National Breakdown

Now, let’s break down the stories in the 49 magazines by the author’s nationality.  I couldn’t always find this information, and I’ve left out countries which only had one data point.  Here’s what’s left:

Nation Avg Stars (5 max) # of stories Avg Wordcount
Australia 3.08 18 5,513
South Africa 2.83 3 3,660
New Zealand 2.75 2 4,751
USA 2.73 210 4,484
Canada 2.70 30 4,322
UK 2.63 35 3,844
Singapore 2.50 6 4,491
Ireland 2.25 2 4,708
Spain 2.25 2 4,708
Czechia 2.00 2 5,837
Malaysia 1.50 2 2722
China 1.25 2 2460

My guesses before running this analysis were not entirely accurate.  I’m surprised that Australia took the top spot, since they have a higher average wordcount and were weighed down by Talking Chicken.

I’m an American, but I began school in Canada, and recently spent several years living in former British colonies in Africa and Asia, so I may not be a typical American.  I still expected the USA to take the top spot, as I find my tastes becoming more American the older I get.  Maybe I just gravitate to whatever is uncool, and there’s nothing less cool right now than being a hard-working, happily-married, red-blooded American.

I had expected Canada to place far below the USA, but it’s almost even.  I didn’t like Canadian authors taking unnecessary shots at the USA, but I guess US authors matched the Canadians in unprovoked attacks on my home.

I wasn’t surprised that the UK scored lower, but my reasoning was probably wrong.  I thought British authors were more likely to insert politics into their stories, but a quick scan of their titles doesn’t bring any memories of politics to my mind.  It’s possible British authors were trying to be clever with their language, inserting absurdist elements, or doing other things I didn’t find amusing.  I may pull a sample of low-scoring British stories in the future, and see if I come to a conclusion.

It’s notable that the non-English-speaking countries make up the bottom of my list.  Either there were some issues with translation, or those countries have a different style of science fiction and fantasy.  I also just learned that “Czechia” is a country, at least according to some dubious online sources such as the CIA World Factbook and Google maps.  I knew of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, but Czechia?  When did this happen?  and why?  I just hope they don’t change the name of the state of Mississippi to Mississippia.

For the English-speaking countries, I decided to see which were over or under-represented, based on their populations:

Nation Stories per Million Population
Ireland 2.50
New Zealand 2.25
UK 1.85
USA 1.56
South Africa 1.53
Australia 1.29
Canada 1.19
Singapore 0.97

For South Africa, I used only the white fraction of the population, arbitrarily deciding that reading and writing SFF is primarily a white hobby there. Note that India, which presumably has the largest English-speaking population on the planet, did not contribute even a single story to my reading.

I’m reluctant to draw any conclusions about Ireland or New Zealand from the above data, as they each only contributed two stories.  I wonder if the UK’s higher numbers could be due to its welfare state, with people giving writing a shot rather than pursuing other employment.  Apparently the first “Harry Potter” book was written under such circumstances, so perhaps others are following that path.

I’m not surprised to see Singapore at the bottom of the list.  Although most Singaporeans are fluent in English, for many (most?) of them, it is not their first language.  So, I’d expect many Singaporeans to make their first writing attempts in Chinese, Malay, or some other language.

Let me know in the comments below if you’ve noticed a difference in writing style between authors of different nationalities.

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15 comments

  1. I’m kind of unbothered by the differences. Such things really bug my mother. She finds the odd “u” in various words, and British punctuation offputting. As long as they’re consistent I don’t care.

    1. I’ve had to write in British English before, so now I’m sometimes confused whether I’m typing the British or American version.

      1. Maybe you’re just adding a bit of flavour to your stories.

        1. Hah, I usually remember to take out the “u”s, but there are other things I can never remember, like whether the punctuation at the end of a quoted sentence goes inside or outside quote marks.

          Brits were always trying to stop me from adding two spaces after a period, but I always refused. I think wordpress strips them out automatically, though, or at least my template does.

  2. Ok, to be fair, how does the US rank if you take only the top 18 stories? That would be a much fairer assessment in comparing to Aussies…

    1. I don’t think that would be fair for my purposes. I was trying to find out if I should seek out Aussie fiction, or avoid British, so comparing top to top wouldn’t answer that, I need an average.

  3. emperorponders · · Reply

    There’s probably some law of averages or big numbers at play here. 2.7 seems to be the total average, and the bigger the output, the closer to that value. If smaller, there’s more room for outliers and deviations.

    That people born outside the English-speaking sphere write worse stories seems reasonable, though.

    1. You’re very likely correct.

      I also forgot to mention in my post: I read an Aussie magazine which gives preferential treatment to Aussie and Kiwi authors, and a Canadian magazine which does the same for Canadians. So, my results for those countries are skewed heavily towards whatever those editors chose.

  4. Loving all these stats you posting. You have a spreadsheet that you use, or have just been going back to look and doing this now? (Apologize if you already made a post on this; busy with school th past 6 months) 🙂

    1. I plan to post two more posts like these next week.

      I typed the data into Excel after I finished each magazine, and imported all of it into Access when I finished the round 1 reading.

      When I finish rounds 2 and 3, plus a couple of other reading projects, I’m hoping I’ll have around 1,000 short stories in the database.

  5. Apparently only 10% of Indians speak English, which doesn’t surprise me–I’ve had Indian co-workers who didn’t even start to learn English until graduate school.

    In Singapore, on the other hand, English is ubiquitous. All of the street signs are in English (but maybe Chinese too). Everyone takes English in school, along with their “native” tongue. My brother-in-law lives there and doesn’t have any issues despite only speaking English (but then he got along ok in Bangkok too).

    1. I knew English had gone down some since the British days, but didn’t realize it had fallen as far as 10%.

      Everyone I knew in Singapore spoke English, but I got the feeling that when they were at home with their parents, or with a group of friends of the same ethnic group, they chose their other language.

  6. Anonymous · · Reply

    Czechia is an analog to Slovakia which officially, I believe, used to be the Slovak Republic.

    I like these numerical analyses trying to home in on where your future reading should be directed.

  7. […] realized that in my hurry to look at the stories in my 49 ranked magazines broken down by genre, by nation, by gender, and by pay, I didn’t present the entire dataset.  So, here it […]

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