Saturday, December 26, 2009


Today's numbers: 46,253; 159; 195; 51.

No, they're not the winning Lotto numbers; they're the numbers I get when I ask Google how many books are out there with titles that begin "The Last (something or other)." I got curious because I have this book out there called The Last Protector, and I found myself thinking, "I bet there are a bazillion books out there with similar titles." So I did a little checking, and here's what I came up with:
  • 46,253: the number of hits Google returns when you ask it to search for fiction books in the English language whose titles contain "The Last"
  • 159: the number of books Google displays when you start working your way through the results. Why it stops after the first 159 is a mystery to me. Are the other 46,084 all duplicates? And why isn't my book among the 159 it lists?
  • 195 is the number of hits Google returns when you ask it to search for science fiction books whose titles contain "The Last"
  • 51 is the number of books Google actually displays. Again, I have no idea why it doesn't display the other 144 it claims to have found. At least The Last Protector appears among the 51 that Google displays. So, my existence is validated. I think. In the Googleverse, at least.
I'm still puzzling over why The Last Protector doesn't come up in the hit list that Google generates when I look for fiction books whose titles contain "The Last..." The hit in the SF category demonstrates that Google knows the book exists, so I have to wonder--are books only allowed to exist in one category? Is SF not considered a subset of fiction? Does Google somehow think the book isn't in English (that's what I get for using words like "scrornuck")? Or does Google know something I don't--that all the sci-fi stuff I thought I'd made up about alternate universes and time travel and stuff is actually exactly how things work?


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