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Monday, January 05, 2015

How the media manipulates science fiction

I discovered an interesting site called Chaos Horizon yesterday. The author has developed a model to predict future Best Novel Hugo Award nominations on the basis of media coverage and past awards, and it worked pretty well last year. But what I found even more interesting and informative was his review round-ups, in which he tracks the media coverage of the various books he expects to be nominated.

Two of the listed favorites for 2015 are LOCK-IN by John Scalzi and MONSTER HUNTER NEMESIS by Larry Correia.
LOCK-IN

Mainstream Reviews:
Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
NPR
A.V. Club

WordPress Blogger Reviews:
Ristea’s Reads (4 out of 5)
Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!
Bibliotropic (5 out of 5)
Alison McCarty (9 out of 10)
As the Plot Things (9 out of 10)
The BiblioSanctum (4.5 out of 5)
Infinite Free Time
Lucy Moo’s Book Reviews
Books, Bones, & Buffy (4 out of 5)
For Winter Nights

As you can see, that’s already a lot of reviews, and they’ve been pretty uniformly positive, averaging out to a solid 4.5 out of 5. The number of reviews is a testament to Scalzi built-in fanbase; the high scores speak to the book being well-liked.

Amazon Reviews:
(299) 4.2 out of 5 stars


MONSTER HUNTER: NEMESIS

Mainstream Reviews:

None? For each of these Review Round-Ups, I check the same places: Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, NPR, NYTimes, the Guardian, and Entertainment Weekly. These are some of the most popular and widely distributed reviewing venues, and they give us a good idea if the book is reaching beyond the core SFF audience. The fact that Correia received no discernible support from these outlets certainly says something. The lack of reviews in Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus is surprising, as they do short capsule reviews of tons of texts. For most authors, this lack of mainstream coverage would hurt them; for an author like Correia, this lack of coverage re-enforces his outsider or maverick status.

WordPress Blog Reviewers:
AdVerb Creative
Koeur’s Book Review
Bookstoge’s Reviews on the Road (4.5 out of 5)
Attack of the Books!
Alternative Worlds II

Not the biggest group of reviews, but all are fairly positive. It’s interesting that Monster Hunter Nemesis doesn’t show up as strongly in these places. Goodreads has 1700+ ratings for Monster Hunter Nemesis, which does indicate it’s selling copies. People just don’t seem to blog about Correia’s book with the same intensity as they do other texts.

Amazon Reviews:
(283) 4.8 out of 5 stars
It's somewhat amusing to see that even though Chaos Horizons is aware of the Hugo controversy, he's still genuinely surprised that there are zero mainstream reviews for Nemesis. What's happening here is a microcosm of what happens in the gaming world. The pinkshirt media puffs up Pink SF and attempts to make it look better and more popular than it is, while ignoring better and equally popular non-Pink SF in an attempt to pretend it is not merely irrelevant, but doesn't exist.

It's even more obvious if you actually read the reviews for LOCK-IN. Most of them are more about the author than the book itself, because the content of the book is largely irrelevant, the object of the review is to signal that the book reviewed is the product of an ideologically-approved author and therefore should be supported.

I note that the Goodreads data is different than the Amazon data, but I tend to discount the Goodreads data as a proxy for comparative purposes because its readership has such a strong SJW bias. That being said, it's probably an excellent proxy for the WorldCon membership and a Hugo-predictive model for precisely that reason.

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51 Comments:

Anonymous Steve January 05, 2015 12:09 PM  

"People just don’t seem to blog about Correia’s book with the same intensity as they do other texts"

SJW's have a lot more time on their hands than normal people do.

Normal folks have jobs, wives, children and responsibilities.

Now look at the SJW's in sci-fi and anti-Gamergate circles. They're disproportionately incels, sex offenders, the morbidly obese, and batshit insane trannies (these categories are not mutually exclusive).

No wonder they have lots of free time to be on Twitter and whatnot.

Monster Hunter: Nemesis is a hugely enjoyable book. The series goes from strength to strength.

Anonymous Rolf January 05, 2015 12:15 PM  

I was noting that Riding the Red Horse has not been screaming to the top of the Amazon mil si-fi charts as I had expected (given the list of contributors), and I've not been getting the normal regular "buy this" emails and recommendations nearly as heavily as other works I've browsed to, even though the reviews are good (if not particularly numerous).

Do you think it's more a "not in their select program" thing, or an "Amazon in the Pink S/F tank" thing?

Anonymous RandyBeck January 05, 2015 12:17 PM  

Somebody usually needs to pay for Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus reviews. Indy writers can get PW reviews via Amazon's annual writing competition (which does makes the competition worthwhile), but that's merely getting someone else to come up with the money.

In Larry Correia's case, it's likely that Baen didn't think it worth the expense, and they're probably right.

Blogger bob k. mando January 05, 2015 12:17 PM  

the most egregious thing about the lack of mainstream reviews is this:
Correia has put multiple books onto the NYT Bestseller List WITHOUT playing the publisher 'gaming the list' payola scam.

and they STILL won't review him.

so much for the 'integrity' of the NYT and all the rest of these scum.

http://monsterhunternation.com/?s=new+york+times

Anonymous Porky January 05, 2015 12:35 PM  

I like how the Audiobook lets you choose the gender of the main character/narrator.

Female, or androgynous.

Anonymous Daniel January 05, 2015 12:37 PM  

Wild. Independently, I've been working on a similarly-themed investigation of Science Fiction bestsellers over the last fifty years. Not sure quite yet if the numbers are going to bear this out, but I believe there is a ideological bubble that seems to begin inflating in the 1990s, and becomes ridiculously disproportionate (vs. actual sales and popularity) by the 2000s.

Maverick indeed.

Anonymous Daniel January 05, 2015 12:44 PM  

Rolf - I suspect Riding's ceiling is that it suffers a slight categorization handicap: the non-fiction is strat, the fiction is Mil-SF...plus it is an anthology of short stories for a market that tends to at least slightly favor longer story campaigns.

My amateur guess is that Riding will better serve to introduce new readers to the authors more than it will provide hardcore single author-fans with a big dollop of satisfaction. After all, if I'm exclusive to a single author, it is going to be a while before I pick up an anthology with just a few pages from my favorite.

Blogger CarpeOro January 05, 2015 12:45 PM  

The NYT hasn't been fit for much more than birdcage liner for years. Of course after working for a newspaper I stopped putting much value in any of them anyway (I attended a gun rights rally that where the numbers were under reported by at least a factor of ten. I know because it was the only event at the park and the parking was overflow with more coming as I left).

Lock-in reviewed by NPR. Doesn't that just about say it all?

Anonymous VD January 05, 2015 12:46 PM  

I've been working on a similarly-themed investigation of Science Fiction bestsellers over the last fifty years.

I do hope you'll be posting it at CH.

Anonymous Daniel January 05, 2015 12:57 PM  

Semi-on topic: thanks to record memberships, LonCon finished with a cash surplus of...

...about £1,000.

Without Larry and Vox last year, they would have been deep in the red.

Anonymous Dumb founded January 05, 2015 1:08 PM  

So, is Station Eleven just more SJW shit? Should I bother to even read the free stuff up on Amazon?

Anonymous Daniel January 05, 2015 1:18 PM  

So, is Station Eleven just more SJW shit? Should I bother to even read the free stuff up on Amazon?

Hmm. There's got to be a systematic way to filter out the SJW so average readers can find what they currently think doesn't exist without hassling with the noisy Pink.

Blogger Joshua Dyal January 05, 2015 1:36 PM  

Lock-in reviewed by NPR. Doesn't that just about say it all?

Heh. Yeah, it totally does.

Blogger bob k. mando January 05, 2015 1:38 PM  

Daniel January 05, 2015 12:57 PM
Without Larry and Vox last year, they would have been deep in the red.



depends on how much the con organizers raked for themselves.

if they've adopted anything remotely like Hollywood accounting, it doesn't make a damn bit of difference how 'well' the con does, it will show a loss or almost no profit.

Blogger IM2L844 January 05, 2015 2:44 PM  

"What's happening here is a microcosm of what happens in the gaming world."

It certainly doesn't stop there. It's what is happening across the entire spectrum of society. It's the core of everything they are. For them, attempting to disqualify is instinctual like breathing. It's a no-brainer.

Anonymous Daniel January 05, 2015 3:18 PM  

f they've adopted anything remotely like Hollywood accounting, it doesn't make a damn bit of difference how 'well' the con does, it will show a loss or almost no profit.

Worldcons are entirely different animals. We are talking less than $1 million in costs and revenue.

Blogger bob k. mando January 05, 2015 3:23 PM  

Daniel January 05, 2015 3:18 PM
Worldcons are entirely different animals. We are talking less than $1 million in costs and revenue.



doesn't have anything to do with whether or not they've figured out how to "write off" all profits and / or divert contracts to shell companies for services rendered.

unless the con organizers are actually donating their time, you can be sure somebody makin somethin off this.

Blogger Josh January 05, 2015 3:28 PM  

unless the con organizers are actually donating their time, you can be sure somebody makin somethin off this.

Didn't the pervert who used to run Dragon con make several hundred thousand dollars from it?

Anonymous Daniel January 05, 2015 3:41 PM  

Naw, the 2005 WorldCon was something like 500,000 total. $200,000 went to the Scottish Exhibition Center, and the rest was nickel and dime event-stuff (ads, programs, rentals, Guest of Honor fees of about $15,000 for all of them) Plus it forwarded a surplus to the next one.

If anyone makes money off of this, it is at the event center, not with the organizers. Staffing costs are quite minimal. Unlike Kramer's Dragon*Con, WorldCon is not a privately owned venture.

Blogger Lovekraft January 05, 2015 4:05 PM  

by - for - about. In answering these three criteria regarding a message/review, one can have a pretty good idea as to its worth.

It identifies the author and source of the message (by), the audience it is targetting (for) and the subject (about).

Anonymous Mike Mike January 05, 2015 4:47 PM  

Meanwhile, at my local Half-Price Books, there is a shelf full of Lock In.

Blogger Daniel B. January 05, 2015 5:58 PM  

I run Attack of the Books! and if I could give a better boost to Larry's chances at the Hugo, I'd write the review all over again...it was loads of fun to read.

Anonymous jack January 05, 2015 6:44 PM  

Yeah, well. Lets see whats being read 25 and 50 years from now. Assuming that there is still electricity for lights and we all aren't prowling the woodlands for game, because supper.

Blogger Cataline Sergius January 05, 2015 6:49 PM  

Larry can get the nomination just by ordering the Monster Hunter Nation to march. Honestly he doesn't need our help.

Besides the Pink crowd will just sing their own praises for short shifting an action writer. (* "Good of it's kind" sniff...sniff *)

But maybe we could give them just a smallish something to choke on middle of their self congratulatory aria.

What if we back a deserving underdog? Somebody they can't dismiss as an author of the lesser genre and easily a better writer than McRapey?

As a whole they are very good at ignoring unpleasant truths but when you pin them down as individuals you can make them feel a bit of shame without to much trouble at all.

Better still if we back a book that is likely to stand the test of time in exactly the same way that Lock-In won't.

The name Brad Torgersen comes irresistibly to mind.

Anonymous Nathan January 05, 2015 7:20 PM  

John C. Wright's Judge of Ages also comes to mind.

Anonymous Jolly Yon January 05, 2015 7:50 PM  

The name Brad Torgersen comes irresistibly to mind.

I've only read his collection of short stories, but it seemed he fell into the "message fiction" trap just like the Pinks. Not ridiculously so, but still obviously so.

Anonymous Godfrey January 05, 2015 8:00 PM  

The media manipulate everything. That's its purpose.

Blogger Zeke OF Confettii January 05, 2015 8:09 PM  

ConFederation, the 44th Worldcon, held in Atlanta, Georgia in 1986, exceeded expenses by more than $50k and handed out grants to other 501c(3) organizations afterwards. The co-chairs got nothing except expenses and an excellent reason to GAFIATE.
LonCon seems to have been rescued from bankruptcy by walk-up registrations, though I can't really say.

Anonymous Jack Hanson January 05, 2015 8:12 PM  

Don't forget the entire "I five u/U five me" nonsense going on with reviews on Amazon/Goodreads/et al. In a lot of these publishing houses its expected that other authors will go an rave wildly about someone's latest work. Look at Lives of Tao - it was basically Chuck with DS9 but somehow it got nominated for "Best New Work" or whatever.

This sort of nepotistic circle jerking is what's killing the industry, but Scalzi, Wendig, and the rest would have you believe its those evil self pubbers while Simon and Schuster hands out a 6 figure advance to an author based off her One Direction meets 50 Shades fuck fiction.

Anonymous roo_ster January 05, 2015 10:50 PM  

Off topic...riding the red horse

Just finished riding the red horse. Wrote a quick amazon review "fiction and nonfiction alloyed to teach the reader" is the title. First castalia house nonfiction i have read. First castalia house book i rated five stars. Not deep but broad and discerning. The use of fiction to illustrate non-fictive topics was effective and transcended some particular stories' shortcomings as stories. There is a whole lot of content in Riding and many volumes implied if one is to mine the depths hinted at.

Well worth the money and time spent.

Anonymous tiredofitall January 06, 2015 12:10 AM  

"Hmm. There's got to be a systematic way to filter out the SJW so average readers can find what they currently think doesn't exist without hassling with the noisy Pink." - Daniel

Easy, just read the blurbs about the book and the reviews (if any exist). Once you spot anything about a plucky female lead character or spot any SJW buzzwords you can pretty much dismiss it as SJW message fiction.

Blogger Thordaddy January 06, 2015 4:01 AM  

Vox...

I thought the whole lesson of Larry Correia and John Wright was to attack your attackers? So if I am being attacked by a cabal of de facto homos and anti-white Supremacists and you believe that you can tell me when to lay off the trigger... Why? Under what 4GW principle?

I thought YOU SAID don't throw your extremists under the bus?

Who is the extremist to the anti-white Supremacist? The white Supremacist or the rabbit?

Please explain?

Blogger W.LindsayWheeler January 06, 2015 5:45 AM  

Ayn Rand talked about this very paradigm in Atlas Shrugged or Fountainhead or both. She talked about architects who were modern or traditional. Those who were modern were talked about and promoted by the press. Those who still built neo-classical and traditional were shoved into the abyss of silence.

That is how it is done. There is no such thing as a level playing field. There is no such thing as a "free press". This "free press" is a mirage. Everything is lies.

Anonymous map January 06, 2015 5:56 AM  

OT,

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-01-05/obamacare-architects-harvard-furious-after-learning-they-are-not-exempt-obamacare

Anonymous Isidore560 January 06, 2015 6:28 AM  

Hope this doesn't derail. If so please ignore-

Is anyone aware of any writing "guides" or other " craft " works by Vox or associated authors? I'm an experienced nonfiction writer , but I'd like to try my hand at historical fiction eventually, and have zero experience. I also have no experience regarding publishing or advertising outside of an academic context.

I normally wouldn't presume to make an attempt at such , but with The possibility of Amazon self- publishing writing a novel might actually be worthwhile. If there's anything by Vox et al on the topic would anyone be so kind as to let me know? Thanks in any case.

Anonymous VD January 06, 2015 6:40 AM  

I thought the whole lesson of Larry Correia and John Wright was to attack your attackers?

You're not attacking your attackers. You are attacking your prospective allies.

you believe that you can tell me when to lay off the trigger... Why?

I don't believe I can. I know I can. You wouldn't be the first fool to challenge my ability to silence you entirely, not only here, but on every Blogger blog. Once spammed, you can't be unspammed. I don't recommend challenging me on this.

I thought YOU SAID don't throw your extremists under the bus?

I did. Here is the corollary: don't let your extremists take the wheel either, especially not the lunatic ones. I've warned you, Thordaddy. You've got five comments per post until further notice. Violate that and you'll wind up with zero, and you'll see your comments disappearing from every Blogger blog.

Now drop it.

Blogger agraves January 06, 2015 8:43 AM  

I recently bought Monster Hunter International and could not finish it. The first few pages were interesting but the characters are one dimensional, action scenes are too extreme to be remotely believable, generally repetitive story. Unnecessary scenes: trailer trash Queen of Elves? No sympathy for any characters. Maybe this has something to do with Correia not getting great mention. Alex

Anonymous Michael January 06, 2015 10:32 AM  

MSM is a tool of the establishment, existing to distract, subvert and direct society along a predetermined narrative - they mean to tell you what to think, buy, wear, read, watch, support, etc. All the printing presses and major media outlets in America were gobbled up by Marxist bankers about a century ago.

Blogger Kull January 06, 2015 12:55 PM  

Isidore560,

There are numerous "how to" about historical fiction and quite a few "daily life during the _____" to help the prospective historical fiction author. If I am not mistaken, Vox has written some posts about writing, especially some of the common pitfalls, under the "writing" tag in this blog.

And for the prospective self-publisher, google Dean Wesley Smith, he is a prolific author who writes a great deal about the business side. I can't vouch for his info but it certainly is thought provoking and will put you onto to other sources. I may dip my toe into self publishing myself this year. I dread having to market myself thought.

In the larger context of this post, its so strange thinking about how the system is so rigged. You would think money would trump everything. Correia is moving books, getting himself paid and of course, everyone else involved is getting a slice. Since when does that count for nothing? Money talks, BS walks? Not anymore? Can things be that surreal now?

Blogger Kull January 06, 2015 1:06 PM  

Isidore560,
My post was unclear. There are numerous "how to" books available. My local library has 3 or 4 I think. In general there are so many books about writing fiction in general its almost off-putting. Just give it a go and see what happens.

What era are you planning to write about?

Blogger MidKnight January 06, 2015 1:17 PM  

@agraves.

Okay, it wasn't to your taste. The action scenes were supposed to be over the top.

As to the characters, repetitiveness, etc. - I don't think you read the same book a lot of us did. That or I'd be interested on what metric you're using to define MHI as such, and what books you hold out as "done right".

I personally find the characters funny, and vividly drawn out. It is his first work, so the characterization is not as strong as later, and most especially in Alpha and Nemesis, or Grimnoir, but they are still distinct characters and not simply cardboard cut outs.

The trailer park scene had a part to play in the overall arc, AND helped further establish the kind of world the characters were operating in. It didn't take up a lot of space in an already long book, and certainly wasn't a pointless aside.

Blogger agraves January 06, 2015 1:56 PM  

midknight, thanks for explaining the book to me. When you read a book do you search out the "overall arc" of the story or do you want to be swept up by the story? How boring you are. And you are right, half way through it was an 'already long book". When reading a book I am enjoying it does not occur to me that it is a really long book, thinking like that just reaffirms you are not really into it.

Blogger Thordaddy January 06, 2015 2:09 PM  

Vox...

I've had this handle for over ten years, so good luck with your SJWarring...

But anyways... It seems you've done a poor accounting of the situation.

Just concede that you're a red anti-white Supremacist and we can at least dispense with the phony formalities.

I like what you write and that's why I've done far more reading here than commenting... But now that I know the author's true self.... I might do less reading and more writing... Because after all, IF you are truly an anti-white Supremacist then YOU are the enemy of the white man and a phony adversary to the "rabbits" (horrible symbol for what is actually represented).

Blogger Thordaddy January 06, 2015 3:00 PM  

The great thing about you Vox is that once you establish your rules, YOU MUST abide by them or lose face. That's why I pegged you a Supremacist at first. You say you are an "elitist" and Christian BUT I'm not sure how you expect others to separate you from the mainstream degenerates so prevalent in each of those two collective?

I suggested Red Supremacist... An explicit admission that you ARE NOT enemy to the white Supremacist and a clear signal that you are a) separate from the "default elite, b) not a self-annihilating for salvation "Christian" and c) of red origin...

Concise, precise, exacting, truthful...

You're creating the enemy... I create Supremacists.

Blogger automatthew January 06, 2015 3:23 PM  

"You're creating the enemy... I create Supremacists."

From your behavior, I would guess you're actually a shill paid to discourage the creation of supremacists.

Anonymous tiredofitall January 06, 2015 6:06 PM  

"From your behavior, I would guess you're actually a shill paid to discourage the creation of supremacists."

That or he's here to skew VP's Google results so that when people search for "supremacist" Vox's blog pops up and the rabbits can say, "See? We're right he's a racist dipshit just like Scalzi and Jemisin said!"

Blogger Thordaddy January 06, 2015 6:17 PM  

No silly rabbits...

"You" were born as white males DESTINED to become anti-white Supremacists...

"You" ARE "here."

Where even an explicit appeal for "you" to be what you are not actually supposed to be gets transmogrified into turning "you" into WHAT "YOU" ALREADY ARE...

There is no trick...

"You" WANT TO BE an anti-white Supremacist BECAUSE "you" desire perpetual self-annihilation instead. And IF "you" actually rejected the self-annihilation of white males THEN "you" would embrace genuine white Supremacy.

Anonymous a troll January 06, 2015 6:19 PM  

and you'll see your comments disappearing from every Blogger blog.

I haven't found this to be the case. They diappear from here for a couple days. But no where else, and not permenantly here.

just FYI...

Anonymous tiredofitall January 06, 2015 9:03 PM  

"No silly rabbits..." - Thordaddy

You know what, fuck you and your supremacist bulllshit.

I'm personally tired of seeing your twaddle show up here and de-rail actual conversations so you can shoehorn in your supremacy ravings. No one here wants to read your shit, Vox included, or else he wouldn't have shortened your troll leash to five posts per article.

Why don't you take your shit to someplace that wants to hear it like Stormfront, or any of the other white supremacy sites?

Anonymous Isidore560 January 06, 2015 10:35 PM  

@Kull

Thanks fit the recommendation. I'll be looking for info from Smith.

My plan is to write something on the 12th century Reconquista- say 1114-1126 or so.

Blogger MidKnight January 07, 2015 2:29 AM  

@Agraves

When you read a book do you search out the "overall arc" of the story or do you want to be swept up by the story? How boring you are.

That's your best dig you can get in, one that doesn't even make sense? The two are not mutually exclusive. I was swept up. Many others were. You weren't. Tastes differ.

But you are forgetting how we got to "arc". You called a scene unnecessary. I pointed out that it fulfilled two purposes, one for the overall story and another for the verisimilitude of the world.

Here's the thing, even if you don't search out the arc and narrative, it has to be there. In most stories the characters start somewhere, do something, and end up somewhere. A "pointless" scene is one that doesn't fit into the sequence of the story, is irrelevant. It doesn't tell us what the characters are doing, or why. It doesn't tell us about the world they live in. Like a clip from the Care Bears movie stitched into the Avengers.

Or bolting a social justice checklist item into the story when it doesn't have any impact on the story, or worse, even undercuts it.

And you are right, half way through it was an 'already long book". When reading a book I am enjoying it does not occur to me that it is a really long book, thinking like that just reaffirms you are not really into it.

Nice wordplay. Taking "physically long book and making it "subjectively long because I didn't like reading it so it dragged on."

Clever. Except the part where you dodge the point being made.

So.


I took the time to specifically address your criticism of the book, especially th pointlessness of a scene.

You've simply switched to snarking on something else.

You've now decried it as "repetitive", "long" (as in wearying to read), and the characters so shallow as to be "one dimensional". And you have yet to offer an explanation of a metric, or "good" counterexamples.

Oh, and you attacked a book earlier in the series rather than the one discussed in the article. The one actually discussed has utterly fantastic (as in good, not unbelievable) characters - Larry has certainly polished his skills. He has earned his bestseller status (and yes, yes, popularity doesn't guarantee it's good, we know, we're all adults here, except the people writing like snarky teenagers) DESPITE not getting all the promotion.

So I insist. How are you defining "repetitive", and "one dimensional"? How do they apply to MHI? What are examples of "good" books that aren't, when measured by those metrics?


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