Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: A Study in Science Fiction

SFM16_7

This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2016, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or with the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

For Sci-Fi Month this year, I wanted to create a little ‘study in science fiction’, by taking a look at last year’s sci-fi reads and drawing up some stats and comparisons. This includes things like author and main character gender, year publisher, average Goodreads rating and more. If you want to view the full spreadsheet, you can find it here.

  • In 2015, I read 106 books, and 28 of those were science fiction. This alone surprised me to be honest; I thought it would have been even more. Science fiction and fantasy make up the large majority of what I read, so I was expecting perhaps almost half SF. 8 of these were standalone novels, and 20 were part of a series.
  • This included 10 female authors, 17 male authors, and 1 book that was co-written by both a male and female author. Whilst I don’t go out of my way to purposely read authors of one gender more than the other, I would like to read more female science fiction authors – just because there is so much talent out there.
  • The main characters included 8 females, 16 males and 4 books from both POVs. This made me a little sad. I want more sci-fi from a female point of view. Although is it really surprising? Science fiction seems to still be a very male-dominated field – although interestingly, a lot of the people taking part in this event, and a lot of book bloggers in general, are female.
  • Of the female authors, 4 wrote from a female POV, 5 from a male POV and 1 wrote from both. Does science fiction sell better with male characters or do people think it will? Two of the books with a female author and male POV were by the same author, who uses her initials rather than her first name when writing.
  • Of the male authors, 11 wrote from a male POV, 4 from a female POV and 2 wrote from both. So the exact same number of male authors as female authors wrote from a female POV. However I did read more male authors – it would be interesting to repeat this experiment having read an equal amount of male and female authors.
  • I was quite saddened to realise my reading wasn’t very diverse in terms of decade published! With the exception of just three books, all the rest were published in the 2010s. One was published in the 1950s, one in the 1960s and one in the 2000s. Not representing the classic sci-fi very well here…
  • The lowest rated book of my list on Goodreads was The Hive Construct by Alexander Maskill, with an average of 3.32. I believe I might have actually listed this book in a previous Sci-Fi Month as one I was looking forward to reading, but sadly it was a bit of a disappointment when I got round to it and I only awarded it three stars.
  • The highest rated book of my list on Goodreads was Golden Son by Pierce Brown, with an average of 4.46. No surprises, am I right? πŸ˜‰ Five stars from me!
  • I awarded two 2 stars, six 3 stars, eleven 4 stars and nine 5 stars. I’m quite generous with my ratings, but I also give up on stuff I’m not enjoying, so one star books very rarely even make it.
  • 16 of my ratings were higher than the Goodreads average, and 12 were lower. I don’t think that’s too bad, fairly even.

What do you think of these ‘statistics’? Have you ever looked at your reading habits like this?

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21 thoughts on “Sci-Fi Month 2016: A Study in Science Fiction”

  1. I regularly look at the demographic breakdown of my reading, but I haven’t applied a genre filter to those statistics yet – I might have to take a look and see where I end up πŸ™‚

    1. I keep meaning to do an overall one to cover an entire year, but there’s a lot to look at! So I thought it might be easier to do this breakdown and use it for SFM. πŸ™‚

  2. I’m not sure why, but I find these kinds of stats absolutely fascinating! I usually focus on tracking books by authors of colour and queer authors, but like Imyril I’ve never tracked genre before. Tracking narrative perspective is also a great idea!

  3. I have never looked at my statistics but it was very eye opening! I think you’re right, SF is still a male dominated genre, which is too bad. I’ve read some amazing SF written by women. I also think publishers push women SF writers to use their initials. So sad to think people might not pick up a book written by a woman, but hopefully that trend will take a turn someday.

    1. It’s sad really. The main one I was thinking of, which I read in 2015, was S.J. Kincaid – female author who uses her initials, and her main character is a teenage boy. I guess if she used her first name, teenage boys wouldn’t pick up her books 😦

  4. My 2015 breakdowns were as follows:
    Books Read – 211
    Fiction – 204
    Non-Fiction – 7
    Graphic Novels – 117
    Written by Women – 85
    Written by Men – 127 (adds up to more than 211 due to one being co-written)

    What I didn’t do is count how many were sci-fi, but a quick skim through the list gives me 42 titles. Mostly graphic novel-related. Like you, I would have expected way more sci-fi than that!

  5. Well, I never thought about looking at my reading with statistics in mind – and even less where the gender of authors & characters was involved – so your post has not only piqued my curiosity but also made me consider doing something along these lines, if nothing else to see if I need more… balance in my reading.
    Very, very intriguing! Thank you! πŸ™‚

    1. Let me know if you do, I’d like to see that – I love to see infographics and statistics posts. I was going to do shiny infographics but I got kind of lazy…

  6. I’ve never done this but I love the idea. I bet my numbers would probably surprise me too! I actually like POV from a female perspective- there’s been no shortage of male POV after all and I think it’s nice to read female characters. And yes more female authors- I think (just a feeling- nothing to back it up) that there is more female written SF in YA these days? Maybe? Or at least I seem to run across it more. And I’m reading more YA SF I think now than “adult”, although I think those labels are kinda fluid. Anyway I hope we get more female written and POV SF- and fantasy too. I might have to go look at my numbers now lol…

  7. I’ve never carried out a breakdown like this – how intriguing. I should probably give it a go!
    I like that you mentioned you’re generous with ratings and that you very rarely have 1 star as you don’t finish books you’re not enjoying – I’m exactly the same. I don’t want to finish a book I’m not enjoying just so I can give a book a low rating! Life is too short and I don’t have a time turner!
    Lynn πŸ˜€

    1. Do it! πŸ™‚ And exactly – I’m not going to force myself through a 500 page book just to add it to the list when there’s a potential 5 star book waiting to be read next.

  8. Very interesting stats. You inspired me to post about my SF reading stats. It seems that I tend to read writers who use several point-of-view characters of both genders (and aliens and AIs).

    There are a lot of women writing (and publishing) SF. But it seems to me that the writers who get most promotion and are more prominently on bookstore shelves are males. So people tend to read them more and talk about them more than about women writers.

    1. Ooh, I don’t think I’ve read many books from alien or AI POVs!

      That’s true, and it’s very sad. I don’t understand why people still think women don’t read sci-fi…

  9. Interesting. I’ve never analyzed my reading like that. I tend to bounce around a lot with my book selections which can be good and bad. I have a whole lot of series I’ve started and haven’t gotten back to yet. I need to be better about that. I read a pretty good variety of genres, some newer, some older. I also throw in the occasional biography and non-fiction choice. One of my favorite things about being on Goodreads and in D&J is that every month others suggest books for group reads and my TBR list has grown exponentially. That’s good, right?

    1. I hate to think how many series I’ve started and still not finished… and an ever growing TBR is excellent!

      I like to mix things up too. I love non-fiction, especially travel and history.

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