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September 25, 2006

TAD Review at SFReviews.net

I noted the Publishers Weekly review first, but it's not out yet, so this is the first review of The Android's Dream that is publicly readable in full. And it says nice things about the book:

The Android's Dream reads something like an SFnal James Bond spoof by way of South Park. Scalzi isn't exploring anything particularly deep thematically here; the name of the game is satire, and he does some of the most spot-on political wit this side of the old British sitcom Yes, Minister... [it's] just the right gene-splicing of fast action and furious comedy SF has been needing for ages.


I'd also commend you to read it as an example of how to write a longish review without giving away too much of the plot; there are a couple of points in the book I want to keep as a surprise for the reader, and it's not necessarily a sure thing reviewers are going to keep those plot points under their hat. So it's always nice -- both as an author and as someone who reviews things -- to see people making an effort to let surprises stay surprises while at the same time giving enough information for a useful review. It's a skill, it is.

Posted by john at September 25, 2006 02:24 PM

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Tripp | September 25, 2006 02:40 PM

As an author do you ever compliment (in private) a reviewer, or would that be seen too much as kissing up?

John Scalzi | September 25, 2006 02:57 PM

T.M. Wagner has been known to comment here, so he and I have talked. I've talked to other reviewers, and I've been known to chat with them about the reviews after the fact, including what I've liked (or not liked) about them. However, I do draw a pretty bright line regarding discussing a book prior to a review, and as I'm a reviewer myself, I take a dim view of trying to influence a review.

Tripp | September 25, 2006 03:14 PM

I'm sure they must appreciate the fact that you've been a reviewer yourself.

I know that, for example, in baseball the fact that I've played and also have umpired the game gives me a much better perspective when coaching. In some ways I might be a little tougher on umps, at least privately, but for the most part I am much more sympathetic to umpires than my colleagues are.

Lars | September 25, 2006 03:49 PM

I don't read a lot of book reviews, but I didn't realize that reviewers blowing plot points was such a big problem.

Do you think it's a real threat to sales?

John Scalzi | September 25, 2006 03:52 PM


No, I don't think it threatens sales. I think it's annoying as hell, however; as a writer you work on these things to give the reader a jolt and a shock, and then someone comes and gives them away for no particularly good reason. It ruins some of the fun for the reader, and in that regard I think the reviewer is doing the reader a disservice rather than a service.

Nathan | September 25, 2006 04:08 PM

I stopped reading book reviews years ago because of that very problem. Too often, I'd get to the end of the review and think, "Not much reason to read the book now".

I'm sure I miss a lot of good reads (and read a lot of drek, too), but at least I know the story will unfold for me as the author intended.

Jenny Rae Rappaport | September 25, 2006 05:46 PM

Actually, the PW review is up and posted for the week of 9/25/06. I just read it this morning on their website... I don't subscribe to the magazine, but getting PW Daily lets me read the current reviews during the week they're printed.

(Why that works, I'm not sure, since according to their help it shouldn't, but I'm not arguing.)

emeraldcite | September 25, 2006 07:02 PM

I try to skim the middle of reviews that give away plot points. I'm usually more interested in the beginning and end of a review than when they summarize the contents. I guess I like to read generalized reactions.

Sometimes, it seems that reviewers are having conversations with themselves at a book club meeting where they're the only member.

I try to avoid those reviews. :)

Randy | September 26, 2006 09:32 AM

OK, so, I'm on board. I'v reserved "The Android's Dream" at the Library. I'm #1 on the list.

(Please don't be offended that I use the library instead of purchasing books. With 2 small children, life is expensive enough.)

John Scalzi | September 26, 2006 09:33 AM

Damn you, Randy! Damn you to hell!

No worries. I'm a fan of libraries.

AliceB | September 26, 2006 09:57 AM

Actually, what Randy did was brilliant. By reserving the book, the library is forced to make the purchase. I don't know about Randy's library, but in a small town like mine, that purchase isn't likely to occur unless a patron asks for it.

Off to make some library reservations of my own.

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