Clark's Science Fiction Review Policy
I've written a couple of post apocalyptic novels, probably too obscure for mention in this hallowed place…
I love post apocalyptic novels.
@G. Filotto writes in the comments:
Can I send you autographed copies of my two SF books? A review would be amazing since I am a solo guy writing without funding and a 13 hour a day job. And I think you would enjoy the politics and sociology. You can get an idea by googling "Overlords of Mars" . And if interested at all, just PM me an address and I'll send you copies. Thanks.
I think that one of the most exciting trends in the last few years is the disintermediation of the big publishing oligarchy and the rise of self publishing. I follow with fascination several blogs by established and new authors who are grappling with this new world. I think it is an unalloyed advance in human freedom.
That said, I also think that Big Paper served an actual function: it took the bell curve of the slush pile, chopped off the left 95%, and ensured that the vast majority of what actually hit Barnes & Noble shelves was at least competent. There were many false negatives: books that were good enough to read, but did not get published. But there were even more true negatives: the vast majority of submitted manuscripts that were not published were not published for a reason.
Today that barrier is no longer in place. Which is wonderful. The snobby elite New York money is no longer stopping the consumer from buying the dinosaur erotica it demands.
Which brings me around to my point: the Clark science fiction review policy, such as it is.
Note that the following list sounds pretty dickish (and the graphic above is consistent with the tone). I may not actually be that dickish in practice, but this is the social contract we're agreeing to. I set the bar low for my own responsibilities so that I can meet or exceed my promises.
- I will review as often as I care to. This probably won't be very often.
- I will review what I want to review. Most of it will be big publisher books, but I am open to reviewing self-published / "indie" novels.
- You can email a .mobi file to clark at THE SAME DOMAIN NAME AS THIS BLOG dot com. Repeat: .mobi only. PDFs, Microsoft whatever files, and anything else that does not load easily into my small-screen Kindle in a single mouse drag and display nicely thereafter will be deleted unread and without a response. I apologize for that harshness, but you certainly aren't going to be bitten by it, because you're more professional than that, so it's not really a problem, right?
- If you email me a file do not expect email acknowledgement (I check the email account once per month – if that), do not expect a review, and do not expect a review on any particular schedule.
- I do not grade on a curve.
Let me unpack that last one, because it's really important.
I've read lots of self-published stuff. Most of it is terrible. I've read e-books written by friends-of-friends that have hundreds of five star reviews…and I've found them unreadable.
I've been told that writing a novel is hard. I respect that. I've watched friends and FOAFs labor over draft after draft. I've watched them fly to distant cities to take workshops. I've seen them spend weeks at Clarion. I've seen them print up business cards and self-promote like nobody's business.
It's exhausting work, and I have nothing but respect for someone who puts "write a novel" on their bucket list, and then actually accomplishes it.
However, Clark reviews are not your therapist, your support group, or your best friend. All novels will be measured on a scale calibrated to books published by actual publishers (Mieville / Banks: A. Scalzi: B-. That 'Fifty Shades' lady: F). Weak plots, absurd premises, bad dialogue – it will all be called out. Your bravery and hard work will count for little, because I intend to do book reviews, not "brave and plucky author" reviews.
I promise, though, fairness. This has two parts:
1) I will not grade down – or up – on ideology. Well-done lesbian environmental thriller? Yeah, actually, I really liked "Slow River" despite the fact that my political sympathies and cultural norms lie in the opposite direction. Right-wing/libertarian by-the-numbers military fiction that's got nothing new to say, despite the fact that my political and cultural norms lie in that direction? I will trash it.
2) I will attempt to base criticism in fact: I will not say that your plot is bad if your plot is good, even if you once spilled your beer on me and insulted my mom's memory at her funeral.
Finally, I am an actual human being. Any review is inherently subjective and de gustibus non est disputandum, so I may criticize a book as being provably chocolate, and I may hate it because I prefer French vanilla. That will upset chocolate partisans.
If, after all of that, you want me to maybe take a look at your post apocalyptic and/or science fiction novel, you know where to send it.