Classic Science Fiction

(logo by Kathy Marschall) I came up with the idea for this project while I was running Minnicon 27, but nobody else wanted to do it, so it didn't get used that year. The next year I decided to take it on myself.

The goal of the project was to come up with information on what a large group of fans interested in the subject thought were classic science fiction books. I do not regard this list as authoritative; but I find the results quite interesting.

The basic methodology was listing and rating. We went through three cycles; in each cycle (except the first) we all rated the books already on the list, and added more if they came to mind (we also rated the ones added). At the end of each cycle the old list was thrown out, and a new one made up only of the ratings from the most recent cycle was created. The final list is the output of the third cycle.

Ratings went from -5, meaning "it is an insult to consider this book a classic" to 5, meaning "it is unthinkable not to consider this book a classic". The number reported is the simple average of the ratings from the third cycle. The number of rankers indicates how many people rated this book in the last cycle. Obviously the ratings of books with lots of raters mean more than the ratings of books with few.

The final report was not released until Minicon 29, because it took me until then to get around to doing the data entry from the third rating cycle.

  • The participants
  • User-readable form
  • Comma-separated form suitable for importing into various database programs.

  • David Dyer-Bennet, <>