Thursday, January 19, 2012

So bad, I'm posting a review...

Hiya. I've been pretty quiet here for awhile. That's because I was away teaching at the Stonecoast MFA Program's Winter Residency. Awesome program. Low-residency. High-quality. And yes, if you're wondering, I do get to teach genre writing there. Check the program out if you've ever wondered what an MFA has to offer - or if you've ever been interested in an MFA but worried that your sci-fi or fantasy or crime or horror or romance or historical stuff wouldn't be accepted. It is at Stonecoast, and I'm right proud of that.

But that's over. I'm home again, and I'll try to be a bit more present here. I'll start with a random rant that I see I left in my draft box: So bad, I'm posting a review...

The title of this post comes from an Amazon.com reader review of Richard K Morgan's most recent novel, The Cold Commands. I haven't read the book yet, but I will, and I'll enjoy it. I always do with Morgan. The guy can write. Even if I have issues with him sometimes, the guy can write. There's a lot more thought and thematic weight going on in his work than many of his readers seem to be aware of.

I'm not actually here to talk Morgan, though. I just felt like pointing out how lame that reviewer was. How much a waste of space. His review is short, vague, mostly about claiming that he had liked Morgan's work before but this book was so bad he couldn't even recommend others now. No specifics. Just unsupported statements.

It's that title that got me, though.

"So bad, I'm posting a review."

Does that mean he only posts reviews when books are bad? Apparently, because I clicked through and he's only ever posted one review, this poorly written one star review. I find that annoying. He read (so he claims) and enjoyed other Morgan books. Did he review them and say nice things? Acknowledge work well done? Nope. Did he spread the word about any other authors he enjoyed? Naw. Did he thank any author for writing stories that entertained him? Not a chance. The only time he's chosen to speak is when he wants to tear an author down, and to retrospectively diss earlier works.

What, I ask you, is the use of that?

Friends, I'm all for you expressing yourselves if you don't enjoy a work, but I encourage you to balance that with also expressing yourself when you do. Negativity without balance doesn't do anyone any good, in my opinion.

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11 Comments:

Blogger Nathan Washor said...

I picked this book up in the store and browsed its pages. I have never read any of Richard Morgan's work. It seemed to me he writes shock simply for shock's value. I'm sure I might enjoy it at times and get some good laughs over the foulness of it. I just can't bring myself to do it though when there are so many other good books out there for me to read (The Sacred Band for one). If you find it definitely worth reading though, let us know. Maybe a good review from someone I already admire can change my mind!

10:00 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Hi Nathan,

No doubt about it - Morgan isn't for everyone. He's ultra violent (well, his writing is) and over sexed (in writing, again), and he does seem to enjoy pushing people's buttons. I've read four of his books, though, and enjoyed them. I wouldn't want to push them on you, though, if he's not striking a cord with you.

I have the impression that there's thematic substance beneath the violence and sex. Sometimes, the folks that would engage with his ideas don't get there because of the packaging. And sometimes readers that like violence and sex don't quite get the larger issues he's talking about.

Fortunately for him, he seems to find enough readers in between the two to do just fine.

4:14 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

And hey, read The Sacred Band! It's out there waiting for you...

4:15 AM  
Blogger Nathan Washor said...

Oh I will! I already have it sitting on my book shelf. It's close to the top of my to-read list!

5:41 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Cool.

5:46 AM  
Blogger Ron Smith said...

I just saw this novel in the bookstore the other day. I'd never heard of the author, and it looked curious so I flipped through and read the flap copy. I probably would have picked up the first book in the series if it had been on the shelves and in paperback, but it was not.

1:20 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Ron,

Morgan is better known for his science fiction, stuff like Altered Carbon and Thirteen. Arguably, his fantasy is still science fiction, just with the trappings changed.

3:28 AM  
Blogger Tommy Kovac said...

Mr. Durham, I totally agree with what you're saying in this post! There are way too many people who are easily prompted to say negative things online, and don't bother to put anything positive out there. I guess that's the big problem with the Amazon review system. I've been reminding myself more and more lately to READ the customer reviews before I decide whether or not to pay any attention to them.

10:42 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Tommy,

Thanks for posting. I like your comment: "READ the customer reviews before I decide whether or not to pay any attention to them."

True enough. The ironic thing is that negative reviews often convince me that the book they're attacking sounds like one I'm going to like!

11:30 AM  
Blogger Nathan Washor said...

Just to follow up. I read the Sacred Band. Best book in the series IMO! Loved it, so thanks for the adventure!

8:58 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Great to hear. Thanks for reading it!

3:16 AM  

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