A better way to settle Best of Year arguments?

February 13, 2009 § 3 Comments

So I’ve been catching up on the Locus Roundtable discussions on Best of 2008 lists. While certainly there are some thoughtful comments in those posts, I ultimately concluded that there is too much dithering and hand-wringing going about for my liking. But how could I improve the already-existing models, imperfect as they may be?

Then it struck me. Yesterday was the 200th birthday of a man whose ideas were (are?) so revolutionary that not only should they rock the foundations of biology and theology, but that even the mightiest of them all, the stalwart literary criticism and its bedrock principles of hierarchical ranking of tomes, ought to tremble at the shadows this mild-mannered man cast.

Yes, yesterday was the anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth. And while his ideas on how natural selection led to the development of new species may have been perverted by the likes of Herbert Spencer, Houston Chamberlain, and Adolf Hitler, let that not be a deterrent from what I’m about to propose:

Let us settle the issue of which books/authors are the Best of Year by a simple demonstration of survival of the fittest.

I propose a combination of cage fighting and the WWE’s Royal Rumble in determining a winner. Let’s say 30 books/authors are entered. A blind draw will be done to determine their entrances into a cage lined with barbed ware, pulverized glass, and the feces of William Shatner. Each author will enter wearing singlets and carrying a copy of his/her book. They will have 90 seconds to vanquish their opponent, before two more are released into the ring. After 29 authors have been defeated and their books shredded and covered with the essence of Shatner, that one final, bloodied but unbowed victor shall have his/her book declared to be the winner.

So…is anybody in agreement with me that this would make for a much more entertaining and Darwinian way of determining Best of Year?

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