The Shoe’s On The Other Foot
You might be aware of Metacritic, the reviews aggregator, and you might also be aware that they stopped doing books because it was too hard. So arise SffMeta which brings together reviews for SF novels. This is interesting to me for a couple of reasons. The most straightforward is that it is sometimes handy to gather together a lot of reviews like this, giving an overview not only of individual works but wider trends. The rankings themselves – currently Caine Black Knife by Matthew Woodring Stover is top (with an average of 99 from three reviews) and The Harlequin by Laurell K. Hamilton is bottom (with an average of 33 from three reviews) – are pretty spurious but it is interesting to see what is being reviewed and what the general impressions are.
However, it is also interesting for me because they have included a lot of my reviews which they have had to convert from words to numbers. I’m sure authors read reviews from time to time and are forced to scoff “no, that’s not what I meant at all, you fool”. This, then, is a taste of my own medicine. In part it is the nature of the beast: a five star system provides nowhere near enough granularity and even converting five stars into a percentage is problematic. I might give something five stars but I probably wouldn’t ever give anything 100. The two novels to which they have allocated 100 – Anathem and God Of Clocks – I would probably score as 80. I am more intrigued by the really divergent ones though: The Heritage which they score as 40 to my 70 and Subtle Edens which I would score as 10 to their 40. Still, at least they’ve never given any of mine an N/A rating which is presumably code for what on Earth is Harrison banging on about?
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