Appendix to my ‘The Hothouse and the Heuristic’ article


TWO QUOTED EXCERPTS FROM BLOG POST HERE: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/09/15/why-i-dont-like-to-negatively-review-other-authors/:

Above all else, I find it’s far more interesting to everyone else — and more constructive to your own mood — to put forth positive vibes into the world than negative signal. […] …negativity also has a seductive, multiplicative quality. It gets attention. In Internet terms, it gets “clicks” and it earns response. But that’s not always a good thing, and you’re probably better off trying to be relatively positive and further, writing your own stories than trying to tear someone else’s apart.

Point is, you write a bad review of someone’s book, how are they supposed to feel about it? The easy answer is: “They should harden the fuck up and accept it.” Which is probably accurate. But maybe they don’t. That’s how hurt feelings work — they’re not logical. You feel what you feel. So, you give someone a negative review, you maybe just burned a potential future relationship — and this is a much smaller community than you think. It’s still one based on those relationships, on authors helping authors.


1. Science fiction fandom’s fanzine community (for wont of a better word) refers to negative reviews as KTF reviews (i.e. “kill the f*&ker”). These reviews tend to pick apart the reviewed work, but also can contain negative opinions about the author. Many a fanzine book reviewer has insisted that their KTF review style forces authors to own their “mistakes.” This attitude, I suspect, is often used as a “reason” for pillaging a book (a/o author) when, in point of fact, the reviewer (consciously or not) seeks to be seen as superior to the author. There’s also the “fun” aspect (“I really hung that one out to dry, right?”). It’s always easier to vilify a thing or person when there’s practically no chance of coming in physical contact with either of them. […] KTF reviewing is, imo, another aspect of bullying.

2. As someone who writes reviews I have a basic policy… I review only books I honestly enjoyed… i also steer away from any of potential critical thoughts I have. None of these writers are honestly asking for my critical input and really what I am trying to do be writing anything about the books I do is to raise the signal noise to drive more people to trying out things I really dig.

3. Wonderful article! I decided last year that I would no longer review anything I couldn’t give three stars or more to because it is far more productive to promote what we love instead of bashing what we hate. The world is full of enough negativity as is. Not to mention good stories are subjective to the person reading them.

4. As an author, you have just as much right to express your opinion about a book, whether or not you like it. As a rational human being, you ought to be able to do so without being an asshole. That’s the magic of constructive criticism, which, I think, would have a bit more weight if it comes from a fellow author. If a review is just plain scathing, then that implies some sort of more personal hate is going on and just looks poorly on the reviewer.

5. I don’t mind leaving a *critical* review that points out the good and the bad, just as I don’t mind receiving critical reviews. But saying flat out “This book sucks” is something I just don’t do. Because, honestly, if it sucks, why am I reading it?


The Hothouse and the Heuristic

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