Got an irate e-mail from someone last night who hated hated hated Redshirts, which is of course fine. It was followed almost immediately by a gushing e-mail from someone else who absolutely loved Redshirts and thought it was my best book yet, which is also fine. I admit to liking the positive e-mail better. I was also amused at the juxtaposition of the two e-mails. It’s a reminder how varied readers and their specific tastes can be.
And in point of fact, I don’t suspect that there’s a single book of mine that isn’t both loved and hated (and also, thought indifferently of). Lots of people love Old Man’s War, but a fair number don’t get what the fuss is about, and some actively dislike it. Some people think The Android’s Dream is my best while others can’t get past the first sentence. There are those who have told me they think Fuzzy Nation is better written than Little Fuzzy, the H. Beam Piper book on which it is based; there are those who think it is far worse and despise me for rebooting the story at all. And so on.
They’re all right, inasmuch as they are discussing their own tastes. Everyone is different, so every book will work differently for them. And as I’ve said many times before, even someone whose work you generally love will occasionally produce a clunker for you. It’s almost inevitable over the course of a career. And even if you like everything someone has created, you’re going to like some things more than others. And your list is likely to be different than other people’s.
To illustrate this point, I have a request: If you’ve read more than two of my novels, I would like for you to rank those novels, from your most favorite to your least favorite, down in the comments. And if you like, you can elaborate a bit on the individual titles: Is your “most favorite” still not one you like very much? Is your “least favorite” one you still like a lot? Do you hate hate hate one of my novels (or several)? Go ahead and note it. Don’t worry, you won’t hurt my feelings. I will be fine.
What I hope to illustrate here is — again — that every reader is different, and no one likes everything equally (or indeed, in some cases, at all).
So: rank my novels! Let’s see what you think. And thanks.