conspiratorial bookswap

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conspiratorial bookswap

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Editado: Fev 6, 2012, 12:27pm

Over on the FSF blog we've been having a discussion about what to do about the fact that the Hugo-people nominated virtually no women. Can we figure out ways to make it easier for people to participate?

The Angry Black Woman suggested that we do a bookswap, and this seems like one good place to organize it. We could call each other's attention to new books of note that should be considered for the Hugo, and figure out ways to swap them. Books can be swapped or loaned using the bookswapping sites. We can work out deals for magazines and shorter works, too.

Thoughts? In particular, are any of us already using any of the bookswap sites?

-- lquilter

Editado: Abr 17, 2007, 5:14am

Well there is 1 woman out of 5 on the novel shortlist, and the Best Related Book is almost a dead-cert to go to a book by a woman about a woman.

We have been discussing this a bit on the SF group. Which novel would you have liked to see make the shortlist but didn't?

It is interesting to compare awards. This year 5 women made the PKD Award shortlist (against 2 men) - and the eventual winner was a woman Chris Moriarty. Of those I think that Living Next Door To The God Of Love is out of eligibility (published in the UK in 2005) for the Hugo. One was a YA and they very rarely get nominated for Hugos (excepting JK Rowling). So that leaves Spin Control, Carnival and Mindscape (a first novel) as possibles, they should be in the minds of SF readers who follow the awards list anyway. I haven't read any of those three yet so I am not in a position to judge their merits. Nor do we get to find out the full nominations list until after the award is presented, so we don't know if they were nominated and fell short by a few votes.

As I don't take any magazine other than Interzone I can't really comment on the state of short fiction.

Full disclosure - I am male, but I do read plenty of SF by women and I would always encourage having a wide range of different voices in the genre. Which means different cultural backgrounds as well as women.

Abr 17, 2007, 12:11pm

One thing to do would be to have more women write, given that other discussion thread. Not something that is simple. Given the number of female writing that sort of thing, you couldn't realistically expect to have too many, on probability, if everything is distributed as you would expect.

The recent females involved have been for fantasy books, as well, I think, mostly?

Editado: Fev 6, 2012, 12:27pm

what's the other discussion thread?

my understanding is that there is virtually gender-parity among published SF. one would probably have to scan locus titles to see though.

-- lquilter

Editado: Fev 6, 2012, 12:27pm

As for other works - I've actually asked people to start listing works that could have been considered for 2006 at the FSFwiki.

More importantly, however, we've started a list at the FSFwiki for works eligible for consideration for the 2007 awards (all the awards). So suggestions there would be appreciated, and maybe we won't have to have these kinds of discussions next year.

-- lquilter

Editado: Abr 17, 2007, 1:01pm

No, I think that it is about 25% (maybe less) of published SF novels are by women.

From Broad Universe -

Books Received during the same time period
(From LOCUS, Jan-Dec 2000. Books Received lags two months behind the issue month. More or less comparing what came in the door vs. what was reviewed. Fractional points indicate two, three, or four editors.)
2026 total
636.75 books by female authors/editors (31.4%)
1331.75 books by male authors/editors (65.7%)
57.5 books by authors of unknown gender (including house names and anonymous) (2.8%)

Those numbers are all books received by Locus, so will include reprints, different editions and all genre books including fantasy and weird horror.

Abr 17, 2007, 1:07pm

I would think that is pretty unlikely. If less females write it in general, they would have to be generally much better to get it to approach 50-50. That, or have some strange editorial choosing process.

Abr 17, 2007, 1:14pm

So on andyl's numbers, you would only expect to have 1-2 out of 5 be female, assuming that males and females write Hugo style SF at equal ability.

You'd have to break it down, but I'd be guessing there might be a fair bit of female written fantasy - a large percentage of the urban fantasy seems to be, for example. The female Hugo nominations in recent years being mostly fantasy might be slight evidence of that, is well.

If it is more balanced there, that would mean less SF female writers - see the thread mentioned above for actually trying to find some.

Abr 17, 2007, 1:22pm

On probability then, if there started to be female dominated lists for some period of time (you should get one occasionally) - or even 50-50 splits, and the numbers are still as andyl supplies now, something very strange would be going on.

Editado: Fev 6, 2012, 12:27pm

(a) hugo is sf and fantasy

(b) even if women wrote only 25% of all "SF" (not just science fiction), 25% of novel/novella/novelette/ss would be 5 nominations, not 1. And I would have to figure out the statistics on it, but I'm going to guess off the top of my head that +/– 1 would be within range of error in a given year; so, 4-6.

At any rate -- one can feel free to quarrel with whether or not there was intentional bias; unintentional bias; a biased set of stories from which to choose (too few published by women, e.g.); or no bias at all. The more interesting question to my mind is, given evidence of various sorts (see, eg, guardian article) that things are not quite where they should be for whatever reason, what can be done to correct unintentional biases?

On a personal level, I did a gender-reading audit of my own reading habits about 12 years ago, over the course of a year. When male friends have done the same they were often surprised and displeased to realize that they exhibited various indicia of unintentional bias (leaving women bloggers they liked off their blogroll; skimming their eyes over obviously female names on the bookshelf under assumption it would be "soft" SF or fantasy).

Making lists of notable works by female writers is another way to help remedy any unintentional bias that may be occurring.

Any other ideas?

-- lquilter

Abr 17, 2007, 6:55pm


a) Sure, but proportionally less fantasy gets nominated. Also very little high fantasy gets nominated these days.

b) Sure this year looks like it has been a poor year for shorter work by women. I don't follow the short fiction much so I cannot say. In a number of other recent years there have been four nominations. OK still a little down on 25% but not massively so. When you consider that there are only about two to three hundred nominating ballots I would expect quite a lot of variance. For Interaction there were 269 nominating ballots for short story and 271 titles nominated. Just a handful of nominators can make a difference.

I do keep lists of books read and last year 20 out 125 were by women (but that includes crime/mystery as well as SF). I pick up writers such as Justina Robson, Gwyneth Jones, Tricia Sullivan, and a few others as soon as I see their books.

Now, as I haven't read the PKD finalist books yet, but looking at the novels that have made the Hugo list I think the Novik is the weakest of the ones I have read (just got Eifelheim to go) but I understand it has a lot of marketing push behind it so is in the readership's consciousness. Maybe Spin Control or Carnival is good enough to make the short list instead, I'll know later on in the year. I can't think of any other novel by a woman I would nominate this year. Maybe you can suggest some.

Abr 17, 2007, 8:26pm

I was only talking about novels, the other stuff, I only read one northern hemisphere magazine, and the odd thing online now, so can't really say about the shorter work, but I wouldn't think it is a whole lot different, numberswise.

As andyl said, your elf, princess and farm boy go off to stop the dark lord, or superheroine vampire huntress chases werewolf boyfriend is very very unlikely to be a Hugo type book. Sometimes crazy popularity can do it like Harry Potter, but not in general.

If you are a hard SF reader mostly, then in general you will be reading male writers, because the large majority of it is written by men. On a time basis, if you were browsing looking for things to read, it definitely makes sense to try males first here.

If you are a paranormal romance side of things readers, you will be reading females. The overwhelming majority of these, even on the urban fantasy end, are written by women at the moment it would seem. It is quite doubtful that this is a bias against publishing men writing it, but more a reflection of who is actually writing it.

Abr 18, 2007, 12:06am

Oh, and speaking in probability terms, if the writers of the genre are largely male, then much as you will get the occasional female dominated nomination batch, you should get a few very largely male batches because of the underlying distribution.

The chance of getting 24 out of 25 male if 75% of the nominations are male is probably around 100 to 1 or so off the top of my head as a guess, on those numbers, if you want to assume this is binomial. :)

Not knowing if they were, or not, or what the actual distributions are that is a bit of handwaving. If they were 80% then it would be more like 40/1, assuming the male and female stuff is of equal quality, and ignoring possible biases. It is of course possibles that males are better than females at writing Hugo style sf, or vice versa, or biases may exist.

In other words, not that unlikely.

Just because the ratio might be 3/1 you aren't always going to get straight down the line 1/4 be female, it isn't robot box packing. :)

Abr 18, 2007, 1:27am

I had a thought, too, as another way to look at a sample that wasn't too huge.

I took a look at

478 people listed there. There were a handful I didn't know or couldn't find a sex for on a quick lookup, so I called them female.

The results :

25% were female.

It also gives an 'items online' total for each other.

Of this total, 19% were female.

Around twice as many males as females had 10 or more online pieces. Elizabeth Bear being one of the women.

No woman had 20 or more, but over 10 men did.

Some of these writers are of course dead.
The sample is more modern, too, really. No Wells, Burroughs, Verne, Capek, etc.

None of this takes into account whatever biases Richard might have in collecting these links, but still interesting. Off the top of my head Kelly Armstrong has some stories I now about because I read a couple, but this is what he says :-

What I'll link to

* Stories from major print and online magazines and collections.
* Stories by widely published authors and authors already listed.
* Stories nominated for the Hugo, Nebula and/or World Fantasy Award.

What I won't link to

* Fan fiction, self-published fiction, unpublished fiction.
* Non-SF. Fiction by unknown authors (not appearing in the ISFDB).

Editado: Fev 6, 2012, 12:27pm

struggling to get this back on track:

The more interesting question to my mind is, given evidence of various sorts (see, eg, guardian article) that things are not quite where they should be for whatever reason, what can be done to correct unintentional biases?

On a personal level, I did a gender-reading audit of my own reading habits about 12 years ago, over the course of a year. When male friends have done the same they were often surprised and displeased to realize that they exhibited various indicia of unintentional bias (leaving women bloggers they liked off their blogroll; skimming their eyes over obviously female names on the bookshelf under assumption it would be "soft" SF or fantasy).

Making lists of notable works by female writers is another way to help remedy any unintentional bias that may be occurring.

Any other ideas?

bluetyson, i appreciate the thought you've put into this issue. perhaps you can take your statistical breakdown & post it somewhere where it will get wider attention, and people can debate it who want to. personally, i'm neither interested in trashing the hugos nor in defending them; but in figuring out ways to make the process better. and i don't just mean the hugo process: i mean the general process of sharing information about books and authors. (some other time, i'll happily debate the questions about whether the hugos, despite 19/20 male nominations, stand alone among all literary awards, SF and non-SF, in being egalitarian and not demonstrating something that looks suspiciously like sexism. but right now my time is very limited and i want to focus on positive steps i can implement. other people can of course feel free to take you up on this discussion.)

-- lquilter

Abr 18, 2007, 8:25pm

Just a thought from those freesfonline numbers - perhaps women aren't promoting themselves on the internet quite as much? That could perhaps be encouraged. Whether more females than males are in the 'terrified of their work being copied and them not being paid' I do not know. If they are, that likely is working against them. Chris Moriarty has a book except, so that was something, and some essay type stuff, too.

If it is 19/20 only, at 0.75 chance to have a male nomination, that is about a 50/1 shot. At 0.80 chance, only about 20/1.

Your list of female authors that is at an obvious place to look couldn't hurt - e.g. wikipedia. Likewise making sure that places like the freesfonline do know about all the writers that have work to look at. If you are involved in female groups interested in that, that wouldn't be much work if you split it up, look at an author or two each not on the list and add them to Wikipedia, or somewhere.

If there is an unintentional bias because of a lack of female readers of Hugo type SF, that would be much more difficult to tackle. Likewise if they are less likely to be talking about it, online or otherwise, and more likely to be talking about epic fantasy, same sort of difficulty, given that is quite unlikely that off to save the princess and kill the dark lord, or vampire slayer finds werewolf boyfriend type books are going to be on Hugo lists.

I also don't know in general reading if your average male is more likely to read male writers, and vice versa, just as a part of their nature. If that is the case, not much you can do about that except promotion I suppose.

Abr 18, 2007, 9:16pm

Feel free to use this off the cuff stuff above elsewhere if you like yourself, too.

A quick look at the winners shows a bit over 25% of the winners for novel were female, a trend that is a little more recent I guess as far as more women winning. Are the other categories similar? If so, looks like it might be hard to prove that anything odd is going on. At a first quick look here it certainly doesn't seem to be the case.

Abr 19, 2007, 5:21am

I find the fact that only 200-300 nominate and about twice that number vote to be very poor. That is about 10% of a Worldcon's attendance voting.

What influences me to buy a book by someone I have never read before? Usually reviews by people I trust. For example I know I am not going to bother to buy and read The Outback Stars - it is in a sub-genre I don't care for. If a writer isn't published in the UK I cannot see their work on the shelves in most bookshops and I am less likely to order it blind from Amazon without such reviews (Kay Kenyon, Elizabeth Bear and others).

On the recent reviews on I counted 10 works by women, 27 by men, and 1 I didn't know the sex of. Of the last 30 reviews on, 8 were for works by women.

I guess when most people nominate, they think back to what hardcovers they have read that year (simplest way of being sure of eligibility). So a list of eligible novels is going to be of help, but it must also be backed up by the reviews to get people reading the books in the first place. It will certainly help the visibility of the paperback originals and probably the stuff initially published outside the US.

Abr 19, 2007, 6:11am

You could also have Charles Stross sent to another universe. That would open up a slot. :) No females to match him (or males), with 4 nominations in a row. Having a superstar to contend with will make it that much tougher.

Abr 19, 2007, 7:23am

Charlie has got 9 nominations in the last 6 years, and at least one nomination every year.

There does appear to be 'favourites' that get nominated lots. I have looked at the data from 2000-2007 (inclusive).

The following all had more than 5 or more nominations
Michael Swanwick (10), Mike Resnick (10), Charlie Stross (9), Michael A. Burstein (8), Jim Kelly (5), Robert Sawyer (5).

The leading women were Connie Willis and Lois McMaster Bujold both with 4 nominations.

There were a total of 82 different people (although there was one collaboration) nominated of which 15 were women. If we look at those who have less than 3 nominations there were 13 women out of a total of 63.

If you project further back I would say that Ursula Le Guin would join the 'favourites' table as would Bujold, Willis and Nancy Kress.

Abr 19, 2007, 7:38am

oh dear, I have come late to the party and it seems I have posted on this subject elsewhere. Posting the same multiple times will make me crazy.

Abr 19, 2007, 7:48am

There is always copy and paste. :)

No doubt in my mind that Stross deserves it though, a clear field leader.

Abr 19, 2007, 8:22am

As a matter of note, I've learned that there are more people who talk about the Hugos than actually nominate and vote. I'm referring to general Hugo conversations, not this one. It does cost a fair amount of money to vote.

I vote, as does Dukedom, although we don't always get our nominations in on time (as this time), but there are certainly many, many readers who don't.

1. Everyone who is concerned about this issue should be encouraged to become a supporting member of this year's Worldcon to be eligible to vote.

2. Exposure. Serialization in Analog seems to have helped Bujold. The publishers of Karen Traviss sent out loads of free mass market reader copies to bookstores of City of Pearl, that is certainly how I got so many members of the SF Discussion Group to read it. Although, I suspect 9 out of 10 Hugo voters are fans in the classic sense, convention attendees, so one would want to concentrate efforts there. I think Broad Universe might be helpful at these to some extent.

3. Pass your copy of a good novel by a women author on to someone else. I realize that's tough talk for LTers:-) For those who can afford it, BUY a copy and pass it on.

4. Recommend, recommend, recommend. Converse, discuss...etc.

Unfortunately, the women authors from the UK and Australia are handicapped for the Hugos, imo, by delays in publication. For example, I brought a copy of Margo Lanagan's Red Spikes from her Australian publisher recently, a very pricey venture for a small paperback. How many others will do that? It is eligible this year having been officially published last fall. It will not be published in the US until this October.

Abr 20, 2007, 11:50am

Australians aren't too likely to vote I wouldn't think, no. As for Bujold, she has the Baen thing going too, likely easy access to her stuff in general, compared to the others. Wonder if that matters.

I mentioned the difference between number of women's stories online to men - and the men might get published more or write more I suppose, that is pretty hard to check.

I have been browsing for Australian work, too. Nothing for Marianne de Pierres, although she has her own forum etc. that is pretty cool. Maxine McArthur has two. looking at Leanne Frahm, Lucy Sussex, Rosaleen Love, even Margo Lanagan to extend to horror/fantasy etc.. Only found a couple, one Sussex, one Lanagan, one Love. Nothing for Kim Wilkins or Sara Douglass. Love did have some science essays.

Greg Egan, the top gun, has 18 fiction works, and a bunch of articles etc. (Charlie Stross world leader of living writers with 30 I think, as opposed to Schmitz or Piper or people like that).

Terry Dowling has several. Sean Williams has quite a few, as does Simon Brown and Scott Westerfeld (who is half and half, I guess, being a permanent resident) has a few. None for Damien Broderick, but most of his stuff is at Fictionwise though. Stephen Dedman has a couple.

Editado: Fev 6, 2012, 12:27pm

bluetyson's last post really is intriguing to me (which, if you know me, is pretty obvious). I am *all* *about* using the Internet for publicity, exploiting Creative Commons & open content licenses, etc.

If there's a gender gap here, then I definitely want to close it. (Hell, even if there's not a gender gap, I want to get more writers doing this.)

What are good ways to reach out to writers to educate them about CC/open content/Baen-type experiments and so on? Cons seem obvious to me; are there other ways?

-- lquilter

Abr 20, 2007, 12:53pm

It doesn't even have to be Creative Commons, sci-fiction has bit the dust but infinityplus is still going and has recently published a short story by Deborah Biancotti and a novel extract by Gail Z. Martin.

Abr 20, 2007, 1:44pm

SciFiction's stories are still there though, which is cool. Good stuff there for sure. As andyl says, you don't have to make it available in a more unrestricted manner if you don't want to. while it is cool if you do. Your website to read, or your website, CC, won't make much difference to someone that just wants a look. If you want people to send it to all their mates, that is a different story.

Sean McMullen I suppose I forgot, he has a few, as well. Some of these are at the old eidolon site, speaking of magazines that are not going anymore. Jonathan Strahan has done ok out of that it seems, too, as far as editors go from eidolon, with International Year's Best, the New Space Opera etc.

I suppose you could get them to read some of Doctorow's work, lquitter, or Stross ( and should be links to Accelerando discussion there) or if you want the cold hard commercial look at it, then Eric Flint's prime palavaer at the Baen Free Library, or his essays in Baen's Universe.

Abr 21, 2007, 12:56pm

Speaking of Sean McMullen, here is a quote from an article he wrote in 1993 about genre publishing in Australia :-

"What is showing up statistically has its roots deep in our society's attitudes, and the statistics themselves are the broken windows, not the people who threw the rocks. When aspiring SF writers ask me about where one gets ideas I ask them if they read New Scientist, listen to The Science Show, or watch Quantum. The ratio of men to women who tell me that they do any of the above is about 4 to 1. That works out at about 20% of female writers taking an interest in those science news sources: not far from that 16% for female authors' share of adult-oriented SF. If you are going to write about it you must follow and understand it. My feeling is that the commercial publishers probably have no discernible sex bias in their policies, and that what they publish reflects what they are offered."

in the article he also talks about the massive increase in females writing fantasy

Abr 21, 2007, 10:38pm

Regarding the Hugos, I believe that most of the voters are convention-goers or writers themselves. I also tend to believe that most of them are over the age of 40 (but I could be wrong).

I think it would be interesting to put out excerpt collections such as Harper/Eos does here in the states, but list the author at the end of the excerpt rather than at the beginning. I got these as advanced reader copies but I don't know if they were made available to a general readership.

ok, so how, bluetyson, did you manage to slip into talking about all those male SF writers? I had to double check to see which group I was posting in:-)

Abr 22, 2007, 12:26am

One is an editor, not a writer. :)

A comparative thing, y'know. :) Wondering if it was possible that females are slacker at technology and promotion, given the numbers.

Thanks for the Deborah Biancotti mention. Silly woman's website the other day still had an excerpt from that, not the link to the story!

Any idea if the Hugo voting crowd is getting more women, given you mentioned the fantasy book nomination tihng the other day?

Editado: Fev 6, 2012, 12:27pm

Kelly Link's collection Stranger Things Happen is available by CC license --

Still looking for more.

-- lquilter

Abr 24, 2007, 9:27pm

Yeah, there's a bunch of online but not cc at the page, and I have been looking for Australians and listing them on the appropriate blog. If you were going to link to them all on the fsf list it would take you a while. :)

For Deborah Biancotti fans Jonathan Strahan's Coode Street Podcast has a story of hers, as well.

Abr 25, 2007, 4:48am

I came across this link from the C J Cherryh fansite. Thought it might prove relevant to this discussion

Chickpunk authors horrible name but there you go.

Abr 27, 2007, 3:53am

Yeah, saw that on Chris Moriarty's website, thought it was a cool name.

Found a new leader for online writers of the oz female persuasion, too, I think, by a fair margin. Anna Tambour

Editado: Fev 6, 2012, 12:27pm

So we now have a bookswap (thanks Tempest!) at FemSFBookswap.

I'm not very knowledgeable -- err, not at all knowledgeable -- about the various bookswapping programs. But this might be one place where we can centralize contacts with those programs, too, and organize bookswaps of specific feminist SF interest.


-- lquilter