seawasp (seawasp) wrote,

Musings on reviews...

Any author gets reviews of their work in locations ranging from someone's blog to Amazon to the New York Times. Overall, I can't complain about the reviews I've gotten.

I don't particularly mind negative reviews (as long as the majority stay reasonably positive); it's not POSSIBLE to write something that's universally liked, and if you see NO negative reviews of something, either not very many people have read it, or I'm suspicious that someone (author or his/her friends) is loading the dice. It's somewhat amusing, of course, to read Review A, which says "Characters were wonderful... I really empathized with X... Wonderfully drawn people avoiding stereotypes..." and then see Review B, which says "Characters were scarcely defined... nothing but stale cliches and stereotypes... no reason to care about any of these people..."; such reviews reinforce my belief that, to a great extent, "good characters" are a matter of opinion, not writing.

But there are a couple of types of reviews that seem just odd to me, both of which were most clearly delineated for me in the reviews of Digital Knight.

The first type complains that the book *ISN'T* delivering a stereotype. A couple of DK reviews boiled down to "I expected a normal vampire and/or werewolf story, and this CHANGED things! It wasn't the proper stereotype AT ALL!" Well, yeah, I'd think that having some different aspects would be a good thing, right?

The second type complains about the book "not being a novel" because it's comprised of several separate stories; at least one said that these should each have been novels themselves. But... I can't see, say, "Gone in a Flash" or "Photo Finish" as a novel. They'd be padded, fat, sluggish things, not doing their jobs, so to speak. And while it's episodic, well, aren't some novels? The stories are all told from the same point of view, they're in a chronological sequence, they feature the same viewpoint character and reference -- and are affected by -- the prior events in the sequence, and so on. I suppose I could have spent some time to eliminate the explicit divisions, but that would have amounted to what, adding a couple of paragraphs and leading into the next adventure rather than labeling the start of the next section?

My only concern with the episodic nature of Digital Knight was that it was comprised of stories written over a span of about 20 years, and without doing serious rewriting the change in writing style would become fairly clear. It hadn't really occurred to me that just having separate stories -- though directly connected -- would in and of itself be a problem. After all, The Stainless Steel Rat was exactly that, three separate major stories without even interludes to bridge them.

How many people have a problem with that structure?
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