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Emerald City Closing its Doors

Award-winning zine Emerald City will cease production by the end of the year.

This is actually a decision I took back in early June, well before the most recent attack on the integrity of reviewers. I haven’t been able to announce it until now because announcing a fold just before the voting deadline would undoubtedly have affected the Hugos and that would never do. (I will, of course, decline any nominations I might receive next year.) If I’ve been a little cranky over the past few weeks, now you know why. I’ve just wanted to get the whole thing over with.

The reasons for this decision are many and varied. One of the least obvious is that I have a major logistical problem. It simply isn’t possible to run an operation like this when you don’t have a permanent home. In addition, over the past year or so I have become very disillusioned about both the quality of my own work and the general usefulness of online book reviews. The bottom line is that if you don’t think what you are doing is worthwhile then it is very difficult to maintain the level of commitment necessary to produce something like Emerald City.

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

9 Comments on Emerald City Closing its Doors

  1. I’m not sure I understand the book review statement. How are online book reviews less useful than ones in magazines or newspapers? I’d say they’re more useful in that they can be more timely than print and websites can post a wider variety of reviews than print. Is it the case that the online SF community readership is that much smaller than the print readership? I find that hard to believe.

  2. In my humble career so far, two and only two August Powers of the Web launched personal attacks against me. Everyone else who did not like my books stuck to criticizing my work, not my personality flaws (which, while many, are unknown outside my small circle of friends and relations). These two were: Emerald City and The Extropian Institute.

    The Extropians closed up shop just this month. Their Mailing List is still open for business, but the organization folded.

    Now this. Emerald city gone? Strange days indeed.

    The only logical conclusion: I am protected by the Faerie Queen of Northumberland, whose piskie wand will bedevil those what libel me. Beware, ye lolling tongues! Beware, ye quills a-dipt in venom!

    Either that, or it is a coincidence.

  3. I thought it was the Pixie Queen with a faerie wand – but no matter. Also if you do keep your quills dipped in venom, I suggest that you use some sort of heavy duty glove to handle them since nothing else would suck more than to stab yourself with your own quill. And no that is not code :-@

  4. The pen is mightier than the sword…especially if the pen is dipped in venom and the sword is really dull…

  5. Wait, wait, are you selling “Penis Mightiers?”

  6. Heh-heh.

    On a more serious note, author Juliet McKenna weighs in on this.

  7. Cheryl Morgan herself makes a comment or two in the comments box of Juliet McKenna’s website.

  8. Cheryl should heed Juliet’s comments about kicking a porcupine.

    In a related note, in the last issue Cheryl has a blog entry about how she isn’t swayed by the very tiny amount of promotional material (she mentions a T-shirt, plush toy, and a pen) that she has received over the years as a result of reviewing books. I suspect she’s well past being concerned about liking a book merely because she didn’t have pay for it as we’ve discussed briefly here.

    Instead, she laments not being able to review more books and feeling guilty when pushed to read them by publishers and authors. I find this interesting and yet entirely unsurprising. If I were a publisher I think I would be quick to contact the people I sent review copies to in order to get the review and see if I wanted to use it in promotions. It seems that would be the ‘quid pro quo’ of book reviewing. But, at least in our experience, this hasn’t been the case. John will know for sure, but I don’t think we’ve ever been contacted by a publisher who sent us review copies asking for the status of a review. Perhaps this is one of the benefits of being a blog with … let’s say more discerning readers than one like Emerald City (in other words, we’re smaller than them.) Frankly this surprises me a lot – I was positive those publishers were going to be banging on the door asking for the reviews, and potentially stop sending future review copies as a result of not getting timely answers. Strangely, this hasn’t happened.

    I also note that Cheryl complains a little bit about all the work involved, but then talks about going to conventions and hanging out with authors and publishers, etc. It seems there is a double-edged sword here – you can have that part that you want (the notoriety and access) but yes, you have to work to get it. I can understand getting tired of it though – all those plane rides to conventions, all those hotel rooms, rental cars, nights in the bar, etc. It sounds glamorous at first, but I’m sure it gets old fast.

  9. Scott, there have been a very few emails we’ve received from publishers asking for status, but they are definitely the exception rather than the norm. They have always been for “unsolicted” books – ones we did not specifically ask for. A polite and honest response back is all it took to let them them know that we are sensitive to the cost issues and are happy to send a review copy requests rather than receive books at random. It’s more valuable to publishers, I believe, to send books to interested readers. (Additionally, once they knew that they would get more bang for the buck with sf instead of fantasy, the fantasy titles dwindled down some.) That said, we still get unsolicited books and, yes, it’s more than we can reasonably read, as our books received page shows.

    With regards to feelings of guilt, I can see that as an easy trap for a reviewer to fall into, but it’s a a trap nonetheless. Speaking for myself (and not for Cheryl or other members of this blog) I am keenly wary of said trap and the moment I notice that reading fiction becomes work instead of pleasure, I will reset my perspective. As I’ve always done, I only read books that interest me. (And that includes books that are not sent by publishers at all.) What would I or the publisher get out of me reading a book that doesn’t spark my interest? Although…I guess any publicity is good publicity. Still, there’s enough interesting stuff to read that I’m never wanting from something that I like. [Looks at boxes and boxes of books bought over the years in biblioholic fugue…]

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