Well, this is a nice thing to wake up to on the first day of the new baktun: Locus Online polled the Internet to find out what the best science fiction and fantasy works of the 20th and 21st century (to date) have been. The novel results are in, and Old Man’s War is on top of the list for the 21st century (top of the 20th century list: Dune, by Frank Herbert). On the fantasy side of things, The Lord of the Rings tops the 20th century list, while Neil Gaiman’s American Gods tops the 21st. I am, as you might imagine, pleased to be in such company.
For those curious, here’s the top ten SF for the 21st century (to date), determined by the Locus Online poll respondents:
1. Old Man’s War, John Scalzi
2. Anathem, Neal Stephenson
3. The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi
4. Spin, Robert Charles Wilson
5. Blindsight, Peter Watts
6. Altered Carbon, Richard Morgan
7. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
8. Pattern Recognition, William Gibson
9. The City & The City, China Mieville
10. Accelerando, Charles Stross
From these results, 2005 was a fine year for the young new century in terms of science fiction, as three of the Hugo nominees that year (OMW, Spin and Accelerando) made the top ten .
If you want to really nerd out, here are the complete results of the voting (including, it appears, every novel nominated in each of the four categories).
Caveat for your consideration: Locus Online notes that the large majority of votes for the poll came in the last few days, which also coincides with when both I and Tor.com pointed people to the poll. It would not be out of line to assume a correlation between people who learned about the poll from my site, and people who might be inclined to vote for one of my works. And of course, I have the ability to move some amount of traffic online. That said, I would note that the next highest performing of my novels comes in at number 35 (The Last Colony), which to me does not suggest the voting population of the poll was irrationally in the tank for my work in a general sense. I’m pretty sure my fans are science fiction fans first, and fans of mine second. In any event, I would be delighted to be anywhere in a top ten list with this particular crowd of writers.
Another caveat: the 21st century is not yet twelve years old, so anyone would suggest the lists for this century are definitive should probably wait at least another nine decades, more or less. But as an observation of the current state of the science fiction art, it’s not a bad place to start.
Finally: If you did vote in the poll (and for me!) thank you. I appreciate it. It’s nice to see OMW doing well.