Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Policy of Reviewing Things

I recently corralled all my reviews into a Review Portal, and when I did that I realized I’ve reviewed a lot of things. Some more deeply than others, depending on how that particular work moves me. In another month I’ll run out of Hugo nominees to review, so I’ll be grasping around for more material.

When I decide what to review, I tend to ask myself, first of all, is this YA appropriate?  I’m well aware that the major audience for YA is millennial women, but there are probably at least a few actual Young Adults interested in the subject, so I try not to alienate them by reviewing books that are too grownup in all the wrong ways. With regard to movies, I tend to stick to Disney/Pixar because that’s what YAs watch with their families so it's safe to discuss. Yes, I’m aware they’re probably watching totally different things when it’s just them.  

With regard to books, I’ll review books written for grownups if they seem like they have YA appeal. The Forever War is a tense and gritty war story in space, but the narrator starts out as a YA, and there isn’t a lot of explicit mayhem and sex.  Most Stephen King stories are what I’d consider all-ages. 

Some of my Hugo review material has been a little bit grownup, and it looks like I’ll be doing that for at least one more year.  The whole Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies event made me aware there are lots of subcultures with different views of what is appropriate for YAs, and I believe I’m vaguely within the guidelines as far as all the different culture war factions are concerned, although I do have a few female characters that actually finished college (unlike me), which may perturb some of the more conservative Rabids.

I read a lot more than I review. I don’t want to do hatchet jobs over books I dislike. I do have an inverse scale of pickiness – if a novelist is making large amounts of cash for the work in question, I won’t hold back with my criticism, whereas if it’s some fellow indie scuttling around trying to be an editor and a publicist and a typesetter and a novelist at the same time, I’ll try to be kind. If I fail to wrap my brain around a particular work, I generally take it as cosmic incompatibility as opposed to any technical or moral failings on the part of author or reader.

In the past I’ve encouraged people not to review my stuff. I suppose I’ll have to rescind that eventually although I’m not looking forward to it. I’m carrying out my publicity in this weird sort of progression, where I scatter a few seeds here, record what happens, scatter a few over there, catalog results. Kinda like science. In my heart of hearts, I know that all I really need to do to get attention is write books that don’t suck, but realistically I suppose I need to collect some stars, so I’m fixing to look into that. If you’re a reviewer and need a review copy – which is the only consideration I am going to offer you in exchange for a review – let me know in the comments and I’ll hook you up. 

Likewise, if you’d like me to review your thing (and it’s YA and speculative fiction), comment away and tell me where I can pick up the free stuff. 

At the moment I’m reading A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers and in line after it is Among Others by Jo Walton, both YA-suitable grownup science fiction from what I understand. I’ll report further after I’m finished.

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