What the online ratings say about the BSFA and Kitschies shortlists

O frabjous day! Both the BSFA and the Kitschies have published their shortlists for this year’s awards for SF. As I have done in previous years, here are the statistics for the number of owners, and the average rating, that each of the shortlisted novels has on LibraryThing and GoodReads.

First up, the BSFA, which has given us an unusually wide choice, eight novels due to a multiple tie for fourth place in the nominating process.

Goodreads LibraryThing
owners av rating owners av rating
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, by Claire North 7535 4.00 337 4.07
Ancillary Sword, Anne Leckie 4308 4.09 317 4.16
Cuckoo Song, by Frances Hardinge 334 4.18 53 4.27
Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor 268 3.72 49 4.06
Wolves, by Simon Ings 101 3.37 28 3.70
Europe in Autumn, Dave Hutchinson 85 3.81 36 3.64
The Moon King, by Neil Williamson 40 3.50 17 3.70
The Race, by Nina Allan 16 4.44 8 3.63

Apart from the fifth and sixth placed books, the order is consistent between the two systems, and it’s also fairly clear that Harry August and Ancillary Sword have both wildly outsold the rest combined; though it may be worth noting that Cuckoo Song is more popular on both systems among those who have read it.

Last year, the BSFA Award had two winners, for the first time in its history. As the ratings stood on the day the shortlist was announced, Ancillary Justice was top on Goodreads and second on LibraryThing; Ack-Ack Macaque was third on GR and fourth, i.e. second last, on LT. These statistics may be a decent guide to what has already sold well, but only the vaguest of indications as to what will actually win.

A similar, if not stronger, warning applies to the Kitschies, where there are two shortlists to consider. The Red Tentacle, for best novel, consists of the following five books:

Goodreads LibraryThing
owners av rating owners av rating
Grasshopper Jungle, by Andrew Smith 5130 3.76 231 3.73
The Peripheral, by William Gibson 3360 4.04

320 3.98
Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor 267 3.72 49 4.06
The Way Inn, by Will Wiles 105 3.50 31 2.83
The Race, by Nina Allan 16 4.44 8 3.63

Again, two strong leaders, but this is a juried award, so even less likely to be reflective of purchasing patterns, and I note that The Race is rated highest by GR users and Lagoon by LT users. Having said that, last year the winner was indeed the leader by this system.

The Golden Tentacle, awarded by the Kitschies for best debut novel, also has five nominees, but here there is a very clear front-runner:

Goodreads LibraryThing
owners av rating owners av rating
The People in the Trees, by Hanya Yanagihara 3122 3.54 255 3.67
The Girl in the Road, by Monica Byrne 890 3.56 109 3.59
Memory of Water, by Emmi Itäranta 850 3.78 108 3.92
Viper Wine, by Hermione Eyre 78 3.56 31 3.88
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers 54 4.33 3

Note however the strong showing of Memory of Water, highest rated on LT and second highest on GR.

I am necessarily being a bit circumspect in my commentary this year, but I’ve read eleven of the sixteen books above, and enjoyed almost all of them.