For some time now, I’ve been meaning to write a guide about how I review books – one that covers the how (criteria used, what works for me, what doesn’t, etc.) and the why. I think something like that is necessary to put reviewer’s opinion in perspective for the reader. It helps them figure out how much weight they should attach to that reviewer.
This post is not that guide. I will get to it eventually. I even have the post title picked out: “On Reviewing”. Watch for it at a marvelous blog near you ;-).
This post is about the side effects of reviewing.
Recently, The Alien Online published a bad review of Stel Pavlou’s Gene, a review written by sf author James Lovegrove. The editor of TAO, Ariel, received some backlash about the review. His blog tells the tale:
March 07 – Ariel questions his own reasons for reviewing and ponders eliminating TAO’s reviews altogether.
March 08 – Ariel’s desire to review wavers.
March 09 – Feedback rolls in from various sources, mostly supporting the review and its publishing. Also references a lively debate on the topic by a fellow TAO contributor.
March 10 – Ariel does a U-turn and removes the review from the website. Also announces he will no longer accept books for review. He re-examines the reasons for reviewing.
March 15 – Ariel stresses the importance of book reviewing (getting the word out) but sticks to his decision to retire that feature of TAO. He feels that he lacks the time, effort and inclination to stand up for the opinions of his reviewers.
It’s too bad he decided to call it quits on reviewing. While I understand his reasons and respect his desires to do so, I really enjoyed those reviews. Particularly that they were not always the glowing kind. Like the reviews of a certain reviewer I know…
I really must find the time to write my own guide…