In business, the 80/20 rule is often invoked; it says (roughly) that twenty percent of things do eighty percent of the work. Thus, 20% of a company's product line typically produces 80% of revenue. The rule has other applications, too: We wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time (I know I do), perhaps play 20% of our CDs 80% of the time (me, again). So I got to wondering: Does the rule apply to SF? If so, how?
I think it does. Probably 20% of SFWA's members get 80% of public attention (which leads some very good writers to be neglected). Of my own work, 20% of it gets 80% of the attention (Confession: sometimes I get very sick of Beggars in Spain). Theodore Sturgeon once said that 90% of everything is crap. I think he was wrong (90% of people aren't crap, or flowers, or any number of other things.) But if the 80/20 rule does indeed apply to SF, then:
Should we pay that disproportionate amount of attention to that 20% of writers, of stories, of a given author's oeuvre? Or is this as wrong as I think Ted was with his numbers game?