One Star Challenge Roundup

John Scalzi is doing a One Star Challenge Roundup on his website.

Last Thursday, you may recall, I posted a bunch of my one-star Amazon reviews and challenged other authors to do the same, the idea being, you know, that there are worse things in life than a negative Amazon review. And what do you know, authors have begun taking me up on the challenge, posting choice one and two star reviews they have received. How very healthy of them.

I thought I wouldn’t get to play along, not having any novels out, but, behold! One of the anthologies I’m in has a one star-review.

The title of this book clearly tries to capitualize on the popular sci-fi motion picture “Solaris” and the underlying work, but nothing could be further from the truth. These stories at are best second rate, and most are third rate. The plots are often interesting but the prose is pedestrian, the charaters are wooden, and the outcomes are guessed a mile in advance. Save your money for the Tessaracts series

Wooden characters! Pedestrian prose! Predictable!

Scalzi was right, you can take a certain amount of joy from a negative review.

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4 Responses

  1. David Loftus

    I’ve occasionally had a hankering to place on my Web site some excerpts from the few reviews my book received, because some of the remarks were so diametrically opposed to one another that you had to conclude the responses reflected more upon the author than the subject of the review.

    Having become more active as an actor in the past three years, I’ve had the somewhat different experience of dealing with theater reviews. I think those can hurt more, not only because it is your person (or how you look and present yourself) that is belittled, rather than a clearly separate product of your creation, but also because you have to get up and do it again with the review somewhere in the back of your mind, rather than enjoying the relative luxury of having moved on (one hopes) to another project while the old one was getting slammed.

    So far, I have not been personally singled out for abuse (KNOCK WOOD), but I’ve been swept off the table with the rest of a show, which is almost as bad. The one play in which I was the lead was praised only for the work of a supporting actor who was said to have saved the production from “total banality”; it took a week for the sting to wear off, but by then I could quote the line in my emails to friends and colleagues to come see the show (because most everybody hates the paper and its reviewers).

    A friend in another show was singled out by a critic for a performance that, as his character (Jaques in “As You Like It”) says at one point, “sucks eggs.” Since he is mixed race, I told him it was “just plain old racism,” and he laughed and roared, “YAH! It’s da MAN, keepin’ me DOWN!”

    You get past these things however you can.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal

      I think the point about having to get up and do it again is fairly on the nose as far as theater reviews. Even so, a bad review rarely bothers me for long. If I think they’ve got a point, then I try to do it better next time, otherwise, screw ’em.

  2. David Loftus

    Oddly enough, on the board where folks gather to gab his “official” Web site, Harlan Ellison has made a fairly detailed comment on a topic not unrelated to this one. A fan (whose post you’ll see not far below on the same page) wrote in to say his academic book had been panned by a fellow expert in the field — someone the author respected very much — and he asked Harlan to comment on how one might deal with this. Check out Mr. Ellison’s fairly sobering reply, posted there just an hour or two ago:

    http://harlanellison.com/heboard/unca.htm