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Saturday, January 26, 2013

A better class of fake review

One has to respect that at least Zoidy went to the trouble of buying the Kindle version before writing his fake review.
Boring! Very much a Warhammer novel (with the license), January 25, 2013
By Zoidy, Amazon Verified Purchase
This is a terrible book. Slow, tiresome, boring!
It's pointlessly wasteful with pages upon pages of characters writing letters that say nothing! Of characters that spend ungodly amounts of time internalising about simple issues like whether to put their cloak on to go outside! What's the weather like?! Who might see them outside?! Will they catch a chill...and on and on! This is horrible writing.

Also, thanks to the Warhammer fantasy and Warhammer 40k worlds for providing pretty much most of what this author has written.
Note to the next fake reviewer: it's more convincing if you actually read the book.  And noticing the absence of any brand logos or laser guns would also help.  Of course, actually reading the book sort of defeats the purpose of the fake review, doesn't it?  If Zoidy thinks A Throne of Bones has pages of pages of letters - about 12 out of 854 - I'd hate to imagine what he'd conclude of Pat Wrede's Sorcery and Cecilia, which I am given to understand is a Vampire Diaries-licensed novel.

I should be absolutely fascinated to learn what elements of the Warhammer 40k universe are present in the novel.  I don't know whether to be flattered or appalled that people are actually willing to pay money in order to publicly trash my work.  But it occurs to me that this may open up whole new horizons in the honorable profession of getting paid to not write....

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71 Comments:

Anonymous daddynichol January 26, 2013 7:41 AM  

VD can now expect the standard Rabbit hole comments by Tad, Commander General of the Rabbit people.

Anonymous VD January 26, 2013 7:52 AM  

It is obvious that I only posted this because I am jealous of Zoidy. Also, because my feelings are hurt by how he didn't feel I made optimal use of the Warhammer 40k license.

Anonymous Faust January 26, 2013 8:07 AM  

Vox-

What makes you think this review is fake, as opposed to written by an idiot?

Anonymous VryeDenker January 26, 2013 8:08 AM  

This shows how far we've sunk as a culture when the comparisson is made to warhammer rather than LOTR. This is why I am not only against universal suffrage, but also FOR having to earn your right to voice your opinion in public.

Blogger TontoBubbaGoldstein January 26, 2013 8:21 AM  

What makes you think this review is fake, as opposed to written by an idiot?

A) Fake Review
B) Written by an idiot
C) A and B
D) None of the above

I'm going with "C".

Anonymous VD January 26, 2013 8:22 AM  

What makes you think this review is fake, as opposed to written by an idiot?.

1. Nobody reads an 800-page book they don't like in three days.
2. The stress on "horrible writing". It's probably a writer who reads Whatever. We tend to attack in others what is important to us.
3. The failure to slam any of the actual attributes of the book while attacking things that make it sound like they quickly skimmed over the wrong book.
4. The Warhammer license, especially the 40k bit.

As I've noted before, I'm a former professional reviewer and I was a very good one. I recognize when people are "reviewing" things they don't actually know anything about in much the same way that a good art historian can recognize a forger due to the way the brush strokes look.

The problem that ATOB poses, versus TIA, for example, is that one could more easily fake a TIA review if you've read the New Atheists. And the sheer size of it means that you can't simply flip it open, grab a few random details, and still convincingly make it look as if you've read it.

This will only get harder as the series continues. Imagine, for example, a fake review of A Dance with Dragons where the reviewer erroneously concludes it's all about a travelling dwarf circus and has no idea that it's concerns the war between Baratheon, Lannister, and Targaryen for the throne of Westeros.

Anonymous VD January 26, 2013 8:27 AM  

I forgot one thing: another reason I think Zoidy is a writer, probably an SFWA member, is the slam on Warhammer. No one who plays wargames would see that as a slam, but a writer who looks down on media tie-in novels would. I've never read any Warhammer-related fiction, but my understanding is that a lot of the players quite like the Black Library books and would consider the comparison to be flattering.

Blogger Nate January 26, 2013 9:05 AM  

VD... did you see the little blog post complaining about your outing of the fraudulent reviewer? I think put a link the comments here and Josh may have emailed you about it as well.

May not be worth responding to.. but it was certainly a good chuckle for me.

Anonymous Rantor January 26, 2013 9:17 AM  

"ungodly amounts of time internalising." Not noticed. A decade ago I pretty much stopped reading any Star Wars books because the young Jedi were continually worried about going to the dark side, about being too powerful, one idiot Jedi even decided that the rebellion should suffer defeat and slaughter so that he could preserve his "inner balance." If I can recall that crap, I am certain I would notice if ATOB had similarly excessive equivocating BS. I didn't.

In the whole book I only found one chapter slow, some air-head bored by the games. I believe my daughter (off at college, kinda) is even reading ATOB (my copy disappeared, at 800 pages I think I'd be able to find it) and she has no patience for a slow story whatsoever.

I read sci-fi and fantasy primarily to be entertained, only sometimes to think hard thoughts. ATOB was perfectly entertaining and Libertarian/COnservative/Reality based values were pronounced. I also appreciated that it was edited a little for the Christian audience. The church-lady who couldn't handle it must live on a different planet.

Rant of the morning. God bless the Dread Ilk.

Anonymous Tad January 26, 2013 9:21 AM  

@Vox Day

It's altogether possible that the reviewer meant "Pages" in the "legal" sense, making his statement not just true, but pedantic also.

Anonymous Heh Heh January 26, 2013 9:24 AM  

a fake review of A Dance with Dragons where the reviewer erroneously concludes it's all about a travelling dwarf circus and has no idea that it's concerns the war between Baratheon, Lannister, and Targaryen for the throne of Westeros.

I had read the previous books, and I almost lost track of the "real" plot (the war for the throne of Westeros) myself...

Indeed, some might argue that GRRM has also lost track of that.

Anonymous VD January 26, 2013 9:27 AM  

Actually, I thought it was pretty funny. This even sounded a bit like me, except for the passive-aggressive pseudo-apology, of course:

C: Miss! Miss, excuse me!

V: What is it?

C: This shirt has a hole in it.

V: It's supposed to be there. It's part of the design.

C: It also has a stain.

V: Nope. That's also part of the design.

C: It's all frayed--

V: Which of us is the fashion expert here? What do you expect from handmade vintage clothing, hmm? Sorry we can't live up to your assembly line-generated K-Mart collection standards.

C: *deep breath* I also wondered about these jeans. Do you have them in a larger size? They're too small.

V: They're not too small, honey. Your ass is too big. How dare you criticize my store's clothes. You don't know a thing about fashion. You want some help? Lay off the chips, fatty, or go shop at Walmart.

The thing I don't understand is that I send every possible signal indicating that what I am doing is not for everyone. I mean, short of going and physically ripping the books out of the hands of suboptimal readers, there isn't much more I can do than to a) spurn traditional publishers, b) utilize ludicrously complicated titles, and/or c) write vastly fat books.

And yet, they still can't just stay away. I don't want a woman who thinks Catherine Asaro is a brilliant SF writer to read my books, I don't believe many readers who genuinely enjoy John Scalzi's books will enjoy mine, and as for those who like Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey, well, I doubt they'd make it past the prologue anyhow.

I know what my audience is. It's a middle ground between classic High Fantasy and the darker Epic Fantasy. If you like both Martin and Tolkien, you'll probably like it. And if you're not in that audience, don't read it. You're not going to like it. Go read vampire/wereseal fiction or whatever else it is that you enjoy. Is that really so hard?

I understand the rabbit people's desire to lash out at what they find threatening. The fake reviews are no surprise. But I don't get the people from outside my audience thinking that I want them as readers.

I suppose it relates to me fundamentally being a game designer and not a writer, even though I've written more books than many writers. Unless the project is based on being cross-genre, no game designer makes any effort whatsoever to reach outside of his own genre. The Gears of War designer doesn't care about the Bejeweled crowd. The Selenoth game we're doing right now doesn't lead us to keep the Angry Birds or Minecraft players in mind. Writers don't seem to think that way, even though their genres are, in some ways, more structurally limited.

Anonymous Thales January 26, 2013 9:31 AM  

Well, you're certainly taking this with great humor. If some putz were to try to break my millstone, however ineffectually, I'd be seriously tempted to break his face.

Blogger Nate January 26, 2013 9:38 AM  

To my eye... the best way to spot a fake review... is... a real negative reviewer is going to bring up the political speeches.. or at least mention the politics.

if someone read the book... and found it boring... that would be the part that would bore them.

Hell I loved the book... and even I skipped over the speeches. I mean lord.. that was torture. Not... Harry Dresden whining to himself for 20 pages... but torture none the less.

Anonymous TA711 January 26, 2013 9:38 AM  

"I should be absolutely fascinated to learn what elements of the Warhammer 40k universe are present in the novel."

Personally I'm a big Warhammer 40k fan (I play tabletop as well as most of the recent video games, and I've read well over 60 of the Black Library novels), and you are absolutely correct when you say "but my understanding is that a lot of the players quite like the Black Library books and would consider the comparison to be flattering.", and while I haven't read ATOB yet I've picked up a few things here and there from reading the blog; if it is satisfyingly grim dark with plenty of references to history (particularly that of Rome) you've already got yourself a large market from the Wh40k fanbase (I can't honestly speak for the Warhammer Fantasy Battle folks, although its my understanding that WHFB has less to do with the ancient world as 40k does.)

What I believe the reviewer had in mind was the connections to Rome as well as the darker setting; he's obviously not very bright or knows very little of either Warhammer universe though, otherwise he'd realise were it not for Warhammer's references to a myriad of civilizations, historic figures, other works of fiction, etc... that the "Fluff" would be non-existant; even had you actually taken anything from either of them it could hardly be considered an offence, it is what they themselves did after all (although in other obvious cases, a blatant rip-off like Starcraft is frowned upon by the true fans like myself.)

I wanted to write a somewhat longer post but sadly I am out of time.

Anonymous Crusader Corim January 26, 2013 9:55 AM  

Vox, this whole discussion has forced me to actually review a book, which I haven't done in ages. You get 4 stars from me, even though I would disgust you and Nate by enjoying Dresden Files, Sanderson, and Jordan.

All the best, and I look forward to the second book.

Anonymous VD January 26, 2013 10:04 AM  

Hell I loved the book... and even I skipped over the speeches. I mean lord.. that was torture. Not... Harry Dresden whining to himself for 20 pages... but torture none the less.

Why do you hate Cicero, Nate? Why?

The editor wanted to cut them down severely. I'm usually pretty blase about his cuts, but I totally stonewalled those. To his credit, he just laughed and said, "oh, this is one of those untranslated Latin deals,* no problem".

Sometimes, it's not about the reading enjoyment, it's about the ambience. If there isn't long, boring, pretentious speechifying, it isn't a true Senate.

*this appears to be his code word for "Voxian idiosyncracy"

Blogger Positive Dennis January 26, 2013 10:17 AM  

A fan of Thucydides like Vox would have such speeches.

Anonymous FP January 26, 2013 10:20 AM  

So basically, the servitor McRapey and his Sisters of Battle Rabbits have declared a holy war.

What, did you throw in blatant references to rhinos, bolters and melta guns? You wacky idea stealer you!

Anonymous Faust January 26, 2013 10:21 AM  

I loved the speeches and skipped the hell out of the werewolf parts. Don't know why, you'd think werewolves would be more exciting than speeches.

Anonymous VD January 26, 2013 10:24 AM  

Speaking of "fake" reviews, this is hilarious. I think someone got a deal when they bought a copy of AMB and got ATOB instead. Somehow, Amazon corrupted the file and merged the two; the AMB cover with the complete text of ATOB.

A spectacular epic fantasy; interesting characters, very realistic and believable; strong action and battles. Plus, the Romanesque setting is unique and original, and very clever. It fits all of the classic fantasy elements perfectly, without feeling like just another Tolkien clone.

Anyhow, I'm glad you liked it, Crusader. I actually like the Dresden Files, I just find his gamma ways to be increasingly annoying. Fourteen books and he still hasn't banged the cop? Sanderson is good, he's just not in Martin's league nor do I think he will ever be. Jordan, well, you know my opinion there.

Anonymous Crusader Corim January 26, 2013 10:31 AM  

And incidentally, VD, I would not rate any of them higher than you. They're all 4 star authors at their best.

5 stars is people like Martin in Game of Thrones, Lewis in Narnia and of course Tolkien.

Blogger Nate January 26, 2013 10:33 AM  

Crusader.. I love the dresden files. I didn't mean to give any impression otherwise. Harry whines though. I just skip those bits.

Anonymous Crusader Corim January 26, 2013 10:39 AM  

Nate - Oh absolutely, and he can't seem to put it in unless the woman virtually rapes him. Not disagreeing with Vox there either.

Anonymous VD January 26, 2013 10:52 AM  

And incidentally, VD, I would not rate any of them higher than you. They're all 4 star authors at their best.

That's how I see Sanderson and Butcher too. I think I may have a better shot than either of them in eventually moving up to the next level, but we'll have to wait and see if I can continue to improve or not. Jordan, on the other hand, I see as one who began as a 3-star writer and devolved into a 2-star writer.

This is the problem with Amazon, of course, and why so many authors whine about the star system. I don't have a problem with it, since I believe my sort of readers tend to read the reviews rather than just look at the average ratings, but it is a little ludicrous when you have one review that gushes about how great a book was before giving four stars versus another review that says "it was all right" and gives five.

I think it should be like this:

5 stars: Great book. Among the best in its genre that year.
4 stars: Good book. I liked it and found it well-written, but nothing particularly special.
3 stars: Average book. Not bad.
2 stars: Mediocre book. Not good.
1 star: Bad book.

But this is what the stars really mean in Amazon-speak:

5 stars: I like it and will definitely read the next one
4 stars: Not too bad. It was all right.
3 stars: Mediocre. Who wrote it again?
2 stars: (no one actually uses this)
1 star: I hated the book, or I hated the author, or the Amazon delivery was late, or I want the Kindle version, or this review is fake.

Anonymous Crusader Corim January 26, 2013 10:56 AM  

Less generous than me for Jordan early, more generous late. I would give the early books 4 stars, but 7-10 are all 1 star books.

I agree with your rating system. Another set of 5 star books from me were China Mieville in the City and the City and Embassytown (I don't agree with the morals, but the writing is amazing).

Anonymous Susan January 26, 2013 11:01 AM  

Vox, I am trying to understand all the nuances of what you consider a fake reviewer. Have one question for you, if a reviewer reads the book, how is that a fake reviewer? Would that not be considered a real review?

Am I missing something here?

Anonymous Rally January 26, 2013 11:09 AM  

Vox,

A few questions about the elves. I've read half the book so far, and I have not read Summa, if the answers are in there then I'll have to read it. I'm trying to understand from a demographic perspective how the elves have not overwhelmed the population of Selenoth. I get that:

Elf females are career babes and their magic is tied to their virginity and
Raising an elf child takes 30 years.

But they can live for centuries. What is the gestational period of elves? How often can they get pregnant? Do they hit menopause? At what age?

Seems like even with most of them into magic, it only takes one Jim-Bob and Michelle to raise a few hundred elf brats.

Anonymous Mr. Nightstick January 26, 2013 11:12 AM  

Did we ever find out what game Selenoth is based off?

Blogger Nate January 26, 2013 11:16 AM  

"Fourteen books and he still hasn't banged the cop?"

In his defense he was about to hit it before the hell hound did him that ummm... favor.

Anonymous AmyJ January 26, 2013 11:19 AM  

"I think someone got a deal when they bought a copy of AMB and got ATOB instead. Somehow, Amazon corrupted the file and merged the two; the AMB cover with the complete text of ATOB"

Happened to me, too - has Amazon fixed this yet? I already have a copy of ATOB!

Blogger Nate January 26, 2013 11:22 AM  

By the by... Speaking of Butcher... I am going to go ahead and move that females be banned from narrating audio books.

They are just horrible. horrible.

Also.. I'm convinced I would be awesome at audiobook narration... so VD... say the word... I'll be happy to offer my services.

What? Look Corvus has a very slight southern accent. Trust me. He's aristocracy.

Anonymous Anonymous1 January 26, 2013 11:24 AM  

***3. The failure to slam any of the actual attributes of the book...***

Would it be reasonable to apply the inverse of this to 5 star reviews and conclude they are fake?

Anonymous Crusader Corim January 26, 2013 11:38 AM  

Anonymous1 -

Would it be reasonable to apply the inverse of this to 5 star reviews and conclude they are fake?

Actually, probably yes. I know people give five stars to people they support regardless of quality.

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 January 26, 2013 11:38 AM  

I'm pretty sure that the reviewer was referring to Warhammer and not necessarily Warhammer 40K.

Anonymous VD January 26, 2013 11:41 AM  

Vox, I am trying to understand all the nuances of what you consider a fake reviewer. Have one question for you, if a reviewer reads the book, how is that a fake reviewer? Would that not be considered a real review?

Yes, it would be. It may or may not be an honest review, that would depend upon the review itself. But it would not be a fake one.


Would it be reasonable to apply the inverse of this to 5 star reviews and conclude they are fake?

Sure, if the elements they are praising are similarly nonexistent. If someone says "I loved the way the author described the laser gun battle in a romance set in Victorian England" while giving it five stars, it's obviously a fake review too.

Anonymous VD January 26, 2013 11:43 AM  

I'm pretty sure that the reviewer was referring to Warhammer and not necessarily Warhammer 40K.

But he was referring to both. I know Fantasy Battles well. We have High Elf and Dwarf armies. And the mention of 40k in this context probably means that he probably doesn't know the difference between 40k and FB either.

Hell, just reading the other reviews alone should have prevented him from mentioning 40k....

Blogger Log January 26, 2013 11:43 AM  

Is it a fake review if one feels the book really is TL/DR? Because I felt precisely that way about AMB, which I picked up for free. I felt no "hook" in the first 3 pages, with an overabundance of seemingly trivial detail, and therefore had no reason to continue reading. Maybe I missed out on a profound experience... but I doubt it. Nevertheless, I wouldn't bother reviewing it on Amazon because I have no vested interest in whether or not anyone read's Vox's work.

In any event, I cannot say enough good things about Deported. I passed that one around to friends and family. I know by that story Vox potentially could surpass Heinlein.

Anonymous Anonymous1 January 26, 2013 11:53 AM  

***And the mention of 40k in this context probably means that he probably doesn't know the difference between 40k and FB either.***

No, I would imagine he was referring to the heavy handed religious institutions and "age of faith" elements that are present in both your book and the 40k universe.

***Sure, if the elements they are praising are similarly nonexistent.***

I'd missed your point originally, but I'm not sure I see anything in Zoidy's review that was explicitly not in your book (like laser gun battles). My point being, many of the 5 star reviews are light on details and basically say "I LIKED!". Do you conclude these are fake?

Blogger Markku January 26, 2013 11:54 AM  

Is it a fake review if one feels the book really is TL/DR?

If you explicitly state how much you read of it, it's not a fake review. Depending on one's views on reviews, one might say it's an uninformed review. But not fake.

Anonymous Beau January 26, 2013 11:55 AM  

it only takes one Jim-Bob and Michelle to raise a few hundred elf brats.

I laughed. I did.

Anonymous VD January 26, 2013 12:26 PM  

Is it a fake review if one feels the book really is TL/DR? Because I felt precisely that way about AMB, which I picked up for free. I felt no "hook" in the first 3 pages, with an overabundance of seemingly trivial detail, and therefore had no reason to continue reading.

It depends. Are you pretending that you read the whole thing? My position is consistent with the rule by which I had to abide as a professional reviewer: if you do not read/play through the entire thing, you cannot review it.

Now, there is nothing wrong with posting TL;DR because that SPECIFICALLY STATES that you Didn't Read it. Your mileage may vary, but I happen to think it is spectacularly stupid to imagine that any book can be judged in the first few pages; A Tale of Two Cities takes 40-50 page to get going. Foucault's Pendulum pretty much does nothing for the first 100... and it is still one of my all-time favorite books.

Sometimes, you're just not in the right mood for a book; not feeling a hook is just as likely to be the reader as the story. There have been books that didn't grab me at all, then I really liked them when I picked them up again later.

(I happen to LIKE slow-starting books myself, so it probably should not surprise anyone that I prefer to ease the reader into the story.)

In any event, I cannot say enough good things about Deported. I passed that one around to friends and family. I know by that story Vox potentially could surpass Heinlein.

Thanks, but it's easier to fake someone else's style than create your own. And it's a lot easier to maintain for 10 pages than 100, much less 1000. Also, I LOVE Maupassant, so I can put myself in that mindset relatively easily. You probably noted that my Lovecraft attempt was much less successful. I could never surpass Heinlein in doing what he did best; his juveniles are practically untouchable.

My point being, many of the 5 star reviews are light on details and basically say "I LIKED!". Do you conclude these are fake?

Of course not. That's consistent with how people praise things. People do not praise and denigrate things in the same manner. Now, if they were saying I was a better wordsmith than Tanith Lee, yeah, I'd conclude it was fake and they obviously didn't read it.

The moment that someone is actively trying to warn people off a book, it is a big red flag. And when they then make a scene about how horrible the writing is, it's pretty obviously bullshit. Throw in the weird absence of relevant details and the logic is sealed. Look, no one is under any illusions that I'm a great stylist, least of all me, but the writing is perfectly serviceable.

Especially in comparison to the other writers in the genre, such as Jordan, Sanderson, and Erikson, much less Fultz and Lawrence. Style is a very minor component of epic fantasy; Bakker is the only one who could really be said to have any chops in that regard.

Anonymous VD January 26, 2013 12:27 PM  

Happened to me, too - has Amazon fixed this yet? I already have a copy of ATOB!

Yes, you can tell by the file size. Email me and I'll send you the proper file.

Anonymous VD January 26, 2013 12:41 PM  

Seems like even with most of them into magic, it only takes one Jim-Bob and Michelle to raise a few hundred elf brats.

Think about the demographic ramifications of slim hips and how people become less inclined to have children the longer they live a self-centered life.

Anonymous Anonymous1 January 26, 2013 12:51 PM  

***Look, no one is under any illusions that I'm a great stylist, least of all me, but the writing is perfectly serviceable***

Someone who reads a lot of Le Guin, Tanith Lee or Gene Wolfe may not think so.

To be fair, it's unlikely that someone with that sort of standard reads a lot of Warhammer, but it is possible.

PS: my goblins hate your dwarves, but are scared of your elves...

Blogger Nate January 26, 2013 12:54 PM  

"Think about the demographic ramifications of slim hips and how people become less inclined to have children the longer they live a self-centered life."

No to mention... elf women are clearly career girls. their career just happens to be magic... and that requires virginity.

I do love the little hints though that the magic may actually still be there post-sex... but their ironclad traditions make them incapable of realizing it.

Anonymous VD January 26, 2013 1:24 PM  

Someone who reads a lot of Le Guin, Tanith Lee or Gene Wolfe may not think so.

Then they're either stupid or lack perspective. I read a lot of Tanith Lee, (she's one of my favorite writers), and I've read an amount of Gene Wolfe. Le Guin bores me. My writing isn't anywhere near Lee's level, but it is still closer to that than to EL James or Stephanie Meyers. If my writing is "horrible" then we require new words, possibly an entirely new language, to even begin describing theirs.

I'm still laughing about that reading of 50 Shades of Grey. "Well I did...."

Anonymous Anonymous1 January 26, 2013 1:39 PM  

***it is still closer to that than to EL James or Stephanie Meyers.***

I would disagree, but it could be that people with wide exposure to the greats (again, this is probably not the warhammer guy) tend to lump the terrible and mediocre into a single category.

I think it comes down to this, if you think you're great, and someone says you are terrible, they probably aren't lying, since it's just their opinion and peoples opinions tend to differ, as I'm sure you know.

Anonymous David January 26, 2013 1:40 PM  

Being a player of Warhammer Fantasy Battle(Empire army), and having read a few Black Library books as well as the original Orfeo books, I say ATOB is much better. A number of the Warhammer books are pretty decent but are constrained by the setting and no one puts in as much effort and thought and Vox and GRRM do.

What little we see of Orc and Goblin interaction in ATOB does remind me of Warhammer orcs and goblins.

Anonymous David January 26, 2013 1:40 PM  

"as Vox and GRRM do."

Blogger Foster January 26, 2013 1:47 PM  

Vox, you mentioned the Selenoth game in a comment. What platforms are you writing the game for?

Anonymous Anonymous1 January 26, 2013 1:47 PM  

David; Dan Abnett in general and his Riders of the Dead in particular rises pretty far above the rest of the Warhammer "fan fiction". I'd put Riders of the Dead somewhere between ATOB and GOT.

Anonymous Koanic January 26, 2013 1:48 PM  

There's a guy named Carnifex. Psshh

Anonymous VD January 26, 2013 2:02 PM  

I would disagree, but it could be that people with wide exposure to the greats (again, this is probably not the warhammer guy) tend to lump the terrible and mediocre into a single category.

Then you're clearly stupid and have no idea that there are objective measures that can be used to analyze writing. Moreover, most people with significant exposure to great literature have a more refined ability to distinguish varying degrees of writing, not a badly reduced one.

I think it comes down to this, if you think you're great, and someone says you are terrible, they probably aren't lying, since it's just their opinion and peoples opinions tend to differ, as I'm sure you know.

Sure, and if someone wrote a review that actually contained a modicum of information about the book, and didn't happen to post it right after one of Scalzi's rants when numerous fraudulent reviews were being posted and taken down by Amazon, and didn't say nonsensical things about nonexistent licenses, and there was any indication that they had actually read the writing they are denigrating, I'd simply chalk it up to opinion and assume they were just stupid.

But that's not the case now, is it? Look, it was a fake review and it wasn't the only one. Deal with it. You can pretend it's not if you like, but that's not going to change anything.

You see, here's the thing. My ideological opponents have been claiming that I'm a terrible writer for 12 years, ever since I started my WND column. It didn't bother me then. It doesn't bother me now. But I'm a much better writer now than I was then, and I'm still improving. Five years ago, even I would have scoffed at the idea that I could write a credible epic fantasy novel.

So claim what you will. It's only going to look more and more obviously ridiculous as time goes on.

Anonymous VD January 26, 2013 2:04 PM  

Vox, you mentioned the Selenoth game in a comment. What platforms are you writing the game for?

It will be cross-platform. Android tablet is flagship, but it will also be on Android phone, iOS, and Flash. We'll do a call for players here once we're ready for Alpha testing.

Blogger RobertT January 26, 2013 2:06 PM  

This guy must follow your every move. It must be a kind of man love thing.

Anonymous Anonymous1 January 26, 2013 2:07 PM  

***It doesn't bother me now.***

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Blogger RobertT January 26, 2013 2:14 PM  

"Is it a fake review if one feels the book really is TL/DR? Because I felt precisely that way about AMB, which I picked up for free. I felt no "hook" in the first 3 pages, with an overabundance of seemingly trivial detail, and therefore had no reason to continue reading."

There is no accounting for taste. I personally thought AMB was better than TB. And I really liked ATOB.

Anonymous VD January 26, 2013 2:25 PM  

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Don't be stupid. I don't even consider myself a writer. People have known me for years without me ever even mentioning that I've written a book or nine. I'm a game designer who happens to write books for fun.

I know exactly how my material rates right now and saying that it is terrible is as obviously stupid as saying that Sanderson's writing is terrible. Is it great? No. Is it mediocre? No. It's workmanlike. It does the job and stays out of the way. As I said before, no one reads epic for style. Martin's writing has not changed for the worse, but most of his fans agree that his books are on a steep decline.

Anyhow, I'm perfectly aware that twelve years from now, people like you are still going to be claiming that my books are terrible and I'm still not going to care. Nor are the people who enjoy reading them.

Anonymous Commodore January 26, 2013 2:26 PM  

Maybe it was riffing off of my review? I noted that there was a faint whiff of the Imperium, I think it was just an impression due to the "death to the heretic and the xenos" foreign policy. Which is in turn a Roman attitude, so there you go. And, as said above, your Orcs and Goblins interact kind of Orky.

I like that faint whiff, for what its worth.

Anonymous Anonymous1 January 26, 2013 2:40 PM  

If one reads for pleasure, I would think "workmanlike" is the same as "terrible". Maybe I miss some good stories with "workmanlike" writing, but life is just too short.

In any case, I don't think you book is terrible, but your response to your critics is really what's entertaining.

And to reiterate what Commodore just said and I said earlier, there was an element of w40k in your book. Does this change your position about Zoinkers review?

Anonymous Feh January 26, 2013 2:49 PM  

2 stars: (no one actually uses this)

I use it all the time. For me, two stars generally means, "not interesting, but not poorly written". I save the single star for uninteresting AND poorly written.

Anonymous Feh January 26, 2013 2:52 PM  

I also use two stars for fiction authors who I usually like, but whose latest book in a series has gotten stale and it seems like they're just going through the motions. GRRM in ADWD would be a good example of this!

Anonymous VD January 26, 2013 3:13 PM  

And to reiterate what Commodore just said and I said earlier, there was an element of w40k in your book. Does this change your position about Zoinkers review?

Not in the slightest. I know the element Commodore was describing and it doesn't justify the way the fake reviewer characterized it. He would have had a stronger case if he'd made the claim about Summa Elvetica, although it would have appeared even more absurd there.

Maybe it was riffing off of my review?

Very likely. The better class of fake reviewer doesn't read the book, but at least looks at the other reviews. But at least this guy skimmed a bit, he must have come across two of the letters and leaped to a conclusion from them.

I think for Book Two, I'll give all the preordering folks something to mention in their reviews that is not in the book at all and we can see how many one-star reviewers mention it. That would do the trick.

Anonymous Russell January 26, 2013 3:33 PM  

" I think for Book Two, I'll give all the preordering folks something to mention in their reviews that is not in the book at all and we can see how many one-star reviewers mention it."

What continues to amuse me is that even after Vox announces the details of a trap, where he set the trap and where, the trap is still sprung and the prey acts offended they were caught.

It'd be funny if it weren't so s- no, no, it's funny, every time.

Anonymous Kickass January 26, 2013 5:32 PM  

Your energy is boundless. I had no idea you were able to start trouble on so many fronts.
Its like watching a General go to war.

Carry on.

Anonymous Kickass January 26, 2013 5:32 PM  

" I think for Book Two, I'll give all the preordering folks something to mention in their reviews that is not in the book at all and we can see how many one-star reviewers mention it."

Excellent.

Anonymous Kickass January 26, 2013 5:36 PM  


"As I've noted before, I'm a former professional reviewer and I was a very good one. I recognize when people are "reviewing" things they don't actually know anything about in much the same way that a good art historian can recognize a forger due to the way the brush strokes look."

This is a valid point. I used to do product reviews and also did interviews with Authors. It is bizarre to have the passion to read such a long book, hate it, want to review it and never mention specific details.

In fact, on the occasions I gave bad reviews I had to be very, very careful to include lots of details.

Anonymous The other skeptic January 26, 2013 5:42 PM  

Heh, Amazon requires that you have purchased something with your account before you can review a product.

They don't require you to have purchased the product you are going to review, however.

Anonymous FUBAR Nation Ben January 26, 2013 6:56 PM  

Vox, didn't the last Wheel of Time book come out? Are you planning on reading it and doing a review? Ahahaha.

Blogger LP 999/Eliza January 26, 2013 11:38 PM  

Wow!! Some pple with the R factor must jealous/hateful of VD's superior intellect for composing/writing epic kick ass fantasy. Like the guy has said before, its a hobby, as this is something he enjoys. I suggest that with time VD's work (gift) will only improve with time or perhaps more readers will level up their desire to expand their horizons.

I guess some of the neg reviews would make me wonder if the books could become amazing video games!!

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