Part three of this thread which continues from HERE. (Part one HERE.)

Further discussion will hopefully be made in the comment stream below. Everyone is welcome to contribute on any aspect of book reviewing controversies.

41 thoughts on “*

  1. I wrote below in the context here today: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/this-thing-called-literature-andrew-bennett-nicholas-royle/

    “Now – something where I disagree with this book. They encourage brainstorming when reviewing a fiction book. But then they say one should tidy it up and make it appear less haphazard, more argued as if you know what you are talking about. Well, I think there can be something valuable and revelatory in leaving your real-time thoughts written as you first write them. Those thoughts must be expressed carefully, I agree, and they must be based on the ‘truth’ of what you read and of what you feel about that reading. By revising it later you may be inadvertently destroying germs of that ‘truth’.
    I think this book is advice to students and how to present considered academic essays as a result of previous brainstorming. My dreamcatchers and gestalt real-time reviews stand or fall in the cut and thrust of social media and blogs. If many of us do this dreamcatching about a specific fiction book we can increasingly ‘triangulate’ that book’s ‘truth’…”

  2. Fantasy or not?
    Regarding ‘The Buried Giant’ by Kazuo Ishiguro, I think I know what is happening, at least as long as I remember it happening. Methodical, almost Quixotic, interactions, like a stylised dance of tactics, as Axl and Beatrice travel through unspoilt woodland with Edwin and an assumed Warrior friend, then meeting an Arthurian knight in a clearing. Interactions with a conspiracy of others who seem not to understand their own conspiracy. Swordfight, and talk of a she-dragon and of King Arthur himself, none of which may actually exist or have existed even though they are believed to exist or have existed. This belief by the characters is not fantasy within the context of the time in which they live. It is only if the reader believes or disbelieves it that makes it fantasy or not. There is a controversy going on today outside of this book about this book, some claiming it is fantasy, others that it is not fantasy, many making value judgements on whether it is or is not fantasy or whether fantasy itself has any value. Such a controversy seems to suit the book about which it is controversial, another Quixotic dance of tactics? The Intentional Fallacy holds *me* steady, at least. Irrespective, this continues to be a compelling read.

    My ongoing real time review of this book: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/the-buried-giant-kazuo-ishiguro/

  3. I have recently been intrigued by something called ‘Sad Puppies’ controversy about the Hugo awards. And an Internet fight over the politics surrounding the relaunch of a magazine called Weirdbook I was once in many years ago.
    Can anyone explain these issues?

    • Sad Puppies: right-wing writers and fans banded together to vote a slate of publications, editors, etc onto the Hugo awards shortlist. By all voting for the same things they were able to punch through the more diffuse votes of others and stuff most of the shortlists with their picks, to the embarrassment of some nominees.

      Weirdbook: David Riley was to publish a revival of the magazine, his distant past as an electoral candidate and more recent postings to a right-wing website were brought up, and the magazine severed ties with him. Then there was a row over how many people in the UK horror scene were happy to keep him as a Facebook friend, in particular Ramsey Campbell.

  4. “As there is no intrinsic virtue in denigration, the critic who resorts to it, should be required to pass a test of qualification and sensitivity, at least twice as stringent as that imposed upon a critic who loves. Normally, love is not blind but clairvoyant.” – Robert Aickman

    • Fascinating – thanks for linking to the thread. I think what makes Allyson’s approach to her literary feuds unusual is her insistence that something must be done. Most of us are content to fire off a few shots and make our feelings known. It’s a shame she has stopped using Twitter, because it’s perfect for that kind of thing.

      Copy and paste from Ally’s Facebook –


      Des Lewis Sorry that thread went that way.

      Like · Reply · October 2 at 12:57pm

      Laird Barron Sorry about a thread? How about being sorry for closing ranks around a person who persistently harassed and tormented a fellow author and went so far as to feature (in a story) the murder of said author’s real life sister who’d passed recently?
      I continue to be morbidly fascinated that Mark’s friends never preached peace and understanding until Ally defended herself against a campaign of harassment. Ah, yes–then it was tut-tut, can’t we all be friends? And of course, Ally’s recent explanation on the TLO board was handily ignored by most.
      You should be sorry.

      Like · Reply · 4 · October 2 at 11:21pm · Edited

      Des Lewis Not sure what you’re talking about, Laird. i have always supported Allyson in that row from years back.

      Like · Reply · October 2 at 1:44pm

      Laird Barron It wasn’t a row, it was bullying and harassment that went on for over a year. By all means, appear in a tribute to Mark–that’s supporting the shit out of her.

      Like · Reply · 1 · October 2 at 1:53pm

      Des Lewis I don’t think this is the place to thrash this out, but have a look at my input on the whole situation over the years. And are all 19 authors in this book subject to this criticism?

      Like · Reply · October 2 at 1:57pm

      Des Lewis i first met MS in 1986 and I am proud to be in a tribute to his WORK. Why wouldn’t I be? That has never stopped me, though, from criticising him in actions he has sometimes taken,

      Like · Reply · October 2 at 2:02pm ·

      Laird Barron Re: criticism: Of course not. I reserve my contempt for those of you who know about Mark’s bullying.

      Like · Reply · 2 · October 2 at 2:00pm

      Des Lewis I think everyone is aware of that situation, and I have no idea how the other authors view it. I know how I view it and I have always made my position clear. if you feel I was deficient on that thread, I can’t see why. AB made her point strongly and I made my own input that I think spoke for itself. But if I missed anything, I am sorry. I have not been so good recently keeping up with things due to my current medical treatment. But that’s not an excuse, if an excuse is needed, merely a possible reason.

      Like · Reply · October 2 at 2:09pm · Edited

      Laird Barron I feel you are deficient, full stop. I’ve said all I’ll say for now.

      Like · Reply · October 2 at 2:07pm

      Des Lewis ah well.

      Like · Reply · October 2 at 2:14pm

      Allyson Bird ‘And of course, Ally’s recent explanation on the TLO board was handily ignored by most.’ Exactly.

      Like · Reply · October 2 at 11:16pm

      I *felt* bullied by all that.

      • There’s a writer on Allyson’s friends list who I reviewed once, and I noted that the book contained a lot of rape. A month later a story appeared on her blog about the killing of a rapist called Stephan. Maybe it was coincidence, maybe it was writerly revenge, whatever, I don’t mind, better that than a punch at a convention! If I’d complained about it at the time, people would probably have been quite sympathetic. If I complained about it every time that author’s name was mentioned, every time they appeared in an anthology, every time I noticed them on someone’s friends list, and had continued to do so for the next few years, I think that would make me the bully, not them.

        • Thanks, Stephen,
          Just for the record, I have now discovered the original thread where the ‘Keeping Your Mouth Shut’ claims were first made public: http://www.knibbworld.com/campbelldiscuss/messages/1/2933.html
          I am not sure whether it definitely indicates that we were then assuming that Mark had hit upon the exact full name of Ally’s sister in his story. But we certainly were assuming this to be the case in the recent TLO thread where Mark said in his blogpost that he had been horrified he had got the exact full name correct in his story.
          Nobody has officially eased his concern over this, even now, but it seems very unlikely that he *either* knew the full name and used it knowingly *or* accidentally used it, simply because it is not the exact full name at all.

          PS Ally and I, since yesterday, are no longer Facebook Friends.

          • Reading back through a lot of those old threads, what I see is a great deal of social pressure being brought to bear on a handful of people who said (as they had every right to do) that they didn’t like a book, and didn’t think it deserved to win an award. Much of the later silliness (the story, the pseudonymous review) was a response to that pressure.

            I was just reading an RCMB thread where Allyson was demanding an apology from Mark about something, and Joel replied, “Yes, he should, but if he doesn’t then an attempt to pressurise him would drag in lots of other people and perpetuate an argument that should have ended before it began.” That’s been so true.

        • I don’t think his ongoing popularity has much to do with the quality of his writing, I reckon it’s down to him letting other people use it as a shared universe. The mythos has become like vampires, werewolves or ghosts, a horror staple. Only a matter of time before there’s a YA romance take on it! (Probably is already.) Most people will now hear about Cthulhu before they hear about Lovecraft, just like they’ll know about Dracula before Bram Stoker. Interesting to imagine what would happen if someone like Stephen King threw open the doors of their fiction in that way, if twenty years down the line every other horror novel would tie into the Dark Tower.

          • Yes, to all that. But I also think there is something acting through the conduit of the work of Lovecraft and Ligotti (whether that ‘something’ is real or imagined, but if imagined, somehow it’s stronger than with any other writers). I get this feeling, too, with some non-genre writers like Mann and Powys.

  5. For my Facebook ‘friends’, my views about using Ligotti’s Medusa from his story entitled The Medusa as the basis for the new image of the World Fantasy Awards instead of Lovecraft’s head HERE.

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