Category Archives: Reviews

Eating Authors

I got interviewed, sort of, by a former Campbell Award nominee Lawrence M. Schoen. He’s got a blog, Eating Authors. A character of his is very into food, a gourmand. He’s trying to bring attention to new authors, including specifically Campbell Award nominees. His vehicle for doing this is to ask them to write about a memorable meal, or something food-related in their life. My first thought was “that’s not a path I’d ever think to go down,” but some people have that sort of focus. It sounded like something that I wasn’t really  interested in writing.

After thinking about it for a while, and exchanging several emails trying to figure out where what he found useful and what I was interested in writing crossed, I had an idea, cranked it out, and now it’s live on his blog.

Hugo Packet

I’m currently having a debate about the “Hugo Packet.” The Hugo Packet is the pile of writing that all the Hugo / Sasquan members/supporters get as part of membership that has a copy of the nominated works so that members can read them and make more informed choices. That is the idea, anyway. So, the question is, should Castalia House send them The Stars Came Back or Shakedown Cruise? Continue reading Hugo Packet

First post-Campbell review

An interesting one. It was posted April 5th, the day after the Hugos and the Campbell was announced.

Standing Desk Treadmills in space … and other bits of fun.
I picked this up this book because the author, Rolf Nelson, is on this years Hugo Awards ballot for best new author. I read the author’s notes, looked through Appendix 1 at the schematic for the ship, started reading, and all of the sudden it was 4 AM and I couldn’t hold my eyes open any longer. I am currently 48% of the way through the book (Kindle) and I just realized that I might not be able to finish it today. When I start considering the possibility of taking a day off from work to finish a book, it is time to give that book a 5 star rating.

There is more there, detailing why he likes it. It’s worth reading. It will be interesting to see how many more reviews it picks up after the full membership packet goes out, and people start really looking things over in preparation to cast their vote. Something tells me I’ll be at least a little bit polarizing, between Rabid Puppies, format, and plot points. Time to stock up on popcorn!

Well, what do you know…

It looks like I made the final ballot for the Campbell Award for best new sci-fi writer. With only one published book (and one short story, also in the same universe) I figure I’m a long shot, even if I have a sequel, a prequel, and a children’s historical book scheduled for this year. In any case, even getting to the final ballot short-list is an honor… Well, interesting, anyway. No clue what the competition is like, but it should be fun to watch unfold. I can almost hear some brains exploding from here.

Also on the list: Wesley Chu*, Jason Cordova, Kary English*, Eric S. Raymond (*Finalists in their 2nd year of eligibility.)

Mixed words on making the short list for the Prometheus. But as I hear the competition is strong this year, so I’m a long-shot there, too. But how many people manage to make both a “best new X” list at the same time they make the list for some other category in the field competing against long-time pros?

Just getting nominated for either award is proof the universe has a twisted sense of humor. If I happen to win, I know that my little corner of the cosmos is a very strange one. Not a bad one, mind you, just more than a little bit odd.

Campbell

Some days the universe decides I need to be surprised. Apparently it’s Sci-Fi award season, and now Vox has me on his list of people to vote for in the John W Campbell award for “Best New Writer.”

I asked him if he was sure. I mean, I’m flattered, but really? His reply:
Rolf, there is literally no new writer who better illustrates the importance of story over style than you do. What so many people fail to understand is that while technical skill is nice, it’s a secondary, if not tertiary aspect of good writing.

We don’t still read Asimov due to the beauty of his prose. We read him for the stories. And while technical skill can be developed and improved, you’ve either got stories to tell or you don’t.

Great. Even my publisher thinks my style sucks. 🙂 . On the other hand, if the story is good enough to do well in spite of such a great handicap, maybe it’s something. We will see. Be a bizarre twist of fate if it happened. Looking at the winners of long ago, there are some impressive names there. Looking at more recent years…. not so much.

Prometheus

Cool. Very cool, and very unexpected.

Just got word from Vox Day that The Stars Came Back has been nominated for a Prometheus Award for this year. It’s the award given by the Libertarian Futurist Society.

Past winners include Sarah Hoyt, Harry Turtledove, L. Neil Smith, Vernor Vinge, Terry Pratchett, Ken MacLeod, Poul Anderson, James P. Hogan, J. Neil Schulman, and many more big names. Even if I come in last place, just being nominated to potentially stand amid such a group of names is quite an honor.

ESR

I got an email from Eric S. Raymond, often known as ESR in the open source software movement, asking for a review copy of my book, saying he’d heard it was just exactly the sort of thing he plugs on his blog from time to time.

Uhhhh, yes! What format would you like?

So, at some point in the not-to-distant future, there will hopefully be a plug for the book to his ~22k followers. That would be a heck of a Christmas present…

Reviewing a review – 01

Not all reviews are created equal. While I greatly appreciate the many one- and two-line “‘da book rocks!” five-star reviews, they don’t tell me much about what exactly they did or didn’t like about it.  They also don’t tell prospective readers anything to help make up their mind directly, unless you go through their other reviews to see where some stranger’s reading habits overlap with your own.

One of my favorite reviews was a four-star review by “Russell May.” He was also kind enough to post the same review at GoodReads. While it was only four stars, he said a little bit about how he found it, what his misgivings about it were, what he likes, and a few general thoughts. It’s the sort of review that could really help someone decide if they want to spend their hard-earned money on the book.

Thank you, “Russell May.”