Going too far???

I wasn't going to respond to any of this, but this thing has reached proportions that I can't really ignore.

I have no desire to say much on the subject, as pertinent arguments have already been flying all over the internet concerning this story. If you are a fantasy fan and have any sort of presence on fantasy-related message boards, you must certainly have heard of this.

If not, here is the review which started the controversy. To make a long story short, the reviewer in question did not care much for Scott Lynch's debut. As it turns out, the hype surrounding the release of The Lies of Locke Lamora raised her expectations to such a level that it made it well nigh impossible for her to get into the tale. For some unfathomable reason, that reviewer picked up Lynch's debut hoping that it was the second coming of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

In my own review of The Lies of Locke Lamora, I warned people to not believe the hype. Just enjoy the book for what it is -- a terrific and entertaining caper. Scott Lynch is not the new Robert Jordan or George R. R. Martin. He's not the second coming of J. R. R. Tolkien. He's the first Scott Lynch. Period. And that should be good enough for everyone!

That the reviewer hated the book, I have no problem with. Enjoying a book is a very subjective experience, and we are all looking for different things when we sit down to read a new novel. On his LiveJournal, Scott himself explains how a classic like Dune is loved and despised in equal measures among scifi fans. So the fact that this woman never could get into the story doesn't mean much.

When she claimed that reviewers who had immensely enjoyed it had probably been bribed by the publishers, however, she went too far. The fantasy/scifi community, although globe-spanning with the internet, is a relatively small world in and of itself. And reviewers with little or no integrity could not last very long. I have a lot of respect for Jay Tomio, Rob Bedford, and a number of other reviewers. And some fans hold me in the same regard. There is no way readers would respect and trust reviewers like us if we tried to forcefeed them crap. So that woman's groundless claims are ridiculous.

As for bribes, other than ARCs and finished copies and interviews, I have never received anything else from a publisher. When I visited my contact at the Random House building in NYC a couple of weeks ago, he offered me coffee. An offer which I immediately declined, showing him the sort of moral fibre I'm made of! Bribes!?! This ain't Hollywood, babe! I, for one, would never attempt to fool those men and women who read my blog every week, looking for something good to read. If I don't like a book, that's the way it is. I won't go out of my way to mud-sling an author and his or her work. But I will not, under any circumstances, tell my readers that something's great if it's not. Accordingly, I'm persuaded that the other reviewers I have come to rely on share my view on this. We might not always agree (heck, Jay and I can't even agree on why we liked the same book!), but their opinion counts when the time comes for me to read something new.

As one can expect when a bomb like this explodes, it generated a lot of responses. Those interested in reading some of them can look here. The funny thing about this little mess is that this woman made such ludicrous claims to encourage people not to buy Lynch's book. But this controversy has reach such proportions that readers who had no desire to pick up The Lies of Locke Lamora will now do so. Just to see what the dispute is all about.

So Scott -- if you are reading this -- when you get that royalty cheque and you're shopping for that new convertible, remember to send her a thank-you note, perhaps even a signed copy of the novel!;-) And why not a copy of Terry Goodkind's Faith of the Fallen, just for good measure. That way, she could see what real crap is all about!

P. S. If any of you guys are receiving bribes for your reviews, could you please let me know where to apply to become part of this program!?! Wouldn't want to miss out on this!;-)

10 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

Hm...that raises a new question:
Did Scott bribe THAT WOMAN?
Which was perhaps cheaper than getting the Church to ban his book *g*

Joking aside, I don't think that such a single accusation from a (relatively?) unknown reviewer can really shatter the readers' trust in you and other established reviewers.
At least I don't believe your readers are that stupid *g*
(But, well, on the other hand, this is the internet..)

After all it would be as if a president would trip over an intern that says...uhm...
Can you impeach a blogger from his own blog?

Anonymous said...

The question should have been asked before. In fact, it should have been asked since the releasing of the Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind ! ;-)))

Just joking, take it easy !

Joe said...


Because I have posted reviews on Amazon.com I have occasionally received a free book to review, often an ARC. Several I have enjoyed, a few I have not. I've still posted my negative reviews. But I don't get paid and I get fewer goodies than you do (though I'd love to actually get fantasy ARCs from my reviewing).

It's a very silly thing. You reach a relatively small audience and your blog is popular. My blog is tiny compared to yours and my Amazon reviews probably do not make a significant difference: We're not worth bribing.

The guy at the New York Times Book Review or Publisher's Weekly or Locus...maybe them. Most everybody else?

Want some coffee?

RobB said...

I was considering blogging about this myself since the reviewer in question implicates most online revieweres with her blanket statment, despite not having read the book.

In fact, she sort of implicates herself, no? Basically, we are all idiots and cheats if we share an opinion with a lot of other people.

Nick Mamatas and Hal Duncan have done a far better jobs of stripping her review of any credibility than I can.

I try NOT to read other reviews of a book if I know I'll be reviewing it. Only after posting a review will I check to see if other's share my opinions.

Neth said...

Yeah - throw that coffee in their face!

I had a similar reation and blogged about it - I could care less if she liked or hated the book she reviewed (I haven't had the chance to read it yet), but to make a baseless claim of bribes and lies (and then step back and say it was really about viral marketing) was in very poor taste to say the least.

Anyway, I'm waiting for some of this bribe money as well (even though I'm more of a fan-boy than a reviewer). I'm pretty sure Jay is getting some ;)

Anonymous said...

To take a moment away from my bribe counting (Shiny!)

While I feel fortunate to enjoy the patronage of many publishers and authors, Mr. Sherry brings up the most relevant point. Very few outlets would be worth such bribes - or even close to it. Seriously, unless it was going to show up on Boing, Boing, or SlashDot, or Time Magazine it wouldn't even be worth it. They would be better off tiring to get Penny Arcade to mention it. The implications (as Hal observes) is not one of out-right bribes (which is a damning word in itself), but that reviewers are stupid and are duped by publishers who make them feel special by extending them advanced copies - a condition apparently one can only be immune to if you review for Strange Horizons.

What a load of shit.

The implication itself doesn't bother me (I see a lot of nonsensical shit on the net everyday), the fact that apparently they are so righteous it doesn't apply to them or any of their 'buddies' does. This chosen one platform - the wielders of truth and sensible reviewing - is a brand of thinking so far up their asses one can't help but notice the stench.

The only thing that has come out of this is that I have finally seen one person who doesn't like the Lynch book *claps* - how refined and pure of them.

Or maybe they are just stupid? Nah! That can't be possible!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of "Going too far"..

Perhaps everybody should calm down a bit.

Did Miss Morrison say anything to this controversy?
Did she repeat her accusations?
Are these accusations typical for the people at Strange Horizons?
Because as far as I can see, Miss Morrison posted exactly 2 reviews on that side, no editorials, no columns.

So all this is based on one sentence in one review..which was most likely meant as a (bad) joke and is probably also seen by most people as a (bad) joke - if they pay attention to it at all.

So, I guess, the best solution would be to simple ignore her statement, otherwise you give it only more importance as it deserves ;)

MW said...

I'm just glad someone else thinks Terry Goodkind is crap.

Anonymous said...

I thought the original review by Morrison was fairly accurate in critique. I say this having read the book before reading the review.

Anonymous said...

Currently reading the lies of Locke lamora!!! Best book I've read since conn iggulden's genghis khan series... Picked it up two days ago and almost finished.. Heading out to get book two... And cash my bribe cheque... Wahey!