The Grading System

I've tried to incorporate a few different methods for communicating my opinion, the quality and a means for comparing books across decades to make sure nothing is lost by a deficiency in one or the other grade/review. 

The HEP SCORE is broken down into 5 categories: Universe, Social/Political Climate, Dialogue, Scientific Wonders, Characters.  Scores are on a 1 to 5 scale.  I understand this is particularly boring but I think it is an easily identifiable system, so I'm good with it.  
The scores break down thusly:
1 = Unacceptable/Boring
2 = Poor 
3 = Neutral/Acceptable 
4 = Good
5 = Exceptional
I reserve the right to base my judgement solely on my own opinion but hopefully my reviews each week will adequately justify the rating each is given.
This is the most important grade a book will receive. The HEP SCORE gives an overall score based on 5 of the elements of science fiction which I find compelling.  The beauty of the HEP SCORE is that even though a book might not receive high marks in  one category (say a particular novel doesn't require a comparatively detailed setting) it could still be an outstanding book.  At the same time, because these categories are constant in each review, the HEP SCORE can give you a better idea of what science fiction elements are done best or not so well.  It also allows us to compare books over decades, on their own merit, when the subject matter, writing styles or scientific achievements may have changed drastically.

The Mark of Excellence

The HEP Mark of Excellence is an elusive commendation, awarded to those books which command respect and your immediate attention.  ME books will be elusive, spectacularly fun to read and mentally/emotionally challenging to read.  If you have any doubts about the HEP SCORE, an ME book will guide you to the best the genre (or at least the Hugo Awards) has to offer.  Says me. 

The Paragons
My top 5 favorite books are just that.  They may not correspond to the highest HEP SCORES or even have been awarded a Mark of Excellence.  They are however the books that have been exceptionally rewarding, and consequently the paragons of my experience of reading through the Hugo Awards.  Once the Paragons have been populated, they can always be found on the left side-pane of the site.

The Gravity Well Award

At the conclusion of each decade, I will award one book The Gravity Well Award.  The gravity well is not necessarily my favorite book from each decade , though it most likely will be.  The gravity well will be the book that is hardest hitting, solemnest or deepest soul searching Hugo Award Winner of the decade.  It is the book most likely to bring you to tears, an existential crisis and/or the most inspiring.


  1. I appreciate your grading system. I'm equally detailed with mine, but since my purpose is a little different (making genre comparisons to canon classic literature), the categories are different. But I like the way you break things up.

    1. Thanks! I have actually struggled with it of late. As I have progressed through the project, my conception and appreciation of SF has changed dramatically and I've had to take some creative license with the actual application of the HEP scores.


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