Last night I sat down at my desk and started writing a review of the book I finished the previous day. The novel, a top-rated, Hugo Award nominated well-reviewed piece of science fiction, left me cold. It wasn’t poorly written and it kept me interested enough to finish, I would even enjoy discussing it with friends, but it just fell short of my expectations and far short of the expectations built by mainstream reviewers.
Halfway through my review I stopped and realized that I was writing a very negative review out of step with how I felt about the book. It wasn’t the novel itself or the author that upset me, it was the hype, a novel described by fawning reviewers as stunning, breath-taking, and highly original. The novel itself wasn’t anything special compared to much similar science fiction and the main conceit is an idea that’s right out of Star Trek, and honestly done much better in Star Trek.
I spent the night thinking about my objective when it comes to reviewing. As a writer should I review novels in my genre, should I write novel reviews at all? After some consideration, I believe that reviews are important. I read a lot of indie novels written by authors that mainstream publications and mainstream bloggers would never give the time of day due to the political opinions they hold. If we don’t review each other and build a body of criticism then we cannot grow our movement.
Mainstream science fiction and fantasy establishment lacks any semblance of intellectual or cultural diversity. For example, the 2020 Hugo Award novel nominations are all written by academic white women. All of them are LGBT except one, and it would be fair to guess that all of them share a far-left political allegiance. The reality is that mainstream publishing is No Country for Straight White Men and a poisonous atmosphere for anyone with slightly right-wing beliefs.
Therefore it is critical for us who crave ideological and intellectual diversity to read, share, and review counter-cultural writers from the right. NPR will take your tax dollars but they will never give you a fawning review calling your latest science fiction breathtakingly original and stunning. Your novel can sell ten times more than the latest light-romance mainstream fantasy and they still won’t bother with it. We don’t have the academic or media establishment behind us, we don’t have writer retreats, or trust funds bankrolling our hobbies. All we have is a love of fiction.
So I believe that we need to read and review each other, therefore I will continue to write reviews here on The Dacian, but I will take the stand that I am not a professional reviewer and have no obligation to review every single novel I read.
As a matter of professional courtesy, I will only write reviews of books that I enjoyed and believe that my readers would find interesting and enjoyable. I will not write critical reviews of contemporary fiction or nonfiction unless the topic is pertinent to a greater philosophical or ideological point that I am discussing.
Therefore if I review a novel on The Dacian it means that I absolutely enjoyed it and highly recommend it to my readers. If you sent me your novel and I haven’t reviewed it yet it means that I haven’t read it. If you send me something to read I will always send you a private message once I read it letting you know what I think.
I ended up deleting the review, it served no purpose and felt vindictive for a review on a book of very little consequence that I enjoyed reading.