New online sf criticism/review venue – Scalpel Magazine

In light of all the recent to-and-fro about speculative fiction reviewing and criticism, persons with an interest in such things should take note of a new online venue devoted to publishing writings about genre fiction – Scalpel Magazine.

From the submission guidelines:

What We Desire

Scalpel Magazine seeks sharp, intelligent reviews and interviews. Period.

Achieving ‘sharp, intelligent reviews and interviews’, however, is another matter.

In many ways, good reviews are like pornography… we’ll know them when we see them. We have no stringent limitations, no hard and fast rules on what we seek. However, there are some quick and easy benchmarks that can be used to decide if a review is right for Scalpel Magazine:

Does the review consist of a summary of the work under review, followed by a brief summary of your likes and dislikes? If so, this is not a review for Scalpel Magazine.

Does the review indulge in easy, generalized relativism? If you have used the stand-by line of “If you’re the type of person who likes books like this, then you’ll like this book.” or any of its permutions, this is not a review for Scalpel Magazine.

Does the review sound like a fourth-grade book report? If so, this is not a review for Scalpel Magazine.

Does the review read as if it could have been written by anyone but you? If so, this is not a review for Scalpel Magazine.

What We Really Desire

At Scalpel Magazine, we treat reviews and interviews seriously. However, we are not some lofty glass house. Sure, we seek sharp, intelligent reviews and interviews. But more than anything, we are seeking strong, individualized voices. We want reviewers that are not only informed about their subject, but also confident in their judgments. We are looking for skewed views, humor, and irreverence to be coupled with intelligence. Street-level criticism is about breaking the mold of traditional reviewing and traditional criticism. In our opinion, reviewers should be just as creative as the writers under review. Good reviewing is an art, not a science, and we treat it as such.

Sounds like it could be interesting, no? They’ll be posting lists of ARCs for you to ask for, should you be looking to contribute. It will be very interesting to see what comes of this – I’ll certainly be submitting in times to come.

[Disclaimer – Scalpel Magazine has been founded by Gabe Chouinard and Jonathan McCalmont, as a result of discussions with them that I (and others) have been involved in. I can’t see why that should matter to anyone, but hey, this is the internet, and it pays to cover your back.]

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