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Site of the Week – Sci-Fi Lists

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Looking for a list of the top 100 science fiction films? How about scifi films that feature mechanoids (all kinds of robots and mechs) or space sagas or aliens? Then Sci-Fi Lists is the place for you. Peter Sykes, a wildlife ranger by day in Australia’s Whitsunday Islands, has helpfully compiled any number of lists relating to science fiction films, books, TV shows and short stories. He launched the site in its current format back in February 2001, starting off with a book list. “I wanted to buy the top 100 scifi books and couldn’t find a list I thought was statistically accurate, so I made one,” Sykes says. “I was so happy with the result that I decided to post it on the net as a public service to people in the same predicament. The rest is pure evolution.

He introduced the film list — currently topped by Blade Runner
— a couple years later while suffering through a mid-life crisis,
explaining “every time a marriage or long-term partnership fell
apart, I would get drunk and make something to post on the ‘net to take
my mind off things.” The movie list has spawned more than a dozen
themed pages with groupings of films with aliens, cult films, early
films, eighties films, “fun” films and so on.

Sykes — who is an expert on estuarine crocodiles and northern
quolls and is considered “the coolest geek we know” by his fellow
rangers — credits American and British science fiction television (see
Flash Gordon, Invisible Man, Science Fiction Theatre and the like) for fostering his fascination with “the infinite possibilities of science.” Equally seminal was The Day the Earth Stood Still (No. 10 on the list of top 100 films). “A good alien and an honorable robot prepared me for Star Trek, which in turn taught me so much about ethics and morality that it very much helped make me the person I am today,” he says.

He prides himself on the statistical accuracy and credibility of the
site, which averages over 5,000 hits a day. The lists are all
statistical surveys, with the film list relying mainly on noted critics
and popular polls. Online polls of visitors to the site, along with
other sources of information, are used to update the rankings on a
regular basis. Why use a list format? It’s “very difficult to get a
lengthy rank-ordered list right,” Sykes says. “From a purely
mathematical perspective I enjoy the challenge of formulating a good
list that is useful to me.

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