It may appear to verge on the perverse for me not to have mentioned this conversation until now; in fact it’s down to a combination of lack of time and, for once, not having much to add. But for those who haven’t seen it yet, here are as many of the iterations of the latest discussion about reviewing as I’ve been able to track down:
- A new group blog has launched, Science Fiction and Fantasy Ethics, which, as this Mind Meld at SF Signal explores, initially had a slightly confused remit. Quoth Andy Remic: “I chose the name “Ethics” not because I wanted to explore the ethical contexts of novels or films, but because I wanted to make an ethical stand against the motherfuckers who, to my mind, are systematically ruining the SFFH genres”.
- Martin Lewis asks who are the motherfuckers?
- Jeff VanderMeer and Evil Monkey comment
- So do David Moles and Cheryl Morgan; other participants in the SFFE blog show up in the comments to the latter post.
- Meanwhile! Kathryn Cramer responds to the discussion of “mostly positive” reviews policies that took place here a couple of weeks ago by explaining why she feels that what people like about books is more interesting than what they don’t; and posts one of David Hartwell’s NYRSF editorials from a few years ago on the same sort of topic.
- Elsewhere (well, at Strange Horizons), Martin Lewis reviews Mark Charan Newton’s new book, Nights of Villjamur, and an impassioned discussion about the merits (or otherwise) of his negative review ensues
- Abigail Nussbaum’s summary of and commentary on the discussion to this point
- James Nicoll makes several livejournal posts springing off some of the above links
- Karen Burnham reviews Jay Lake’s Green at SF Signal and adds a disclaimer about her connections with the author and his work; further discussion follows
- Larry at OF Blog of the Fallen dissects Martin’s review, and adds commentary on the whole discussion
- Hal Duncan offers two typically thorough posts: Ethics and Enthusiasm — featuring a taxonomy of criticism! — and More on Critique, in which he responds to comments on the first post by Abigail and by Matt Cheney. To the extent that I’ve digested them (we’re talking well over 10,000 words, here), I agree with the first more than with the second, but both are worth investing time in.
And that — I think — brings us current, except perhaps to note that I have my own negative review at Strange Horizons today, of Nancy Kress’s Steal Across the Sky; and that it has become apparent to me that by selecting Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold as the next book I’ll review for SH, I’ve made something of a rod for my own back. On the one hand, Strange Horizons‘ well-known bias against epic fantasy means I’m bound to hate it; on the other hand, Strange Horizons‘ equally well-known pro-UK bias means that I’m obliged to love it. Bet you can’t wait to see how I thread that needle.
UPDATE: The ethicists are now the enthusiasts.