May I direct your attention to this post over on John C. Wright’s blog? Take a moment and give it a quick look. Read through it. And the accompanying link. Okay, now you’ve read it. If you’re a remotely level-headed individual, at this point you’re probably thinking roughly the same thing I am:
I mean, let’s be honest, it’s been no secret that there’s been some pretty nasty stuff that’s gone on in the world of publishing over the last few weeks. Smear campaigns, organized and orchestrated so that a maximum of coverage demonizing a set of authors would be released all at the same time, most of it so outrageously false that a good chunk of the articles suffered retractions or even complete rewrites. The insular group announcing, in a fit not far removed from the preschool attitude of “If I can’t have it, no one can!” that they would rather burn the Hugo awards to the ground by issuing no awards at all rather than see anything they don’t approve of on the list (Brad R. Torgersen has a write up of that here that’s worth a look), and urging everyone involved in the judging process to do the same (on a side note, George R.R. Martin descended from his lone writing-hermitage to tell those people to not do that because, well for starters, its completely insane and only proves all the claims made about the Hugos right).
And now we’re down to this. Organizing a campaign to review bomb nominees because you don’t agree with their politics.
Putting aside that it’s likely not condoned by any of the larger members of the insular group (or at least, I would hope not, given what kind of activity this is), this is just flat-out ridiculous. Insane. Unethical. Dishonorable. Cowardly. And I really hope that the more level-headed members of the insular group pick up on this and react the same way.
This is nuts. And yes, I know the internet has never been one for sanity. This is a world where people call in bomb threats and get swat teams deployed others simply for beating them in an online game (Google “swatting” if you’ve never heard of that). A world where companies have entire divisions hired simply to try and keep the toxicity level down. A world where people will dare others to offer proof rather than doing their own research, and then when research is proffered, will refuse to acknowledge it. The internet is rarely a world for civil, mature discourse.
So really, book-bombing a collection of authors because you’re mad that they won fits right in with the rest of the toxic sludge that’s become almost the norm among the online community. It certainly fits right in with the aforementioned smear campaign.
That doesn’t make it any less wrong though. This is spite, pure and simple. Have I left one-star reviews for books before? Yes, for books I read and had real issues with. I carried no ill-will against the author. And although I have met authors that I will flat out say are not very nice people, on the one occasion where I’ve disliked the author but still read the book I still gave it a regular review. After all, it was a decent book, even if the one who wrote it was a pretty lousy individual in person.
I’m not even sure why I feel I have to explain this. In fact, I shouldn’t have to. This should just be common sense. Bombing an author’s book scores because they won a nomination for something and you disagree with it? Immaturity of the lowest level. Bombing their scores because you don’t like the author? You’re just being mean-spirited. Sure, if you read the book and found that it was preachy, opinionated, and generally a caricature of everything you didn’t want to read, then leave a bad review (which brings us back around to how this whole SP thing started and what kind of books were winning). But refusing to read the book, then slamming it with a negative review because you don’t like the author?
Utterly, completely, insanely, ridiculous.