Screen capture of an email from Amazon.
I know, right?
To be fair, Amazon has the right to accept or refuse reviews posted on their site because, after all, it is their site. If I did unintentionally violate their standards, I guess that’s that.
On the other hand, if you don’t like a book that’s supposed to be popular (and I did like the book for the most part), or say anything critical of it when you shouldn’t, does Amazon tip the scales in favor of “popular” works or “popular” authors?
Cover art for John Scalzi’s 2017 novel “The Collapsing Empire”
I recently downloaded a free copy of John Scalzi’s novel The Collapsing Empire from TOR.com. It was part of a promotion of the third novel in this series The Last Emperox being published later this month (as I write this).
Scalzi comes with a rather stellar reputation and background, having won two Hugos and been nominated for other awards, but the proof of an author is in the writing, not the rep (as least as far as I’m concerned), so I thought I’d give him a whirl.
But first, the kudos I gleaned from Amazon:
“John Scalzi is the most entertaining, accessible writer working in SF today.” —Joe Hill, author of The Fireman
“Fans of Game of Thrones and Dune will enjoy this bawdy, brutal, and brilliant political adventure” —Booklist on The Collapsing Empire
Cover art for the November 1988 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine
I first heard of the late science fiction author Mike Resnick in Louis Antonelli‘s response to Jaym Gates‘s Facebook complaint about him (and later, her twitter rant). I never really got to the core of her animosity toward Resnick and many other major SF/F writers, but I did chronicle my experiences, including her blocking me on the aforementioned social media platforms.
Oddly enough, Gates and her followers were the only ones who seemed to have issues with Resnick. Every other source of information I could find about him, including the File 770 fanzine, spoke quite highly of him.
Anyway, I settled on the Hugo award winning short story Kirinyaga, which he later developed into a novel by the same name.
Resnick originally wrote it as a submission to an anthology that was to be edited by Orson Scott Card, but the anthology never materialized. The theme was to be about stories dealing with developing a utopia. Resnick chose a reconstruction of an African savannah developed on a terraformed planetoid.
Cover art for Dan Simmons’ 1989 novel “Hyperion”
I have to admit that I’d never heard of Dan Simmons or his award winning 1989 novel Hyperion until both were mentioned on Mike Glyer’s File 770. Actually, it was specifically the mention that he dared to insult the much vaunted teenage climate change icon Greta Thunberg. I agree that Simmons went kind of overboard on his twitter commentary, but attacking a teenager aside, criticizing Thunberg for any reason has become pretty much the worst thing you can do besides being a “denier.”
Anyway, I became interested in him and his novel, so I checked it out of my local public library and started reading. It wasn’t what I expected, but then again, I didn’t know what to expect.
Hyperion has been loosely compared to Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, a collection of stories about seemingly unrelated people. I can kind of see that. Simmons, a former teacher, spared no effort in shoving tons and tons of literary references, many of them aimed right at Keats, into his stories. I’m sure many of them sailed way over my head. I don’t think they added much to the novel.
Logo from Tiptree.org
A few days ago on File 770, Chris M. Barkley wrote a guest piece called “Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #44”. In it, he presented his wrap up of the whole award name/honors messiness involving mystery writer Linda Fairstein, John W. Campbell, Jr., James Tiptree, Jr/Alice Sheldon, and yes, even the “sainted” Hugo Gernsback (the Hugos will be named after him forever, regardless of his reputation in life…go figure).
You can click the link I provided above to read Barkley’s well considered commentary, but toward the end of his lengthy missive, he said:
Author Anthony Gramuglia – found at Goodreads
I recently wrote three related blog posts: Jeannette Ng’s Campbell Award Acceptance Speech and Here We Go Again, Science Fiction, Opinions, and Why It’s Okay to Disagree, and especially The Sins of John W. Campbell Revisited. That last one started something of a minor storm in the comments section at File 770, Mike Glyer’s popular SciFi fanzine.
Although I’m still following that site, I haven’t commented there again since, what’s the use? Most people there ignored me (which is fine), one disagreed with me but was pretty civil about it, and two called me “dishonest” and “racist.” I ignored one and actually had to block the other on twitter since he looked me up just so he could continue to troll me.
File 770 does what they call Pixel Scrolls which I gather are collections of all the latest SF/F news, including noteworthy birthdays and such.
I slowed down when I saw a link to Steve Davidson’s article On Renaming Awards. I had previously mentioned that if John W. Campbell’s name was to be removed (and it has been), that perhaps all other awards named after people should be examined, just in case the person in question had a “difficult” past. I pulled Hugo Gernsback’s name out of a hat since the famed Hugo Award is named after him. Lo and behold, Davidson seems to have been thinking the same thing, but in his case, explained why Gernsback’s rather checkered past (in terms of his allegedly shady business dealings) won’t result in the Hugos being renamed.
Author Jeannette Ng – image found at the Angry Robot website
Here we go again. British fantasy writer Jeannette Ng was presented with the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at Worldcon recently, the 47th winner. Of course, she accepted the award, and then began to rip the late John W. Campbell apart, calling him, among other things, a fascist. An edited copy of her acceptance speech is hosted at Medium.com with the profanity removed.
Last December, I wrote an article called Is SciFi Author/Editor Robert Silverberg Really Racist and Sexist (or has the internet once again lost its mind)?. Silverberg had created his own response to allegations of his own racism on File 770, a popular SciFi fanzine after, apparently, he privately said that author N.K. Jemisin‘s 2018 Hugo acceptance speech (the third consecutive Hugo she won for best novel) was “weaponized.”
I looked up Campbell, not knowing much (if anything) about him personally, and found he held a bunch of “difficult” attitudes, but then again, he was a product of his times, having been born in 1910 (he died in 1971 at the age of 61). There’s no denying that Campbell shaped much of 20th century science fiction, having discovered talents such as Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, so it’s certainly understandable that, based on his career, he is worthy of having a science fiction award named after him. Does he have to be a perfect person by 21st century progressive, politically correct standards to still be considered significant?