Another Review, and a Link, Oh, and Another Link
Posted on February 7, 2006 Posted by John Scalzi 7 Comments
First the link: The online cartoon Unshelved has an amusing cartoon about Scott Westerfeld’s Peeps. Yay! Comics celebrating literacy!
Second, another review of The Ghost Brigades, from Bookslut, which finds the book good, not great:
While The Ghost Brigades falls short in exploring its underlying philosophical and ethical themes, it delivers on its promise of solid science fiction entertainment with a leavening of serious issues. It is more of a riff on existing themes than an original composition, but it provides an action-driven plot that is grounded in very human characters. I found it a thoroughly enjoyable read, and a heartening example of an author taking on a more ambitious novel than his prevous ones and becoming a better novelist in the process. The Ghost Brigades may not make a lasting impression, but it’s a fun read.
This review also drives home the point that different people like different things — the reviewer here calls the first chapter “clunky,” which is the same chapter the reviewer in the SFRevu review in the last entry calls “brilliant.” Is it clunky? Is it brilliant? Is it brilliantly clunky? Is it a dessert topping and a floor wax? Guess you’ll have to find out for yourself.
And for fun, here’s another link: Chris Roberson’s Paragaea. It’s a site pimping Roberson’s upcoming whiz-bang book Paragaea: A Planetary Romance, but what makes it extra super mega ultra fun is that it features an entire prequel novel for free. And there’s nothing better than free! That’s why they call it “free!”
I write for a book review site. Do you think we could get a copy for review?
You can certainly ask Tor for one. My publicist there is Dot Lin.
Just received my copy of “Questions for a Soldier” (I was #47!) from Subterranean Press. Of course I read it as soon as I ripped it from the envelope. I liked how you addressed some of my questions around the first world/third world roles in the Colonial Union.
I ended up having to buy a trade paperback edition of OMW because I lent my prized hardcover (the one you signed for me in Glasgow) to a friend, who is stretching the boundaries of friendship by his delay in returning it :-)
Really looking forward to Ghost Brigades.
I see you found the review before I even realized it was up. I checked, saw it was up, thought, “I should email Scalzi about this.” Then I realized, “He undoubtedly already knows.” And lo, it was so.
It’s interesting to me when reviewers collide about specific sections of a work. I learned this lesson early when I wrote a text adventure. One reviewer said, “The first part is clearly the weakest”; another, “Perhaps the most successful part is the first part”.
Indeed, you can never tell. What you hope for (as a writer, or, at least, me) is that over a series of reviews you get a good sense of what’s working in a book and what’s not, outside of the idiosyncracies of the individual reviewer’s personal taste. The opinions that trend to the mean are the ones which are ultimately useful (even if one does not see them as “correct” from a personal point of view — although so far with TGB I can’t complain on that score).
Having said that, I think the idiosyncratic divergences of each reviewer are very interesting as well — that’s where you get to know a little about the reviewer himself.
Honestly, I just find reviews fascinating, even the negative ones. So many years writing them professionally makes it fun to be on the other side.
I know this is, at best, a secondary topic but “Is it a dessert topping and a floor wax?”
I remember that faux advertisement, and I also remember that SNL didn’t pull the concept out of thin air. There was a real commercial at the time in which family members argue over the purpose of a product until a smiling plastic spokesman settles the issue – it’s both. The two purposes were far apart, not as far as floor wax and dessert topping, but pretty close.
I can’t remember the real commercial, though. You’d be amazed how long this has been bugging me. Anyone remember?
The Asahi Shimbun was one of the leading English language papers when I was in Tokyo in the late 60’s. They always wrote their leader from all three major wire services. The bulk might be from UPI with variations from AP and Reuters to follow. The next day Reuters might start the parade. Many times, particularly when the story was about the Vietnam war, the reader was left in a complete quandary. Three different events might have ocurred, rather than one.
It taught me the value and operation of point of view.
So is there a blog that gathers a disparity of reviews centered on a single work? That could be a lot of fun.
p.s.: Loved Agent to the Stars. Many thanks for that.