Redshirts Back Cover, Library Journal Review, A Plea to Reviewers

We’re three weeks out from the release of Redshirts, and I just got my boxes o’ author copies, so now is a fine time, I think, to show you the back cover, which has lovely blurbs for the book from Joe Hill, Pat Rothfuss, Melinda Snodgrass and Lev Grossman. They are all very kind, and also what I love about each of these is that they bring home the point that, hey! This book is funny! This is actually important to me, for reasons I plan to go on about at length in a future entry. But in the meantime, thanks Joe and Pat and Melinda and Lev. Glad you liked it.

Also in the liking ledger: Library Journal, whose review I won’t quote at length (for reasons I’ll note in just a minute) but whose verdict on the book is thus:

[T]his humorous and thought-provoking novel should appeal to fans of sf (especially Star Trek devotees) who like a good laugh along with their big ideas and space action.


One note: The Library Journal review also has a honking big spoiler for the book, so I’d avoid the full review if you don’t want a major plot element revealed to you.

Which reminds me to note to other potential reviewers of the book: Hey, this is a book that can be spoiled. I’m certainly not going to tell you how to write your reviews — I’ve been a pro critic for two decades, and I know I don’t work for the people whose work I review, so why should you — but I will make the following plea: if you decide you need to make a spoiler, please please please mark it so readers don’t come to it unaware. I think it’s the correct balance between saying what you want to say and letting the reader come to the book with all its potential entertainment value intact. Thanks.

27 Comments on “Redshirts Back Cover, Library Journal Review, A Plea to Reviewers”

  1. Thank you, John! I HATE spoilers! The worst example of it I have ever seen was the BACK COVER of Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love, which comepltely unnecessarily spoiled the suspense of what would otherwise have been a stunningly suspenseful first chapter.

  2. Publisher’s Weekly quote from their review: “Scalzi explores life among the doomed redshirts with ingeniously morbid glee….” —- Just the kind of writing I like. Can’t wait to read this book!

  3. If I’m doing a REVIEW for any of the markets I write for, I am of course careful to avoid spoilers.

    However, if I am doing criticism and analysis, including Wikipedia articles and the like, then spoilers are generally necessary in order to do the job right.

  4. What, is the spoiler that he dies at the end during an unfortunate accident/misunderstanding on a landing party mission?

  5. The Publishers Weekly review seems to have a honking big spoiler, too. Unfortunately, I know this because that review pops up on the results page when I search my local public library’s catalog for Redshirts. (It’s cataloged as “on order.” I’m #1 on the hold list, though I’ll probably just buy it and cancel the hold anyway.)

  6. Michael J. Lowrey:

    Yes, there’s a difference between consumer reviewing and in-depth criticism, although with the notation that these are broad categories and any one review can be a little of both. If it’s generally consumer facing, however, I think a spoiler note is appreciated.

  7. Thanks for the warning, I will definitely skip the review until after I’ve gotten the copy you know you are going to send my way. You do know that, right? …right?

  8. I actually learned an important lesson about avoiding spoilers when I sneaked you my review of The Android’s Dream a week or so before the book came out, and there was a reveal you asked me if I wouldn’t mind refraining from. That caused me to think a lot about the role of giving plot synopses in a review, and it’s best to pare those down as best as possible, offering just enough to give the reader an idea of the story while concentrating most on my response to the story. So yeah, that was a nice teachable moment for me. These days, if I include a spoiler, it’s for a damn good reason, and I post a warning.

    Rest assured my Redshirts review (coming probably next week or so, as I’ve got Railsea to get out of the way first) will not include this spoiler.

  9. The thing about Library Journal is that it’s not what librarians would think of as “consumer facing”; it’s a professional review source used by librarians buying books for their libraries. So the people reading LJ are going to BUY the book, but they’re not going to READ it. (Well, except for me, who used LJ to find books to read, but that’s because I don’t buy fiction for my library.)

  10. I’ve already purchased my copy from Amazon, and it should arrive within days of release. Having read just about every one of your previous books and completely, thoroughly and totally enjoyed them all, I’m willing to take the chance on this one without reading any reviews. Give you the benefit of the doubt, so to speak. The reviewers can spoil away all they want. It won’t affect me. And I’ll take Thomas M. Wagner’s advice and burn hide the dust jacket as soon as the book arrives. Thanks for that, Thomas!

  11. The blurb from self-styled redshirt killer Melinda Snodgrass has piqued my heirs’ interest in this book.

  12. Um… god, I’ll probably be malleted for this… but shouldn’t the first part of the Lev Grossman quote end in ‘Plausibility’?

    I’m squinting at the screen to see it… I might be making a mistake due to poor eyesight and this tiny screen… but ‘plausibly’ doesn’t seem to scan there, for me.

  13. aw cheeze, Vic! Don’t mention grammar even in jest around here 8-{D I’m afraid you are right though.

    I only have 2 concerns, when is my copy going to finally arrive (I know you can’t help with that) and the biggie – what is the title going to be when the Italian version comes out? Redshirt means something entirely different there

  14. On the grammar nitpick, the cover reads “… far more plausibly,” not “…for more plausibility.”

    I agree it’s hard to read in the photo.

  15. Just finished the first 4 chapters and I really can’t wait until it comes out… It’s just like anything you are involved with, it’s awesome!!

  16. not sure if there really is a spoiler – assuming my assumption is correct. I read the online sample when it came out & pre-ordered because the writing was just so dang much fun to read. I thought when I read it I saw something. It may turn out my assumption is correct in which case I will have had a heck of an adventure which is all I ever ask out of an SF novel so it can’t be spoiled. If I am wrong (as if that ever happens ;) ) then I will have a big surprise as well as a great adventure so either way I win.

  17. I was going to get this anyway, but I love Joe Hill’s blurb simply for the idea of a book Philip K. Dicking someone over. It’s my new favorite phrase for the day, so thanks for that birthday present to me.

  18. “So the people reading LJ are going to BUY the book, but they’re not going to READ it.”

    *ahem* Speaking as a librarian who reads LJ – Although it would be impossible for me to read EVERYTHING I buy for our collections, I do read quite a bit of my selections, especially the F/SF.

  19. Is the Library Journal review online? I’ve done a little prowling around the LJ website, but the only thing I found resembling a review was only a paragraph long, and was quite un-spoilerish.

    I want to read the review, because spoilers don’t bother me.

  20. John, I definitely will be buying Redshirts, but may I say that I *hate* it when the back cover only has ‘sound bites’ but no synopsis! If I’m just browsing in a book store, I can’t get a feel for the book, and I won’t buy it.

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