Pixel Scroll 5/9/19 Get Your Clicks On Scroll 6-6-6!

(1) DEALING WITH DISSATISFIED CUSTOMERS. Chuck Wendig, who doesn’t want people using social media to shove their negative reviews of his work in his face – point taken – goes on to make an unconvincing distinction between customer complaints about his fiction and everything else: “Hi, Definitely Don’t Tag Authors In Your Negative Reviews Of Their Books”.

…You might note also that negative reviews are one of the ways we communicate with creators of products and arbiters of service in order to improve the quality of that product or that service — which is true! If someone at American Airlines shits in my bag, I’m gonna say something on Twitter, and I’m going to say it to American Airlines. If the dishwasher I bought was full of ants, you bet I’m going to tag GE in that biz when I go to Twitter. But books are not dishwashers or airlines. You can’t improve what happened. It’s out there. The book exists. You can’t fix it now. And art isn’t a busted on-switch, or a broken door, or a poopy carryon bag, or an ant-filled dishwasher….

(2) THE PERIPHERALS WHISPERER. Ursula Vernon has many talents – this is another one.

(3) KGB READINGS. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Simon Strantzas and Kai Ashante Wilson on Wednesday, May 15, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, NY, just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.)

Simon Strantzas

Simon Strantzas is the author of five collections of short fiction, including Nothing is Everything (Undertow Publications, 2018), and is editor of the award-winning Aickman’s Heirs and Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 3. His fiction has appeared in numerous annual best-of anthologies, in venues such as Nightmare, Postscripts, and Cemetery Dance, and has been nominated for both the British Fantasy and Shirley Jackson awards. He lives with his wife in Toronto, Canada.

Kai Ashante Wilson

Kai Ashante Wilson won the Crawford award for best first novel of 2016, and his works have been shortlisted for the Hugo, Nebula, Shirley Jackson, Theodore Sturgeon, Locus, and World Fantasy awards. Most of his stories are available on Tor.com. His novellas The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps and A Taste of Honey may be ordered from local bookstores or online. Kai Ashante Wilson lives in New York City.

(4) FAT ISSUES IN ENDGAME? Adam-Troy Castro rejects complaints about Thor’s character in Avengers: Endgame. Beware Spoilers.

I am a fat guy. I will likely always be a fat guy.

Fat Thor is not fat-shaming.

Fat Thor is character humor: the man has given up. Tony Stark went in one direction, the Odinson went in another. He’s a binge-drinking, binge-eating, emotionally fragile shell of himself, and while some of the other characters make unkind (and, dammit, funny) remarks, it is his diminishment and not his enlargement that is the source of the humor.

Sure, bloody explain it to me now.

I don’t know, I don’t understand.

Fvck you, I’m a fat guy. I do know, I do understand. I have been mocked for my weight, sometimes viciously. I know it all.

(I haven’t personally encountered these complaints, I can only assume there must be some, else why Castro’s post.)

(5) JUNE SWOON. It’s 1964. the prozine pendulum is swinging, and apparently it’s getting away from Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus: “[May 8, 1964] Rough Patch (June 1964 Galaxy)”.

I think I’ve got a bad case of sibling rivalry.  When Victoria Silverwolf came onto the Journey, she took on the task of reviewing Fantastic, a magazine that was just pulling itself out of the doldrums.  My bailiwick consisted of Analog, Fantasy and Science Fiction, IF, and Galaxy, which constituted The Best that SF had to offer.

Ah for those halcyon days.  Now Fantastic is showcasing fabulous Leiber, Moorcock, and Le Guin.  Moreover, Vic has added the superlative Worlds of Tomorrow to her beat.  What have I got?  Analog is drab and dry, Avram Davidson has careened F&SF to the ground, IF is inconsistent, and Galaxy…ah, my poor, once beloved Galaxy

(6) TERRAIN TERROR. Laird Barron now writes crime novels set in Alaska.  But he used to be a horror writer, and “In Noir, Geography Is a Character” on CrimeReads, Barron has anecdotes about Michael Shea and the World Fantasy Convention in San Jose.

…A decade ago, bound for the World Fantasy Convention in San Jose, I stared out the window of a light commercial plane swooping in low over the Central Valley. Low enough I made out details of oak trees covering big hills and the rusty check patterns of the yards of individual homes. Country roads radiated like nerves from a plexus. Cars crawled along those snaking roads through golden dust. The rumpled land subtly descended toward the haze of the Pacific. I realized this was where Michael Shea got his flavor. This “obvious” revelation slapped me in the face.

Michael left us too soon five years later in 2014. His memory looms large in the weird fiction and horror fields as the man who wrote the landmark collection Polyphemus. A deep vein of mystery and noir travels through his work, grounding the fantastical tropes. I’d read him since my latter teens, absorbing the unique cadence of his prose without giving conscious thought to how echoes of the natural world inflected his grimiest urban settings, how the superstructures and sprawl of his version of LA and San Francisco were influenced by the ancient earth they occupy….


This was a big date in sff history.

May 9, 1973 Soylent Green premiered.

May 9, 1986 Short Circuit debuted in theatres.

May 9, 1997 The Fifth Element arrived in movie houses.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 9, 1860 J. M. Barrie. Author of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, which I’ve read a number of times. Of the movie versions, I like Steven Spielberg’s Hook the best. The worst use of the character, well of Wendy to be exact, is in Lost Girls, the sexually explicit graphic novel by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie. If you’ve not read it, don’t bother. (Died 1937.)
  • Born May 9, 1920 William Tenn was the pen name of Philip Klass. Clute says in ESF that ‘From the first, Tenn was one of the genre’s very few genuinely comic, genuinely incisive writers of short fiction, sharper and more mature than Fredric Brown and less self-indulgent in his Satirical take on the modern world than Robert Sheckley.’  That pretty sums him up I think.  All of his fiction is collected in two volumes from NESFA Press, Immodest Proposals: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume I and Here Comes Civilization: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume II. (Died 2010.)
  • Born May 9, 1920 Richard  Adams. I really loved Watership Down when I read it long ago — will not read it again so the Suck Fairy may not visit it. Reasonably sure I’ve read Shardik once but it made no impression one way or the the other.  Heard good things about Tales from Watership Down and should add it my TBR pile. (Died 2016.)
  • Born May 9, 1925 Kris Ottman Neville. His most famous work, the novella Bettyann, is considered a classic of science fiction by no less than Barry Malzberg. He wrote four novels according to ISFDB over a rather short period of a decade and a number of short story stories over a longer period. (Died 1980.)
  • Born May 9, 1936 Albert Finney. His first genre performance is as Ebenezer Scrooge in Scrooge. That’s followed by being Dewey Wilson in Wolfen, a deeply disturbing film. He plays Edward Bloom, Sr. In the wonderful Big Fish and voices Finis Everglot in Corpse Bride. He was Kincade in Skyfall. He was Maurice Allington in The Green Man based on Kingsley Amis’ novel of the same name. Oh and he played Prince Hamlet in Hamlet at the  Royal National Theatre way back in the Seventies! (Died 2019.)
  • Born May 9, 1951 Geoff Ryman, 68. His first novel, The Unconquered Country, was winner of the World Fantasy Award and British Science Fiction Association Award. I’m really intrigued that The King’s Last Song during the Angkor Wat era and the time after Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, grim times indeed for an SF novel. 
  • Born May 9, 1979 Rosario Dawson, 40. First shows as Laura Vasquez in MiB II. Appearances thereafter are myriad with my faves including being the voice of Wonder Women in the DC animated films, Persephone in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and her take as Claire Temple across the entire Netflix Marvel universe.


(10) INTERZONE BEGINS. SFFDirect downloads the history of a famed sf magazine from one of the founders: “Early years of Interzone, told by Co-Ed Simon Ounsley”.

In 1981, Eastercon was held in Leeds. Four attendees were David Pringle, Simon Ounsley, Alan Dorey (then chairman of the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA)) and Graham James. David Pringle was a co-chairman of the convention and Simon Ounsley was assisting with the finances. The convention made a profit of £1,300, which Simon states was completely unintentional and purely down to cautious budgeting. At Graham James’ suggestion, the committee agreed to use the money to launch an SF magazine. Simon recalls how controversial this decision was at the time, but in any event, the four men teamed up to start a magazine.

At the same time, four friends in London were also trying to get an SF magazine off the ground. They were Malcolm Edwards, who worked for SF publisher Gollancz, and SF critics John Clute, Colin Greenland, and Roz Kaveney. They had asked the BSFA if they would publish the magazine and it had declined. However, Alan made David aware of the London proposal and the two groups got together.

As Simon says, this was an ideal match because the Leeds contingent had the money and the London team had the connections. The name of the magazine was suggested by David. It was an imaginary city in the William S. Burroughs novel Naked Lunch

(11) THE HOST WITH THE MOST. Stephen Colbert helped fans get a head start watching the new biopic: “Stephen Colbert Hosts First ‘Tolkien’ Screening With Cast and Director” in The Hollywood Reporter.

Moviegoers across the country were able to see Tolkien ahead of its release this Friday, along with a Q&A moderated by Lord of the Rings super-fan Stephen Colbert, even if they weren’t at the Montclair Film Festival in New Jersey on Tuesday for the first-ever screening of the movie.

The panel, featuring the Fox Searchlight film’s stars Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins with director Dome Karukoski, was simulcast to select theaters following special screenings. In Montclair, Karukoski revealed what goes into a film like Tolkien, which chronicles the formative years of J.R.R. Tolkien’s life as he forms friendships, goes to war and falls in love….

To close out the Q&A, Colbert praised Karukoski’s efforts and Tolkien itself. “Thank you for the film you created. It reminds me of the power of story, and how it can give us hope,” the late-night host said before citing one of Tolkien’s quotes from The Return of the King: “I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”

Continued Colbert, “I cried many times watching this film, and I want to thank you for those tears of pain and of those tears of joy and thank you for what you have given me of his [Tolkien’s] life and for your beautiful performances.”

(12) CALL ME IRRESPONSIBLE. “Australia’s A$50 note misspells responsibility” – time to get the appertainment flowing Down Under.

Australia’s latest A$50 note comes with a big blunder hidden in the small print – a somewhat embarrassing typo.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) spelled “responsibility” as “responsibilty” on millions of the new yellow notes.

The RBA confirmed the typo on Thursday and said the error would be fixed in future print runs.

But for now, around 46 million of the new notes are in use across the country.

The bills were released late last year and feature Edith Cowan, the first female member of an Australian parliament.

What looks like a lawn in the background of Ms Cowan’s portrait is in fact rows of text – a quotation from her first speech to parliament.

(13) HEAVY METAL. Alas behind a paywall at Nature: “Collapsars  forming black holes as a major source of galaxy’s heavy elements” [PDF file]. Here scientists report simulations that show that collapsar accretion disks (in black hole formation) yield sufficient heavy elements to explain observed abundances in the Universe.

Although these supernovae are rarer than neutronstar mergers, the larger amount of material ejected per event compensates for the lower rate of occurrence. We calculate that collapsars may supply more than 80 per cent of the r-process heavy element content of the Universe.

(14) HE CALLED FOR HIS BOWL. BBC calls “Southend burial site ‘UK’s answer to Tutankhamun'”.

A royal burial site found between a pub and Aldi supermarket has been hailed as the UK’s answer to Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Workers unearthed the grave, which contained dozens of rare artefacts, during roadworks in Prittlewell, near Southend, Essex, in 2003.

Tooth enamel fragments were the only human remains, but experts say their “best guess” is that they belonged to a 6th Century Anglo-Saxon prince.

It is said to be the oldest example of a Christian Anglo-Saxon royal burial.

Now, after 15 years of expert analysis some of the artefacts are returning to Southend on permanent display for the first time.

When a team from the Museum of London Archaeology (Mola) excavated the site, they said they were “astounded” to find the burial chamber intact.

(15) STAR BLECCH. Matt Keeley encounters one of the earliest Star Trek parodies while revisiting a Sixties issue of MAD: “Not Just a Classic Issue, MAD #115 (December 1967) Predicted the Future”.

…Mort Drucker’s art is exquisite as always, and DeBartolo’s writing is top notch, loaded with puns and hilarious jokes. (Spook: “That’s what your MIND says! What does your HEART say?” Kook: “Pit-a-pat! Pit-a-pat! Pit-a-pat — just like everybody else’s!”) But one of the most interesting things about this parody is the way the story wraps up — the solution is for the Boobyprize to reverse orbit and go back in time. You might recognize this plot device from the first Superman movie. Somehow DeBartolo ripped it off, despite “Star Blecch” coming out 11 years before the film.

(16) IF IT’S GOOD, IT’S A MARVEL. Nerds of a Feather panelists Adri Joy, Mike N., Phoebe Wagner, and Vance K assemble for a “Review Roundtable: Avengers: Endgame”.

Today I’ve gathered Brian, Mike, Phoebe and Vance to chat about our Endgame reactions: what made us punch the air in glee and what had us sliding down in our seats in frustration. Needless to say, all the spoilers are ahead and you really shouldn’t be here unless you’ve had a chance to see the movie first.

Adri: So, Endgame! That was fun. Even more fun than I expected after, you know, all the dead people and the feelings about them.

Brian: First impressions are that I thought this was a great conclusion to all of the movies that came before it. The MCU could stop here (it won’t, but it could) and I would be completely satisfied.

Vance: The woman seated next to me — and I’ve never experienced this in a movie theater — started taking deep, centering breaths the moment the lights went down. And I love her for it. Infinity War was a gauntlet for fans, yet she was there opening day for whatever came next, no matter how gutting. Turned out the movie was a lot of fanservice, so she made it through. As did I!

(17) THIS WAY TO THE EGRESS. (If you see that sign, it won’t lead you to a fabulous new alien, I guarantee!) The LA Times tries to find out — “After hyping a $1-billion Star Wars land, how does Disney get visitors to leave?”

…Once a time window expires, park employees dressed as “Star Wars” characters will politely tell parkgoers that they need to leave the land to make way for new visitors.

Disneyland representatives say they expect that most guests will abide by the courteous directions to move on. But they remain mum about what will happen if guests ignore the requests.

“Four hours is a long time in the land,” said Kris Theiler, vice president of the Disneyland Park. “Most guests are going to find that they’re ready to roll after four hours.”

[Thanks to Greg Hullender, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

63 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/9/19 Get Your Clicks On Scroll 6-6-6!

  1. (8) Ryman’s The Child Garden and Air are also SF, and Lust is… urban dark fantasy, I guess.

  2. (4) Some people who I respect have taken issue with the humor of Thor’s waistline. I try not to go there, but I did find myself obscurely pleased that jura ur fanccrq bhg bs uvf shax, ur qvqa’g tb qb svsgl chfuhcf naq erghea gb uvf cer-zbivr svther.

    (8) I haven’t read Adams, but he did write an introduction to a book I read recently, Faithful Ruslan, a Russian novel from the point of view of a guard dog at a gulag, written around 1960. Hard-hitting, and Adams said it might be the best dog book written. I found a copy I could check out from archive.org’s library doohickey.

  3. You complain to an airline not to reach back in time and fix the flight you took, but to fix future flights. You can complain about a book not only to fix future books, but possibly even to drive the appearance a revised and corrected edition, in truly egregious cases. Negative feedback can be useful.

  4. (15) Star Blechh was memorable for many things, not least Drucker’s appropriation of Don Martin’s signature style for an alien character. In a subsequent issue, Shatner and Nimoy sent in a photo of them reading it. In later years, I came to appreciate how MAD referred to the original Trek as “dull, boring” (ditto the original Star Wars), and when the sequels came out, their chief complaint was that they weren’t like the originals.

    Some say the web will end in file
    Some say in scrolls
    From what I’ve witnessed of denial
    I’ll nod to those who’ve chosen file
    But if it was for me to pick,
    Rolls of scrolls
    Would do the trick.

  5. @8: Shardik seemed to me to represent the line Stoppard gave the Player King: ~”The good die unhappily, the bad unluckily.” It did hold up a mirror to the bleak effects of worship — a theme my younger, angrier self would have appreciated — but was so much more about the bleakness that any opinion was muted. I also finished The Plague Dogs, some years after not throwing it across the room in reaction to a bit of crude sexism. (I was restrained due to being in a good restaurant at the time; I later read that this was far from the only example of Adams’s reactionism and haven’t read anything of his since.)

    @14: cute headline — at least he didn’t take his fiddlers three with him, as potentates of other powers have done.

    Of possible interest: the Consumer Technology Association has backed down from a debatable disqualification (borderline NSFW).

  6. 15) Well sure, I mean, Superman had only done that 50 or so times in the comics previously.

  7. Almost fully functional!

    But not quite, and not going to try saying anything clever. I might hurt myself that way.

  8. I generally agree that you shouldn’t tag authors in reviews, negative or positive. Contact them if there is something specific- a typo or download problem that might be fixed, that’s it. For the rest, they can easily find the review to read it if they are interested and if not they can ignore it.

  9. A medical note. I ended with blood clots in my right arm from the removal of my PICC line. It’s a rare side-effect of doing so but it happens. It meant a ride a week or so ago by ambulance to the hospital, ten hours in the ER, yet another drug to take and a very slow recovery from those clots. It hurts, it’s quite swollen and it itches — not a great combination.

    On a much better note, three straight blood tests have been negative for the staphylococcus bacteria so it appears that I’m indeed finally clear of it. I’ll be tested for another month to be sure. The only lingering problem from that is tendentious in the muscles above the elbow where the infection was which physical therapy will deal with.

  10. My friend Eva Whitley and I took Phil Klass’s course on science fiction at Penn State back in the 70s. He was a marvelous teacher who worked his memories of the Golden Age, its writers, and its editors into the lessons. One of the course texts was “The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Vol. 1”; Klass always referred to it as “the Silverberg anthology” because it could not be a true SF hall of fame without a story by William Tenn.

  11. (14) Saxon burial tomb unearthed.

    If anyone’s interested in more information on this, UK’s Time Team did a special episode on it: Special 18 “King of Bling” in 2005. Time Team is available on some streaming services, but if that fails you then the full episode is up on YouTube. The experts have now settled on the identity of the occupant so the parts where they discuss the possible identity are outdated, but the episode is worth watching nonetheless.

  12. @F. J. Bergmann: it’s possible I’ve missed a lot of obvious stuff, but are there a lot of novels that are substantially revised, post-publication, based on reader feedback?

  13. Jerry Pournelle once told me he changed something in a book based on a criticism I wrote in a review (which surprised me) but that didn’t mean he tore up the book and did it over. There’s no money in doing that, anyway.

    The problem with Wendig’s argument that the book has already been published applies to the hamburger that’s already been served, the dress that’s already been made, etc. A customer may take a bad review as a warning not to buy that book or other product, however, the creator of the item being reviewed gets to decide whether that feedback should change what they do next.

    That is why his argument breaks down for me.

    I would say that if he’d just left that out it would have strengthened his appeal for people not to tag him on brutal reviews — which is just harassment. What’s more, those of us who have read tons of reviews — whether positive or negative — know hardly any of them contain enough analysis for a writer to engage with, or use to make storytelling changes in the future.

  14. F. J. Bergmann: You can complain about a book not only to fix future books, but possibly even to drive the appearance a revised and corrected edition, in truly egregious cases. Negative feedback can be useful.

    Nope. I complain about a book to relieve my anger or disappointment or disgust or boredom at what I’ve read; I complain so that other readers have an opinion which they can take into consideration, or not, as they choose.

    I have no expectation that a writer will read my review or use anything in it to change their writing going forward (or to revise the book about which I’ve complained). Nor do I have the right to have that expectation.

    Whereas I do have the right to expect McDonald’s, or American Airlines, or Target, to make right the situation where I buy something from them and what I get does not meet their promised guarantees. Book authors make no such guarantees and have no obligation to “make right” their product with customers.

    What an author does or does not choose to do with negative reviews is entirely up to them. It is simply not part of the equation which includes me and the reviews I write.

  15. 4) I saw a reasonable number of complaints about fatphobia over on my social network of choice but – interestingly – rather more complaints from PTSD sufferers about about trauma turning Thor into a figure of fun. I didn’t feel either particularly strongly, but I wouldn’t try to tell the people complaining they were wrong and I don’t think “I’m fat and I don’t mind” is a definitive argument.

    8) I thought Geoff Ryman’s first novel was “The Warrior Who Carried Life” but apparently “The Unconquered Country” was published in Interzone before the paperback edition I remember. “Warrior” absolutely blew me away when I was eighteen – I remember finishing it and immediately reading it through again, which is something I’d never normally do – but it’s possible unrecognised trans feelings had something to do with that. I’ve not re-read it in many years but I think I’d still recommend it.

  16. 4) I can totally see that someone would see Thor in A:E and go “fat-shaming”. If it wasn’t for the fact that he’s in the same physical shape throughout hte film, I would probably have agreed, but he has the same belly from the first time we see him, until the last time we see him. If he’d magically become svelte, it would feel different for me, at least.

  17. I should note that I’m generally inclined to agree with Wendig’s request, if only because I know of writers of performers who don’t want to see even their positive reviews.

    But the analogy fails because if I tag an airline when I post about a problem with my flight, I am doing so both in the hope they’ll do better in the future/for other customers, and possibly because I want them to fix something, or compensate me for a problem. Nobody can change the past and make my flight not have been delayed, or un-break someone’s guitar or wheelchair, but they can pay for repairs or refund the price of a ticket.

    An airline can also change how they handle luggage or maintenance, making them less likely to break someone else’s property in the future. It’s a different kind of change than “write your next book without this flaw,” in part because airlines aren’t generally trying to break people’s things (more often, they just don’t care), whereas a reader might hate something an author did on purpose.

    If I post “I hated this book because…” or “this book has some serious flaws, including…” I’m doing that for the sake of other possible readers, not because I expect the writer to change the text, or because I think they owe me a refund.

    I might ask for a replacement or refund if there were pages missing from a book, or a signature was sew in upside down–but I would take that to the publisher or bookstore, not the writer. Come to think of it, in that case I might tag the author, as an “FYI you might want to talk to your agent or editor if you don’t already know about this,” but even then I wouldn’t expect them to replace my defective copy of the book.

  18. As a tangent, here‘s the start of a twitter thread in which Seanan McGuire explains why authors (especially popular authors) should NEVER respond when tagged with reviews or complaints.

    TL/DR answer; she has 10,000 wasps, and she doesn’t want to accidentally deploy them.

  19. (8) IMO, a re-read of Watership Down is a safer bet than reading Tales from Watership Down. I recently re-read Watership (out loud to my children) and then read Tales for the first time. Watership held up pretty well* but Tales retroactively pulled some of the pleasure out of Watership.

    *A few of my female friends have reacted to the way the does are more-or-less prizes for the bucks. That may constitute serious suck fairy fodder for some people.

  20. I’m not up to date on 21st century social media. Is there a way of labeling a review so that people looking for reviews of work by a particular author will find it, without it being forced on the attention of that author?

  21. Is there a way of labeling a review so that people looking for reviews of work by a particular author will find it, without it being forced on the attention of that author?

    On Twitter, using an @ and the author’s username will send a notification to the author. Using a #hashtag is a convenient way of grouping posts by different people on one theme together, without actually pushing it at the subject, so it’s the better approach if you want to reach out beyond your normal circle for discussion. I think Instagram’s similar.

  22. I think part of the issue with Wendig is that he’s conflating two different things, and they aren’t the things he thought he was conflating. He’s confusing consumer reviews with consumer complaints

    Granted, everyone does these days. But if I write a restaurant review or a product review, I am aiming it at fellow consumers, same as book reviews. “Dishwasher full of bees”, “airline murdered my guitar” and “taxi driver dumped me out miles from my destination even after I showed him I had cash” is a customer complaint.I wouldn’t tag a restaurant in fpr a generic bad review (“food terrible and portions too small”) but I would for a complaint. (“Bees in soup”)


    Watership Down suffers a little from sexism fairy but almost none from suck fairy. It’s lovely still. (And there’s somewhat of a cure by reading the fanfic “Bright Moon, who goes Farther Still”, which captures the feel and gives the does their own story. )

    Tales didn’t sour me on the novel but it also failed to reach that height.

  23. 1) CW’s correct. DM-ing or otherwise rubbing a negative review directly in an author’s face is a bad idea.

    CW’s incorrect. Objectively based complaints about a poorly written book (i.e. poor spelling/grammar, massive plot holes) are not in a category that is separate from dishwashers that don’t work or airline employees pooping in your bags.

    From the discussion over there, someone made the point that you don’t have to know the author (via social media) in order to read their book. There have been a couple occasions when an author’s social media presense has turned me off on them. Ironically, I generally have enjoyed their writing and written positive reviews.

    FTR – I have no qualms about going full squee directly at an author when their work is top notch.

    4) Welcome to the party, pal. You’re a few drinks behind the rest of us. Common sense hasn’t just left the building, it seems to be in the next time zone and headed for the next planet.

    @Lis Carey – keep it up!!

    @Cat Eldridge – good luck with your recovery.

    @David Shallcross – I post reviews on Goodreads. A few authors have “liked” a couple of my reviews. Ironically, those reviews ran from fairly negative to fairly “meh”. But it is a great platform for readers that authors can safely ignore.

    Insert tag filled with wit, wisdom, and humour here…

  24. (1) For the reviews I write, I have a rule against ever telling the author how to “fix” the work. To do so would be to violate one of my core principles, which is that reviews are for readers, not authors.

    Rocket Stack Rank always uses social media to draw attention to stories we recommended, and that includes tagging authors on Twitter. I agree entirely that tagging an author for a negative review is uncalled-for.

    Most authors are pretty good, but some authors consider any review with any criticism to be negative–even a five-star review. And a few authors get upset if their stories are praised for “the wrong reasons.”

    And then some just overreact. One author told me that because I gave their story a 2-star review, it “couldn’t be sold in China” and that I’d cost the author $1,000. (It was a hard SF story with bad science.) I was surprised to learn we were so influential in China; the Chinese government almost never asks us for advice on anything. 🙂

  25. Greg Hullender: One author told me that because I gave their story a 2-star review, it “couldn’t be sold in China” and that I’d cost the author $1,000. (It was a hard SF story with bad science.)

    You didn’t cost that author anything. Their own sloppiness is what cost them the sale. I don’t feel a lot of sympathy for a writer who tries to blame a reviewer for their own failings.

    Though considering the translated stories we’ve been getting from China, bad science in their speculative fiction doesn’t seem to be a sticking point in that country.

  26. If he’d magically become svelte, it would feel different for me, at least.

    I thought he did though? There’s certainly a bit as the big fight comes on them where he bangs stormbreaker on the ground, lighting flows through him and he is armours and his mess of a beard is trimmed and neatly platted. Was it just the armour holding his belly in? It still looked as though he could become reasonably buff Thor through magic as soon as he wanted to and always knew it.

  27. nickpheas: I am not 100% sure. I’ve only seen it the once, but if I see it again, I will (try to) pay more attention.

  28. @JJ

    Though considering the translated stories we’ve been getting from China, bad science in their speculative fiction doesn’t seem to be a sticking point in that country.

    I’ve been told that the Chinese government is sponsoring some SF on the theory that it helps encourage young people to get into science. They’ll pay pretty good money to translate English stories, as well as encouraging local talent, but they only want to do it for relatively hard SF–no bad science and definitely no fantasy for sure.

    But, yeah, the bulk of Chinese SFF is definitely not like that. Not yet, anyway.

  29. @nickpheas: I’d have to see it again to be sure, but my pretty strong recollection is that he was still Big Lebowski Thor at the climax, just tidied up.

  30. Greg Hullender says One author told me that because I gave their story a 2-star review, it “couldn’t be sold in China” and that I’d cost the author $1,000. (It was a hard SF story with bad science.)

    Oh bull. Hardly anyone pays attention to reviews on sites in that mannner. I don’t. I read the one and two reviews on Amazon as amusement knowing that they’re generally outliers to the bulk of the reviews for a given work. A work that get mostly just one and two star reviews is definitely a stinker.

    I always only decide to listen (which is how I do novels post-brain injury) based on the conversation here which is why I’m now very much enjoying Ancestral Night. Oh and The Strange Case of The Alchemist’s Daughter is next up based on your recommendation.

  31. @nickpheas: He has done his hair and beard, but he still has his waistline. Im torn about the PTSD-thing (its good to see it’s handled but less so it’s nearly just played for laughs) but I have a hard time seeing it ad fatshaming. And yes Ive read this criticsm.

  32. @JJ

    Though considering the translated stories we’ve been getting from China, bad science in their speculative fiction doesn’t seem to be a sticking point in that country.

    You mean that whole business with the stretched proton in The Three-Body Problem was NOT based on 100% sound physics? How shocking!

  33. Whereas I do have the right to expect McDonald’s, or American Airlines, or Target, to make right the situation where I buy something from them and what I get does not meet their promised guarantees.

    Why is there a presumption of a promised guarantee from McDonald’s, American Airlines and Target but no promised guarantee from Chuck Wendig? All four are selling stuff in a market where consumer reviews are a normal and expected part of the relationship. I could be disappointed by a bad burger or a bad book and want to voice my opinion afterwards. Both have been consumed so there’s no fixing that, but the sellers are still producing new stuff and theoretically can make adjustments in response to customer feedback.

    I generally avoid using @ on Twitter when I’m criticizing a person, so I understand where Wendig is coming from there, but his ire ought to be directed at Twitter as much as his negative nabobs. The design design to let everybody @ everybody means anybody above a certain level of fame is going to get a lot of abuse.

  34. @rcade
    There are no guarantees for books. No one promises that you’ll love, or even just like, their books. Books are NOT like food or travel or other physical products. They’re like art and music.

  35. There are no guarantees for books. No one promises that you’ll love, or even just like, their books.

    I think every author is implicitly promising that their book will be an enjoyable or rewarding experience. Otherwise why should anybody pick it up?

    The argument you’re making about books, art and music seems to be that they’re less fair to criticize than other commercially sold products. I think the opposite. A work of art is a complex relationship between the author and audience. I’ll always have more to say after reading a book than after eating a burger.

  36. rcade: A work of art is a complex relationship between the author and audience. I’ll always have more to say after reading a book than after eating a burger.

    And I think that this is exactly why there are no guarantees with books (or art), and why consumers of books and art, even though they can do some due diligence before committing their money, know that they are always engaging in a bit of a crapshoot when they do so.

    A consumer can rightly expect their burger and fries to be hot enough to be edible, to be adequately-cooked, and to not contain non-edible foreign materials. A plane passenger can rightly expect that they and their baggage will arrive at the destination in a reasonably-intact condition. A person buying clothes can rightly expect that the seam and hem stitching will be secure, and that the fabric will be colorfast and non-toxic.

    A consumer buying a book can rightly expect that the book will contain all the words it’s supposed to, that the pages will be in the correct order, and that a paper book will be durable enough not to fall apart the first time it’s read. If not, the consumer has a right to demand that the publisher/vendor “make right” their purchase.

    But that is all that a book consumer can rightly expect. There is no intrinsic expectation of quality of content for a book, as there is with restaurant food, a plane trip, or clothing.

  37. JJ: You’re talking about fiction only, aren’t you? I’d be very peeved if my astronomy text had the Earth rotating in the wrong direction, while I’d just be amused if that showed up in an SF novel. (Though I’d be tempted to contact the author about it anyway.)

  38. @racde
    Still not getting it, I see.
    The contents of novels are NOT guaranteed to please the buyer. That’s not something that an author can do, ever. It’s why people browse in bookstores, and why e-books have online samples that might be enough to sell you on buying that one.
    (I’ve bought books I thought I’d like, and found that I didn’t. But I don’t do that often. I’m much more likely to not see one I might like, because it has a bad blurb.)

    (Restaurants don’t guarantee that you’ll enjoy everything on the menu, either. And airlines don’t guarantee that you’ll enjoy their flights.)

  39. There’s an interesting wrinkle in ebooks regarding customer dissatisfaction after buying a book. Amazon has this policy on Kindle Store purchases: “Books purchased from the Kindle Store can be returned within seven days of purchase. Once a refund is issued, you can’t have access to the book.”

    So anyone who buys a book for their Kindle and complains it wasn’t what they wanted had a whole week to make that determination and return it for a full refund.

  40. rcade: So anyone who buys a book for their Kindle and complains it wasn’t what they wanted had a whole week to make that determination and return it for a full refund.

    Yes, that’s a policy that Amazon the bookseller has decided to offer. It’s based on their desire to maintain high volumes of sales from customers who buy a lot of books.

    It is, however, not an unlimited policy — it’s my understanding that a customer who requests more than one or two refunds a year will start getting refused.

    And it still has nothing to do with non-existent guarantees from writers. The idea that a writer is obligated to take feedback from readers on board, and make changes to future or past books in response to it — which is what we are talking about here — is ludicrous.

  41. The only reason I can imagine contacting an author is if, e.g., it’s a self-published book and there’s some kind of colossal formatting failure. But even then I wouldn’t do it by @ing them on a review.

  42. @rcade: on the difference between books and the other consumer products you list, another point: each story is expected to have at least some individuality (not much in certain lines, but those lines probably aren’t Wendig’s subject), where part of the definition of quality for a burger is that it is like other burgers from the same source. (The same applies, with suitable variations, to plane flights etc.)

  43. Again, “My burger arrived cold and had zero seasoning” left as a comment after the fact is a review. “My burger contained a screw” is a *complaint*.

    “The idiot behind me kept bumping my seat and I nearly threw up in the turbulence” is a bad airplane review. Not fun, but not something the airline can reasonably be expected to control. “My wheelchair came back to me in three pieces” is a *complaint*. This is not standard practice nor standard risks one should be assumed to expect to take.

    For books, this is “This book was bland.” versus “This book included pages 15-30 twice over but pages 31-46 were missing”. (And the latter is of course on the publisher).

    You can reasonably discuss whether there is a grey area between the two (see recent cases with YA where a book was accused of being racist by previewers before the final edition was released) but please please stop getting the non-edge-cases mixed.

  44. @bookworm1398

    I generally agree that you shouldn’t tag authors in reviews, negative or positive.

    I’m getting a bit confused about online etiquette here, because criticizing someone without tagging them in is also known as “subtweeting” on some platforms, and considered rude by many people (in fact, I recently unfriended somebody on a social platform for doing this).
    Wouldn’t authors in general WANT to hear from their audience, even if it’s not entirely complimentary? With my own modest creative endeavors, I generally consider SILENCE, not criticism, the most discouraging reaction.
    (Noted, of course, that Wending does NOT want to hear negative feedback, and he’s certainly entitled to that preference).

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