The Scathing Review Winner, or, This May Be the Best Whatever Entry Ever

Oh, God. I think the Write a Scathing Review contest is my favorite contest ever. I laughed so hard at some of these I damn near barfed myself. It also made me glad that the books these comments are putatively reviewing don’t actually exist. Although one or two of them seem like interesting ideas… Hmmmm. Probably better not.

Suffice to say that I had an extremely difficult time choosing one as the best; in the end I went with the one I thought had the best overall balance of humor, disgust, plausible explanation for my craptacularity, and of course regretful pity at how much I suck. This is the one, contributed by Tim. Tim, send me your address so I can send along your book.

Although Tim won the contest, there were so many Coke-through-the-nose bits from the contest entries that I can’t let them go unremarked. So below you’ll find some of my favorite quotes from the entries.

You all are beautiful, creative, evil people. I love that about you. Thanks for having fun with this.


“Right now I feel like scooping my eyeballs out with a spoon and cleansing the sockets with bleach.”

“Choose Your Own Adventure is dead. Someone forgot to tell John Scalzi.”

“Mr. Scalzi, ballooning sales numbers to the contrary, beginning each of your books with a chapter-long fart joke is not the way to win fans.”

“The [book] collects the poorly edited ravings of a necrotic brain.”

“This reviewer would go one step further and recommend that all works by John Scalzi be burned, that no one, even in criminology, should teach using the works of John Scalzi, and that the name John Scalzi be forgotten entirely and that his ashes, when he is caught and brought to justice, be strewn upon a public urinal.”

“Though I applaud experimentation with forms of structure and presentation, what possible justification can he offer for subjecting us to a work that contains four chapters consisting solely of haiku in transliterated Sumerian?”

“The fact that this book actually managed to make it to market without imploding from its own foul weight is compelling proof that there is no God.”

“To call his new work ‘tripe’ would be an insult to the first, second, and third stomachs of ruminants worldwide. [This] is best described as sub-tripe; perhaps originating from the abomasum or duodenum regions.”

“Scalzi’s raw loathing for his readers leaps out like one Central Park flasher after another.”

“There comes a time when necrophilia begins to look not just bad but tacky, and John Scalzi’s annual humping-Heinlein exercise in techno-fetishism and military hagiography has reached it.”

“Scalzi’s new romance novel answers with a resounding ‘no’ the question can a writer can creatively bounce back from a year of heroin and horse tranquilizer abuse.”

“There is nothing redeemable about this novel, except for the price you’d get per pound of paper from a recycler.”

“In one of John Scalzi’s earlier works, a character is farted to death. After reading Scalzi’s latest, I know how the poor bastard feels.”

“If you want a thrilling plot full of interplanetary intrigue, or likable, well-drawn characters, look elsewhere; if you ever wanted an excruciatingly detailed description of how to have intercourse with a barnyard animal in zero gravity, well, then you’re covered.”

“Like being seduced or tickled by an incompetent lover, Scalzi’s newest effort leaves one with the manhandled sensation of one who overcompensates with lack of finesse by lustily barking enthusiasm.”

“This book covers about every way a person could misuse human excrement.”

“As far as the writing itself, someone must have mixed a cephalotropic drug in with Scalzi’s Viagra.”

“Reads as so much Vogon poetry.”

“Mr Peebles, the office gerbil, has given a far more honest and copious critique of Mr Scalzi’s work than is possible here.”

“Had this reviewer actually paid for this book, rather than receiving an ARC, it might have been found burning merrily in the grate. It certainly would have provided more entertainment there.”

“For 35, count ’em, 35 pages, John describes the things to which he’s taped bacon.”

“Scalzi is the only author I know of whose fellows rigged an awards ceremony just so they could hand him a trophy with the words ‘Philip K.’ rubbed out.”

“Introducing an innocent and unsuspecting reader to Scalzi’s writing with [this book] would be like introducing young boys to John Wayne Gacy.”

“If you are considering buying this book, let me suggest an alternative course of action. Take twenty dollars out of your wallet, burn it, then slam your genitalia in a car door several times. This will re-create the same general experience while saving you a lengthy trip to the store.”

“I can only suggest that Scalzi snake out his occluded neural pathways and start over.”

“This books sucks so much it might well be the end of the universe as we know it.”

“If the rumours as to his eventual destination are true, then we can only hope that the ashrams of northern India can help him to a better perspective than he displays in the pitiable final effort of his writing career.”

“I keep watching CNN to see if there’s a late breaking news story informing us that aliens have abducted Scalzi, leaving a drooling, slack jawed creature in his place.”

“Don’t buy it. If you must buy it, for the love of all that is good, don’t read it.”

“Mr. Scalzi: If hope is the thing with feathers, sir, then you are the thing there is no hope for. Unless you’re hiding your feathers somewhere. Which I doubt.”

Did I mention I love you all? Well, I do. And I take comfort in knowing that no review of an actual book I have written will be as cleverly vicious as these.

20 Comments on “The Scathing Review Winner, or, This May Be the Best Whatever Entry Ever”

  1. Ah, these quotes are all awesome! I’m bummed I never wrote one of these scathing reviews, but then I doubt I could have competed with these gems.

    Good work, folks.

  2. Yeah, Tim’s was great. Congrats!

    My favorite line out of all this was from Hogwallop: “It looks like Times New Roman threw up on a page.”

  3. Those quotes are brilliant. I’ve been sitting here pretending to work, but the laughter is giving me away. I am going to start quoting soon, to the general distress of everyone around me!! :)

  4. Damn! I got mentioned in dispatches and then found out that #209 of the Coffee Shop is mine thanks to the miracle of eBay. Fridays ROCK!

    Old Jarhead

  5. I didn’t read all of the reviews (not yet, anyway) but I was struck by how many of them included major psychological issues. It seems the only way we can envision a bad book from Scalzi is to incorporate a major break with reality.

  6. Obviously, the next step is to solicit contributions for a contest you’ll host on this blog ten years from now….

  7. Diatryma:

    “It seems the only way we can envision a bad book from Scalzi is to incorporate a major break with reality.”

    Strangely enough, this is what my invisible squirrel friends say, too.

  8. You should run this contest on an annual basis. Those excerpts were at least as funny as anything I ever read in the Bulwer-Lytton contest. I was laughing so hard I think I started getting strange looks from others seated near me in the library.

  9. I still think *somebody* needs to write a book entitled, The Quantum Phoenix.

    Good title.

    And, in excerpt form, our collected commentary do make a rather dread lot, don’t they?

  10. That was the most funny contest I was in. Folks, I’m proud to have been one of you. And John, off goes my hat for a brilliant idea!
    PS: And… Tim? Die, bastard, die!!!!! :)

  11. Congrats Tim. Well deserved.

    I, for one, would also throw honorable mentions to Jim Wright and Gabriel. Those two had me dyin’…just dyin’.

  12. Damn! That list of quotes was just funny as hell. My wife thought I was having a seizure. I read all the reviews, but somehow each of those quotes in a list was even funnier taken together.

    How about this idea, John? Next time you publish a limited addition, especially like Coffee Shop where there’s not going to be a 2nd printing and most of the buyers are us, put these quotes on the dust jacket! I would love to own a Scalzi book with that list on the cover!

    One last thing, I’m with hnu: Death to Tim. Jihad! You funny Bastard, now you’ll get all the hot chicks. Damn you to hell, Tim.

  13. Mega-Congrats Tim!!!

    Your review was awesome! I bow to the King of Scathing Reviews!

  14. “Choose Your Own Adventure is dead. Someone forgot to tell John Scalzi.”

    Someone owes me a new keyboard.

  15. Just the posted excerpts had me laughing so hard I could not breathe. I don’t think I could survive reading the full reviews. THis and the Duylan post prove getting out of bed this morning was a good idea.

  16. Well done Tim, a very deserving critique.

    PS. Don’t go through the book all in one go.
    Use it as a supplement, not as a replacement for your toilet paper usage.
    Me, bitter,…nah. Just looking for some silky crisp paper for myself.

  17. Well done Tim!
    Also thanks to Adam Rakunas for my favorite quote: “Scalzi’s raw loathing for his readers leaps out like one Central Park flasher after another.”

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