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A NEW YEAR

January 1, 2016

SF Mistressworks has been reviewing science fiction novels by women writers published before 2001 since June 2011. That’s four and a half years. During that time, we’ve posted 346 reviews of 276 books by 128 authors. The reviews were contributed by 51 reviewers. Some were original to SF Mistressworks, many were not. From the end of February, we switched to posting one review a week, which is I think a sustainable frequency – although, of course, we’d like to be able to post more. Reviews of eligible books are always welcome. We’ve no plans to stop, since there are a number of women sf writers, and books written by them, we have yet to review – writers such as Alison Sinclair, Ann Tonsor Zeddies, Anne Gay, Barbara Paul, Carolyn Vesser, Cecelia Holland, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Dana Stabenow, Deborah Christian, Denise Vitola, Denny Demartino, Diann Thornley, Doris Lessing, Eleanor Arnason, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Emily Devenport, Emma Bull, Helen Collins, Jane Emerson, Jane Yolen, Janet Kagan, Janet Morris, Joan Cox, Julie E Czernada, Karen Joy Fowler, Katherine Kerr, Kathleen M O’Neal, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kristine Smith, Lisa Goldstein, Lisa Mason, Liz Williams, Martha Soukup, Mary Rosenblum, Molly Gloss, Nancy Springer, Patricia Anthony, Pauline Ashwell, Rebecca Ore, Sage Walker, Severna Park, Sheila Finch, Stephanie Smith, Susan M Shwartz, Susan Torian Olan, Syne Mitchell, Wen Spencer and Wilhelmina Baird. (If you spot any missing names, please let us know – but remember: science fiction only, and twentieth century or earlier only.)

It’s traditional at this time to offer a few stats about SF Mistressworks. So here they are…

Most popular reviews in 2015:

  1. The Feminine Future, Mike Ashley, ed. (Jun 2015)
  2. The Word for World is Forest, Ursula K Le Guin (Jun 2011) – down from #1 last year
  3. The Passion of New Eve, Angela Carter (Jun 2011) – up from #4 last year
  4. The Female Man, Joanna Russ (Jun 2011) – up from #5 last year
  5. Passing for Human, Jody Scott (Jun 2011)

I’m not sure why reviews from the month SF Mistressworks first appeared have proven so popular, but it seems they are. Dropping off the list is Doris Piserchia’s Star Rider, which had been linked to by io9. As has The Handmaid’s Tale, which has been, and probably still is, a set text in schools.

Most popular reviews of 2015:

  1. The Feminine Future, Mike Ashley, ed. (Jun 2015)
  2. Shards of Honor, Lois McMaster Bujold (Feb 2015)
  3. The Highroad Trilogy, Kate Elliott (Apr 2015)
  4. Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler (Apr 2015)
  5. The Best of CL Moore, CL Moore (Jan 2015)

I’m not sure why The Feminine Future, an anthology of early sf by women writers, has proven so popular. Bujold is a popular author, so her presence is no surprise.

Most reviewed book in 2015:

  1. Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang, Kate Wilhelm (twice)

The only book reviewed more than once during 2015.

Most reviewed authors

  1. Ursula K Le Guin (19)
  2. CJ Cherryh (17)
  3. Lois McMaster Bujold (16)
  4. Joanna Russ (15)

Le Guin keeps the top spot, but Cherryh overtakes Bujold to take second plac. Russ remains in the top five. There were three authors vying for seventh equal: Norton, Brackett and Wilhelm.

Most reviewed books

  1. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K LeGuin (6)
  2. Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang, Kate Wilhelm (5)
  3. The Dispossessed, Ursula K Le Guin; We Who Are About To…, Joanna Russ (4 each)

Again, The Left Hand of Darkness remains the most-reviewed book, but Where The Late Sweet Birds Sang moves up to second place. The remaining two books have been constants in the top five for the past few years. Competing for the next spot were ten books – Ammonite, China Mountain Zhang, Downbelow Station, Frankenstein, Kindred, Memoirs of a Spacewoman, Shards of Honor, The Female Man, The Ship Who Sang and The Sparrow – all of which have three reviews apiece.

It only remains for us to wish everyone a prosperous 2016, and don’t forget to spread the word about SF Mistressworks.

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