Link Irresponsibly – Late March Edition

One of the things I’m doing with Read Irresponsibly that I didn’t do on Rat’s Reading is to highlight a few other articles on the internet. In other words, link spam or link roundups. These will include commentary.


Male/female split in books reviewed at the New York Review of Science Fiction (image courtesy of Strange Horizons)

The SF Count. Earlier this year, VIDA published some graphs showing the gender bias in book reviews and articles in various bookish venues. Niall Harrison has posted some similar graphs on gender bias for the major science fiction venues at the Strange Horizons blog. I hope he posts the data behind the Strange Horizons counts. That will help show if there are patterns (similar to that noted about Carolyn Cushman and Locus) that can be used to correct the bias. In the absence of that, the obvious thing that can be done is to add more female reviewers. However, if the bias is in how editors dole out review assignments, that’s not a gimme.

2010 Tiptree Award Winner. The Tiptree Award goes to science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender. I’ve read seven of the winners of this award, and have found that they are both thought-provoking and great stories. The only one I didn’t care for was more horror oriented (horror and I don’t mix too well). The 2010 winner is Dubravka Ugrešić’s Baba Yaga Laid an Egg. I’m quite looking forward to reading the book. The Tiptree announcement has the honor and long lists as well.

Another White-Washed Cover?. Neth Space notes that the pre-release cover of Ben Aaronovitch’s Midnight Riot displays the race of the main character, while the copy he actually received did not. I couldn’t tell you if it was intentional or not, but it certainly results in the same effect as intentional white-washing.

And that’s all for now!

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2 Responses to Link Irresponsibly – Late March Edition

  1. Niall says:

    Ah, now I understand what data you were after! I didn’t keep track by individual reviewer this year, I’m afraid; would have been quite a bit more work, especially given that some people review for multiple genres. Something to consider for a future count. For what it’s worth, though, I split out Cushman because her count was so noticeably different to those around her, and I didn’t notice anyone else with a similarly dramatic lean, in either direction.

    • Philip Weiss says:

      If you’ve followed the breakdowns that James Nicoll was doing (he seems to have stopped) of books by publisher by gender, this data could also be linked to that. For instance, if a review venue had a thing for Pyr, they’d almost certainly be under-representing women. Or someone else may like to do reviews of Big Name authors, as Gardner Dozois used to write in his Year’s Best anthologies. Those will trend male too. Or like you postulated at Vector that female authors might be skewing toward fantasy rather than real S.F. That’s a few examples of what could be done with that data.

      What you’ve done is give a great birds-eye view of the problem. I think that’s incredibly valuable, because it puts up hard numbers with brightly colored graphs that are very stark. I hope each of these venues puts up a blown up copy of their chart in their offices, and keeps it updated with their current numbers. Not as quotas, but as kind of a daily affirmation kind of thing, like how I post up my goals in my door so I see them every day when I leave my apartment. I do a count of my own reviews every 2 or 3 months to remind myself where I stand.

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