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Having pimped Vector, it's time to pimp the Strange Horizons reviews section (sh_reviews). This week so far: Martin Lewis reviews Life on Mars:
This has to be the Doctor Who effect: you wait ages for the BBC to produce a science fiction programme and then two come along at once. As well as Hyperdrive, a Red Dwarf-aping sitcom, they are also currently showing Life On Mars, a genre spin on the format that's the bread and butter of networks the world over: the police procedural. It's safe to say, though, that Doctor Who never contained the phrase "I don't give a tart's furry cup."
More controversially, yesterday Liz Henry reviewed Touched by Venom:
From the snarking frenzy that consumed the blogosphere in the wake of last year's World Fantasy Convention, I expected Janine Cross's first novel, Touched by Venom, to be a badly written, laughable book. Something on the order of Slave Women of Gor, perhaps, or at best, those trashtastic Sharon Green soft-porn books about blood-drinking Amazonian women who ride around on giant lizards and rape men in their spare time. My reaction to the bad reviews went a bit like this: "OMG, sex with dragons, guys with dragon-viagra hardons, probably so bad it's funny, I must read it!"

So I did. To my surprise, I found a thoughtful, enjoyable work of feminist speculative fiction. It is a woman's hero-tale, the story of a survivor; a true dystopian fantasy, and one written with an awareness of non-Western cultures.
Responses to that one so far spotted here, here (Cheryl Morgan, who thinks it's a thoughtful review), and here (Nick Mamatas, who thinks reviews has hit a new low).
 
 
 
 
 
 
Humm. What should I infer from the fact that I'm the only commenter to date on the Liz Henry?
That you're the Nicest Man in SF?

That's an awful cover on the Venom Cock book.
That you're the Nicest Man in SF?

No, I'm sure there are nicer people.

/nice

That's an awful cover on the Venom Cock book.

That's the one piece of common ground among everyone in this. Ick ick ick.
Anyhow, I'm not nice. I'm dark and mysterious and pissed-off and-

Sorry, stole someone else's rant...
That the teacup in which this particular storm is taking place is even smaller than anyone first imagined?
Why do I find myself wanting to read this book? It's going to melt my eyeballs I can just tell.
More reviews, to help you decide: one negative, one mixed, one positive.
This is my favorite review so far.
Did you read it Niall? I forgot
Did I read what? Touched by Venom? I haven't myself, no.
Yes, I meant the novel itself. I thought you hadn't and that your interest, like mine, was induced by Nick Mamatas's comments. The extract he quoted did seem ludicrous. But then sometimes being ludicrous is what you have to do to challenge the mainstream. For myself, I think a novel has to be bloody good to get away with any mention of dragons, let alone copulation with dragons. Suzy McKee Charnas got away with a novel about copulation with horses, though.
I'm practicing not taking SH critiques personally, so I'm mostly not going to get involved in this (other than to say that I could not be more pleased with the current state of the reviews department). But I'm actually -baffled- by the (by now common) implication that when we publish nonfiction that people disagree with it's because we don't -edit- nonfiction content.

Anyway.
Ummmm. At risk of being a bit off topic, I just finished this practical interview with Jeff VanderMeer about speculative fiction publishing.

I know most of the people involved in this Great Dragon Society Debate would be much happier reading about VanderMeer's books...

Cheers,
Jason Boog
But I'm actually -baffled- by the (by now common) implication that when we publish nonfiction that people disagree with it's because we don't -edit- nonfiction content.


Actually, I'm simply saying that non-fiction is being edited poorly, from acquisition through to publication. And this is hardly only a matter of stuff I disagree with; I just don't care to pick through two-three reviews a week that are horrible and certainly weren't edited by anyone who knows anything about editing non-fiction unless I am also interested in the topic otherwise. Venom cock is interesting to me; Australian fiction and the various neurotic complexes of Oz authors, not so much.

The non-fiction department would do well to learn the difference between a critical review, a review essay, and a feature article, as these halfwit chimeras are doing you no service.
One correction: Strange Horizons doesn't have a 'non-fiction department'. It has a reviews department, which I run, and an articles department, which is run by someone else. You're entitled to say what you want about the magazine's non-fiction content, of course, but please don't criticise both departments on the basis of reviews published by mine.