Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

Archive for September 2013


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Since we last spoke, I have made two significant acquisitions.

Firstly, an xBox 360. In my first year of console ownership I have enjoyed the perfection of Half-Life 2 and the flawless Portal games; the simply pleasure of shooting of Nazi ballbags in Sniper Elite V2; the best and worst of Rockstar Games by following the unputdownable Red Dead Redemption with the unplayable GTA IV; the tedious but therapeutic grind of Borderlands; and, most recently, the gloriously cinematic latest installment of the Tomb Raider series. Secondly, BKP, my son. He is less interactive than the xBox but a hell of a lot cooler.

1) How To Be A Professional Author And Decent Human On The Internet – Boo to Ben Aaronovitch. Er, yeah, Wednesday’s post is already the most popular of the last twelve months.
2) ‘Nine Lives’ by Ursula K. LeGuin – For the sake of high school students everywhere, I should really write a longer piece on this story. (Up three places from last year.)
3) Back To The Mud: The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz, 2011) – One of my rare reviews for the blog: I liked it. (Up four places from last year.)
4) ‘A Worm In The Well’ by Gregory Benford – Boo to Gregory Benford and his stupid ideas about economics, politics and space opera.
5) Epic Fantasy Vs Sword And Sorcery – Exactly what it says on the tin with signal boost from Liz Bourke.
6) Woman On The Edge Of Time – One of my rare reviews for the blog: I didn’t like it.
7) Where Is The New New Wave? – Meta-commentary using one of my review elsewhere as a jumping off point to discus the exhaustion of science fiction.
8) What I Want, Exactly – Talking awards. Again.
9) ‘The Star’ by Arthur C. Clarke – Perennially popular discussion of a story I didn’t like. (Down seven places from last year.)
10) Everything That Is Wrong With Commercial Fantasy In A Single Quote – Boo to George RR Martin and his stupid ideas about literature. (Down eight places from last year.)

Written by Martin

28 September 2013 at 12:47

Posted in blog management

How To Be A Professional Author And Decent Human On The Internet

with 11 comments

Step One

1) Set-up a Google Alert for your name. It is important to know if someone is talking about you or your work on the internet.
2) Make sure you read all your reviews to see if anyone disagrees with your interpretation of the text.
3) If you see a blog review you disagree with, make sure you correct the reviewer’s misunderstanding immediately.
4) Do not under any circumstances:

  • Heed the widely held belief that it is generally a bad idea for authors to respond to reviews of their work.
  • Familiarise yourself with the culture of the blog to ensure you understand the context in which the review takes place.
  • Read the review closely and sympathetic to ensure you understand the argument they are making.
  • Re-read your comment to ensure it doesn’t sound patronising before posting.

5) If the reviewer unaccountable does not find your intervention helpful, apologise but make sure your sincerity is called into question by flouncing off.
6)Reflect on the views that have been expressed and use this experience to inform your future interactions.
6) Stew.

Step Two

1) If a third party uses this as an example of why there is a widely held belief that it is a bad idea for authors to respond to reviews of their work as part of a wider discussion of the inter-relation between fandom and industry, make sure you respond with insincerity, bluster, sarcasm and strawmen.
2) Do not under any circumstances:

  • Treat this as an opportunity to read the views of others and learn from them.
  • Read the article closely and sympathetically and consider that perhaps it isn’t all about you.
  • Acknowledge that there is a difference between author interactions regarding their own work and author interactions regarding other issues.

3) Demonstrate that there is no danger you have taken the article too personally or have lost perspective and are carefully following the discussion by mistakenly posting four comments in a row.
4) Flounce off. The conversation is beneath you.
5) Remember: although the conversation is beneath you, you are the most important person in the conversation and so deserve the last word. Make sure you come back and insult someone for no reason.
6)Reflect on the views that have been expressed and use this experience to inform your future interactions.
6) Seethe.

Step Three

1) If the original blogger mentions in passing the testerical accusations of bullying she has received from some of your fans, make sure to ask a disengenuous and derailing question that has already been amply answered by your actions.
2) Do not under any circumstances:

  • Learn any lessons from your previous interaction on the blog.
  • Address the substance of the point or acknowledge that your behaviour may have enabled it.
  • Take into account the views or feelings of the blogger.

3) Patiently explain to the blogger and other commentators why they are wrong
4) Belatedly address the substance of the point but ensure you do so in the form of a defensive strawman that implies you are the victim. Repeat the strawman: this not only increases the validity of your point, it further derails the conversation and makes it about you.
5) Continue to tell people that their beliefs are wrong and the issue the blogger raised is nothing to do with you. Do not pause to think that if the issue is nothing to do with you, perhaps there is no need for you to comment.
6) Declare your passion for literature. Do not attempt to make this relevant to the ongoing discussion.
7) Prove there is nothing intimidating about your contributions by posting six comments in a row and attempting to drown out all other discussion.
8) Further demonstrate your good faith by posting the same irrelevant comment three times in a row.
9) The conversation is all about you so make sure you reframe it on your own terms. Do not stop to consider why you would want to do this or what you hope to gain from it.
10) Even though the blogger has made her views about your participation abundantly clear, make a magmanimous offer: “If either of them tells me directly that they don’t want to discuss any further and that they want me to leave then I shall do so – without a parting shot.” Ignore the fact that this offer is also unaccountably addressed to a third party.
11) Reveal that you don’t actually understand that the blogger and the third party are different people writing in different venues. This will reinforce the view that you are repeatedly parachuting into conversations without understanding the context. Don’t worry, the fact you have passionately held opinions makes up for this.
12) Similarly, even though your livelihood is based on the written word, there is no need to write intelligibly. Passion trumps articulacy.
13) Finally, after eighteen comments, flounce off.
14)Reflect on the views that have been expressed and use this experience to inform your future interactions.
14) Brood.

Step Four

1) Return to the argument whilst simultaneously claiming “I’m not going to get back into the argument”. Choose a title that will inform readers you are continuing to engage sympathetically and act in good faith.
2) Do not under any circumstances:

  • Consider whether rape threats are more hurtful than being told that people don’t want to discuss books with you.
  • Consider whether gender can consciously or unconsciously play a role in online interaction.
  • Consider whether your own words set the tone of the debate and informed the responses that both you and others received.

3) Flounce off from the whole of fandom. It is all beneath you. Make clear that you are “not fishing for compliments or gestures of support, nor am I looking for reprisals”, even though both are likely to occur.

Step Five

1) Immediately go on Twitter and continue your unwanted interactions with fans.


Written by Martin

24 September 2013 at 11:52

Posted in genre wars, sf

Tagged with

Don’t Drink The Dark Water

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My review of Dark Waters Of Hagwood by Robin Jarvis is up now at Strange Horizons.

Dark Waters is the sequel of Thorn Ogres Of Hagwood and is a book I never thought I’d read. But, after twelve years of waiting, Dark Water has been published, only for me to find it a huge disappointment. As I said in my review: “What I’ve always loved about Jarvis is how much respect he has for his audience, but it seems absent here.”

I reviewed Thorn Ogres as well so you can compare one of my first review with my most recent. As we’ve discussed before, there is quite a difference. Much of this journey has taken place at Strange Horizons, the best place for speculative fiction criticism on the web. It is also free so, if you’ve enjoyed the work of me and the other reviewers – not to mention authors, poets, columnists and many other contributors – then you might want to consider supporting their annual fund drive. There are prizes!

Written by Martin

15 September 2013 at 16:02

Posted in books, sf

Tagged with , ,