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in which we are reviewed for the first time - The Villages

hutch0
Date: 2009-09-15 13:15
Subject: in which we are reviewed for the first time
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I just saw what may be the first advance review of Under The Rose, at Publishers Weekly, and it's a bit of a curate's egg. It goes like this:

`The quality of the 27 original short stories in this fantasy anthology is wildly inconsistent, but there are a handful of real gems, including Mel Sterling's “Perambulations,” a horror-nuanced tale of carny Mister Strange and his enticing clockwork creations; Justin Stanchfield's “A Distant Scent of Rain,” which chronicles the revelatory ceremonial first contact between humankind and an alien delegate; and “Sagekites' Land” by Ekaterina Sedia, a poignant story about a boy's struggle to come to grips with his father's looming death and the loss of his family's homestead. Readers who get past Pauline E. Dungate's clunky “Plant Hunter,” Tim Lieder's self-satisfied “Office Job” and William John Watkins's tell-don't-show “Five Hundred Vinnies”—all far too weak for their cushy opening spots—will find enough good stories to make the effort worthwhile.'

Needless to say, I disagree very strongly with their assessment of Pauline, Tim and Bill's stories, all of which I've loved from the moment I first saw them.
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User: sarcobatus
Date: 2009-09-15 15:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hey, congrats on the review, Hutch.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-09-15 15:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thanks, but as I said, I'm a bit in two minds about it.
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User: sarcobatus
Date: 2009-09-15 16:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"I'm a bit in two minds about it."

Yes, but then, for the most part, ambivalence seems to go with the territory whenever anthologies and collections are reviewed. And you must remember that it's merely the reviewer's opinion. Over all, I'd say this was not a bad review.

I'm looking forward to reading Under The Rose.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-09-15 16:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I dunno. If it was my stuff I wouldn't care, but these are all good stories. I'm over the moon that they think there are some gems, but to my mind they're all gems.
On the other hand, it is a mention in Publishers Weekly, and as you say there's positive stuff about it. Maybe I should have done the running-order differently.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-09-15 16:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Nah, screw it. It's fine the way it is.
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User: sarcobatus
Date: 2009-09-15 17:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Follow your heart and professional expertise, and ignore other people's opinions (with the exception of those who love and truly care about you). You did the antho exactly as you chose, Hutch, because you are the editor and it was your behest as editor that led you to choose and arrange the stories thus. Not everyone is going to agree with you, or with me, or with the sun and the moon and the wise old sage disguised as a beggar. This is your project, not the reviewers', which is why your antho is unique and undoubtedly perfect, as is.


Edited at 2009-09-15 05:49 pm (UTC)
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-09-15 22:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
*sigh* I know. Under The Rose is a collection of stories I like, stories that rang my bells and appealed to me, and I'd be deluding myself to expect that my tastes would be the same as a reviewer's. But it's just absurd to describe `Office Job' as `self-satisfied.'
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Tim Lieder
User: marlowe1
Date: 2009-09-15 23:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Heh.

Oh and just in case you need it, I agree with everything in the contract. That's not a substitute for the contract but in case there are any snafus, that should be enough to get it through.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-09-16 00:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've been getting more and more annoyed with that `self-satisfied' comment as the evening's gone on. As you probably have. It's only the first review, though.
Considering what you and I have gone through since you first submitted `Office Job,' I almost thought it was an insult to send you a contract. But thanks. 'Nuff said.
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Tim Lieder: Teddy Bear
User: marlowe1
Date: 2009-09-17 00:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Teddy Bear
Eh. I don't really care. It's an experimental story and the most common criticisms hurled at experimental stories is either pretentious or self-indulgent. This is not too far off the mark.

At least this guy didn't call me fat.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-09-17 00:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You're NOT FAT. How many more times have I got to tell you?
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User: sarcobatus
Date: 2009-09-16 16:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"But it's just absurd to describe `Office Job' as `self-satisfied.'"

Most likely the reviewer was projecting.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-09-17 00:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think he was aiming for the right phrase and missed.
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Norilana
User: norilana
Date: 2009-09-24 02:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
We got a PW review? Drat, how did I miss that? This is excellent, regardless of the actual review, it means library orders!!! YAAAY! and, judging from this quote it is a decent mixed review! :-)
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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2009-09-15 16:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It looks as if they had to choose just one or two words to describe the stories they didn't like.

And if there's one thing I've learnt over the years, one persons telling is another persons delightful explication.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-09-15 16:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'll grant you it was just one brief review in a big page of reviews, but their choice of words seems unusual.
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Norilana
User: norilana
Date: 2009-09-24 02:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That's a normal review, Hutch, it's how they do it. YAAAY! Congratulations to us, we snagged a PW review, a coup! :-)

Wish you'd emailed me about it earlier, now I need to blog it...

This is just excellent! Seriously, regardless of the individual stories commentary, overall, it is a good review for PW! And, as such, it will move copies and gain us the needed exposure!
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-09-24 21:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm sorry, Vera; I genuinely thought you'd already have seen it. I'll send you any more that I see.
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Norilana
User: norilana
Date: 2009-09-24 22:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hey, no biggie, I get formally told these things by places like Library Journal and PW about half the time, so if you see anything, let me know! :-)
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-09-24 22:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
A little bird tells me Paul di Fillipo has a review copy.
Incidentally, are there any jpegs of the final cover we can use on our websites and blogs? Or would you rather we linked to the Norilana website?
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Norilana
User: norilana
Date: 2009-09-24 23:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Glad he got his copy safely. Now, we hope Paul reviews it, that would be awesome!

And, sure -- here are the final cover images everyone can copy, save, and use to promo the book:

Front Cover Image

Full Cover Flat
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-09-15 17:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Noob? You? Never.
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Norilana
User: norilana
Date: 2009-09-24 02:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Okay, folks, I found it, here is the Publishers Weekly review.
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jmward14: kick
User: jmward14
Date: 2009-09-16 04:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:kick
Wheeeee! {{{{hutch0}}}}, you know there's no such thing as bad publicity, and a review in PW--ANY review in PW--guarantees more sales.
Big hugs and happy dances,
Jean Marie
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-09-17 23:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, there is that, I suppose.
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Norilana
User: norilana
Date: 2009-09-24 02:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Exactly!!!
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RealThog
User: realthog
Date: 2009-09-17 02:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Myself, I think the standard of reviewing in PW these days is totally dismal -- probably because, where once the reviewers were sensibly paid, now I gather the reviews editors are reduced to offering peanuts. Twenty years and more ago (insert phthisic wheeze here) they were always at least competent and often they were masterpieces of the concise review. No more.

I'd regard the good bits of this as genuine praise, the rest as being just the manifestation of some little compulsive masturbator's conviction that it marks him as clever to sneer at his betters.
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User: sarcobatus
Date: 2009-09-17 15:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"it marks him as clever to sneer at his betters."

Well said.

I've always been of this opinion where most critics and reviewers are concerned.

And, Dr. Livingston, you are correct in your observation regarding reviewers and peanuts.



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