I like stats and numbers and I was culling some data on my Vacation posts the other day and thought it would make for an interesting post itself, so here you go. The numbers below represent the first 26 episodes of my Vacation in the Golden Age, covering the July 1939 through August 1941 issues of Astounding.
Some basic stats
- Number of episodes: 26
- Total number of words: 93,154
- Longest episode: 26 (August 1941) at 5,294 words1
- Shortest episode: 14 (August 1940) at 2,737 words2
- Average length: 3,514 words
Plotted over time, here is what the words per episode looks like for the first 26 episodes:
Anyone who cares to plot the trend line can see where things are going. Interestingly, that jump beginning in Episode 19 is right around the time I started doing the write up for each story as I finished reading the story as opposed to waiting until the entire issue had been read.
I know from looking at Feedburner that a lot of folks read the Vacation posts via RSS. I don’t have good RSS numbers at the moment, so the numbers that follow are based on direct views of the posts on my blog.
- Most discussed episode: 23 (May 1941) with 21 comments3
- Least discussed episode: 22 (April 1941) with 3 comments4
- Average comments per episode: 10
- Most viewed episode: 1 (July 1939)5
- Least viewed episode: 9 (March 1940)6
- Number of stories and articles covered in the first 26 episodes: 2007
- Number of unique bylines: 718
- Number of women authors: 39
- Number of non-fiction articles: 30
- Number of serials: 9
- Number of words per issue: ~67,00010
- Total words read in the first 26 episodes: 1.7 million or the equivalent of about 19 science fiction novels11.
The following table lists the top 10 contributors to Astounding in the first 26 issues. The numbers include any pieces that appear under the authors’ pseudonyms as well. The “Best in issue” is the number of times I rated a story by that author as the best story in the issue. The “Avg” is, like a batting average, the frequency with which the author has a “best story in issue.”
|Author||Pieces||# Best in issue||Avg.|
|L. Ron Hubbard||12||4||.333|
|L. Sprague de Camp||12||0||.000|
|A. E. van Vogt||10||2||.200|
|Lester del Rey||7||2||.286|
|R. S. Richardson||7||0||.000|
|Nelson S. Bond||6||1||.167|
Willy Ley and R. S. Richarson should probably be caveats since they write mostly articles, although Ley did write “Fog” under the pseudonym Robert Willey and that was my favorite story in that issue. You can see that Heinlein has everyone beat as far as pieces go. And he has the most stories that I selected as the best in the issue. But when you look at the average, Heinlein and Hubbard tie for second place. First place goes to Theodore Sturgeon who, with 8 stories so far, has had the best story in the issue 3 times. This surprised me when I looked at the numbers.
It will be interesting to see how these numbers change and evolve over the next 25 issues or so. I’ll probably revisit the numbers after Episode 50 (August 1943, approximately November 1, 2012).
- Contains part 2 of “Methuselah’s Children” for which I probably wrote a thousand words alone. ↩
- Contains del Rey’s “The Stars Look Down” and van Vogt’s “Vault of the Beast.” ↩
- Contains Heinlein’s “Universe” and MacDonald’s “Solution Unsatisfactory” ↩
- Contains Sturgeon’s “Microcosmic God” and Asimov’s “Reason” ↩
- Keep in mind that the number of views varies with how long the post has been out. The July 1939 issue has been out the longest and it is also the first episode of the Vacation so I’d expect it to be the most-viewed episode. ↩
- Contains “If This Goes On–” by Heinlein and “Cold” by Nat Schachner ↩
- Does not include Campbell’s editorials ↩
- Includes pseudonyms ↩
- C. L. Moore and Amelia R. Long in Episode 1, and Leigh Brackett in Episode 8 and Episode 10 ↩
- I estimated this using standard word count estimation practices. Keep in mind this is for the standard-sized issue. A separate count will be needed for bed sheet sized issues beginning in January 1942. ↩
- Assumes an average length of 90,000 words for a novel. ↩