[The Critter Captain's Tesla FAQ]


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New entry May 28

Critter Notices

Books from Critters!

Check out Books by Critters for books by your fellow Critterfolk, as well as my list of recommended books for writers.

How to Write SF

The Craft of Writing Science Fiction that Sells by Ben Bova, best-selling author and six-time Hugo Award winner for Best Editor. (This is one of the books your ol' Critter Captain learned from himself, and I highly recommend it.) (Also via Amazon)

The Sigil Trilogy

If you're looking for an amazing, WOW! science fiction story, check out THE SIGIL TRILOGY. This is — literally — one of the best science fiction novels I've ever read.


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ReAnimus Acquires Advent!

ReAnimus Press is pleased to announce the acquisition of the legendary Advent Publishers! Advent is now a subsidiary of ReAnimus Press, and we will continue to publish Advent's titles under the Advent name. Advent was founded in 1956 by Earl Kemp and others, and has published the likes of James Blish, Hal Clement, Robert Heinlein, Damon Knight, E.E. "Doc" Smith, and many others. Advent's high quality titles have won and been finalists for several Hugo Awards, such as The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy and Heinlein's Children. Watch this space for ebook and print editions of all of Advent's current titles!

Book Recommendation

THE SIGIL TRILOGY: The universe is dying from within... "Great stuff... Really enjoyed it." — SFWA Grandmaster Michael Moorcock

Announcing ReAnimus Press

If you're looking for great stuff to read from bestselling and award-winning authors—look no further! ReAnimus Press was founded by your very own Critter Captain. (And with a 12% Affiliate program.) [More]








About the Best Ever Readers' Poll

Howdy, I'm Andrew Burt, your votemaster. I started the poll for a number of reasons. I've found reading lists of the best books to be great guides when looking for things to read, so I've studied what existing "best-of lists" are out there and wondered what could be done to improve on them. Here's what the goals of this poll are:

Up to date and easy to use: In science fiction and fantasy there are some reader-voted lists, but they're often no longer being updated, or they're difficult for readers to add their own votes.

Comprehensive — multi-genre and multi-format: Outside science fiction and fantasy it gets harder to find lists at all. Sometimes there are editor-selected "top 100" lists or whatnot, sometimes not. Sometimes there's a reader-chosen list but it was years ago, both stale and not giving you a chance to voice your vote.

Outside of book-length works it gets even harder to find reader-voted lists. This poll is thus an outgrowth of the annual Preditors & Editors best-of-the-year poll conducted each January and which has a wide range of categories. For this venture there are lists for each major genre, and for each genre there are voting categories for book-length work, short stories (or articles in the case of nonfiction), and poem.

Improved scoring system: Sometimes the scoring systems in other lists don't seem quite right. This one uses a unique algorithm that tries to do better. (Not that I claim it is any better, but let's give it a try.) In this scoring system you can also vote by decimals if you'd like, for those cases where you feel a work is a 9.5, say.

Useful as a reading list: As an author myself I thought it might be interesting to have reader voting on authors and poets directly. Once you find an enjoyable author it's a good bet you'll like what else they've written. I haven't seen "best of" polls for honoring best overall author (or poet) in the various genres; I thought that would be interesting to try.

There are so many books and short works written, therefore these lists don't stop at the "top 100" as is so common — they go all the way down to the last entry that anyone wanted to vote for. Someone thought a work was worth voting for so who knows.

Ongoing: There's no end date on these polls; they're continuously updated as people add new votes — so check back periodically and vote for new entries (and to add entries for new favorites you've found).

I hope you find these lists useful. If you do, please tell others to check out www.critters.org/bestpoll too, since the more votes the higher quality the results get.


--Dr. Andrew Burt

Notes... FAQs...

What's the difference between genres, like Young Adult vs. Childrens? Is a short story published in book form a short story or a book?

It's generally up to you as a reader to decide. One guide is how you see them shelved in bookstores. I'd venture a guess, for example, that Young Adult is teenage and Childrens is younger. Is Dicken's "Christmas Carol" horror or mainstream? Well, probably both, in some sense. There's no harm in voting for the same work in multiple categories (though of course others voting in those categories may give the same work different votes; no biggie). If you only want to choose one category, pick whatever you think is the one most other people would agree on. Again, don't sweat it.

What are the range of allowable vote values?

Any number from 1-10. (1.0 - 10.0 if you're using decimals. So 1.0, 1.1, 9.5, 9.9, 10.0 are ok. 0.5 or 10.2 would not be allowed.)

How does the scoring work?

For now I'm trying an algorithm that computes the average of the votes plus 3*log10(#votes in category)*(#vote for entry/#votes in category) minus (5/(1+#votes for that item)).

Thus a book that gets 50 votes of 10.0 in a category with 500 votes will have a score of 10.71 while a book that gets 1000 votes of 10.0 out of 5000 votes will have a score of 11.795. (The last "minus" factor is to dilute books with few votes until they get more votes. Thus a book with one vote of 10.0 will score around 7.5 (plus the log() factor), so it doesn't take top place because one person scored it a 10. If it gets 10 votes of 10.0, it will then get a base score of 10-(5/11) = 9.555, plus the log() factor.)

The idea of the log()... term is that books that get a lot of votes are probably fairly well liked, so this gives them a little bump. This may also compensate for people having different ideas about what the highest possible vote should be. <shrug> Worth a try. :)

I'll tinker with the algorithm if it looks like it needs it. All the raw votes are kept so no worries there.

What are the sort orders?

See the description of sort orders here.

Isn't an Amazon-like "people exactly like you also read these books" a better way to find good books?

The problem with "people exactly like you also bought..." is that it narrows rather than broadens your horizons. It's a great tool, but needs to be balanced with other tools that introduce you to works you might not otherwise have seen. This is particularly important for writers, who should be aware of the whole breadth of the genre, and other genres as well. You might never, for example, get pointed to read "The Great Gatsby" or "A Christmas Carol" or "The Things They Carried", which are (IMHO) in the category of "absolute best works ever written" or "as close to perfect as they come". None of those are science fiction or fantasy, however, so a list that focuses on the commonality of reading experience (which is mathematically the intersection of other people's reading choices rather than a union of them) will point an SF/F reader toward "more of the same" rather than "greatness." In fact, "greatness" would be less likely to appear on an "also read" list since more people who aren't like you will also like it. For a writer, you want to read "greatness" whereever it might be found. For a reader, you also want to enjoy the best ever, even if it isn't identical to what you read most.

A "best ever" list is one that compiles works that were judged "the best" by people with a wide range of tastes, thus more likely to be something you will like. Since we have many writers around here, it's also something you should study as a writer for why it has such widespread appeal.

Amazon is trying to sell more books, so a laser focus on "more of the same" is a profitable strategy. For a reader to enjoy the greatest works, or for a writer to improve their craft, not so much. :)


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