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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How to write a negative review

Now THIS is a proper negative review, of such quality that even the professional reviewer can only salute and applaud. An actual scientist provides the fake reviewers of Corrosion with an exemplary masterpiece of devastation in his review of John Scalzi's The Collapsing Empire, which he took the innovative approach of actually reading in order to criticize it more effectively:
A Slipshod, Incompetent Disaster

I gave this book a fair shake. While I disagree with John Scalzi on sociopolitical issues, that doesn't mean he can't be a good, or even great author. After all, I disagree vehemently with Margaret Atwood and Stephen King, but I consider them brilliant scribes whose works I adore. Unfortunately, "The Collapsing Empire" is a mess so wretched that I can't see how even Scalzi's biggest fans can defend it.

A major problem is the lack of logical sense to the proceedings. This goes beyond mere plot holes, although there are no lack of those. For instance, the Prologue features a ship mutiny. One in which the ship's chief engineer is murdered and there are plans to do the same with the captain and her supporters. Risky business, no? Not only do the mutineers face the prospect of armed resistance, putting their lives on the line, but they have committed a serious criminal act. Who is to say they won't be found out by an investigator? Or one of the many fellow mutineers won't blackmail them or squeal later on the others?

In other words, they need a damn compelling reason to mutiny. The one provided by Scalzi is that the executive officer leading the mutiny will receive a 30% premium on their weapons cargo by selling to the rebels of the planet instead of the government. Yes, you read that correctly. 30 percent, not 30 times.

This is absurdly stupid, the equivalent of burning down one's house because one spotted a spider in the bathroom.

There are other problems with the mutiny. Inexplicably, the ship has all the weapons stored in one and only one cabinet in the entire ship. Which is conveniently taken over by the mutineers. This is of course preposterous, and shows again that Scalzi has no clue about the military science fiction he writes about.

Oh, and neither the captain nor any of her loyal officers is armed beyond a single futuristic weapon that works inside of three feet.

With the mutiny proceeding poorly, Scalzi interjects with some long exposition. In the middle of the tense life-and-death stand-off, we suddenly get multiple paragraphs explaining the pseudo-science behind "The Flow". This completely shatters a reader's immersion into the story, and is done so poorly a fan fiction writer would wince. Scalzi even breaks the fourth wall, explaining to us about how things function in "this universe".

Moreover, this exposition exposes Scalzi as being as clueless about science as he is on military matters. Now, "The Flow" itself seems to be a rip-off of similar teleportation concepts from older, classic science fiction works like "The Forever War" by Joe Haldeman. But whereas Haldeman has a degree in physics and astronomy and writes credibly on the topic, Scalzi, a philosophy major, is hopelessly lost.

He tries to mask this confusion with meaningless mumbo-jumbo. "Topographically complex" is not a term, but word salad to impress laypeople with. And just what the hell is "metacosmological structure"?! Hilariously, Scalzi then throws up his hands and admits defeat;

"And even that was a crap way of describing it, because human languages are crap at describing things more complex than assembling a tree house. The accurate way of describing the Flow involved the sort of high-order math probably only a couple hundred human beings across the billions of the Interdependency could understand, much less themselves use to describe it meaningfully. You likely would not be one of them."

In that case, why not delete the previous section entirely? There are other absurd passages. For instance, the crew is told of the speed (a scalar) of Scalzi's teleportation mumbo-jumbo, but not its direction (a vector) or its acceleration. A high school freshman taking physics for the first time would be embarrassed for the writer.

Now, while I'm a scientist for a living who enjoys hard science fiction, there is nothing wrong with a science fiction author having a poor grasp of science, provided he excels in other areas. Harry Harrison is a favorite of mine, and the less said about his understanding of physics and mathematics, the better. However, Harrison avoided this problem by very rarely bothering with these subjects at all. Scalzi, meanwhile, engages with them and looks like an absolute fool in the process.

Even when it comes to basic human interaction, the mutiny is a failure. In this tense, life-and-death situation, the characters react with...snark. Consider this exchange;

“Eva Fanochi probably could have answered that for you,” Gineos said. “If you hadn’t murdered her, that is.”

“Now’s not a great time for that discussion, Captain.”

This doesn't exactly inspire a reader to care about what the hell ends up happening to the characters. After all, they themselves don't. Oh, and the captain wins by a bluff that makes no sense. She says that if she dies, her hand on a control panel will "blow every airlock the ship has into the bubble"? Sounds convincing, but what is it supposed to mean? And why would the mutineers, all experienced crewmen, fall for it when it's revealed to be absolute rubbish a moment later? Wouldn't they know the ship and its capabilities?

The following chapters I read, while not as error-laden, are still inauthentic and boring, when they're not vile and outrageous.

Other reviewers have noted the introduction to Kiva Lagos, a powerful noble who is busy either raping or sexually coercing a lowly male subordinate through her vastly superior rank. He begs her to stop. She doesn't let him. Lagos also swears and insults others constantly. One might think she is a main villain, but instead Lagos is a primary protagonist. Scalzi even called her one of his favorite characters ever. Apparently, behavior that would be considered sickening and abhorrent even in an unrepentant male antagonist is considered admirable and empowering so long as the gender is switched to female.

Scalzi tries to write cool, even female cool (which is harder), but it comes off as sophomoric and laughable when it's not vulgar and repulsive. We are also told that Lagos was pursuing (stalking?) this junior purser for six whole weeks. Men pursue women for that long, but women don't. Once her mind is made up, a confident woman would express her feelings long before that, and the man would either reject or accept her. Add "sexual dynamics" to the list of subjects Scalzi is ignorant of.

We are told the "emperox" Cardenia has to marry a member of a merchant guild. Why is she compelled to do so, when she is the most powerful person in the universe? Surely, it's lesser individuals and families that have to scheme and marry to accrue more power rather than the top potentate? I'm not saying there aren't circumstances where doing so wouldn't make sense. However, it has to be EXPLAINED. Instead, Scalzi, in murky fashion, notes it would be advantageous for dealing with the merchant guilds (why?), with nothing further.

Speaking of lack of explanations, that dovetails with the most startling weakness of the book. The complete and total lack of any description. We are told nothing, absolutely nothing about the physical characteristics of any character, including main protagonists Emperox Cardenia Wu-Patrick, Kiva Lagos, and Captain Gineos. Naturally, there is no description of any buildings, rooms, objects, or spaceships, either.

While I generally dislike voluminous, multi-page descriptions, favoring sparser brush strokes, one still expects SOMETHING. With nothing offered at all, these characters, and the story as a whole, become little more than an amorphous blob. It adds to the feeling that this is lazy, bad fan fiction.... Avoid this, even if you're a die-hard Scalzi fan.
While the book review is borderline sadistic in its heartless attention to detail, it is certainly informative for prospective readers, particularly when one compares it with a negative "review" of similar length, which is chiefly notable for the fact that the reviewer is as unfamiliar with Isaac Asimov and Foundation as he is with Johan Kalsi and Corrosion.

Ceterum censeo Tor Books esse delendam

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97 Comments:

Anonymous Longtime Lurker March 28, 2017 10:55 AM  

My compliments to the reviewer for this scalpel-like dissection of the book and its author. S stands for Scalzi. And S also stands for Specimen.

Blogger Phelps March 28, 2017 10:57 AM  

In other words, they need a damn compelling reason to mutiny. The one provided by Scalzi is that the executive officer leading the mutiny will receive a 30% premium on their weapons cargo by selling to the rebels of the planet instead of the government. Yes, you read that correctly. 30 percent, not 30 times.

This makes it clear what a pittance it takes to get Scalzi to sell out his comrades.

Anonymous JI March 28, 2017 10:57 AM  

"...her supporters." Of course.

Anonymous Chris March 28, 2017 11:00 AM  

I get the impression he didn't like the book.

Anonymous FP March 28, 2017 11:00 AM  

Come now Mr. Scientist-man, the meta-cosmological structure of sexual dynamics is topographically complex.

Pfft, everyone knows that.

Blogger Shimshon March 28, 2017 11:02 AM  

Relentless in its negativity. The blade is sharp and the carving never stops.

It's the yang to the positive review you posted recently about your own book.

Blogger VD March 28, 2017 11:03 AM  

You can just see Scalzi reading this review and thinking frantically to himself, "scalar? What the fuck is a scalar?"

Blogger Shimshon March 28, 2017 11:03 AM  

Perhaps that is John Scalzi depicted in the cannibal art behind John Podesta in the famous photograph?

Blogger Ainigmaris March 28, 2017 11:06 AM  

"Apparently, behavior that would be considered sickening and abhorrent even in an unrepentant male antagonist is considered admirable and empowering so long as the gender is switched to female."

Wow -- he just summed up the entirety of 3rd wave feminism in a single sentence.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan March 28, 2017 11:06 AM  

I read the Amazon free sample, got the chick lit vibe then dropped any intention of reading further. Nice to know that even the hag fag Scalzi cannot even do chick lit, but then again maybe his true audience is hag fags like the Wil Wheaton types.

Androgyny must be madness, man's job on Earth is to save our species from feminine anarchy but the androgynous places himself at the mercy of the whims of women's emotional state.

Blogger SteelPalm March 28, 2017 11:10 AM  

Heh, appreciate the kind words from Vox and other commentators.

While my review is borderline overkill in enumerating the work's flaws, it's only a fraction of all the irritating, weak aspects of the book. I had a Notepad file with reams of passages and observations, most of which were left unused. And I genuinely didn't expect it to be anywhere as bad as it was.

Anonymous kfg March 28, 2017 11:18 AM  

"Wouldn't they know the ship and its capabilities?"

So among the things that Scalzi is ignorant of we can add to the list that little bit of political theory known as "Dr. Strangelove."

Anonymous Longtime Lurker March 28, 2017 11:21 AM  

Scalzi is definitely not writing for an audience that is smarter or better informed than he is.

Blogger KSC March 28, 2017 11:22 AM  

@11
Please share more of them. That was the best part of my day so far.

Anonymous baron of urga March 28, 2017 11:25 AM  

What you are displaying here is a case of malicious manipulation of Amazon's user review scheme. You expect your fans to up-vote this review, thus pushing it on the very front, thus impacting the sales by having this negative review as the most visible, seemingly best rated one
At the same time you are linking negative reviews of your own books so that your fans can down-vote them and harass their authors.

Blogger Unknown March 28, 2017 11:25 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Ainigmaris March 28, 2017 11:25 AM  

I agree, more!

Blogger The Reactionary March 28, 2017 11:26 AM  

Meanwhile, Ars Technica, in its advanced stage of decline, has a gushing review, by a female (going by the name, Annalee Newlits, but the picture of the writer is of an alien).

https://arstechnica.com/the-multiverse/2017/03/the-collapsing-empire-is-rip-roaring-space-opera-with-a-conscience/

The fanboy support in the comments is STRONK. And they're crying about Castalia's parallel offering.

Blogger VFM #7634 March 28, 2017 11:27 AM  

"Topographically complex" is not a term, but word salad to impress laypeople with.

It'd be tolerable if he's talking about terrain: "California is topographically complex. Texas and Florida, not so much." Not sure how that applies to The Force, though.

"And just what the hell is 'metacosmological structure'?"

The cosmological structure of the cosmological structure, natch.

Anonymous Ugly Mind Babies March 28, 2017 11:27 AM  

"The Flow." Lovely.

Anonymous baron of urga March 28, 2017 11:30 AM  

Your work is pointless, as everyone will see that review in question is fueled by its writer's agenda as well that said writer is a Castalia buyer. Even with your frantic efforts, Scalzi is holding his high sales rank and is garnering further critical praise and promotion.

Scalzi Triumphant.
Tor Triumphant.
Cry more.

Blogger VFM #7634 March 28, 2017 11:31 AM  

"The complete and total lack of any description. We are told nothing, absolutely nothing about the physical characteristics of any character, including main protagonists Emperox Cardenia Wu-Patrick, Kiva Lagos, and Captain Gineos."

Not quite. We know Kiva Lagos has one helluva manjaw.

Blogger Brian S March 28, 2017 11:35 AM  

is it sad I'd rather read more of this reviewer's thoughts than the source?

Anonymous baron of urga March 28, 2017 11:36 AM  

My, why aren't authors of Joe Hill's high stature gushing over Castalia published books... Poor, poor Castalia.

Blogger Durandel Almiras March 28, 2017 11:37 AM  

@15 - Bad news Baron, Alt-Righters don't care about Alinsky Rule #4. Also, how is what you described equivalent to writing a fake review written by someone who has not even read the book? The truth, it isn't equivalent and therefore is not a violation of Amazon's review system.

I get that your side is filled with idiots, but most of us can see past this horrible attempt at written slight of hand.

Blogger Anchorman March 28, 2017 11:37 AM  

No author wants to see a review like that one.

Something tells me the reviewer hit on a lot of things the editor probably noted. He does use an editor, doesn't he?

Anonymous Black and Gold March 28, 2017 11:37 AM  

It would have been better had this been a verified purchase. As it is this review won't show up unless you specifically search for it. It's a shame potential buyers will miss out on this, because it might have saved them $12.99.

Anonymous Keeg March 28, 2017 11:38 AM  

It doesn't surprise me that Scalzi's latest is terrible. OLD MAN'S WAR is widely considered to be his best work, but if you look closely, it has several serious failings:

http://kentonkilgore.com/blog/2015/04/27/a-new-look-at-old-mans-war/

Blogger KSC March 28, 2017 11:39 AM  

@23
You realize endorsements on the back are boilerplate specifically solicited by the publisher, right? (Although since Joe Hill's latest novel sucked I guess I'm not as shocked as I otherwise might have been.)

Blogger Durandel Almiras March 28, 2017 11:40 AM  

Funny how unbelieving SJWs end up developing a quasi-religion of "if we keep lying, and keep the false narrative going, it will become the narrative." A faith that is the complete opposite of worshiping the Truth.

Blogger VD March 28, 2017 11:41 AM  

What you are displaying here is a case of malicious manipulation of Amazon's user review scheme. You expect your fans to up-vote this review, thus pushing it on the very front, thus impacting the sales by having this negative review as the most visible, seemingly best rated one.

You're projecting, my dear Baron. I'm not attempting to manipulate Amazon's reviews at all. I don't expect anyone to do anything, nor am I asking anyone to do anything. There are many critical reviews on Amazon, this one simply happens to be far more detailed, specific, and well-written than most. It is, indeed, the very model of an informative critical review, which stands in contrast to the silly fake reviews we've been seeing of late.

At the same time you are linking negative reviews of your own books so that your fans can down-vote them and harass their authors.

By "negative reviews" you mean fake reviews that actually are malicious, and in some cases, self-admitted attempts to manipulate Amazon's community content. I trust you recognize the irony of your complaint.

Moreover, if Amazon did not expect people to link to their reviews, they would not provide URLs to make it possible to do so.

Blogger VD March 28, 2017 11:43 AM  

He does use an editor, doesn't he?

The Hugo Award-winning Patrick Nielsen Hayden, no less.

Your work is pointless, as everyone will see that review in question is fueled by its writer's agenda as well that said writer is a Castalia buyer.

And yet, here you are crying and raging about it. What everyone will see is that the review in question correctly identifies many of the flaws of a bad, poorly-written book.

Blogger Jack Ward March 28, 2017 11:44 AM  

An aside. My wife, no Vox fan, unlike me, is getting real tired of hearing how much fun we all are having with the Vox blog and the trashing of Tor books. Though, she agreed, how could have that fake 1 star review have gotten through with Amazon especially with admitted illegal activities such as not reading before commenting and, then, I think it was, using a pirate site to read something of Corroding. Poor her. She just has not idea the fun she is missing. Oh, Amazon did something cute. They notified me of a major upgrade to Corroding. I suspected but had them up grade it. Turned out the title changed to Corrosion. Its ok. I had saved the original Corroding off laptop to dvd. Hee hee.

Blogger Markku March 28, 2017 11:46 AM  

We indeed changed the title to Corrosion, and made The Corroding Empire the series name. The empire is going to corrode further.

Anonymous kfg March 28, 2017 11:48 AM  

@31:

Your Post Truth meta-review goes with The Flow and is topographically complex in the meta-cosmology.

And the horse you road in on.

Blogger Jack Ward March 28, 2017 11:48 AM  

Oh yes. This long, actual critical review will go into the same folder as that real, and long, fake review. May have some historical [hysterical.. value some day]

Anonymous Bz March 28, 2017 11:51 AM  

I would add a couple of notes to this commendable, if understandably severe, review. Top three:

3. What shows this is chick lit is, indeed, the omnipresent "Flow". Since The Flow is disappearing, the target audience is presumably in their 40s. Cross selling opportunities with Bridget Jones, anyone?

2. I have come to the conclusion (see comment in nearby article) that the ending "-ox" actually modifies the subject to "furry larper". E.g., "snow leopardox", "emperox".

1. Given their unexplained power and social stature, should we ask ourselves whether Scalzi is woke on the "Merchant Guild Question"? Something of a bombshell in his circles, I know.

Anonymous al the alchymist March 28, 2017 11:58 AM  

One fake negative review will sure hurt an author who received so much media attention and is becoming a household name. Good job chum, have your doggie treat.

Blogger Durandel Almiras March 28, 2017 11:59 AM  

@11 - Steelpalm, great review. Thank you for reading it. I'd love to review it but then I'd have to actually read it (and give money to them), and I can't bother.

Blogger VD March 28, 2017 12:04 PM  

One fake negative review

It's not fake, obviously. Do you really think the reviewer simply made up all of the details he cited?

Fake means "not real". It does not mean "contra the Narrative".

Blogger Durandel Almiras March 28, 2017 12:06 PM  

What snippets I have read, I sometimes wonder if Scalzi is trolling Tor. That video of what might be a fellow Ilk getting Scalzi to sign SJWAL, Scalzi talks about his contract and basically acknowledges that Tor is screwed.

The Flow. His favorite female character is a horrible depraved male antagonist with boobs and a vag. Low on descriptions. Slipshod story construction. Poor dialogue. I don't have anything to compare his previous work to, but it just sounds like he's phoning it in as he watches SciFi publishing burn to the ground.

Blogger Shell March 28, 2017 12:09 PM  

I've never enjoyed a one-star review so much.

Blogger YIH March 28, 2017 12:11 PM  

While the book review is borderline sadistic in its heartless attention to detail,
You almost make that sound like it's a bad thing. When I saw this I already knew Wheaton hadn't read much, if any of this (his ''I won't discuss plot,'' was an obvious way to make it appear he had at least thumbed through a few pages).
From what I've already heard, I wasn't expecting much, but I didn't think it was going to be this ridiculous.
Oh to be a fly on the studio wall when Weasley Crusher is reading this for the audiobook.

Anonymous Darth Dharmakīrti March 28, 2017 12:11 PM  

@17

Thank you for linking to that hilarious piece, which had this gem:

But as Scalzi pointed out in an interview with The Verge, the inspiration for his thought experiment was a lot weirder. He was wondering what would happen to Earth's great powers if the ocean currents suddenly stopped and shipping trade became impossible

Forget complex analysis. Apparently Scalzi doesn't even understand how a ship would get from point A to point B in the absence of ocean currents. Holy crap.

Anonymous Darth Dharmakīrti March 28, 2017 12:13 PM  

Actual quote from the Verge interview:

"“So, what would have happened to that exploration, exploitation, and trade in an age of sail power if — for some reason not well understood by the humans at the time — those ocean currents just… went away?”"

My sides. Are exploding.

Blogger Ingot9455 March 28, 2017 12:14 PM  

I just wanted to mention that I laughed out loud when, in CORROSION, we encounter the 'Black Box' system of wormhole gates. The timing of it was so crisp as an Asimovian message to the reader that the exact details of this are not important to the story we are telling.
Exactly the opposite of what is described in this review.

Blogger VD March 28, 2017 12:19 PM  

"“So, what would have happened to that exploration, exploitation, and trade in an age of sail power if — for some reason not well understood by the humans at the time — those ocean currents just… went away?”"

Ye cats....

Anonymous kfg March 28, 2017 12:20 PM  

@43 & @44:

Is this indicative of the entire test, or do the questions get harder as it goes along?

Anonymous Jauffre March 28, 2017 12:20 PM  

www.amazon.com/gp/review/RMPCBK5PXGHMB

He has a history of attacking anti-Puppy authors.

Anonymous Jauffre March 28, 2017 12:21 PM  

@46

What exactly is wrong with the quoted text?

Blogger Stephen Ward March 28, 2017 12:24 PM  

@49 lol

"In an age of SAIL POWER, what if the OCEAN CURRENTS went away"?

Anonymous Jauffre March 28, 2017 12:27 PM  

@50

But starships can still travel without Flow, it is just that travel would be far slower as they can't go above the speed of light. Just like sail ships would sail without currents, it would only be much slower...
Nothing wrong with his analogy, I think that you are misreading it.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan March 28, 2017 12:27 PM  

Scalzi must then write for an audience that just ignores that little red light on the dashboard.

Prediction time, his little stunt of boobs on bois will start to draw the wrath of the more "woke" of the fems with real and dry vaginas in the pink scifi movement.

Blogger BassmanCO March 28, 2017 12:28 PM  

@49 Jauffre, you're fucking joking, right? He didn't say there'd be no more wind for sailing, he said no more currents.

Anonymous Jauffre March 28, 2017 12:30 PM  

@53

Read my previous comment.

Anonymous kfg March 28, 2017 12:31 PM  

"In an age of SAIL POWER, what if the OCEAN CURRENTS went away"?"

You could, for starters, simply plot a great circle course from where you are to where you want to go and have reasonable expectation of actually getting there.

In the age of exploration ocean currents were a great impediment and best and fatal at worst. After they had been understood and mapped they were used not because they were necessary, but because it was necessary to do so. i.e., they didn't take you where you wanted to go, they took you where they went, like it or not, so you had to account for them.

Anonymous kfg March 28, 2017 12:50 PM  

@Jauffre:

I understand his analogy. I understand how he used them. That doesn't mean he didn't say it all stupid.

Blogger Stephen Ward March 28, 2017 12:52 PM  

@51 Jauffre

eh. w/o ocean currents, circumnavigating the globe might take another 6 months. The only trade affected is trade between countries located on opposite sides of the great seas.

w/o Flow, travel between worlds takes generations for the ppl traveling. Millenia for those not. It's impossible. Any pan-galactic empire would die.

so, w/o currents, the world just keeps trucking. maybe they develop steam power or the ICE earlier. w/o flow? humanity reverts to isolated enclaves.

Anonymous DaveA March 28, 2017 12:59 PM  

If you're ever aboard a non-atmospheric spacecraft (the Lunar Module being the only real-world example so far), I would advise you to avoid fighting at all cost. To minimize weight, the hull is engineered like a soda can. It safely contains 1/5 atmosphere of pure oxygen, but any bullet, energy beam, or sharp object slices through it easily, and in seconds you're all breathing vacuum.

For long interstellar flights, the passengers must be kept in deep freeze, not just to conserve energy, but so that someone born halfway into a 1000-year voyage doesn't get the idea that if he rips a hole in the hull, Allah will send him straight to Paradise. It only takes one idiot to end it for everyone.

Anonymous kfg March 28, 2017 1:02 PM  

"The only trade affected is trade between countries located on opposite sides of the great seas."

The first measurement of the Gulf Stream, the most important current of Atlantic navigation, was taken by Ben Franklin on his way to France. A couple hundred years into regular trade across the Atlantic.

Blogger Markku March 28, 2017 1:02 PM  

To minimize weight, the hull is engineered like a soda can.

Which is fun for the whole family with background radiation.

Blogger Stephen Ward March 28, 2017 1:07 PM  

@59 kfg

I knew Franklin had measured the Gulf Stream, I did not know he was the first. Were ships using the gulf stream before that to speed up the USA to Europe trip?

Blogger Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus March 28, 2017 1:11 PM  

Topographically complex

Is it possible that he meant "topoLOGICally complex"?

Anonymous kfg March 28, 2017 1:12 PM  

"To minimize weight, the hull is engineered like a soda can."

So were 1960's grand prix cars. And they tended to crumple up and explode whenever they ran into anything.

Does he posit artificial gravity, or does he spin the cylinder?

Blogger Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus March 28, 2017 1:18 PM  

baron of urga wrote:Your work is pointless, as everyone will see that review in question is fueled by its writer's agenda as well that said writer is a Castalia buyer.

From the review - 93 of 101 people found the following review helpful

Compared to some of the 5 star reviews for Collapsing, on comments that weren't just one sentence attaboys:

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful


3 of 7 people found the following review helpful


4 of 9 people found the following review helpful

11 of 33 people found the following review helpful

6 of 21 people found the following review helpful

11 of 24 people found the following review helpful

Not only is this review getting a lot more attention, but it's having a much greater impact. Probably because people know it's not bullova.

Blogger Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus March 28, 2017 1:19 PM  

or does he spin the cylinder?

With an ENGINE! Science if EASY!

Blogger Stephen Ward March 28, 2017 1:20 PM  

"To minimize weight, the hull is engineered like a soda can."

Makes you appreciate Warhammer 40k starships. METERS of solid armor plating

Anonymous kfg March 28, 2017 1:23 PM  

@61: "Were ships using the gulf stream before that to speed up the USA to Europe trip?"

You can't use what you haven't mapped. And the important discovery was that to get back again you should sail south to the Canary Islands. That's why the Atlantic slave trade routed through Brazil.

Blogger Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus March 28, 2017 1:31 PM  

Shell wrote:I've never enjoyed a one-star review so much.

Know what's funny?

Someone would learn more science from this review than they would from Scalzi's novel.

Blogger Markku March 28, 2017 2:01 PM  

Space may seem empty - but travel for a hundred years in a soda can, and it's not so empty.

Blogger Russell Morrison March 28, 2017 2:04 PM  

@25: Anchorman wrote:No author wants to see a review like that one.

Something tells me the reviewer hit on a lot of things the editor probably noted. He does use an editor, doesn't he?


Probably vi. He's not smart enough to use emacs.

Blogger Markku March 28, 2017 2:05 PM  

Let's say we're traveling at 0.9c - snail speed as far as interstellar travel goes - and there's a meteoroid the size of a bb gun pellet floating somewhere. Wanna get shot with a bb gun pellet at 90% the speed of light? Didn't think so.

Blogger lowercaseb March 28, 2017 2:11 PM  

@20 Needs more fake laughter.

Anonymous Pope Cleophus I March 28, 2017 2:14 PM  

Who the f- is Joe Hill? For that matter who the f- are you?

A troll?
A wart?
A pimple on the ass of mankind waiting for your squish?

Anonymous kfg March 28, 2017 2:16 PM  

"Wanna get shot with a bb gun pellet at 90% the speed of light?"

Without armor (a denim jacket) I'm out at about 100m/s.

Blogger Markku March 28, 2017 2:22 PM  

Without armor (a denim jacket) I'm out at about 100m/s.

And remember that kinetic energy increases with velocity SQUARED. That'll give you some idea about how much armor you'd need for just encountering one tiny, BB pellet sized meteoroid in the entire hundred or thousand year trip.

Blogger Markku March 28, 2017 2:27 PM  

For comparsion, if you spend one night watching the sky, you'll probably see dozens of shooting stars.

Anonymous b March 28, 2017 2:29 PM  

Ya know, statistically speaking, it is more likely that Scalzi is secretly in cahoots with VD to bring down Tor than that he is making his best effort with Tor.

Blogger Roger G2 March 28, 2017 2:30 PM  

Scalzi: "I think I'll read this negative review from start to finish-heck, I might learn something."

"...while I disagree with Scal-"

Scalzi: "nope, this guy is obviously an altRight troll, more likely a paid minion of that damn VD."

Anonymous b March 28, 2017 2:31 PM  

otoh, if that is his best effort..... yeesh

Blogger tuberman March 28, 2017 2:57 PM  

Thanks SteelPalm, not overkill.

Blogger Francis Parker Yockey March 28, 2017 3:25 PM  

@SteelPalm

Nicely done. Well-written, calm, clearly links each point to the actual text.

Blogger Koanic March 28, 2017 5:12 PM  

I'm not sure which is worse, "the Flow" or "the Interdependency". If I need to murder someone painfully with my bare hands, I will read Scalzi's free sample first.

Blogger Timmy3 March 28, 2017 6:52 PM  

That's not a review. It's a murder. Even bad books don't have to be reviewed so nastily. So may it is a sociopolitical blowback. Someone who don't get life can't get fiction right either.

Anonymous Tanjil Bren March 28, 2017 8:04 PM  

I blame his editor.

Anonymous Jack Amok March 28, 2017 8:38 PM  

If ocean currents suddenly stopped, it would have way more impact on agriculture than sailing ships. Yet another entry in the long, long list of things Scalzi doesn't understand.

Blogger SQT March 28, 2017 9:59 PM  

Speaking of Scalzi and bad writing... irony alert.

http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/books/john-scalzi-the-collapsing-empire-1046705.html

Anonymous A.B. Prosper March 28, 2017 10:01 PM  

I can forgive crap physics with some effort but from what the previews say, the book has a bad case of that's not how people work. That I can't read.

Not a surprise though I got a lesser version of that gamma vibe from "Name of the Wind" but to defend Rothfuss, that was at least entertaining and had some good minor characters and a fun magic system

Anonymous Shut up rabbit March 29, 2017 5:28 AM  

baron of urga wrote:My, why aren't authors of Joe Hill's high stature gushing over Castalia published books... Poor, poor Castalia.

Yeah, Steven King's son - why don't the beneficiaries of traditional publishing and nepotism support Castalia House? Imagine having to rely on your own abilities to succeed when you can just pay someone famous because of who their parents are to say nice things about you.

I look forward to Chelsea Clinton's 5-star review of "The Failing Empire" and maybe a back cover blurb from the Kardashians...

Leftards, relying on the reputations of the gatekeepers since time immemorial.

Anonymous Shut up rabbit March 29, 2017 5:39 AM  

Darth Dharmakīrti wrote:Actual quote from the Verge interview:



OMFG - not understanding some nuances of graduate level physics could be overlooked but not knowing how water works? Nor sailing?

I used to think this guy was awful but with some kind of low cunning he used to exploit the system in a selfish manner - after reading this he is clearly retarded and I have no idea how he arrived where he is.

He seem more like the totem cripple on the lead boat in "The Camp of the Saints" leading the vanguard of degenerate filth.

Anonymous Mr. Rational March 29, 2017 1:18 PM  

Markku wrote:That'll give you some idea about how much armor you'd need for just encountering one tiny, BB pellet sized meteoroid in the entire hundred or thousand year trip.
Send something across a multi-Tesla magnetic field at that speed, and the v⨯B electric field will rip it apart by separation of charges.  The resulting plasma is easily deflected by the same field.

if you spend one night watching the sky, you'll probably see dozens of shooting stars.
Interstellar space is a much emptier place than the inner solar system.

Blogger Markku March 29, 2017 2:10 PM  

Interstellar space is a much emptier place than the inner solar system.

Sure, but not so much emptier that it would compensate the difference between one night, and the time required for interstellar travel without warp drive. We would indeed need some kind of shield technology for it to become even remotely possible. The more traditional armor we put on the ship, the heavier it becomes, the slower we have to travel, and the more background radiation we absorb.

Blogger Jose March 29, 2017 3:38 PM  

I don't get why this negativity. The book was pretty good, creative ideas and tight prose. As for Mr Johan Kalsi being a Finnish Marine, that's clearly a lie, because Finland doesn't have Marines: its naval fusiliers are known as Coastal Hunters. Anyone who served would have known that.

Blogger Markku March 29, 2017 3:54 PM  

because Finland doesn't have Marines

You could quibble over whether it should be capitalized, but otherwise this is incorrect.

https://infogalactic.com/info/Marines

Finland

The Finnish Uusimaa Brigade (Swedish: Nylands Brigad) in Ekenäs is a marine infantry unit of the Finnish Navy and trains the Finnish Navy's Coastal Jaegers. The detachment is the only Swedish-speaking unit in the Finnish Defence Forces.

Blogger JP March 30, 2017 12:53 PM  

Oh man, I left that sight years ago because it was obvious it was getting too lefty-biased. Argue a point politely and get mass downvotes or hidden as spam. It's a shame too; they used to have quality tech articles, but even those started to decline. A perfect example of conference in action.

Blogger JP March 30, 2017 1:12 PM  

There's no kill like overkill!

Blogger Thucydides March 30, 2017 8:27 PM  

Perhaps sadly, almost every element in the critical review in the OP applies to "Old Man's War", the very book which made Scalzi a "name" author.

You really have to ask WTF? happened to bring such an author to prominence. Weirdly, I think I do know. In Ayn Rand's book "Atlas Shrugged" there is a scene where an appalling playwright reads through his latest work, and a senior and very well respected reviewer declares he will proclaim it to be a "great work", because why should just anyone's opinion count?

As for then use of language to do anything better than building a tree house, I invite readers to go to http://www.castaliahouse.com/how-to-build-a-treehouse/ if they have not done so already. John C Wright demonstrates how language is to be used by a master.

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