Expected no-read reviews

The long-expected SJW no-read one-star reviews have started to arrive. The first is Elisabeth Carey of Massachusetts. She’s a librarian, or at least that’s what the claim is on the bio. Hours apart she posts on Amazon and GoodReads.  Both reviews appear to only cover things in the free “Check Inside” or the description, and are almost totally style-oriented apart from what can be read in the description. She doesn’t appear to be the sort that would like, appreciate, or even understand most mil SF. She’s not a verified purchaser. She’s also written similar one star reviews of John C. Wright’s work, and Riding The Red Horse.

Seems to be a person that has passed judgement on me, based on hearsay and acquaintance, and judged the work accordingly. Not at all unexpected of a middle-aged woman from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts who has never met me. If she wants to claim she read the book, she can please explain why the Achilles reference doesn’t work in making clear why Taj is a tragic figure. Or, to put it another way – what was the last military SF she read and liked (4/5 stars)? Has she ever read any mil SF? I’ve got no problem with people posting negative reviews about something they read and didn’t like; such is the nature of opinion. But it’s dishonest to post a review of a book in a genre that you NEVER like and didn’t read without an appropriate disclaimer.  I could review romance novels all day long – “stupid, self-parodying, foolish people doing foolish things, poorly written, cliche dialog, plot holes the size of Manhattan, and  if 80% of the action happened in real life like that they’d go to jail.” But that would be dishonest, because that’s what I think of the genre overall.

In follow-up comments, she said that I didn’t draw her in, so she didn’t read it all, or even anything past (or all of) the first 10% of the free “look inside”. But that basic fact is NOT in the review. But what IS in the review is a complete misrepresentation of the story, making it clear she didn’t understand it at all, or skimmed so fast that she missed a great many basic details, and even the entire point of the story, while including things that are not in the story (or, at least, makes them absurd-sounding and context-free). For example: she says Helton is a “failure at most things,” even though there is a brief discussion on about page five explicitly calls out that piloting is the first thing he’s done that he isn’t good at, it makes me question either her reading comprehension or her agenda.

Oh, well. Her pen, her words, to live or die by (to those delicate, sensitive types, that’s what known as a “metaphor”). But it’s likely that librarians like her are the reason my son doesn’t like to read that much – because all the books aimed at 3rd grade boys are, to quote him, “boring,” because they are selected by women like Lis.

Here is her review as it was posted (in italics) and my comments (bold):

Rolf Nelson is a 2015 nominee for the John W. Campbell Best New Writer Award.

It’s a movie script that “morphed into a novel.” Except no, it didn’t. So it has none of the sights, sounds, and actors that make a move or tv show work, nor does any other book and none of the narrative features that make novels work. So you missed the many pages of description, like virtually the entire initial crash scene in the introduction that describe the sights and sounds of the crash? Wow. Here’s the script; you the reader do all the work. Apparently, because, writing a good script is no work at all. Because dialog is just, like, you know, people talking. Apparently it’s a great deal of work for her to try and understand a person based on what they say and visibly do, sort of like the real world, where thought bubbles are few and far between. She must live a rough life.

Helton Strom has failed at most things he’s tried; NO NO NO! How wrong can you be? In Kwon’s diner, they explicitly have a conversation about all the things he done that he’s GOOD at, just chose to not continue with because he felt like he was “utterly replaceable.” Piloting is the first things he’s NOT been good at. Yet you missed that key feature?  [later edit: in her comments she projects her own personal prejudices by saying” And giving up on every career choice after short periods isn’t “success.” Of course, it doesn’t occur to her that moving on when you are unhappy with your current employment might be a good thing, and being skilled enough to pick up a new trade quickly enough to make it work, several times, while it is not traditional it’s something that few are capable of doing, and is a mark of unusual flexibility of mind and body.]
the script opens with him managing to crash a flight simulator while doing a crash simulation program. Crashes it in the sense of doing serious damage to it. How? Who knows? That’s not the important detail; it’s like the autistic student focusing on the change in font in a word problem during math class. And, in movies, such comic relief is often called “humor.” You are clearly totally unfamiliar with the genre of movie and story.

So he’s stuck with his job as a teacher, except he hasn’t signed that contract for the new term yet. You totally missed the point. He’s not “stuck” with teaching; he choosing whether or not he should continue a stymied career, or strike out in a new direction again. Then he gets a message from his sister, on another planet, offering him a possible techie job in her husband’s business. Remember, this is the guy that crashed a flight simulator. He’s offered the job because, remember, he’s GOOD with tech (except piloting) as explicitly stated almost exactly one page earlier. But you missed that, too, I guess. But that’s not going to happen; instead, he tangles with a nightmare version of the TSA, and is stripped of everything, all his assets, and even his citizenship, in the course of a few hours. The next logical step is of course a surplus military starship with a mercenary crew, Except that it Isn’t; it’s a flight where he meets people, then getting dumped in a desert, then escaping, then winning the ship in a card game, a ship that doesn’t fly and doesn’t have any mercs on board. Wow, you didn’t even get through the free read inside part! And you misrepresent the mercenaries as being part of the ship’s crew, which they are not . and Helton doing repairs. Of course this means his troubles are just beginning. To summarize – you read a few reviews of a book in an unusual style in a genre you are not familiar with (space opera / mil SF), tried to read a couple of pages of the free portion and didn’t have very high comprehension score, and write a review implying you have read the whole thing and it’s all bad.  I’m a teacher; if you were a student, it would be the equivalent of turning in a book report where you watched the first five minutes of the movie adaptation of the story, and read part of Cliff’s Notes, and tried to pass it off as an actual review with thought involved. You’d get an F and be told to try again.

I do not care what happens to these people. Not surprising. Because you do not understand them at all. Best New Writer? I don’t think so.

Not recommended.

Be interesting to see if she does a re-write, or lets it stand and prove that SJWs always lie.

8 thoughts on “Expected no-read reviews

    1. I’d not say it’s abuse because it’s Hugo / Campbell related.

      I’d say it’s abuse because it’s dishonest. An honest one star review is fine. Something like “I checked this out because the author came up for an award. I tried reading the free portion of it on line to see if it was worth buying. The writing style was so off-putting I thought was very un-fun to read. It’s a genre I’m not familiar with, but the style just didn’t allow me to feel any empathy for the character because I couldn’t get into their head. So I wasn’t able to read more than 20 pages or so before I gave up. So I’d say the author is not Campbell worthy.” If they said that, I’d have no grounds for complaints. It’s honest, and appreciation for style and liking a genre are very subjective.

      Look at the Hugo/Nebula award-winning “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi. It came to my attention with high praise. I tried reading it, and I just couldn’t choke the florid style with many random made up and Thai words that lead nowhere, all set in a corrupt dystopian world with woe-is-me characters. I thought it was horrible, and couldn’t make it past about five or six pages, and that was painful. If I wrote a review, that’s what I’d say. I wouldn’t say I read it and it’s a terrible book, because I don’t know what the story or characters or ideas or plot are; what I do know is that I can’t stand the hyper-literary writing style. Carey’s review is bad not because it’s a one-star review, but because it’s dishonest and pretending to be something it’s not. As a librarian, she really should know better. As a SJW, I’m sure she can’t help herself, any more than an alcoholic can have just one more drink.

  1. Don’t take it too hard… even if her review was 100% legit, she’s not the kind of reader you want for your stories. Reading TSCB was in some ways like reading Brin’s Earth. It started slow, and slogged for a while, but then TSCB and Earth both hit a point where every chapter was better than the prior and ended on an awesome note. I think in our consumer “me” society, the first X pages are considered so vital — but the reader has a responsibility to give a work a fair shake.

    For my part, I can’t stand the angst stuff that has been nominated for the Hugos… even the Ancillary Sword, while having moments of interest, lost me at the angst-ridden paragraphs that could have been summarized in one-two sentences. Another nominee (can’t remember if novella or novelette) was a Puppy nominee but I couldn’t stand it — and forced myself to skim the whole thing.

    FWIW, you’ve got a great imagination, and a quirky but wise perspective on life that comes out in your authoral voice. It makes you fun to read with a touch of exotic.

    1. Thanks for your support and kind words. My editor thought the same thing, early on, about the slow start. I was paying her for professional feedback and she was thinking the story was just wandering around, not really getting anywhere. But in the end she thought the payoff was well worth it; however, she much prefers a much more literary style.

      I agree with your view of angst-ridden “I’m a victim” books popular now. No, I’m not taking it hard. I have expected more of these sorts of reviews, to be honest. Looking at her pic on GoodReads she really doesn’t look like the sort of person that is familiar with military fiction in general, or one who appreciates action movies.

      She may think her review is legit, because she’s so blinded by bias that she honestly thinks she’s addressing the story when she’s only addressing the first few pages of style. She’s lying to herself as much as everyone else. I can’t really be mad at her, though I can pity her and the men that have to work with her.

      1. FWIW, I don’t normally read Mil-SF, but really enjoyed your TSCB and Kratman’s BBDC over the last year, and expect I’ll like more that CH has put out. My 12 year old liked BBDC, and I’m going to have him read TSCB.

        I can’t remember how much I paid for TSCB, but I remember after having finished it that I thought I had gotten an incredible quantity of high quality story for the price.

        1. It’s about $4 for 165k words of very stripped-down writing, so yes, you get a lot of story for the money, but not much angsty belly-button gazing.
          TSCB is more space-opera than “proper” mil SF, but that’s just sort of where the story lead me. There isn’t a “space-opera” category on Amazon, so I had to go “adventure” and “military.”

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