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.

Board game rank change report for 2018Q1

Here’s an update on what games have moved up a lot recently at BoardGameGeek. The dates covered by the data are actually 11/17/2017-03/31/2018—a bit more than 2018Q1, but close enough for this purpose.

Fast, positive movers among 'Board games':
018 (+482) Gaia Project
037 (+344) Pandemic Legacy: Season 2
044 (+456) Twilight Imperium: Fourth Edition
061 (+439) Azul
063 (+348) Spirit Island
065 (+143) Clans of Caledonia
078 (+422) Rising Sun
098 (+402) Charterstone
128 (+242) Codenames Duet
141 (+131) Lisboa
174 (+115) Sagrada
195 (+305) This War of Mine: The Board Game
216 (+119) Exit: The Game – The Abandoned Cabin
252 (+248) Clank! In! Space!
343 (+117) Flamme Rouge
344 (+156) Dinosaur Island
355 (+145) Photosynthesis
359 (+106) Dice Forge
367 (+122) Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures
400 (+100) Mythic Battles: Pantheon

Fast, positive movers among 'Strategy games':
006 (+494) Star Wars: Rebellion
008 (+245) Gaia Project
015 (+485) Pandemic Legacy: Season 2
025 (+475) Twilight Imperium: Fourth Edition
054 (+446) Rising Sun
059 (+441) Charterstone
137 (+363) Clank! In! Space!
186 (+314) Dinosaur Island
211 (+289) Mythic Battles: Pantheon
225 (+275) Rajas of the Ganges
299 (+201) Pulsar 2849

Fast, positive movers among 'War games':
002 (+498) War of the Ring (Second Edition)
209 (+210) Holland '44: Operation Market-Garden
224 (+276) Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain

Fast, positive movers among 'Family games':
084 (+416) Queendomino
115 (+385) Bunny Kingdom
139 (+361) The Fox in the Forest
171 (+329) Majesty: For the Realm
208 (+292) Rhino Hero: Super Battle
228 (+272) Meeple Circus
256 (+244) Viral
262 (+238) Stuffed Fables

Fast, positive movers among 'Collectible games':
032 (+468) Dungeon Command: Curse of Undeath
034 (+466) Dungeon Command: Blood of Gruumsh
038 (+462) Dungeon Command: Tyranny of Goblins
039 (+461) Dungeon Command: Heart of Cormyr
041 (+459) Pixel Tactics 2
042 (+458) Dungeon Command: Sting of Lolth
134 (+366) Romance of the Nine Empires

Fast, positive movers among 'Thematic games':
005 (+495) Pandemic Legacy: Season 2
029 (+471) Captain Sonar
038 (+462) Exit: The Game – The Abandoned Cabin
087 (+413) Flamme Rouge
090 (+410) Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
167 (+333) High Frontier (3rd edition)
174 (+326) Fire & Axe: A Viking Saga
181 (+319) Fog of Love
188 (+312) Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Wrath of the Righteous – Base Set
195 (+305) Fallout
199 (+301) Stuffed Fables
204 (+296) DOOM: The Board Game
227 (+273) Whitehall Mystery
231 (+269) Legacy of Dragonholt

Popular SF/F/H Books of 2017

Although there’s still almost a month left in 2017, at least ten different sources have already selected their best SF/F of the year. File 770 has also posted a round-up of the year’s novellas. The SFWA has dozens of novels on the suggested reading list for Nebula voters, and the SPFBO project currently has one finalist that was published in 2017. Combining all those sources with the lists of new books posted at Locus and the new book lists posted at The Verge (including the list for December), I arrived at a list of over 700 probably Hugo-eligible titles that have ratings at Goodreads. For each title, I expressed the Goodreads rating as a percentage, squared it, and multiplied it by the log of the number of people who’ve rated the book, generating a single popularity score used to sort the lists below. This is obviously a little unfair to books that are just now coming out. I’ve also categorized the results in other ways that may be unfair:

  • I’ve removed around two dozen “general fiction” titles when I have trouble imagining recommending them on the basis of their SF/F content. For example, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders rated very highly. In spite of its Booker Prize win this year, I don’t think any SF/F blog I read has even mentioned it, and although that could be a blind spot of my own, I suspect the way the story is put together limits its appeal to genre readers. Incidentally, I think the same author’s short story “Escape from Spiderhead” is one of the best works of SF/F that I’ve ever read.
  • I’ve classified around 125 books as “young adult,” but this is often a judgment call, and I’ve neglected to distinguish middle grade from YA. To decide whether a book was aimed at younger readers, I relied in part on whether the book was shelved as young-adult at Goodreads and in part on what reviews said there about the content.
  • I’ve separated standalone and “starting-point” novels from sequels that assume knowledge of the series. What counts as a standalone or starting-point novel is debateable, and although I’ve consulted reader reviews, it isn’t always clear.
  • Finally, although I did initially look at distinguishing urban fantasy and horror from SF/F, there really weren’t enough examples of them among non-YA standalone / starting-point novels to worry about. There were well over 50 urban fantasy sequels, but only around 30 standalone or series-starting urban fantasies, most of which did not rate very well. So relatively few appear on the lists below.

Top 125 standalone or starting-point books (non-YA)

  1. Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology
  2. Mark Lawrence, Red Sister
  3. Katherine Arden, The Bear and the Nightingale
  4. Nicholas Eames, Kings of the Wyld
  5. E. William Brown, Perilous Waif
  6. John Scalzi, The Collapsing Empire
  7. Andrew Rowe, Sufficiently Advanced Magic
  8. Martha Wells, All Systems Red
  9. Naomi Alderman, The Power
  10. Brandon Sanderson, Snapshot
  11. Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland, The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.
  12. Jeff VanderMeer, Borne
  13. Omar El Akkad, American War
  14. Stephen King and Owen King, Sleeping Beauties
  15. Austin Chant, Peter Darling
  16. Daryl Gregory, Spoonbenders
  17. Andy Weir, Artemis
  18. S.A. Chakraborty, The City of Brass
  19. Catherynne M. Valente (with illustrations by Annie Wu), The Refrigerator Monologues
  20. Joe Hill, Strange Weather
  21. Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties
  22. Daniel Suarez, Change Agent
  23. Ed McDonald, Blackwing
  24. Mira Grant, Into the Drowning Deep
  25. Ann Leckie, Provenance
  26. Natasha Pulley, The Bedlam Stacks
  27. Marcus Sakey, Afterlife
  28. Mur Lafferty, Six Wakes
  29. Michael Poore, Reincarnation Blues
  30. Seanan McGuire, Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day
  31. Victor LaValle, The Changeling
  32. C. Robert Cargill, Sea of Rust
  33. Kevin Hearne, A Plague of Giants
  34. Theodora Goss, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter
  35. Cory Doctorow, Walkaway
  36. Jaroslav Kalfar, Spaceman of Bohemia
  37. Kathleen A Flynn, The Jane Austen Project
  38. Ellen Klages, Passing Strange
  39. Rob Reid, After On
  40. Lara Elena Donnelly, Amberlough
  41. Kameron Hurley, The Stars Are Legion
  42. Linda Nagata, The Last Good Man
  43. Edgar Cantero, Meddling Kids
  44. Kory Shrum, Shadows in the Water
  45. Rivers Solomon, An Unkindness of Ghosts
  46. Vivian Shaw, Strange Practice
  47. Robyn Bennis, The Guns Above
  48. Kim Stanley Robinson, New York 2140
  49. Jim C. Hines, Terminal Alliance
  50. JY Yang, The Black Tides of Heaven
  51. Curtis Craddock, An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors
  52. Dan Moren, The Caledonian Gambit
  53. Nicky Drayden, The Prey of Gods
  54. Peter S. Beagle, In Calabria
  55. Daniel H. Wilson, The Clockwork Dynasty
  56. Kat Howard, An Unkindness of Magicians
  57. Caitlín R. Kiernan, Agents of Dreamland
  58. Ruthanna Emrys, Winter Tide
  59. Karin Tidbeck, Amatka
  60. Annalee Newitz, Autonomous
  61. D.J. Butler, Witchy Eye
  62. Angus Watson, You Die When You Die
  63. Sarah Gailey, River of Teeth
  64. Jeremy Robert Johnson, Entropy in Bloom
  65. Mira Grant, Final Girls
  66. Jacqueline Carey, Miranda and Caliban
  67. Alex Wells, Hunger Makes the Wolf
  68. Hugh Howey, Machine Learning: New and Collected Stories
  69. Pajtim Statovci, My Cat Yugoslavia
  70. Ann Claycomb, The Mermaid’s Daughter
  71. Zachary Mason, Void Star
  72. Tade Thompson, The Murders of Molly Southbourne
  73. Tom Merritt, Pilot X
  74. Silvia Moreno-Garcia, The Beautiful Ones
  75. Michael Johnston, Soleri
  76. Anna Stephens, Godblind
  77. Marina J. Lostetter, Noumenon
  78. Naomi Kritzer, Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories
  79. Elizabeth Bear, The Stone in the Skull
  80. Tom Holt, The Management Style of the Supreme Beings
  81. Corey J. White, Killing Gravity
  82. Scott Oden, A Gathering of Ravens
  83. Tim Pratt, The Wrong Stars
  84. Tracy Townsend, The Nine
  85. Sofia Samatar, Tender: Stories
  86. Dave Hutchinson, Acadie
  87. Daniel Kehlmann (translated by Ross Benjamin), You Should Have Left
  88. Gregory Benford, The Berlin Project
  89. Giorgio de Maria (translated by Ramon Glazov), The Twenty Days of Turin
  90. Stephen Graham Jones, Mapping the Interior
  91. Spencer Ellsworth, Starfire: A Red Peace
  92. Fonda Lee, Jade City
  93. David Drake, The Spark
  94. Orson Scott Card, Children of the Fleet
  95. Frank Chadwick, Chain of Command
  96. David Walton, The Genius Plague
  97. Angela Roquet, Blood Vice
  98. Marshall Ryan Maresca, The Holver Alley Crew
  99. James Brogden, Hekla’s Children
  100. K.J. Parker, Mightier Than the Sword
  101. Carrie Vaughn, Bannerless
  102. J-F Dubeau, A God in the Shed
  103. Charlie Jane Anders, Six Months, Three Days, Five Others
  104. Walter Jon Williams, Quillifer
  105. Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin (eds.), The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories
  106. Emma Newman, Brother’s Ruin
  107. John Crowley, Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr
  108. Molly Tanzer, Creatures of Will and Temper
  109. John Kessel, The Moon and the Other
  110. Paul Cornell, Chalk
  111. Chris Sharp, Cold Counsel
  112. Cherie Priest, Brimstone
  113. Dale Lucas, First Watch
  114. Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton (eds.), Haunted Nights
  115. Gardner Dozois (ed.), The Book of Swords
  116. Jeannette Ng, Under the Pendulum Sun
  117. Brad Abraham, Magicians Impossible
  118. Margaret Killjoy, The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion
  119. Christopher Golden, Ararat
  120. Tim Lebbon, Relics
  121. Maggie Shen King, An Excess Male
  122. Anna Smith Spark, The Court of Broken Knives
  123. Steve Erickson, Shadowbahn
  124. Anne Corlett, The Space Between the Stars
  125. Joseph Brassey, Skyfarer

Top 25 sequels (non-YA)

  1. Robin Hobb, Assassin’s Fate
  2. Brandon Sanderson, Oathbringer
  3. Ilona Andrews, White Hot
  4. Ilona Andrews, Wildfire
  5. V.E. Schwab, A Conjuring of Light
  6. Patricia Briggs, Silence Fallen
  7. N.K. Jemisin, The Stone Sky
  8. Karen Marie Moning, Feversong
  9. Dennis Taylor, All These Worlds
  10. Anne Bishop, Etched in Bone
  11. Brian McClellan, Sins of Empire
  12. Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Miracles
  13. Faith Hunter, Cold Reign
  14. Marko Kloos, Fields of Fire
  15. Jodi Taylor, And the Rest is History
  16. Michael J. Sullivan, Age of Swords
  17. Sylvain Neuvel, Waking Gods
  18. Seanan McGuire, The Brightest Fell
  19. Peter V. Brett, The Core
  20. Alice Hoffman, The Rules of Magic
  21. Benedict Jacka, Bound
  22. John Connolly, A Game of Ghosts
  23. Nnedi Okorafor, Home
  24. Glynn Stewart, Duchess of Terra
  25. Diana Gabaldon, Seven Stones to Stand or Fall

Top 25 YA standalone or starting-point books

  1. Laini Taylor, Strange the Dreamer
  2. Marie Lu, Warcross
  3. Stephanie Garber, Caraval
  4. Sarah Rees Brennan, In Other Lands
  5. Pittacus Lore, Generation One
  6. Christina Henry, Lost Boy
  7. Claudia Gray, Defy the Stars
  8. Emily R. King, The Hundredth Queen
  9. Veronica Roth, Carve the Mark
  10. Ibi Zoboi, American Street
  11. Wen Spencer, The Black Wolves of Boston
  12. Lisa Maxwell, The Last Magician
  13. Maggie Stiefvater, All the Crooked Saints
  14. Alastair Reynolds, Revenger
  15. S. Jae-Jones, Wintersong
  16. Ryan Graudin, Invictus
  17. Julie C. Dao, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
  18. Garth Nix, Frogkisser!
  19. Kelley Armstrong, Missing
  20. Vic James, Gilded Cage
  21. Jennifer Trafton (with illustrations by Benjamin Schipper), Henry and the Chalk Dragon
  22. Cindy Pon, Want
  23. Elle Katharine White, Heartstone
  24. Laurie Forest, The Black Witch
  25. Jodi Meadows, Before She Ignites

Top 25 YA sequels

  1. Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Wings and Ruin
  2. Cassandra Clare, Lord of Shadows
  3. Sarah J. Maas, Tower of Dawn
  4. Jay Kristoff, Godsgrave
  5. Philip Pullman, The Book of Dust
  6. V.E. Schwab, Our Dark Duet
  7. Victoria Aveyard, King’s Cage
  8. Seanan McGuire, Down Among the Sticks and Bones
  9. Megan Whalen Turner, Thick as Thieves
  10. Susan Dennard, Windwitch
  11. Elizabeth May, The Fallen Kingdom
  12. Alison Goodman, The Dark Days Pact
  13. Libba Bray, Before the Devil Breaks You
  14. Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, The Silver Mask
  15. Rachel Caine, Ash and Quill
  16. Mercedes Lackey, Apex
  17. Scott Sigler, Alone
  18. Nnedi Okorafor, Akata Warrior
  19. April Daniels, Sovereign
  20. Dan Wells, Nothing Left to Lose
  21. Isaac Marion, The Burning World
  22. Sarah Beth Durst, The Reluctant Queen
  23. Arwen Elys Dayton, Disruptor
  24. Kathleen Baldwin, Refuge for Masterminds
  25. Kate Elliott, Buried Heart

Board game rank change report for Black Friday 2017

Once again, I’ve run a special Black Friday report to find out what games advanced the most in BoardGameGeek rankings over (roughly) the past year. This year, the report compares data from 01/01/2017 with that from 11/24/2017. My other data points from this year are dated 06/01, 08/24, and 10/01, so I missed several quarterly reports in 2017, but I have the opportunity to get back on track for Q4.

Fast, positive movers among 'Board games':
002 (+498) Gloomhaven
040 (+460) The 7th Continent
055 (+445) Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
066 (+434) Santorini
092 (+129) Captain Sonar
105 (+395) Anachrony
108 (+392) Pandemic Iberia
122 (+378) Yokohama
132 (+140) Champions of Midgard
141 (+152) Sushi Go Party!
143 (+357) Inis
145 (+246) Dead of Winter: The Long Night
180 (+137) Onitama
184 (+134) Star Realms: Colony Wars
201 (+122) Burgle Bros.
202 (+298) Kingdomino
205 (+229) Secret Hitler
206 (+294) The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire
208 (+292) Clans of Caledonia
210 (+290) Hero Realms
214 (+286) Near and Far
222 (+278) Lorenzo il Magnifico
233 (+267) Raiders of the North Sea
235 (+265) Agricola (revised edition)
250 (+250) Century: Spice Road
254 (+246) Evolution: Climate
255 (+245) Vinhos Deluxe Edition
256 (+171) 51st State: Master Set
263 (+237) Star Wars: Destiny
272 (+228) Lisboa
275 (+103) Millennium Blades
283 (+217) Aeon's End
289 (+211) Sagrada
304 (+196) Tyrants of the Underdark
314 (+159) Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu
324 (+176) The Colonists
325 (+175) Ethnos
329 (+171) Smash Up: Awesome Level 9000
335 (+165) Exit: The Game – The Abandoned Cabin
338 (+134) Imhotep
346 (+154) Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
347 (+153) Conan
348 (+152) The Great Zimbabwe
350 (+150) One Night Ultimate Werewolf Daybreak
357 (+143) First Class
370 (+130) Codenames Duet
381 (+119) Pandemic Legacy: Season 2
384 (+116) Too Many Bones

Fast, positive movers among 'Strategy games':
003 (+497) Gloomhaven
039 (+461) Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
051 (+449) Anachrony
059 (+382) Pandemic Iberia
060 (+440) Yokohama
087 (+413) Clans of Caledonia
096 (+211) Inis
100 (+400) Above and Below
101 (+221) Vinhos Deluxe Edition
105 (+395) Near and Far
108 (+392) The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire
114 (+386) Lisboa
117 (+338) Lorenzo il Magnifico
128 (+238) Agricola (revised edition)
139 (+361) Hero Realms
143 (+357) Evolution: Climate
151 (+349) The Colonists
156 (+344) Aeon's End
174 (+326) Century: Spice Road
184 (+316) Spirit Island
188 (+312) Ethnos
192 (+308) First Class
199 (+301) Too Many Bones
239 (+261) Roll Player
249 (+251) Smash Up: Awesome Level 9000
253 (+247) Gaia Project
257 (+238) Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
276 (+224) The Oracle of Delphi

Fast, positive movers among 'War games':
044 (+456) Polis: Fight for the Hegemony
089 (+411) Time of Crisis
117 (+383) Advanced Squad Leader: Starter Kit Expansion Pack #1
139 (+361) Quartermaster General: 1914
178 (+322) 1754: Conquest – The French and Indian War
180 (+320) Colonial Twilight: The French-Algerian War, 1954-62
181 (+319) Pericles: The Peloponnesian Wars
186 (+314) Fields of Despair: France 1914-1918
199 (+301) 878: Vikings – Invasions of England
219 (+281) Comanchería: The Rise and Fall of the Comanche Empire
241 (+259) Days of Ire: Budapest 1956
261 (+239) Warfighter: The WWII Tactical Combat Card Game
278 (+222) Wing Leader: Supremacy 1943-1945

Fast, positive movers among 'Family games':
003 (+497) Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
005 (+495) Santorini
022 (+478) Evolution: Climate
026 (+474) Stockpile
028 (+472) Codenames Duet
031 (+469) Century: Spice Road
033 (+467) Sagrada
035 (+465) Ethnos
041 (+459) Paperback
049 (+451) Hanamikoji
055 (+445) Smash Up: Awesome Level 9000
062 (+438) Magic Maze
071 (+429) Dice Forge
080 (+420) Bärenpark
083 (+417) Junk Art
087 (+413) KLASK
094 (+406) Kanagawa
109 (+391) Love Letter Premium
117 (+383) Fabled Fruit
124 (+376) Azul
140 (+360) Photosynthesis
150 (+350) Fugitive
151 (+349) The Quest for El Dorado
153 (+347) Citadels
155 (+345) Honshu
164 (+336) Royals
173 (+327) Star Trek: Catan
186 (+314) 5-Minute Dungeon
223 (+277) Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia
226 (+274) Downforce
229 (+271) Adventure Time Love Letter
235 (+265) Herbaceous
241 (+259) The Lost Expedition
246 (+254) Revolution!
249 (+251) Happy Salmon
250 (+250) Jump Drive
257 (+243) NMBR 9
265 (+235) Carcassonne: Gold Rush

Fast, positive movers among 'Collectible games':
011 (+489) Hero Realms
012 (+488) Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game
019 (+481) Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire
023 (+477) Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie
034 (+466) Guild Ball
093 (+407) Warhammer 40,000 (fourth edition)
096 (+404) Battleground Fantasy Warfare: High Elves
154 (+346) Hull Breach!
174 (+326) Phase

Fast, positive movers among 'Thematic games':
001 (+460) Gloomhaven
005 (+495) The 7th Continent
006 (+494) Arkham Horror: The Card Game
008 (+492) Mechs vs. Minions
028 (+472) Near and Far
039 (+461) Spirit Island
040 (+460) Too Many Bones
053 (+447) Evolution: Climate
062 (+438) This War of Mine: The Board Game
073 (+427) Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures
074 (+426) Blood Bowl (2016 edition)
104 (+396) Nemo's War (second edition)
111 (+389) Sword & Sorcery
113 (+387) Pax Renaissance
130 (+370) Star Trek: Ascendancy
131 (+369) Massive Darkness
132 (+368) One Deck Dungeon
148 (+352) The Big Book of Madness
165 (+334) Unfair
174 (+326) DC Comics Deck-Building Game: Heroes Unite
181 (+319) Vikings Gone Wild
183 (+317) Mythos Tales
189 (+311) Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia
208 (+292) Black Orchestra
212 (+288) The Lost Expedition
216 (+284) Beyond Baker Street
235 (+265) Unlock! The Formula
252 (+248) Deep Space D-6
271 (+229) Bloodborne: The Card Game
283 (+217) Gloom of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game
284 (+216) First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet

1950s SF/F Authors

This is an odd list, arising in a vague question about who ought to come to mind as a significant SF/F writer from the 1950s. My assumptions are that some folks more often thought of as writers from the 40s and 60s published notable books in the 50s and some folks who were prominent in the 50s maybe aren’t so widely read today. So what I did to focus on people who had written a 50s “classic” was use Goodreads to look up ~125 people who wrote SF/F (generously defined and particularly including YA) novels in the 1950s and rank them by the number of people who had read each author’s most widely read novel. As usual, I’ve omitted the actual data from Goodreads.

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien (The Fellowship of the Ring, 1954)
  2. C.S. Lewis (The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, 1950)
  3. Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451, 1953)
  4. Isaac Asimov (Foundation, 1951)
  5. Robert A. Heinlein (Starship Troopers, 1959)
  6. Arthur C. Clarke (Childhood’s End, 1953)
  7. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (The Sirens of Titan, 1959)
  8. Walter M. Miller Jr. (A Canticle for Leibowitz, 1959)
  9. John Wyndham (The Day of the Triffids, 1951)
  10. Richard Matheson (I Am Legend, 1954)
  11. Alfred Bester (The Stars My Destination, 1956)
  12. Pat Frank (Alas, Babylon, 1959)
  13. Nevil Shute (On the Beach, 1957)
  14. Jack Finney (The Body Snatchers, 1955)
  15. Theodore Sturgeon (More Than Human, 1953)
  16. Clifford Simak (City, 1952)
  17. Philip K. Dick (Time Out of Joint, 1959)
  18. Frederik Pohl & C.M. Kornbluth (The Space Merchants, 1952)
  19. Tove Jansson (Moominsummer Madness, 1954)
  20. Jack Vance (The Dying Earth, 1950)
  21. Hal Clement (Mission of Gravity, 1953)
  22. John Christopher (The Death of Grass, 1956)
  23. Stanislaw Lem (The Star Diaries, 1957)
  24. James Blish (A Case of Conscience, 1958)
  25. Brian Aldiss (Non-Stop, 1958)
  26. Poul Anderson (The Broken Sword, 1954)
  27. Andre Norton (The Time Traders, 1958)
  28. A.E. Van Vogt (The Weapon Shops of Isher, 1951)
  29. E.E. “Doc” Smith (First Lensman, 1950)
  30. Fritz Leiber (The Big Time, 1958)
  31. Fred Hoyle (The Black Cloud, 1957)
  32. Eleanor Cameron (The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, 1954)
  33. Ward Moore (Bring the Jubilee, 1953)
  34. Robert Sheckley (Immortality, Inc., 1959)
  35. Leigh Brackett (The Long Tomorrow, 1955)
  36. Fredric Brown (Martians, Go Home, 1954)
  37. Eric Frank Russell (Wasp, 1957)
  38. Mordecai Roshwald (Level 7, 1959)
  39. Frank Herbert (Under Pressure, 1956)
  40. Arkady & Boris Strugatsky (Country of the Crimson Clouds, 1959)
  41. August Derleth (The Mask of Cthulhu, 1958)
  42. Mark Clifton & Frank Riley (They’d Rather Be Right, 1954)
  43. Edmond Hamilton (The City at World’s End, 1950)
  44. Ivan Efremov (Andromeda, 1957)
  45. Tom Godwin (The Survivors, 1958)
  46. Kōbō Abe (Inter Ice Age 4, 1959)
  47. Ernst Jünger (The Glass Bees, 1957)
  48. H. Beam Piper (Uller Uprising, 1952)
  49. Philip José Farmer (The Green Odyssey, 1957)
  50. Algis Budrys (Who?, 1958)
  51. C.M. Kornbluth (The Marching Morons, 1959)
  52. Jay Williams & Raymond Abrashkin (Danny Dunn and the Anti-Gravity Paint, 1956)
  53. H. Beam Piper & John J. McGuire (A Planet for Texans, 1957)
  54. Alan E. Nourse (Star Surgeon, 1959)
  55. Edgar Pangborn (A Mirror for Observers, 1958)
  56. Vercors (Les Animaux dénaturés, 1952)
  57. Philip Wylie (The Disappearance, 1951)
  58. Bernard Wolfe (Limbo, 1952)
  59. John D. MacDonald (Wine of the Dreamers, 1951)
  60. Sarban (The Sound of His Horn, 1952)
  61. Stefan Wul (Niourk, 1957)
  62. Murray Leinster (The Forgotten Planet, 1954)
  63. Robert Silverberg (Starman’s Quest, 1958)
  64. Charles L. Harness (The Paradox Men, 1955)
  65. L. Ron Hubbard (To the Stars, 1950)
  66. Hugo Correa (Los altísimos, 1959)
  67. Lester Del Rey (Nerves, 1956)
  68. Ellen MacGregor (Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars, 1951)
  69. Randall Garrett & Laurence M. Janifer (Brain Twister, 1959)
  70. Jack Williamson & James E. Gunn (Star Bridge, 1955)
  71. Wilson Tucker (The Long Loud Silence, 1952)
  72. Frederik Pohl (Slave Ship, 1957)
  73. L. Sprague de Camp (Rogue Queen, 1951)
  74. Damon Knight (A for Anything, 1959)
  75. Randall Garrett & Laurence M. Janifer (Pagan Passions, 1956)
  76. Raymond F. Jones (This Island Earth, 1952)
  77. Frank M. Robinson (The Power, 1956)
  78. Fletcher Pratt (The Blue Star, 1952)
  79. John W. Campbell (Islands of Space, 1956)
  80. Donald A. Wollheim (The Secret of the Ninth Planet, 1959)
  81. David Karp (One, 1953)
  82. Charles Eric Maine (Alph, 1958)
  83. Ben Bova (The Star Conquerors, 1959)
  84. Chad Oliver (The Winds of Time, 1957)
  85. Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore (Mutant, 1953)
  86. Edmund Cooper (Seed of Light, 1959)
  87. Blake Savage (Rip Foster Rides the Gray Planet, 1952)
  88. John Brunner (The World Swappers, 1959)
  89. C.L. Moore (Judgment Night, 1952)
  90. James Blish & Robert Lowndes (The Duplicated Man, 1959)
  91. C.M. Kornbluth & Judith Merrill (Gunner Cade, 1952)
  92. Jack Williamson (Seetee Ship, 1951)
  93. George O. Smith (The Fourth R, 1959)
  94. James E. Gunn (This Fortress World, 1955)
  95. Judith Merrill (Shadow on the Hearth, 1950)
  96. Rex Gordon (No Man Friday, 1956)
  97. J.T. McIntosh (World Out of Mind, 1953)
  98. Francis Rufus Bellamy (Atta, 1953)
  99. E. Everett Evans (Man of Many Minds, 1953)
  100. Joseph Greene (The Forgotten Star, 1959)
  101. Robert Silverberg & Randall Garrett (Shrouded Planet, 1957)
  102. Richard Marsten [Evan Hunter / Ed McBain] (Danger: Dinosaurs!, 1953)
  103. John Lymington (Night of the Big Heat, 1959)
  104. Angus MacVicar (The Lost Planet, 1953)
  105. Allen A. Adler (Terror on Planet Ionus, 1957)
  106. Islwyn Ffowc Elis (Wythnos Yng Nghymru Fydd, 1957)
  107. Hugh Walters (First on the Moon, 1959)
  108. Robert Crane (Hero’s Walk, 1952)
  109. William Dexter (World in Eclipse, 1954)
  110. Philip Latham (Missing Men of Saturn, 1953)
  111. A.J. Merak (The Dark Millennium, 1959)
  112. Patrick Moore (Mission to Mars, 1955)
  113. F.L. Wallace (Address: Centauri, 1955)
  114. Margaret St. Clair (Agent of the Unknown, 1956)
  115. Stanton A. Coblentz (Into Plutonian Depths, 1950)
  116. E.C. Eliott (Kemlo and the Zones of Silence, 1954)
  117. Harold Mead (Mary’s Country, 1957)
  118. Wallace West (The Bird of Time, 1959)
  119. Curme Gray (Murder in Millennium VI, 1951)
  120. Nat Schachner (Space Lawyer, 1953)
  121. Perley Poore Sheehan (The Abyss of Wonders, 1953)
  122. Robert Ardrey (The Brotherhood of Fear, 1957)
  123. Eric Temple Bell (G.O.G. 666, 1954)
  124. Lee Correy (Rocket Man, 1955)
  125. René Ray (The Strange World of Planet X, 1957)

 

Board game rank change report for 1/2017-6/2017

Unfortunately, I neglected to run this report at the end of Q1—the first gap in many years of tracking changes in rankings at BGG. But better late than never I guess. Bearing in mind the usual caveats that new editions, reprints, games that are abruptly added to new categories, and so on can all have odd effects on the top 500, here are the games that showed substantial movement between January 1 and June 1, 2017.

Fast, positive movers among 'Board games':
006 (+494) Gloomhaven
063 (+437) Santorini
092 (+408) Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
114 (+107) Captain Sonar
160 (+133) Sushi Go Party!
168 (+223) Dead of Winter: The Long Night
173 (+327) Pandemic Iberia
188 (+312) Anachrony
205 (+295) Inis
212 (+105) Onitama
268 (+232) Star Wars: Destiny
273 (+161) Secret Hitler
299 (+102) Cry Havoc
300 (+127) 51st State: Master Set
308 (+192) Smash Up: Awesome Level 9000
313 (+187) Hero Realms
324 (+176) The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire
333 (+167) One Night Ultimate Werewolf Daybreak
346 (+154) Evolution: Climate
349 (+124) Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu
370 (+130) Raiders of the North Sea
372 (+100) Imhotep
398 (+102) Agricola (revised edition)
400 (+100) The Great Zimbabwe

Fast, positive movers among 'Strategy games':
003 (+497) Gloomhaven
056 (+444) Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
079 (+421) Anachrony
091 (+350) Pandemic Iberia
093 (+407) Above and Below
152 (+348) The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire
181 (+319) The Colonists
183 (+317) Hero Realms
192 (+308) Evolution: Climate
231 (+269) Smash Up: Awesome Level 9000
236 (+264) Yokohama
237 (+263) Aeon's End
254 (+246) First Class
292 (+208) The Oracle of Delphi

Fast, positive movers among 'War games':
043 (+457) Polis: Fight for the Hegemony
273 (+227) Comanchería: The Rise and Fall of the Comanche Empire
291 (+209) Days of Ire: Budapest 1956

Fast, positive movers among 'Family games':
003 (+497) Santorini
007 (+493) Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
028 (+472) Stockpile
035 (+465) Paperback
039 (+461) Evolution: Climate
044 (+456) Smash Up: Awesome Level 9000
095 (+405) Junk Art
106 (+394) Kanagawa
110 (+390) KLASK
114 (+386) Hanamikoji
149 (+351) Fabled Fruit
154 (+346) Sagrada
228 (+272) Adventure Time Love Letter
248 (+252) Carcassonne: Gold Rush
249 (+251) Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia

Fast, positive movers among 'Collectible games':
011 (+489) Hero Realms
031 (+469) Mystic Vale
104 (+396) Warhammer 40,000 (fourth edition)
156 (+344) Phase

Fast, positive movers among 'Thematic games':
002 (+459) Gloomhaven
006 (+494) Arkham Horror: The Card Game
007 (+493) Mechs vs. Minions
148 (+352) Star Trek: Ascendancy
156 (+344) One Deck Dungeon
159 (+341) Pax Renaissance
176 (+323) Unfair
190 (+310) Mythos Tales
196 (+304) Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia
203 (+297) Black Orchestra
227 (+273) Beyond Baker Street
251 (+249) Vikings Gone Wild
268 (+232) Deep Space D-6

Popular NYRB Classics

Here are the 50 most popular titles in the current catalog of NYRB Classics, according to the usual formula (the log of the number of ratings at Goodreads times the square of the average rating expressed as a percentage):

John Williams, Stoner
Stefan Zweig, Chess Story
Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate
Nikolai Gogol, Dead Souls
Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution
Frans G. Bengtsson, The Long Ships
Yaşar Kemal, Memed, My Hawk
Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio
John Wyndham, The Chrysalids
Tove Jansson, The Summer Book
Stefan Zweig, Beware of Pity
Adolfo Bioy Casares, The Invention of Morel
Thomas Tryon, The Other
John Williams, Augustus
John Williams, Butcher’s Crossing
Magda Szabó, The Door
Patrick Leigh Fermor, Between the Woods and the Water
Elizabeth von Arnim, The Enchanted April
Oakley Hall, Warlock
Luigi Pirandello, The Late Mattia Pascal
Antal Szerb, Journey by Moonlight
Patrick Leigh Fermor, A Time of Gifts
J.L. Carr, A Month in the Country
Alexandros Papadiamantis, The Murderess
Yaşar Kemal, They Burn the Thistles
Jessica Mitford, Hons and Rebels
Robert Bresson, Notes on the Cinematograph
Stefan Zweig, Confusion
Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim
Álvaro Mutis, The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll
Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound
Alistair Horne, A Savage War of Peace
G.B. Edwards, The Book of Ebenezer Le Page
Patrick Hamilton, Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
Don Carpenter, Hard Rain Falling
Vasily Grossman, Everything Flows
Alexander Pushkin, The Captain’s Daughter
Stefan Zweig, The Post-Office Girl
Erich Kästner, Going to the Dogs
Olivia Manning, Fortunes of War
Robert Walser, Jakob von Gunten
Euripides (Anne Carson, trans.), Grief Lessons
Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy
Christopher Priest, Inverted World
J.G. Farrell, The Siege of Krishnapur
Tayeb Salih, Season of Migration to the North
J.A. Baker, The Peregrine
Geoffrey Household, Rogue Male
C.V. Wedgwood, The Thirty Years War

For the sake of comparison, here are the top 50 titles sorted only by their current Goodreads rating:

Paul Blackburn, Proensa
Osip Mandelstam, The Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam
Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate
Aleksandar Tišma, The Use of Man
Richard Holmes, Shelley
Victor Serge, Memoirs of a Revolutionary
Anne Carson, Grief Lessons
Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution
Yaşar Kemal, They Burn the Thistles
Joseph Joubert, The Notebooks of Joseph Joubert
Álvaro Mutis, The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll
Yaşar Kemal, Memed, My Hawk
Patrick Leigh Fermor, Between the Woods and the Water
Henry David Thoreau, The Journal 1837–1861
Qiu Miaojin, Notes of a Crocodile
Boris Pasternak, Letters
Tim Robinson, Stones of Aran: Labyrinth
Oakley Hall, Warlock
Robert Bresson, Notes on the Cinematograph
Simon Leys, The Hall of Uselessness
Frans G. Bengtsson, The Long Ships
Arun Kolatkar, Jejuri
S. Josephine Baker, Fighting for Life
John Williams, Stoner
Stefan Zweig, Chess Story
John Ehle, The Land Breakers
G.B. Edwards, The Book of Ebenezer Le Page
Patrick Hamilton, Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky
J.F. Powers, The Stories of J.F. Powers
Randall Jarrell, Randall Jarrell’s Book of Stories
Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen, Diary of a Man in Despair
John Williams, English Renaissance Poetry
Benjamin Fondane, Existential Monday
Patrick Leigh Fermor, The Broken Road
Kabir, Songs of Kabir
Tim Robinson, Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage
Alistair Horne, A Savage War of Peace
Charles Simic, Dime-Store Alchemy
Saki, The Unrest-Cure and Other Stories
Iona Opie, The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren
Teffi, Tolstoy, Rasputin, Others, and Me
Aleksander Wat, My Century
Jean d’Ormesson, The Glory of the Empire
Alexandros Papadiamantis, The Murderess
Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy
J.A. Baker, The Peregrine
Jean Genet, Prisoner of Love
Elizabeth David, A Book of Mediterranean Food
Josep Pla, The Gray Notebook
Antal Szerb, Journey by Moonlight