The most highly rated films of 2015

As I’ve done in past years, I’ve taken each feature film IMDb counts as last year’s release and multiplied its IMDb score times its Rotten Tomatoes critic percentage, excluding films with fewer than 2000 ratings. Below are the top 50 or so films scoring around a 6.0 or above:


8.200 World of Tomorrow (imdb)
8.134 Inside Out (imdb)
7.872 Spotlight (imdb)
7.857 Mad Max: Fury Road (imdb)
7.802 Room (imdb)
7.800 Aferim! (imdb)
7.728 Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (imdb)
7.584 Son of Saul (imdb)
7.452 The Martian (imdb)
7.332 Creed (imdb)
7.326 Shaun the Sheep Movie (imdb)
7.296 Mustang (imdb)
7.275 Brooklyn (imdb)
7.200 Dheepan (imdb)
7.161 Sicario (imdb)
7.098 Beasts of No Nation (imdb)
7.084 Ex Machina (imdb)
7.040 Straight Outta Compton (imdb)
6.992 Bridge of Spies (imdb)
6.956 Carol (imdb)
6.952 The Big Short (imdb)
6.900 Anomalisa (imdb)
6.887 Tangerine (imdb)
6.887 45 Years (imdb)
6.734 The End Of The Tour (imdb)
6.724 The Revenant (imdb)
6.674 Spy (imdb)
6.603 The Gift (imdb)
6.555 The Diary Of A Teenage Girl (imdb)
6.474 Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (imdb)
6.440 Slow West (imdb)
6.424 Dope (imdb)
6.348 The Lady In The Van (imdb)
6.319 Bone Tomahawk (imdb)
6.290 The Walk (imdb)
6.264 The Peanuts Movie (imdb)
6.256 Grandma (imdb)
6.237 Victoria (imdb)
6.231 I'll See You in My Dreams (imdb)
6.205 Steve Jobs (imdb)
6.106 Far From the Madding Crowd (imdb)
6.090 Mr. Holmes (imdb)
6.075 Ip Man 3 (imdb)
6.072 Queen of Earth (imdb)
6.016 The Survivalist (imdb)
6.004 Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' (imdb)
6.000 The Hateful Eight (imdb)
5.920 Ant-Man (imdb)


7.980 Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom (imdb)
7.954 Listen To Me Marlon (imdb)
7.700 Twinsters (imdb)
7.614 Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (imdb)
7.410 Amy (imdb)
7.144 Best Of Enemies (imdb)
6.862 Monkey Kingdom (imdb)
6.853 Meru (imdb)
6.696 The Hunting Ground (imdb)
6.586 Cartel Land (imdb)
6.399 Racing Extinction (imdb)
6.384 What Happened, Miss Simone? (imdb)
6.035 The Wolfpack (imdb)

Board game rank change report for Black Friday 2015

As usual, to help with holiday shopping, I’ve run a special report to find out what games advanced the most in BoardGameGeek rankings over (roughly) the past year. This year, the report compares data from 11/27/2015 with that from 11/28/2014. Naturally, some older games continued to advance in that timeframe.

Fast, positive movers among 'Board games':
007 (+493) Pandemic Legacy
011 (+489) Star Wars: Imperial Assault
035 (+465) Roll for the Galaxy
038 (+462) Codenames
046 (+414) Castles of Mad King Ludwig
056 (+444) Alchemists
061 (+251) Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game
069 (+431) Patchwork
072 (+428) The Voyages of Marco Polo
074 (+138) Imperial Settlers
094 (+406) Fields of Arle
095 (+405) Viticulture
120 (+380) Arcadia Quest
122 (+378) La Granja
126 (+374) Sheriff of Nottingham
137 (+363) 7 Wonders: Duel
168 (+332) Orléans
170 (+330) Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation (Deluxe Edition)
196 (+304) Forbidden Stars
208 (+292) Xia: Legends of a Drift System
214 (+286) King of New York
218 (+282) Blood Rage
225 (+275) Pandemic: The Cure
227 (+273) Tajemnicze Domostwo
229 (+271) Marvel Dice Masters: Uncanny X-Men
233 (+267) Deus
250 (+250) Power Grid deluxe: Europe/North America
255 (+245) Kanban: Automotive Revolution
262 (+238) Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients
269 (+231) AquaSphere
270 (+230) Spyfall
273 (+227) Mysterium
278 (+128) The Duke
289 (+211) Star Wars: Armada
291 (+209) Elysium
298 (+121) Sushi Go!
306 (+194) Colt Express
321 (+179) Evolution
326 (+174) Abyss
331 (+169) Ca$h 'n Guns (second edition)
338 (+162) Paperback
347 (+153) XCOM: The Board Game
352 (+148) Cthulhu Wars
353 (+147) Fire in the Lake
362 (+138) Panamax
369 (+131) One Night Ultimate Werewolf Daybreak
370 (+130) Camel Up
372 (+128) The Battle of Five Armies
373 (+110) Smash Up: Science Fiction Double Feature
380 (+120) Legendary: Villains – Marvel Deck Building Game
381 (+119) Specter Ops
392 (+108) Shadows of Brimstone: Swamps of Death

Fast, positive movers among 'Strategy games':
002 (+498) Pandemic Legacy
022 (+478) Roll for the Galaxy
034 (+466) Fields of Arle
036 (+464) The Voyages of Marco Polo
037 (+348) Alchemists
056 (+262) La Granja
057 (+213) Viticulture
058 (+442) 7 Wonders: Duel
079 (+421) Orléans
092 (+408) Forbidden Stars
099 (+401) Blood Rage
105 (+395) Power Grid deluxe: Europe/North America
108 (+392) Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation (Deluxe Edition)
123 (+377) Kanban: Automotive Revolution
135 (+266) Deus
140 (+360) Blood Bowl (Third Edition)
151 (+253) AquaSphere
163 (+337) Elysium
175 (+325) Cthulhu Wars
196 (+304) Paperback
198 (+302) Evolution
216 (+284) Specter Ops
219 (+281) San Juan (second edition)
225 (+275) ZhanGuo
226 (+269) Tragedy Looper
239 (+212) Hyperborea
241 (+259) Level 7 [Omega Protocol]
244 (+245) Lords of Xidit
251 (+249) Argent: The Consortium
253 (+247) Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
258 (+242) Saint Petersburg (second edition)
259 (+241) Brew Crafters
270 (+230) Wir sind das Volk!
275 (+225) Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization
276 (+224) Summoner Wars: Alliances Master Set
277 (+223) The Gallerist
293 (+207) Baseball Highlights: 2045
294 (+206) Tiny Epic Galaxies
299 (+201) Eight-Minute Empire: Legends

Fast, positive movers among 'War games':
024 (+476) Star Wars: Armada
044 (+456) Churchill
075 (+425) Triumph & Tragedy
091 (+340) Quartermaster General
096 (+404) Nexus Ops
116 (+338) Warfighter: The Tactical Special Forces Card Game
179 (+321) Warhammer: Diskwars
188 (+312) D-Day at Tarawa
216 (+284) Enemy Action: Ardennes
220 (+280) Warmachine
236 (+264) Dungeon Command: Tyranny of Goblins
246 (+254) W1815
254 (+246) Wings of Glory: WW1 Rules and Accessories Pack
286 (+214) Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942

Fast, positive movers among 'Family games':
003 (+368) Patchwork
024 (+476) Pandemic: The Cure
055 (+445) Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
060 (+440) Smash Up: Monster Smash
071 (+429) Love Letter: Batman
072 (+428) Red7
075 (+425) Steampunk Rally
078 (+422) Eight-Minute Empire: Legends
089 (+411) Between Two Cities
096 (+404) Diamonds
098 (+402) Tales & Games: The Hare & the Tortoise
101 (+201) La Isla
102 (+398) Cacao
107 (+393) Flick 'em Up!
109 (+391) Broom Service
115 (+385) Nations: The Dice Game
119 (+381) Star Trek: Catan
122 (+378) Arboretum
138 (+362) Medieval Academy
141 (+359) Loony Quest
149 (+267) Rhino Hero
154 (+346) Timeline: Diversity
156 (+344) Lanterns: The Harvest Festival
164 (+336) DC Comics Deck-Building Game: Heroes Unite
166 (+334) Welcome to the Dungeon
177 (+323) Samurai Spirit
192 (+308) OddVille
193 (+307) Lost Legacy: The Starship
205 (+295) New York 1901
206 (+294) Pantheon
219 (+281) VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game
236 (+264) Le Fantôme de l'Opéra
246 (+254) Dead Man's Draw
259 (+241) Mangrovia
265 (+235) Harbour
287 (+213) Deep Sea Adventure
295 (+205) Artifacts, Inc.

Fast, positive movers among 'Collectible games':
002 (+498) Summoner Wars: Alliances Master Set
003 (+497) A Game of Thrones: The Card Game (Second Edition)
007 (+493) Legendary: Villains – Marvel Deck Building Game
008 (+492) Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn
014 (+486) Dungeons & Dragons Dice Masters: Battle for Faerûn
025 (+475) Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Wrath of the Righteous – Base Set
039 (+461) DC Comics Deck-Building Game: Forever Evil
042 (+458) Vs. System 2PCG
043 (+457) Epic
045 (+455) Blue Moon
056 (+444) Star Trek Deck Building Game: The Next Generation – The Next Phase
081 (+419) Nature of the Beast: Farm vs. Forest
085 (+415) Warmachine: High Command
114 (+386) Adventure Time Card Wars: Finn vs. Jake
115 (+385) Ortus Regni
118 (+382) Krynea Battlefield
121 (+379) Battle Scenes
133 (+367) ApocalypZe Card Game
156 (+344) Guerra De Mitos II
163 (+204) Schneller als Kurz
182 (+318) Shadowrun Duels

Fast, positive movers among 'Thematic games':
001 (+499) Pandemic Legacy
003 (+310) Star Wars: Imperial Assault
016 (+484) Blood Rage
027 (+473) Star Wars: Armada
030 (+470) Shadows of Brimstone: Swamps of Death
034 (+405) Cthulhu Wars
036 (+464) T.I.M.E Stories
043 (+457) Mysterium
049 (+451) Legendary: Villains – Marvel Deck Building Game
069 (+431) Specter Ops
071 (+429) XCOM: The Board Game
085 (+415) Baseball Highlights: 2045
101 (+399) Thunderstone Advance: Worlds Collide
105 (+395) Zombicide Season 3: Rue Morgue
106 (+394) Legendary Encounters: A Predator Deck Building Game
111 (+389) Kingdom Death: Monster
113 (+387) Thunderstone Advance: Numenera
114 (+386) Race! Formula 90
116 (+384) Flick 'em Up!
120 (+380) Witness
131 (+369) Sons of Anarchy: Men of Mayhem
140 (+360) Above and Below
148 (+352) The Grizzled
160 (+340) TurfMaster
161 (+339) XenoShyft: Onslaught
164 (+336) Fallen
189 (+311) Fury of Dracula (third edition)
191 (+309) Dungeons & Dragons: Temple of Elemental Evil Board Game
204 (+296) Kingsport Festival
223 (+277) Onward to Venus
224 (+276) Dead Men Tell No Tales
226 (+274) Mistfall
228 (+272) Magic: The Gathering – Arena of the Planeswalkers
232 (+268) Ancient Terrible Things
236 (+264) Rum & Bones
237 (+263) The Bloody Inn
247 (+253) Hostage Negotiator
248 (+252) DungeonQuest Revised Edition
254 (+246) Thunderbirds
257 (+243) Risk: Star Wars Edition
259 (+241) Super Dungeon Explore: Forgotten King
260 (+234) Chaosmos
264 (+236) DC Comics Deck-Building Game: Forever Evil
277 (+223) Space Cadets: Away Missions
287 (+213) Article 27: The UN Security Council Game
288 (+212) Star Trek Deck Building Game: The Next Generation – The Next Phase

Selected SF/F Previews for 8/2015

Below are the titles I’ve chosen to highlight from SF Signal’s lists of books and comics released in August 2015.

  • Becky Chambers, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this originally self-published space adventure novel, and the preview seems both readable and pleasant: classic space opera tropes but with a light, contemporary feel.
  • Terry Pratchett, The Shepherd’s Crown. Terry Pratchett’s last Discworld novel is pretty much by definition a gift to be treasured. I can’t imagine this is the best place for someone to begin the series, but to a fan, the opening scenes call to mind many warm and happy memories.
  • John Scalzi, The End of All Things. This is the latest in the Old Man’s War series, and as usual, it seems to be compulsively readable stuff.
  • Christopher Moore, Secondhand Souls. The sequel to Moore’s very funny Grim Reaper comedy, Dirty Job, this seems like fun too, though I’m sure the experience of reading the preview benefits from also having read the first book.
  • Tom Scioli, American Barbarian. This seems to be a parody of 80s cartoons like Thundarr the Barbarian, but with more than a hint of the 70s comic Kamandi to it as well. Like its source material, it appears to be delightfully unsophisticated yet strange.
  • Stefan Petrucha, Deadpool: Paws. Deadpool first appeared well after I’d stopped keeping track of the Marvel Universe, and I’ve been neither here nor there about the Deadpool comics I’ve read. But I did like a couple of the jokes in the opening chapters of this prose novel, e.g. the bit about “Goom hungers!”

Board game rank change report for 2015Q3

On October 1, I compiled the usual stats on board games that have shown large positive movement within BGG‘s top 500 in the past quarter. Standard caveats about recategorization, new editions (etc.) apply.

Fast, positive movers among 'Board games':
083 (+105) Patchwork
097 (+259) The Voyages of Marco Polo
163 (+337) Codenames
167 (+220) La Granja
262 (+238) Forbidden Stars
277 (+118) Orléans
299 (+201) Spyfall
307 (+159) Elysium
324 (+144) Star Wars: Armada
396 (+104) Specter Ops

Fast, positive movers among 'Strategy games':
120 (+380) Forbidden Stars
186 (+314) Fire in the Lake
298 (+202) Summoner Wars: Alliances Master Set

Fast, positive movers among 'War games':
069 (+431) Churchill
092 (+408) Nexus Ops
220 (+280) Triumph & Tragedy
231 (+269) Dungeon Command: Tyranny of Goblins
267 (+233) Enemy Action: Ardennes

Fast, positive movers among 'Family games':
094 (+406) Diamonds
151 (+349) Broom Service
162 (+338) DC Comics Deck-Building Game: Heroes Unite
180 (+320) Steampunk Rally
189 (+311) OddVille
209 (+291) Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
213 (+287) Flick 'em Up!
221 (+279) Discoveries
261 (+239) Tiny Epic Galaxies

Fast, positive movers among 'Collectible games':
002 (+498) Summoner Wars: Alliances Master Set
017 (+483) Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn
027 (+473) Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Wrath of the Righteous – Base Set
044 (+456) Vs. System 2PCG
045 (+455) Epic
055 (+445) Star Trek Deck Building Game: The Next Generation – The Next Phase
095 (+405) Ortus Regni
117 (+383) Krynea Battlefield
153 (+347) Guerra De Mitos II

Fast, positive movers among 'Thematic games':
041 (+459) Cthulhu Wars
120 (+380) Witness
155 (+345) Flick 'em Up!
178 (+322) Legendary Encounters: A Predator Deck Building Game
218 (+282) Onward to Venus
224 (+276) Ancient Terrible Things
246 (+254) Magic: The Gathering – Arena of the Planeswalkers
247 (+253) Hostage Negotiator
262 (+238) Blood Rage
277 (+223) Mistfall
282 (+218) Star Trek Deck Building Game: The Next Generation – The Next Phase
298 (+202) NOIR: Deductive Mystery Game

Selected SF/F Previews for 7/2015

Here are the titles I’ve chosen to highlight from SF Signal’s round-ups of books and comics released in July 2015.

  • China Miéville, Three Moments of an Explosion. I wasn’t aware before this summer that Miéville had even written any short fiction (at least, not more than one story), but I was instantly interested in reading all of it. The preview offers a look at two stories. The first was strange, as expected, and I liked what I could read of the second one: a magical realist story about icebergs that suddenly appear in the air over London and mostly just float there.
  • Dennis Mahoney, Bell Weather. In a fantasy world loosely inspired by Earth’s 18th century, a woman with amnesia arrives in a small town by unusual means: drifting unconscious in the river’s annual flood of flowers. That and other enigmatic natural phenomena made this preview stand out for me.
  • Max Gladstone, Last First Snow. I’ve read the first book in this series, which combines the breezy tone of an urban fantasy novel with an intriguingly weird fantasy setting—one in which people manage bizarre gods via magic and (oddly enough) legal process. The preview for this fourth book in the series leaps right into that stuff, and I appreciate fantasy novels that put the fantastic elements front and center.
  • Jodi Taylor, No Time Like the Past. Judging from the preview of its fifth volume, The Chronicles of St. Mary’s seems to be a light, witty, and mildly absurd time travel series blending historical details with simple fun. In this episode, the historians from St. Mary’s visit their own institution during the English Civil War.
  • D.B. Jackson, Dead Man’s Reach. I’ve been meaning to try the Thieftaker Chronicles, which take place in a magic-infused colonial Boston on the verge of the Revolution. This is the fourth book, and I thought it started reasonably well by introducing numerous series characters without making too many assumptions while still getting into some plot issues quickly.
  • E.R. Eddison (trans.), Egil’s Saga. I had no idea fantasy fiction pioneer E.R. Eddison had translated Egil’s Saga, but much more interesting was the fact that he chose to maximize the use of vocabulary with Germanic rather than Latinate roots so that the translation would sound more like the original. Based on the preview, I don’t think the result is something I could read all the way through, but sampling it was interesting, and I’m glad someone tried it as an experiment.

Selected SF/F Previews for 6/2015

Here are the Amazon previews that I enjoyed out of those linked in SF Signal’s June round-ups of new SF/F books and comics.

  • Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology. The VanderMeers are responsible for several of the very best SF anthologies, and I’m delighted to see that they’ve assembled a collection of feminist SF that appears to include both classic and lesser-known but intriguing stories. Insta-buy.
  • Garth Nix, To Hold the Bridge. The major selling point for this collection of Nix’s short fiction seems to be that it has an Old Kingdom story, i.e. something set in the same world as his YA novels, and the preview for it seems decent. The collection doesn’t seem to have any Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz stories in it, though, which would interest me even more.
  • Taiyo Fujii, Gene Mapper. A blurb says this SF novel about GMOs, augmented reality, and other contemporary issues was a self-published hit in Japan. The preview’s breathless litany of science news imagery reminded me of Ramez Naam’s Nexus, which I also enjoyed.
  • Philip Zaleski & Carol Zaleski, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams. Tolkien and Lewis were a big part of my childhood, but I haven’t maintained the connection. What appeals to me just as much about this is its focus on literary friendships and its scholarly detail.
  • Matthew Meyer, The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits: An Encyclopedia of Mononoke and Magic. This is volume two of a guide to Japanese folklore. Evidently it was funded via Kickstarter, which may explain the high cost of the print edition. The electronic version, though, still seems pretty nice. Volume one is The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons: A Field Guide to Japanese Yokai.
  • Jon Morris, The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half-Baked Heroes from Comic Book History. This encyclopedia of odd and mostly discarded superheroes appeals to me on many levels: it’s funny and informative, but it’s also easy to imagine a slightly alternate universe in which these heroes had more fans or better writers to help them gel into something more lasting.
  • Sebastien de Castell, Knight’s Shadow. This is the second book in the Greatcoats series, and I found its preview slightly more compelling than that of the first, though I had almost been persuaded to try the first one a while back. Anyway, it’s a musketeers-ish fantasy series that promises to deliver a lot of swashbuckling action.
  • Paul Tremblay, A Head Full of Ghosts. Contemporary horror novels are often not my thing, but the preview for this one seemed smoothly written and cleverly topical, in view of reality shows, Paranormal Activity, etc. Certainly it left me wondering what had happened and wanting to know more, so … success.
  • Andrew MacLean, ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times. This graphic novel about a girl and her cat companion poking around in a post-apocalyptic landscape seems light and well-illustrated, but I also liked that the writer would drop in the text of an aria in French and footnote it as if to say to non-speakers, “Look it up.”

Selected SF/F Previews for 5/2015

Here are the previews I enjoyed most from SF Signal’s May round-ups of new SF/F print media and new comics and graphic novels.

  • Naomi Novik, Uprooted. Novik’s first non-Temeraire novel is a treat: a fast-paced, character-driven fantasy full of engaging scenes and colorful magic. It will probably be on my Hugo ballot next year (or perhaps more importantly my Locus ballot).
  • Neal Stephenson, Seveneves. I’ve only read a few pages of this, but having the moon mysteriously blow up on line one is certainly an intriguing way to start an SF novel. And I’ve heard enough buzz about it to think I’m likely to read it eventually.
  • Hannu Rajaniemi, Collected Fiction. Rajaniemi writes some of the most interesting post-singularity short fiction in SF, full of strange ideas and strange imagery, so this was pretty much an insta-buy for me.
  • Noelle Stevenson, Nimona. Currently there’s no preview for this on Amazon, but I did pick this up based on some kind of preview somewhere when it came out, so close enough. Anyway, this is a charming graphic novel about a young woman shapeshifter who signs up to be the sidekick of a local fantasy villain. There’s a lot of cute humor to it but also some surprising emotional complexity.
  • I.N.J. Culbard, adapting The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers. This graphic novel adaptation does a great job capturing the feel of Chambers’s classic story cycle: so mysterious, eerie, pensive, etc.
  • Gwenda Bond, Fallout. A YA novel focusing on Lois Lane seems like a fun idea, and the writing on exhibit in the preview suggests it would be a fast, pleasant read as well.
  • Simon Leys, The Death of Napoleon. What if Napoleon was replaced by a double at St. Helena and escaped to see Europe again? It’s a stretch to call this SF/F or even alternate history, because the point of departure from our timeline doesn’t seem to have a significant impact. But I like the idea, and this seems well-written.

Selected SF/F Previews for 4/2015

I’m still catching up on SF/F previews. Here are the highlights I’ve selected from SF Signal’s April round-ups of new SF/F print media and new comics and graphic novels.

  • Mary Robinette Kowal, Of Noble Family. This is the final entry in Kowal’s Glamourist Histories, a Regency fantasy series about a couple from England and their use of magic to make art. I’ve enjoyed the preceding volumes in the series, and I heard about this one last year when two blog posts explained the lengths Kowal went to for accuracy in rendering Antiguan Creole English in the novel’s dialogue. Based on plot points in an earlier book, I could sort of guess how the protagonists would wind up in Antigua, and the preview confirmed it. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of all the historical research Kowal did for this book.
  • Kazuki Sakuraba, Red Girls: The Legend of the Akakuchibas. This seems to be a family saga with elements of magical realism and perhaps science fiction, because it extends to some time in the future. I see that the author primarily writes light novels (i.e. YA), and that may explain why the preview’s narration felt straightforward to me, uncomplicated in a way I associate more with YA than with magical realism written for adults. Or maybe it’s just a very clear translation. At any rate, the imagery was engaging.
  • Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire), Rolling in the Deep. When writing as Mira Grant, McGuire takes science fiction premises that strike me as slightly corny and blends them with the easy-going narration of an urban fantasy novel but also (most importantly) the plot developments that make it worthwhile. In this novella, the premise is that some cable channel has financed an expedition in search of mermaids, but we’re told from the very beginning that no one returns from the expedition. So what happened? I guess I only have to read 120 pages or so to find out.
  • Robert Charles Wilson, The Affinities. I wonder if Wilson’s latest might be an allegory about “taste tribes,” because it apparently has to do with society being transformed as people join scientifically-constructed voluntary associations of compatible personalities rather than sticking with their kin or school/workplace friendships. I don’t know, but regardless, the first chapter or so of this novel reads very smoothly, and although it’s no longer surprising in an RCW novel, one review promises some sort of twist.
  • adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha, Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements. The preview for this collection only offers glimpses of two stories, but I like how those stories venture into standard subgenres (zombie stories and superhero stories) with representational concerns that are not typically in the foreground. I think I might prefer non-fiction for insight into contemporary social issues, but I appreciate seeing the tropes of science fiction as such get a new lease on life through association with new points of view.
  • Ken Liu, The Grace of Kings. Liu has published several notable short stories in the past few years, but I think this is his first novel. It’s an intriguingly ornate epic fantasy, and the setting is certainly interesting, even if I can’t guess from the preview how well the characters and story fill out.

Popular mid-to-late 20th C. innovative fiction

In 1998, a short fiction collection from Dalkey Archive Press titled Innovations: An Anthology of Modern & Contemporary Fiction included at the end a “A Highly Eccentric List of 101 Books for Further Reading” selected by the editor, Robert L. McLaughlin, and sorted by author. Below, I’ve re-sorted those suggestions by the log of their current number of readers on Goodreads multiplied by the square of their current rating (treated as a percentage). As usual, I’ve omitted the Goodreads data itself.

1. Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five
2. Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths
3. David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
4. Gabriel Garcia Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
5. Joseph Heller, Catch-22
6. Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
7. Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire
8. Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Journey to the End of Night
9. Julio Cortázar, Hopscotch
10. Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler
11. Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
12. Don DeLillo, White Noise
13. Paul Auster, New York Trilogy
14. Mario Vargas Llosa, Conversation in the Cathedral
15. Günter Grass, The Tin Drum
16. Georges Perec, Life: A User’s Manual
17. William Gaddis, The Recognitions
18. Milorad Pavić, Dictionary of the Khazars
19. John Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor
20. Raymond Queneau, Exercises in Style
21. Alasdair Gray, Lanark
22. Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses
23. Flann O’Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds
24. Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus
25. Manuel Puig, Kiss of the Spider Woman
26. David Markson, Wittgenstein’s Mistress
27. Richard Brautigan, A Confederate General from Big Sur
28. Thomas Bernhard, Concrete
29. Richard Powers, The Gold Bug Variations
30. José Donoso, The Obscene Bird of Night
31. Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren
32. Samuel Beckett, Murphy
33. William Burroughs, Naked Lunch
34. William Carlos Williams, Imaginations
35. Danilo Kiš, Hourglass
36. Steven Millhauser, Edwin Mullhouse
37. Carole Maso, AVA
38. Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Three Trapped Tigers
39. Josef Škvorecký, The Engineer of Human Souls
40. Carlos Fuentes, Terra Nostra
41. Robert Coover, The Public Burning
42. Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo
43. Fernando Del Paso, Palinuro of Mexico
44. Alexander Theroux, Darconville’s Cat
45. José Lezama Lima, Paradiso
46. William T. Vollmann, The Ice Shirt
47. Janice Galloway, The Trick is to Keep Breathing
48. William H. Gass, The Tunnel
49. Tadeusz Konwicki, A Minor Apocalypse
50. Gilbert Sorrentino, Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things
51. Joseph McElroy, Women and Men
52. Nicholas Mosley, Impossible Object
53. Harry Mathews, Cigarettes
54. Alain Robbe-Grillet, Jealousy
55. Donald Barthelme, Snow White
56. Kathy Acker, Empire of the Senseless
57. John Hawkes, Second Skin
58. B.S. Johnson, House Mother Normal
59. Jacques Roubaud, The Great Fire of London
60. D. Keith Mano, Take Five
61. Felipe Alfau, Chromos
62. Marguerite Young, Miss Macintosh, My Darling
63. Paul Metcalf, Genoa
64. Stanley Elkin, The Living End
65. John Edgar Wideman, Philadelphia Fire
66. Claude Simon, The Grass
67. Rikki Ducornet, Phosphor in Dreamland
68. William Eastlake, Castle Keep
69. Gert Jonke, Geometric Regional Novel
70. Karen Gordon, The Red Shoes and Other Tattered Tales
71. Robert Pinget, The Inquisitory
72. Henry Green, Back
73. Edmund White, Forgetting Elena
74. Ann Quin, Tripticks
75. Coleman Dowell, Island People
76. Christine Brooke-Rose, Thru
77. Julián Ríos, Larva
78. Juan Goytisolo, Makbara
79. Michel Butor, Mobile
80. Carol De Chellis Hill, Henry James’ Midnight Song
81. Curtis White, Memories of My Father Watching TV
82. Nathalie Sarraute, Do You Hear Them?
83. Brigid Brophy, In Transit
84. Gabrielle Burton, Heartbreak Hotel
85. Severo Sarduy, Cobra & Maitreya
86. Luisa Valenzuela, He Who Searches
87. Piotr Szewc, Annihilation
88. Ralph Cusack, Cadenza
89. Claude Ollier, Mise-en-Scene
90. Susan Daitch, L.C.
91. Julieta Campos, The Fear of Losing Eurydice
92. LeRoi Jones, Tales
93. William Demby, The Catacombs
94. Alf MacLochlainn, Out of Focus
95. Eva Figes, Ghosts
96. Reyoung, Unbabbling
97. Osman Lins, The Queen of the Prisons
98. Margaret Dukore, A Novel Called Heritage
99. Wallace Markfield, Teitlebaum’s WIndow
100. Charles Newman, A Child’s History of America
101. Alan Burns, Dreamerika!

Board game rank change report for 2015Q2

On July 1, I compiled the usual stats on board games that have shown large positive movement within BGG‘s top 500 in the past quarter. Standard caveats about recategorization, new editions (etc.) apply.

Fast, positive movers among 'Board games':
188 (+180) Patchwork
189 (+131) Fields of Arle
356 (+144) The Voyages of Marco Polo
384 (+104) XCOM: The Board Game
387 (+113) La Granja
395 (+105) Orléans

Fast, positive movers among 'Strategy games':
150 (+350) The Voyages of Marco Polo
161 (+339) Power Grid deluxe: Europe/North America
243 (+257) Elysium
291 (+209) Eight-Minute Empire: Legends

Fast, positive movers among 'War games':
036 (+464) Star Wars: Armada

Fast, positive movers among 'Family games':
070 (+430) Smash Up: Monster Smash
112 (+388) Star Trek: Catan
158 (+342) Love Letter: Batman
172 (+280) Nations: The Dice Game
180 (+278) Loony Quest
211 (+289) Cacao
232 (+268) Le Fantôme de l'Opéra
237 (+263) Welcome to the Dungeon
280 (+220) Arboretum

Fast, positive movers among 'Collectible games':
038 (+462) DC Comics Deck-Building Game: Forever Evil

Fast, positive movers among 'Thematic games':
051 (+449) Star Wars: Armada
073 (+427) Smash Up: Science Fiction Double Feature
095 (+405) Specter Ops
098 (+402) Thunderstone Advance: Numenera
112 (+388) Baseball Highlights: 2045
147 (+353) TurfMaster
150 (+350) Zombicide Season 3: Rue Morgue
192 (+308) XenoShyft Onslaught
205 (+295) Kingsport Festival
261 (+239) Dungeons & Dragons: Temple of Elemental Evil Board Game
267 (+233) Article 27: The UN Security Council Game
276 (+224) Super Dungeon Explore: Forgotten King
280 (+220) DC Comics Deck-Building Game: Forever Evil