (+204) Rajas of the Ganges
143 (+357) Evolution: Climate
146 (+354) Pulsar 2849
149 (+351) Everdell
171 (+329) Endeavor: Age of Sail
184 (+316) Aeon's End: War Eternal
191 (+309) Heaven & Ale
195 (+305) Altiplano
196 (+304) Century: Golem Edition
198 (+302) Lords of Hellas
203 (+297) Coimbra
205 (+295) Teotihuacan: City of Gods
207 (+293) Santa Maria
253 (+238) London (second edition)
263 (+237) The Fox in the Forest
272 (+228) Exit: The Game – The Pharaoh's Tomb
296 (+204) Thunderstone Quest

Fast, positive movers among 'War games':
002 (+498) War of the Ring (Second Edition)
018 (+482) War of the Ring (First Edition)
032 (+468) Root
039 (+461) Hannibal & Hamilcar
106 (+394) Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain
111 (+389) Here I Stand (500th Anniversary Reprint Edition)
189 (+311) Cataclysm: A Second World War
194 (+306) Skies Above the Reich
218 (+282) Diplomacy
229 (+271) Great War Commander
245 (+255) Gaslands

Fast, positive movers among 'Family games':
014 (+486) Exit: The Game – The Abandoned Cabin
025 (+475) Welcome To...
037 (+463) Ganz schön clever
096 (+404) Century: Eastern Wonders
109 (+391) Dragon Castle
118 (+382) Ex Libris
125 (+375) The Mind
131 (+369) Stuffed Fables
148 (+352) Majesty: For the Realm
150 (+350) Rhino Hero: Super Battle
153 (+347) Reef
172 (+328) Kitchen Rush
173 (+327) Space Base
179 (+321) Hardback
182 (+318) The Grimm Forest
192 (+308) Istanbul: The Dice Game
198 (+302) The Quacks of Quedlinburg
241 (+259) My Little Scythe
250 (+250) Cat Lady
251 (+249) Odin's Ravens (Second Edition)
273 (+227) Ticket to Ride: New York
276 (+224) Noch mal!
280 (+220) Palm Island
281 (+219) Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra
298 (+202) The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game

Fast, positive movers among 'Collectible games':
006 (+494) KeyForge: Call of the Archons
030 (+470) Star Wars: Legion
038 (+462) Aristeia!
211 (+289) Hatalom Kártyái Kártyajáték

Fast, positive movers among 'Thematic games':
036 (+464) Dinosaur Island
071 (+429) Chronicles of Crime
072 (+428) The Godfather: Corleone's Empire
079 (+421) Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game
113 (+387) Western Legends
116 (+384) Exit: The Game – The Secret Lab
118 (+382) Zombicide: Green Horde
134 (+366) Witness
136 (+364) Stuffed Fables
138 (+362) Wasteland Express Delivery Service
161 (+339) Kitchen Rush
168 (+332) The Big Book of Madness
170 (+330) High Frontier (Third Edition)
178 (+322) Legacy of Dragonholt
186 (+314) Dragonfire
197 (+303) The City of Kings
205 (+295) Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Wrath of the Righteous – Base Set
213 (+287) Arkham Horror (Third Edition)
214 (+286) AuZtralia
236 (+264) John Company
240 (+260) Tiny Epic Zombies
243 (+257) Unlock! The House on the Hill
265 (+235) Deep Madness
274 (+226) The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game
275 (+225) Sub Terra
283 (+217) Gaslands
288 (+212) The World of SMOG: Rise of Moloch
291 (+209) Bios: Megafauna (Second Edition)
299 (+201) Hunt for the Ring

Fast-growing Fandoms: An Initial Look

Two weeks ago, I took a snapshot of entry counts for each tag on the fandoms page at Archive of Our Own, hoping to eventually get a sense of which fandoms were growing fastest. Comparing that data with the entry counts on the site today, I think it might be possible to understand which fandoms are growing most quickly.

Unfortunately, a simple count of how many times each fandom’s tag was used is going to be imperfect—maybe much more misleading than my BoardGameGeek reports. Evidently, AO3 tag counts can fluctuate quite a bit: their names can change; tags can reportedly be reclassified such that their new parent tags suddenly get credit for existing entries; and the archive accepts mass uploads of fanfic from old repositories / personal collections such that work written long ago can suddenly show up as if it were new.

Still, it’s something. I’ll start with the top 25 fandoms by a raw count of new entries appearing in the past two weeks:

∆       %∆      Total   Fandom
----    -----   ------  ------
3218	0.023	143559	K-pop
3105	0.013	241238	Marvel
2792	0.013	220048	Marvel Cinematic Universe
1619	0.038	44004	Voltron: Legendary Defender
1572	0.026	62339	방탄소년단 | Bangtan Boys | BTS
1278	0.063	21405	僕のヒーローアカデミア | Boku no Hero Academia | My Hero Academia
1263	0.008	167506	Real Person Fiction
1249	1.892	1909	Detroit: Become Human (Video Game)
1215	0.01	118844	The Avengers - Ambiguous Fandom
1214	0.011	115916	The Avengers (Marvel) - All Media Types
1185	1185.0	1186	Metalocalypse (Cartoon)
1116	0.007	169996	Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling
1034	0.009	116772	DCU
1011	0.01	98215	The Avengers (Marvel Movies)
936	0.005	184710	Supernatural
715	0.01	72436	Star Wars - All Media Types
706	0.017	42992	Original Work
607	0.009	65714	Captain America - All Media Types
568	0.098	6376	Firefly
557	0.01	58797	Captain America (Movies)
498	0.005	93744	Teen Wolf (TV)
462	0.034	13870	Spider-Man - All Media Types
451	0.004	113953	Sherlock Holmes & Related Fandoms
423	0.072	6285	NCT (Band)
397	0.013	30213	Final Fantasy

Honestly, the most surprising items are things like Firefly, the tag count for which has likely been skewed by one of the factors I mentioned above. Only Detroit: Become Human pops out as the kind of fast-growing category I’m sure I’m looking for (though I have doubts about the game itself). So a raw count of new entries is probably not very helpful for discovering newly popular / fast-growing fandoms.

So here’s a list of every fandom that had more than 25 new entries in the past two weeks, that grew by more than 4.0%, and that had more existing entries two weeks ago than it has gained in the past two weeks (a criterion that will eliminate things that are really too new to judge; for example, assuming it has real growth potential, I’ll have to catch Detroit: Become Human next time, because it’s more important to weed out name changes and weed out percent changes that only seem large because the population is too small):

Total   ∆       %∆      Fandom
-----   ----    -----   ------
21405	1278	0.063	僕のヒーローアカデミア | Boku no Hero Academia | My Hero Academia
6820	298	0.046	Dungeons & Dragons - All Media Types
6376	568	0.098	Firefly
6285	423	0.072	NCT (Band)
4936	365	0.08	Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
4637	256	0.058	Critical Role (Web Series)
3999	181	0.047	New Dangan Ronpa V3: Everyone's New Semester of Killing
3245	255	0.085	Sanders Sides (Web Series)
3211	174	0.057	全职高手 - 蝴蝶蓝 | Quánzhí Gāoshǒu - Húdié Lán
2068	104	0.053	Black Panther (2018)
2061	105	0.054	Figure Skating RPF
1508	91	0.064	Doctor Strange (2016)
1449	65	0.047	Buzzfeed Unsolved (Web Series)
1329	94	0.076	Bendy and the Ink Machine
1307	51	0.041	RuPaul's Drag Race RPF
1116	90	0.088	Far Cry (Video Games)
1104	83	0.081	Timeless (TV 2016)
1093	75	0.074	Stray Kids (Band)
1006	148	0.172	偶像练习生 | Idol Producer (TV)
955	66	0.074	Deadpool (Movieverse)
889	49	0.058	Fire Emblem Heroes
833	45	0.057	MacGyver (TV 2016)
772	46	0.063	Fate/Grand Order
753	30	0.041	Falsettos - Lapine/Finn
724	49	0.073	Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli
676	52	0.083	The Arcana (Visual Novel)
671	48	0.077	Disney Duck Universe
663	43	0.069	13 Reasons Why (TV)
633	38	0.064	Doki Doki Literature Club! (Visual Novel)
633	38	0.064	Call Me By Your Name - All Media Types
583	36	0.066	The Worst Witch - All Media Types
570	85	0.175	Far Cry 5
539	45	0.091	Love Simon (2018)
531	52	0.109	Trollhunters (Cartoon)
517	28	0.057	龍が如く | Ryuu ga Gotoku | Yakuza (Video Games)
511	31	0.065	Call Me By Your Name (2017)
497	114	0.298	NINE PERCENT (Band)
481	36	0.081	The Worst Witch (TV 2017)
441	99	0.289	Ocean's (Movies)
409	30	0.079	Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu | Legend of the Galactic Heroes
399	62	0.184	Splatoon
374	27	0.078	Humans (TV)
369	38	0.115	DuckTales (Cartoon 2017)
361	43	0.135	BanG Dream! Girl's Band Party! (Video Game)
304	34	0.126	Granblue Fantasy (Video Game)
295	56	0.234	凹凸世界 | AOTU Shijie | AOTU World
293	28	0.106	Eurovision Song Contest RPF
265	27	0.113	Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
245	41	0.201	The Incredibles (2004)
193	45	0.304	Flight Rising
179	34	0.234	Garrison's Gorillas
121	30	0.33	HiGH&LOW: the Story of S.W.O.R.D. (TV)

I’m not positive this is the best way to look at the data, but there sure are plenty of things here I’ve never heard of and would like to know more about.

Board game rank change report for 2018Q2

Here’s an update on what games have advanced in the rankings recently at BoardGameGeek.

Fast, positive movers among 'Board games':
339 (+104) Rajas of the Ganges

Fast, positive movers among 'Strategy games':
272 (+206) Century: Golem Edition

Fast, positive movers among 'War games':
018 (+482) War of the Ring (First Edition)
098 (+332) Hannibal & Hamilcar
265 (+235) Here I Stand (500th Anniversary Reprint Edition)

Fast, positive movers among 'Family games':
015 (+485) Exit: The Game – The Abandoned Cabin
160 (+340) The Mind
176 (+324) Ganz schön clever
182 (+223) Dragon Castle
219 (+281) The Grimm Forest
297 (+203) Cat Lady

Fast, positive movers among 'Collectible games':
034 (+466) Star Wars: Legion

Fast, positive movers among 'Thematic games':
074 (+426) The Godfather: Corleone's Empire
119 (+381) Exit: The Game – The Secret Lab
194 (+306) The City of Kings
270 (+230) The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game

Analysis of SF/F Movie Data

Looking back on a number of metrics associated with the 253 feature-length science fiction, fantasy, or supernatural horror films I’ve seen from the years 2011-2015, I don’t find too much of interest, but an uninteresting result is still something. It’s not bad to have empirical evidence for what you might have guessed, and if you look at something closely enough for long enough, you come out the other side of uninteresting and enter a tiny world of nerdy fun.

Correlations among metrics

First, a matrix of correlation coefficients based on data from multiple sources:

                     A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I    J    K
                     ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
A: My rating         1    0.98 0.15 0.38 0.23 0.34 0.15 0.38 0.27 0.2  0.33 
B: My retro rating   0.98 1    0.15 0.39 0.23 0.37 0.14 0.39 0.29 0.23 0.35
C: IMDb votes        0.15 0.15 1    0.46 0.94 0.22 0.81 0.43 0.1  0.17 0.24 
D: IMDb rating       0.38 0.39 0.46 1    0.48 0.77 0.32 0.86 0.55 0.55 0.75 
E: Letterboxd votes  0.23 0.23 0.94 0.48 1    0.34 0.71 0.47 0.22 0.33 0.35 
F: Letterboxd rating 0.34 0.37 0.22 0.77 0.34 1    0.06 0.72 0.77 0.8  0.86 
G: RT votes          0.15 0.14 0.81 0.32 0.71 0.06 1    0.33 0.05 0.05 0.15 
H: RT user rating    0.38 0.39 0.43 0.86 0.47 0.72 0.33 1    0.65 0.55 0.79 
I: RT crit. rating   0.27 0.29 0.1  0.55 0.22 0.77 0.05 0.65 1    0.87 0.96 
J: Metacritic rating 0.2  0.23 0.17 0.55 0.33 0.8  0.05 0.55 0.87 1    0.87 
K: IMDb * RT crit    0.33 0.35 0.24 0.75 0.35 0.86 0.15 0.79 0.96 0.87 1 

As a basic explanation of what’s going on here, every available set of metrics has been compared with every other. For the sake of space, the column labels have been simplified to letters that correspond to the letters beside the row labels. “My rating” is the collection of scores I gave each film at the time I watched it. Evidently I held my marks: I didn’t give out a single “10.” I also never changed a rating, so the “My rating” metric is not colored by rosy retrospection. But in view of the fact that my opinions did evolve a little over time, I built a “retro rating” metric by awarding a one-point bonus to every film noted in my previous “Movie Favorites: SF/F/H 2011-2015” post. Most other data sources should be transparently intelligible, except for row/column K, which is based on multiplying the IMDb user rating and RT critic ratings together—a metric I’ve used in some earlier data mining posts about movies.

Unsurprisingly, my judgments line up best with those of other users at IMDb, RT, and (to a slightly lesser extent) Letterboxd. It’s only a moderate correlation, but aggregate ratings from critics have even weaker correlations with my scores.

Optimal movie selection

Looking only at the 40 feature-length films I eventually designated as favorites, here are the minimum scores they achieved:

IMDb        6.0+
Letterboxd  2.7+
RT user     43%+
RT critic   32%+
Metacritic  41+

If I’d known this in advance, I could have skipped 29 out of 253 films without missing out on any favorites. That is to say, if I had insisted sort of compulsively that everything I watch have at least the scores above, I could have achieved a 40/224 favorite-to-watched ratio. But if I’d been interested in a compromise—discovering fewer favorites but also watching far fewer films I didn’t enjoy—what criteria would have yielded better ratios? To answer that question, I wrote a script to cycle through random threshold values for all five metrics and find a set of scores yielding a good ratio for each number of favorites:

                  IMDb   Let.    RT u.  RT c.  Meta
40/224 (17.9%)    6      2.7     43     32     41
39/207 (18.8%)    6      2.7     43     58     43
38/166 (22.9%)    6.3    3.1     55     42     41
37/150 (24.7%)    6.4    3.1     61     39     44
36/132 (27.3%)    6.3    3.3     48     68     45
35/127 (27.6%)    6.3    3.3     60     68     41
34/118 (28.8%)    6      3.35    53     68     46
33/114 (28.9%)    6.4    3.35    61     66     45
32/101 (31.7%)    6.1    3.4     52     67     48
31/95  (32.6%)    6.2    3.4     61     68     42
30/88  (34.1%)    6.3    3.45    46     68     41
29/85  (34.1%)    6      3.45    61     47     42
28/78  (35.9%)    6.4    3.4     73     67     43
27/70  (38.6%)    6.1    3.45    73     68     41
26/67  (38.8%)    6.1    3.4     60     88     60
25/59  (42.4%)    6.5    3.45    60     89     46
24/56  (42.9%)    6      3.35    73     89     62
23/50  (46.0%)    6.1    3.45    73     89     44
22/48  (45.8%)    6.4    3.45    73     89     68
21/41  (51.2%)    6.8    3.45    46     92     41
20/35  (57.1%)    6.8    3.65    56     89     60

My script in fact yielded much more data, showing each ratio it preferred over the next, and one very slow version of the script deterministically ran through every possible value for every metric. But the “random walk” version converged on similar results much more quickly.

My conclusions are a little impressionistic. Aiming at a ~33-34% favorite-to-total ratio “feels” about right. Ratios above 38% require very high RT critic ratings, perhaps limiting a viewer to a steady diet of blockbusters and children’s movies. Surprisingly, Metacritic and IMDb scores don’t seem very crucial in these results: they often return to their start values as the ratios improve, suggesting some Letterboxd or RT user rating might have served about as well. So I suspect I could find favorites more easily in the future by selecting only SF/F films that have a Letterboxd rating of 3.4+, an RT user approval rating of 61% or above, and an RT critic rating of 68% or above. I mean, I doubt I’ll do much with the information—movies that don’t turn out to be favorites can still be fun, etc.—but it was an engaging puzzle to work through.