This is a Worldbuilders blog.

Well folks, we’ve got just a little more than a week left before the end of Worldbuilders, and as I type this we are just about to break 80,000 on our Team Heifer page. I’m thinking if we work hard to spread the word we can break 100,000 by the end of the week.

And maybe, just maybe, we might break last year’s total…

Today we’ve got another batch of lovely books donated by readers. Many of these are signed, or first editions, or both. Others are limited, numbered editions.

Some of these books would probably fetch a couple hundred bucks if we were to throw them up for auction. But personally, I like having cool, rare stuff in the general lottery.

Right now we have what I like to think of as a prize-rich environment. I did some quick math and discovered that right now, if you donate enough for a flock of ducks (20 bucks) you have, roughly, a 1 in 8 chance of winning something.

If you step it up a bit and give enough for a Gardener’s Gift Basket (170 bucks can buy a family everything they need to start a sustainable farm – tree seedlings, rabbits to generate organic manure, chickens to eat pests and a hive of bees to pollinate crops and increase yields.) Then the odds say you’ve got a 1 in 1 chance of winning something.

If that by itself doesn’t encourage you to chip in a little extra, maybe a look at these new books will…

[Edit: So apparently there’s a reason I failed statistics the first time around. (True story.) It seems logical to me that if buying one ticket gets you a 10% chance to win, then buying 10 tickets gets you a 100% chance to win. Ten ten percents is a hunnert percent, right?

Well, apparently not. As a few people pointed out in the comments below, my math is solid (I can still handle basic addition) but the underlying statistical logic doesn’t work.

This bugged me, so I actually wandered onto campus and hit up one of the math professors there. He was willing to take a couple minutes to explain to me that yes, I was wrong.

It turns out that if you were to donate enough for a goat (120 bucks ) the odds of you winning something is actually…

(Pat fiddles with math. )

Um… the odds are good. Really good. Donating a goat to Worldbuilders means that you’re roughly a kajillion times more likely to win something than if you buy a lottery ticket.

This is why I don’t play roulette…]

**A hardcover first edition of***Changes*by Jim Butcher. Signed and dated by the author.

“The fast-paced and compelling 12th book in Butcher’s bestselling series is aptly titled… Butcher is deft at relieving some of the tension and grimness with bursts of gallows humor that keep readers coming back for more.” – Publishers Weekly

**A hardcover copy of***Hazards: The Chronicles of Lucifer Jones 1934-1938*by Mike Resnick. Signed by the author.

“This entertaining collection follows con artist, minister and adventurer Lucifer Jones, last seen in 1992’s Exploits, as he travels through South America… The likable scoundrel’s mix of lust, chicanery and naïveté moves the action along nicely, and though Resnick pokes fun at pulp adventure tales and the arrogance of early 20th-century imperialism, he never lets mockery interfere with good storytelling… Jones’s engaging narrative voice will endear it to fans of lighthearted adventure stories.” – Publishers Weekly

**A hardcover first edition of***Spook Country*by William Gibson. Signed by the author.

“Gibson’s work is all edge and chill and incipient panic…His worlds are so striking, so plausible, that you’re just happy to be along for the ride.” – Chicago Tribune

**A hardcover first edition of***Worldwar: Striking the Balance*by Harry Turtledove. Signed by the author.

“Turtledove’s historical scholarship, narrative technique, dry wit and deft characterization distinguish this novel just as they did its predecessors, making it a rousing wrap-up to a monument of alternate history from a master of the genre.” – Publishers Weekly

**A hardcover copy of***The Children of Men*by P. D. James with signed bookplate.

“She writes like an angel. Every character is closely drawn. Her atmosphere is unerringly, chillingly convincing. And she manages all this without for a moment slowing down the drive and tension of an exciting mystery.” – The Times (UK)

**A hardcover copy of***Desperate Moon*by R. Andrew Heidel with an introduction by Harlan Ellison. Numbered, limited edition in a protective slipcase. Signed by the author and by Harlan Ellison.

It’s not often I’m drawn into a book by the blurbs alone. But really, these two are pretty fabulous…

“Superb! Stirring! Bravo!” — Ray Bradbury

“Extraordinarily talented.” — Harlan Ellison

**A hardcover copy of***The Best of Robert E. Howard Vol. 1: Crimson Shadows*by Robert E. Howard. Numbered, limited edition in a protective slipcase. Signed by the illustrators Jim and Ruth Keegan.

“Stories such as ‘The People of the Black Circle’ glow with the fierce and eldritch light of [Howard’s] frenzied intensity.” – Stephen King

“Robert E. Howard was a true storyteller–one of the first, and certainly among the best, you’ll find in heroic fantasy. If you’ve never read him before, you’re in for a real treat.” – Charles de Lint

**A set of***And Another Thing Part 3*and*The Hitcherhiker’s Guide to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy*by Eoin Colfer. Signed by the author.

These are actually rare promotional materials released in advance of the newest installment of the Hitchhiker’s Guide. Both signed by Eoin Colfer, they’re a cool collector’s items.

“Wacky humor reminiscent of the original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy rings true… You can’t go home again, but Adams fans will still appreciate the reunion with old friends.” – Publishers Weekly

**A hardcover copy of***The Windup Girl*by Paolo Bacigalupi. Signed by the author.

“The most anticipated science fiction novel of the year. Bacigalupi takes the ideas and themes from his award-winning short and fiction and explores them in greater complexity and depth than ever before. The results are spectacular. You won’t see the future the same way every again.” – C. C. Finlay, author of the *Traitor to the Crown* series

**A hardcover copy of***Pump Six and Other Stories*by Paolo Bacigalupi. Signed by the author.

“…astute social commentary in poignant, revelatory prose.” – Publishers Weekly, Best Books of the Year

**A hardcover copy of***Ship Breaker*by Paolo Bacigalupi. Signed and dated by the author.

“Bacigalupi’s future earth is brilliantly imagined and its genesis anchored in contemporary issues…The characters are layered and complex, and their almost unthinkable actions and choices seem totally credible. Vivid, brutal, and thematically rich, this captivating title is sure to win teen fans for the award-winning Bacigalupi.” – Booklist (starred review)

**A hardcover copy of***Halting State*by Charles Stross. Signed by the author.

“…Halting State is one extremely smart species of fun.” – William Gibson.

“The first couple pages had me hooked and I didn’t touch another book until I finished it.” – John Carmack.

**A hardcover first edition of***The Magicians*by Lev Grossman. Signed by the author.

Simply said. I really enjoyed this book. If you’re looking for more details on it, including a blurb from Martin, you can check out the blog I wrote about it.

**A hardcover copy of***A Soul in a Bottle*by Tim Powers. Numbered, limited edition, signed by the author.

I love all of Tim Power’s books. I read this one years back, and it’s every bit as good as all his other work. He mingles fact and fiction so cleverly that a lot of times I can’t tell what parts of his books he’s invented, and which parts he’s pulled from the stranger corners of human history.

“There are no thin, hairy specters lurking in this tale, and no cold grue to chill one’s bones. Its impact is more moral than visceral, evoking the pity and fear that are hallmarks of tragedy. Exquisitely illustrated by J. K. Potter, this slender volume is sure to appeal to epicures of the terrible.” – Publishers Weekly

**A hardcover copy of***Antediluvian Tales*by Poppy Z. Brite.

“Antediluvian, in this collection of stories by New Orleans writer Brite, refers not to watery theology but, rather, to events occurring prior to the landfall of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005… Brite chisels a few new facets in the diamond that was antediluvian New Orleans.” – Booklist

**A hardcover limited edition of***Stephen King Goes to the Movies*by Stephen King.

From Stephen King’s website: The #1 bestselling author reflects on the filming of five of his most popular short stories, each tale included in this collection. Those movies are The Shawshank Redemption, 1408, Children of the Corn, The Mangler, and Hearts in Atlantis.

Includes an introduction, his brief personal commentary, and behind-the-scenes insights by Stephen.

The Subterranean Press edition of Stephen King Goes to the Movies is — so far — the only hardcover edition scheduled, and features full-color movie poster illustrations — one for each story — by Vincent Chong.

**A hardcover copy of***After the War*by Tim Lebbon.

“Lebbon’s post-apocalyptic fantasy world is a bleak one, and his strong, descriptive writing and sympathetic characters make its horrors all too visible.” – Booklist

**A hardcover copy of***Mirror Kingdoms: The Best of Peter S. Beagle*by Peter S. Beagle and edited by Jonathan Strahan. Numbered, limited edition signed by Peter S. Beagle.

This is a really great collection, including Beagle’s best work, including his Hugo award winning follow up to The Last Unicorn.

Even the regular edition is out of print and going for hundreds of dollars. This one is cooler than that, and is one of the 250 signed, numbered, limited editions.

It’s incredibly shiny…

“Beagle plays on the heartstrings as a master musician, and this definitive collection, a magnificent grand tour of his many created worlds, will thrill his legions of fans.” – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

* * *

Lastly, we have a cool item to add to our growing list of auctions.

*The Heart of Faerie Oracle*by Brian and Wendy Froud. Signed by both Brian and Wendy.

From the renowned team of Brian and Wendy Froud comes a delightful and spiritual guide that offer believers a chance to connect with and experience the love and wisdom that comes from the hearts of faeries. The Heart of the Faerie Oracle box set includes 68 oracle cards, illustrated by Brian Froud. The accompanying book provides detailed instructions reading the cards.

The oracle cards feature Brian Froud’s recognizable faerie images, such as the enchanting Queen of Golden Bough and the mischievous Trickster.

For more details and pictures, you can check out the auction over here.

* * *

**Remember** folks, until Dec 13th, Worldbuilders is matching 50% of all donations made on our Team Heifer page.

Even better, for every 10 dollars you donate, you get a chance to win these books and hundreds of others like them.

For more details about Worldbuilders, or to see the other auctions and donations, you can head over to the main page HERE.

## 41 Comments

Beautiful books! I love Stephen King goes to the movies, and I really really loved the Magicians! All of the books you’ve put up are amazing, but the hardcover of the Magicians is amazing! (Although I’m still partial to the ones that have the Brakebills t-shirt with them.)

Hi Pat!

I wanted to say thanks for bringing this wonderful charity to my attention. I love the idea of helping people help themselves instead of just giving them temporary relief. I tried to donate, but there was an error on the page. I will try again tomorrow if it didn’t work tonight.

Also, my friends and I are all anxiously awaiting your next book. One of my friends was given a copy of your first book and after reading it he insisted that the rest of us read it as well. We passed that book around until everybody read it (usually in a week or less). Word of mouth really is the best marketing, haha. I have since brought your book to the attention of at least 2 people and they have enjoyed it immensely as well, and bought my own copy of which I am reading again. I can’t wait to be there on day 1 when the store opens to sell your new book (hopefully it will be a little warmer up here in the north by then).

Thanks again for all the great work you do, both in your writing and your generosity.

–Dan

Technical question Pat,

Is it ” zompocalypse ” or ” azombolypse ”

Trusting in your master word-smithery to settle this life and (un)death question.

Hi there. RE Magicians, I read it recently because some fellow groupie had mentioned it some time after your blog post about it. I really loved it, far more than any other recommendation I’ve gotten here (and I’ve gotten many), and I went and found Lev Grossman’s blog, and said so. Along with other comments I said I’d found his book by way of

yourblog. Part of his reply was “. . .I have thanked Patrick for that recommendation, but I haven’t thanked him ENOUGH.” So consider yourself additionally thanked, I guess!There are few things I like better than spreading the word about good books….

While I fully agree (my xmas gift to the family this year is a rather large stack of books since we are always swapping them around), I also really enjoy reading content that is not ‘look at all these awesome books!’ I was thinking that perhaps linking to a separate page with all of the new books instead of including them all in your posts, or employing some sort of LJ-like cut feature if wordpress supports that. Just a thought. Thanks, and keep up the great work!

We’re going to be doing a few interviews and other livelier things in this last week of the fundraiser…. Just to mix it up…

That is really awesome, and I look forward to reading it! I feel I should restate myself, however: I enjoy your Worldbuilders content, I simply feel that it would be best served in it’s own section/website. That way, I could check the Patrick Rothfuss blog and see a nice ‘brb saving world’ post and then check the WorldBuilders blog and learn about an awesome charity and a slew of amazing books.

As an aside, my favorite part of Heifer is the tangibility of it – with a lot of charities, you have your donation and a vague sense of what it is the charity does. Maybe they publish an annual pie chart of their overall budget, or you dig in to their finances, but either way it’s impersonal. I really like that when I give $20, I can picture a bunch of fluffy little ducklings in my head to match the fluffy feeling I’ve got from the hope that I’ve just helped the animals, a family, and maybe more. Super cool!

Hey man, love worldbuiders and your book. And your beard, and your blog, and your shirts, and I want your babies…

but…if there’s a 1/16 chance of winning with one ticket (I’m just guessing) that would mean that there’s a (15/16)*(15/16) or about an 88% chance of not winning anything with two tickets, which then means that there’s a 12% chance of winning something if you buy that $20 dollar flock.

Same deal goes for the $270 dollar one– 1-(15/16)^27 which means you’ve got an 82% chance of winning something.

Right now, it’s a 1in 16 chance of winning something with a $10 dollar donation. So if I’ve got my head around this properly, that means 170 bucks means you’d have an 17/16 chance.

It doesn’t mean you have a better than 100% chance, of course. But it does mean that statistically, you’re very likely to win…

Pat, I am a big fan of your work and I just got the hardcover, first printing, first edition copy of The Name of the Wind that I order a couple of weeks ago – best $300 I have spent this year.

But….Incorrigibles math is correct, they just used the wrong numbers. If you have a 1 in 8 chance of winning with a $20 donation a $170 donation gives you a 1 – (7/8)^8*15/16 or 67.8% chance of winning. Still a good chance of winning and it is for a good cause not the prizes that it is really all about. I am saying you don’t have your head wrapped aroung this properly, stick to writing ;)

Yup, agreed. And just for the sanity check with probabilities, a chance of winning something will run between 0 and 1 inclusive (i.e., 0% to 100%). If you ever get something bigger than 1 (like, say, 17/16), you can be sure that you did the math wrong. Also, if you get 1 on the nose, it would be interpreted as: you WILL win something, and there’s no chance you wouldn’t.

While I’ll admit that It’s been a while since I’ve taken stats, I think y’all might be simplifying the system too much.

For example, I don’t think your numbers are taking into account that you can win more than one prize. You can, in fact, win more than once. I think that’s what the 17/16 represents. It shows that, statistically, you’re slightly predisposed to winning more than one prize.

If you accept that if 10 bucks gets you a 1 in 16 chance of winning. And 20 bucks gets you a 1 in 8 chance of winning. Why shouldn’t the progression continue in a linear fashion? Why wouldn’t 40 bucks get you a 1 in 4 chance? 80 bucks get you a 1 in 2 chance?

If you accept that progression then you have to admit that 170 bucks breaks down to 17 in 16 chance.

I expect that our disagreement/confusion is the mathematical equivalent of a semantic argument. I’m not saying 160 bucks equals a 100 percent chance of winning. That’s ridiculous. The only way you could have 100% chance of winning is to buy x number of chances. (Where x = [The total number of entries] – [the number of prizes+1])

But 160 bucks mean that the numbers say you should probably walk away with a prize.

No, it really does take into account the possibility of winning more than one prize – it’s just that the easiest way to figure that out is to calculate the odds of winning nothing at all, and subtracting that from 1.It would get really ugly if you had to separately calculate the odds of winning 1 prize, and add that to the odds of winning two prizes, and then 3, and so on. Which you could do, and it would still add up to the same amount, because I don’t think this one’s a semantic argument – I think there’s a right answer here. I once had a stats teacher who introduced his class by saying that the thing about prob and stats (as distinct from other mathy pursuits) is that you can come up with a solution that is totally sensible, but is just plain wrong.

Also, to clarify – $20 bucks does NOT get you a 1 in 8 chance of winning. If $10 gets you 1 in 16, then $20 gets you 1- (15/16)^2, or 12% chance of winning.-You can also calculate that as [winning the first time but not the second = 5.8%] + [winning the second time but not the first = 5.8%] + [winning both times = .4%] = 12%. You can see that if you have additional chances, it gets additionally complicated to figure out all the scenarios. Or you can just subtract your “always lose” scenario from 1.

I simplified from 1 in 8 to 1 in 16 because I don’t have all the information and this is a close approximation. This would only to exact if you were giving away one prize.

Your logic is wrong, but I do agree you have a damn good change o winning something.

Pat, what it looks like you want to say that on average, for every $160 dollars you spend, you will win one prize. Some people will win 1, some will win none, and some people will win more than one.

The 1 minus the chance of not winning anything is how you figure out the chance of winning at least one thing for a certain number of entries into the lottery.

Just think about it terms of flipping a coin. If you flip it twice, the probability that you get a heads is not 100%. There are 3 outcomes where you get heads {HH, HT, TH} and 1 where you don’t get a single heads {TT}, so the probability of getting heads is 3/4 and not 100%.

Or, the probability of getting heads is 100% minus the probability of getting no heads, which is 1 minus (1/2)*(1/2) (which is the probability of getting two tails) which works out to 1-1/4=3/4.

The simplist way to illustrate that the probability of winning cannot be determined by addition is a coin flip.

Say I give you a quarter and tell you that you can flip it twice and if either flip comes up heads, it’s yours. Do you have a 100% chance of winning the quarter?

(the odds of winning would be 1-0.5^2, or 0.75… i.e. 75%)

Since that is definitely not the case, you can see that your donation drawings must work the same way, only instead of a 50% chance to win per “flip”, the contest has a lower chance.

Here’s how I’d explain it:

If you donate $170, that’s 17 chances. Each of those chances has a 1/16 chance of winning, or 15/16 chance of losing. So to win nothing, you’d have to lose every single time. That’s a probability of (15/16) * (15/16) * . . . * (15/16), 17 times. Or, in other numbers, (15/16)^17. (The ^ sign meaning, “raised to the power of”, for the extremely non-mathy among us, who probably aren’t reading this anyhow.)

(15/16)^17= .3338, so that means the probability is .3338, or about 33%, that you’d win nothing despite your 17 chances.

So to get the possibility of winning something, anything, during at least one of those, we take all possible outcomes and subtract away the possibility of winning nothing at all.

1 – (.3338) = .6662

or you could say

100% of the chances, minus your 33% chance of winning nothing, leaves you with a 67% chance of winning something.

I like that explanation. I suspect that a lot of the confusion has to do with the fact that the probabilities are derived from the binomial distribution, which is a little bit trickier to reason about intuitively.

I threw together a little graph that should help readers of this blog visualize how different donation levels will affect their odds of winning at least one prize, assuming a 1/16 probability of any given “ticket” winning:

http://skynet.ohsu.edu/~bedrick/worldbuilders.png

Note that the graph doesn’t take into account the fact that the 1/16 number will change as more donations are made or more prizes entered. Under these assumptions, donating $360 gets your probability of winning at least once over 90%, and $720 gets you over 99%. After that, it’s diminishing returns. :-)

H/T to Mathematica 8’s new Probability[] function.

Hi! I’d like to say that a love your book and think Worldbuilder is a great idea.

I was standing in a shop today, looking on a video game for X dollars, when I suddenly thought: I don’t need this game. Why don’t I donate this money to Worldbuilder instead? And since the dollar is pretty cheap now, why not throw in an extra X + 10 dollars! So there we go.

Keep up the good work!

Dear Pat,

As a Literature major I will never take a math class again in my life. So if you tell me I have a 1/16 chance of winning, I’ll take it.

Esther

Never say never. Well, okay, say never, but have you read PopCo, by Scarlett Thomas? (Also, double majors in math and English do happen.)

Oh I’m sure it does happen, but not to me that’s for sure :)

Nah. They’re right. You do have good odds of winning. But 1 to 1 is the wrong way to express it. I was making a logical error in how I worked out the math.

Hell, if I wanted schoolin’ I’d have gone to school.

Extra points.

So the new book comes out in March then, does it ? I hear you want to put in a new section about Kvothe cutting an Unlikely Maths class…

Just a thought, could there be a link to the Tinker store on the main page, up with all the other links? I was able to get to the store by searching for shirts in your blog, but a link would be much easier. Kudos and long live the LEGO brick!!

Unfortunately, that would require a redesign of the website. When we re-vamp things, we’ll add it. But right now it would take time and money that we just don’t have…

Too. Much. Math. The point is that there are lots of cool prizes and that donating more money will give you more chances to win. Lets just leave the math alone so Pat can concentrate on a)adoring his baby b)spending time with his wife c)writing the next book d)writing cool blog posts for the future e)doing other miscellaneous things that Pat does.

I agree!

Hey, you lookin’ at ME?

I had always thought this was an appropriate place to geek out, and to debate respectfully about our geeky interests.

I don’t detect any disrespect here, this is just another part of your debate. It’s called the voice of dissent. Not all geeks are maths geeks and we are voicing our position, is all.

Agreed. No one’s digging on you and your fantastic geekiness – because holy cow was that geeky – but I could hardly wrap my head around it, and I JUST learned this stuff.

Thank you, you’re right – I jumped to interpret it as unfriendly, and it likely was not intended that way. Sorry!

Pat –

I just skimmed over the original Worldbuilders post, and I can’t BELIEVE how many more posts there are that you still haven’t even posted. This is kind of mind blowing.

Also, the probability of winning sounds higher than last year. Is it? Does this mean there are fewer people donating more money this year? I’m not about to try to figure out any real numbers here – I learned real statistics from a YouTube video, so I don’t consider myself to be qualified speak on the matter.

Anyway, rock on, I hope we break that 100k mark soon :D

I know Pat is super busy right now, so perhaps one of the other commenters here can help me. I donated “to the team” on the Worldbuilders site, but my donation did not show up, though I have a receipt, and it did go through PayPal.

Now I’ve tried to “join the team,” and it has put me there with $0 next to my name.

I’m not so concerned about the lottery–though a prize would be lovely. I’m more concerned that my donation count in the matching total.

Does anyone know how to link these together? Did my first one actually go through to the team even though it didn’t put my name with it?

Thanks for any thoughts you all might have!

I found this a bit funny cause at this exact day I turned 19 I ran to the book shop to buy my second copy of the name of the wind but to my sadness no other books keept me reading it for about the 100th time (over reaction). loving the word Pat ^.^.

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