Tag Archives: book

When Amazon’s recommendations get it right – Rhetorics Of Fantasy in my inbox

(a.k.a. “We like it when statistical analysis results in us receiving serendipitous recommendations for books by people we know and like”.)

Amazon recommends Farah Mendlesohn's Rhetorics Of Fantasy ...

Congratulations, Farah! 😀

[ Having heard a good chunk of Farah’s proposed taxonomy via Brian Stableford at last year’s Masterclass, I can say with certainty that this will be a book well worth reading for anyone who likes to dissassemble their reading matter and find out what makes it tick. So maybe you should order a copy, hmm? ]

Online reviews and online submissions

I expect many of you will have already noticed that the guys at SF Signal were short of more erudite commentators, and hence decided to ask me to contribute to their new “Mind Meld” feature. The question was:

“From your point of view, how has the proliferation of online book reviews affected the publishing world?”

The responses are very interesting, actually – quite harmonious in many respects, though with everyone playing their own little melodic riffs on the theme. Go take a look, leave some comments over there.


While we’re on the subject of the effect of the web on genre fiction, here’s an intriguing thinking-out-loud post from Jeremiah Tolbert, who’s wondering where he should be submitting to build up his short fiction career:

“For a while, I decided that I would only submit my work to places that would take electronic submissions. I was making so little off of the sales that I did make that it wasn’t worth the cost of postage and envelopes. I haven’t decided whether I should change that policy yet or not, honestly. So many ‘zines do take electronic submissions now. Which don’t? F&SF, Asimov’s, and Analog. The so-called “Big Three.”

I’m kind of curious to see if I can build a reputation for myself without appearing in those markets. They don’t pay that much better than anyone else, and their circulation isn’t spectacular (although it may be better than just about everyone except Escape Pod). It’s kind of weird, but for the purposes of building an audience, I think making reprint sales to Escape Pod might be the best thing I can do for myself.

That’s a very weird situation, and really represents the state of the industry.”

The man has a point. Your thoughts?

[tags]book, reviews, publishing, short, story, fiction, markets, submissions, electronic[/tags]

Paul Kincaid’s book reviewing credo gets my vote

Well, the Readercon panel on book reviews seems to have generated a lot of dicussion around the issue … kind of the inverse of the Eastercon panel, which took place after the worst of the smoke had cleared from that particular salvo.

But here’s the inestimable Paul Kincaid, hitting the nail on the head and describing my own standpoint on how and why I review books almost exactly:

“My own credo is simple. A review should be honest (any reviewer who allows her opinion to be swayed by friendship, bribery, peer pressure or whatever, is not worth reading), defensible (I don’t mind if people disagree with my judgement, I am quite used to being the only critic to hold a certain position, pro or con, on any particular book, but I want to be sure the readers can see why I reached that particular judgement), and, so far as I am able, well written (a review is also an entertainment, the reader should be rewarded for taking the time to read the piece). This credo, it should be noted, is an aspiration; I have no idea how close I ever get to achieving it.

Notice I say nothing about reviews being good or bad, positive or negative. It is part of the honesty of a review that if you don’t think a book is any good you have to say so. It is also part of the honesty of a review to recognise that very very few books are entirely wonderful or entirely terrible, and the job of a reviewer is to identify and note that balance. Because of that I do not believe I write positive reviews, or negative reviews – but I hope I write honest reviews.”

Result. Paul Kincaid is one of my newly-inherited reviews team at Interzone, which – given his pedigree and experience – is quite bizarre, because by rights he should be the person editing me. Though I doubt he wants the administrative headaches that come with the post – another indicator of his native common sense!

He and I (and others) are keen to see what comes from Jonathan’s plans for Son of Scalpel, too. This debate – for better or for worse – probably has a good few years mileage in it yet.

Viral marketing for Watchmen movie in the wild?

Unless both he and I are very much mistaken, Warren Ellis has spotted a website that seems to be the start of a viral transreal marketing push for the forthcoming movie based on Alan Moore’s classic graphic novel, Watchmen.

The blurb on the otherwise unpopulated TheVeidtMethod.com frontpage looks almost word-for-word identical to some of the promotional materials featured in the original book.

Much as I did with V For Vendetta, I shall be avoiding this movie when it comes out – simply because it won’t be as good as the book, and I can’t be bothered to pay money for what I know will be a let-down.

Plenty of people will do, though – and will subsequently wail and gnash their teeth over Hollywood’s cheapening of something they loved. Martin McGrath has a message for those people, this part of which I particularly agreed with:

“The fan’s desire to see their favourite novels “faithfully” adapted is either (a) a sign of the failure of their imagination or (b) a sign of their general stupidity. It’s a cliché but, even in this era of WETA and ILM, the mind’s eye is still a more effective special effects generator than anything the cinema will produce – and that’s not just in terms of creating big spaceships and giant explosions – but in terms of creating mood and depth and emotional connection. Nothing is going to deliver the sensation you got from reading the book you love and watching an adaptation can only confuse your impressions of the story with its representation on the screen.”

Wise words. I think I’ll just reread the book.

Clute reviews Gibson’s Spook Country

Of course it’s a Clute review – look at the evidence:

“Inside the world of a Gibson novel, under the terrible Symmes sun that brands from within the skins we used to wear, readers and utterands tend to express a kind of meat-puppet digitalis, like marathon dancers unable to stop until the music kills them.”

One of a kind reviews one of a kind. I love the smell of genre in the morning.

It looks like Penguin are going to use cyberspace to promote the man who coined the phrase (but doesn’t like to talk about it), too. [Cheers, Ariel.]