A little while ago, Mieneke van der Salm of A Fantastical Librarian fame asked if I wouldn't mind answering a couple of questions for her new Blogger Query feature.
I agreed immediately. I had already seen her interview with Stefan of Civilian Reader, and secretly, I was hoping she would ask. As you folks know, I talk about myself and my personal experiences here on The Speculative Scotsman almost every day, but always in support of a point, and the point had never before been me. In Blogger Query, however, the tables are turned.
One of the eternal book reviewer debates is to rate or not to rate? Where do you stand on the issue?
You know, I used to be militant about this. I was of the mind that a number, no matter how many or how few of them you had to choose from, was an awfully simplistic way to talk about anything.
The argument has always been the most important thing to me, and it still is: I’d much rather read about how a book reviewer formed an opinion than look at a number and be done with it. And that’s one of the risks, isn’t it? That you see a 5 or 6 or a 7 – not that there are terribly many of those (though that’s a whole other discussion) – and think... well why bother?
Ratings used to really rub me the wrong way, but I guess I’m getting mellow in my old age, because I’ve learned to live with them. As a sort of shorthand, sure... though I’m still of the opinion that book reviews shouldn’t be written in shorthand.
Negative reviews, yay or nay? And why?
Oh, yay. Absolutely! There aren’t very many things I find more fascinating than a negative perspective – so long as it’s reasoned and reasonably well written – on some new hotness that everyone seems to adore.
In fact the very idea that anyone would say nay to the notion of negative reviews – excepting authors, given their intimate involvement – the very idea offends me no end. What could possibly be the problem with someone having an opinion that isn’t identical to every other opinion? That’s the sort of thing the world needs more of, not less.
So say you want to know about the role of speculative fiction in modern English education, or the relationship between blogs and readers and writers. Say you're interested in hearing how The Speculative Scotsman came about, or what I want from the future. Where before you would have had to bribe me with bookish delights to secure such insights - I kid of course - now all anyone need do is pop on over to A Fantastical Librarian, and read the most recent installment of Blogger Query.
Which, to be perfectly frank, you should be doing on a daily basis anyway.
Last but not least, do keep your eyes peeled, peeps, because I'll be following up on a couple of the subjects Mieneke made me think about here on the site shortly, including firstly - and foremostly - the fall of blogging.