Locus Online


May 1999
Comments about the 2nd Online Poll and Survey Results

§ Dear Locus Online:
    Was thrilled to see in Survey #2 that The Physiognomy has insinuated itself into the very fabric of the culture. There is a certain perverse energy in discovering that one's novel has surfaced as the proverbial turd in the swimming pool. I swear this has nothing to do with the fact that I am changing the title of the novel I am now working on to Plan B+.
     Seriously, I participated in and enjoyed seeing the results of both surveys. Interesting information and insights in both. I have also compiled a reading list of works I was unaware of and ones I forgot I wanted to read again. Nice job!


Jeffrey Ford
21 May 1999
(posted Wed 26 May 1999)

§ Dear Locus Online:

I found it interesting that Theodore Sturgeon tied for 6th as “all-time short fiction writer” without placing a single story in any of the other categories. Is it possible that so many of Sturgeon’s fellow writers have lavished praise upon him that “everyone knows he’s great” without being exactly sure why? (I am perhaps guilty of exactly that, voting for Sturgeon as a writer without specifying any of his stories in the other categories.) I suspect that “Microcosmic God” or “Baby Is Three” (both reprinted in the first two “SF Hall of Fame” volumes) might have made the poll if they’d appeared on the lists of suggestions. Indeed, Sturgeon wrote so many excellent stories -- far more than appeared on your lists -- that his fans might have found it difficult to agree on a few that clearly stand out above the rest. I’d like to see a list of which writers got the most votes in the story categories; this could settle the question of whether Sturgeon’s reputation overshadows his impact on today’s readers, or whether it was just impossible to agree on his “greatest” work. (If the latter is true, maybe you could hold an all-Sturgeon poll to settle it!)

Rob Tomshany
Tulsa, Oklahoma

[Part of the answer is that some popular writers have so many popular stories that votes don't accumulate for any one story -- as you admit by your votes. Since you wrote I've posted tabulations of all-time short fiction writer derived from short fiction votes, and collection votes. Sturgeon rates lower by these two rankings -- indicating that his reputation doesn't rest on just a couple stories or books. Also, since you wrote, I've extended the posted short fiction results to include all stories that got 3 votes or more, so that ''Microcosmic God'' does appear on the novelette list. The lists of suggestions were derived from counts of anthology and collection reprints, with award winners added in; not an ideal correspondence with all-time popularity, perhaps. ''Baby Is Three'' is seldom reprinted, for example, since it's a part of More Than Human.
-- ed.]

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