We received 222 responses to our first Locus Online poll and survey, over a period of about 5 weeks. (Fifteen responses came on the last day.) Not bad, considering what we estimate to be a more casual audience on the Internet compared to those readers who pay for the magazine, whose poll still draws 500 or 600 responses each year.
We should reiterate that this online poll is completely independent of the poll and survey run by Locus Magazine, though our results will be compared to those of the magazine's poll when they are published sometime this Summer.
We ran the poll unsure if we'd get any substantial responses at all, half-afraid we'd become targets of Ayn Rand or L. Ron Hubbard fans, as Modern Library's online poll of the 100 best novels of the 20th century was last year. And in fact, we were the target of a group of obvious special-interest voters: 29 ballots received, most of them on March 25th and 26th, voting (as best SF novel) for a book called Plan B, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. The book, just published early this year, apparently has an Internet following; its Amazon page has some revealing background information. Since we were interested in capturing a representative sample of our online readers' tastes with this poll and survey, we've declined to let the results be hijacked by the disproportionately small number of Lee/Miller fans, most of whom indicated they rarely visit this website. Similarly, we discounted duplicate ballots, where the voter apparently hit the 'Submit' button twice in short succession. (A couple of times this was legitimate, as when the second submission had more categories filled in than the first.)
Not having a list of 1998 published books to post, we deliberately left the poll categories less restrictive than in the magazine poll; we asked for the ''best new SF novel you've read in the past year'' -- not the best SF novel from 1998. And so we received significant votes for several books from 1997 and even 1996. (If we'd been more specific we could have dismissed the Plan B votes out of hand, as votes for 1999 work.)
We cut off listings results at 4 votes -- just 2% of the total ballots received. Voting was widely scattered; 75 different SF novels, 71 different fantasy novels, 41 different horror novels. Here's a little table:
Our second poll and survey follows up on some of the missing elements from the first, especially categories for other books and for short fiction. For those categories we're asking for just one vote in each, consistent with the first poll. Beyond that, we're conducting for the first time a poll of all-time favorite short fiction (before 1990), divided by the traditional categories of novella, novelette, and short story. We've prepared some lists of prominent stories as suggestions, and you can vote for up to five items in each category.
Go to Poll and Survey #2.
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