Amazon’s Embattled Reviews Make Another Change

Amazon reviews are slowly becoming a digital battleground of the future. Or petering out as one, depending on you ask. However, whether it’s using Amazon reviews to “review bomb” folks whose politics other folks disagree with, or paying a click-farm in China to generate thousands of fake reviews, Amazon’s review system seems almost destined to be at the constant forefront of unscrupulous folks thinking “How can I use this to my advantage/other’s disadvantage?”

With that sort of activity going on (and the almost Hipster-ish dislike for Amazon now that they’ve managed to stand head and shoulders above their rivals), it really shouldn’t have been surprising to me when a long-time fan of my works contacted me to let me know that they were no longer able to post Amazon reviews, and thus they wouldn’t be able to add their review of my latest to Amazon’s page for such.

The reason? Well, Amazon has a new review policy: To leave a review, you have to be a customer in good standing. You can’t have been spamming the site with reviews that are clearly fake, participated in review-bombing, stuff like that. But there’s another new requirement now.

In order to remain “in good standing” you have to be an Amazon customer, having spent at least $50 with them in the last year.

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Thoughts on Some News: Tor VS Libraries, and the Fantasy/Sci-Fi Relationship

Hey there, readers. I hope you’re having a good weekend! Mine is looking up. I’ve got some writing to do today (when do I not, right?), but before I dove into it, I really wanted to get a quick post up on some recent news items that have hit recently.

The first one is Tor’s (sorta stealthy) announcement that they will no longer be allowing Libraries to purchase ebook copies of their books following the first four months after release. You can read one of the first breaks about this happening here, but the gist of it is that Tor is no longer allowing libraries to purchase ebook copies of their lexicon for the first four month of a books release, their stated reasoning being that these library copies are cutting into Tor’s profits, and so they’re seeking to mitigate this. According to some, this it Tor ‘thinking about the authors’ and acting in their best interest.

Bull. This is Tor being, well, Tor. As some of you might know, I haven’t bought a Tor book in years. I actually boycotted them after the last book I purchased from them, an ebook titled Silentium, tried a different underhanded scheme, this one being cutting the last chapter of the book from the ebook copy and making it a “physical copy only bonus chapter.” If you wanted to read the end of the book, you had to either buy the hardcover or wait for the paperback!

This move? It’s that kind of thing again. Someone over at Tor seems to have a serious dislike of ebooks and those that read them, with this latest marketing tactic being their newest move to drive people away from them.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to happen the way they think it is.

But let’s step back for a moment. I mean, could Tor’s assertion have any real weight? Personally, I don’t really think so. It sounds more like an excuse to try and scrabble for cast than any sort of decision with real weight behind it.

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Watching the Hugo Awards Implode

Well, this is certainly interesting.

If you’ve been involved at all in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy world for the last few years, you’ve more than likely heard of the Hugo Awards, Worldcons infamous “Best Science-Fiction and Fantasy” award that’s been of more and more dubious quality over the last decade-plus. Which culminated in a social movement to try and wake it up that in turn saw the event show its true colors, with everything from mockery and public bullying (let us hand these “assterisk awards” to authors we don’t like) to witch hunts, statements about the ‘lower economic classes’ not being welcome, and even just plain reality distortion (‘A white male said this therefore—’ ‘That’s a woman, and they’re not white—’ ‘They’re male now, down with the patriarchy!’).

And faced with that and cries of “Go make your own Sci-Fi/Fantasy awards!” people did just that and left the Hugo Awards en mass. If, well, you can count what few numbers the Hugos managed to garner a “mass.” But they left. New awards rose up, and the insulars left running the Hugos and paying them any attention then, naturally, gnashed their teeth and threw little tantrums that how dare anyone try and compete with their legendary Hugos (crud, one such individual even has admitted publicly to trying to skew other awards, just because they can).

Anyway, point being, what I guessed would happen a few years ago (The Ent March) seems to have happened. The public was woken up by the Hugos antics. And guess what? They left. The Hugo Awards are down at low, low voting numbers once again while other awards that aren’t as staffed by the socially virulent are picking up the slack.

Which leads us to today, and what’s happened to Worldcon and the Hugos now that they got exactly what they wanted: Their own exclusive, tiny clique with no outside interference. Where they’re free of all the social injustices and “bigotries” of non-trufans. They got what they wanted.

Problem is … they can’t handle that.

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Op-Ed – Giving Star Wars: The Last Jedi a Second Chance

So about two weeks ago I wrote a post concerning some of The Last Jedi‘s flaws and how they could have been fixed.

Suffice it to say that some disagreed with my view on things. One reader, in particular, made a long, lengthy, passionate comment about how I was incorrect, and how they felt I needed to go back and give things a second look.

So you know what? I did. And I went all in.

First, I sat down and watched The Empire Strikes back. Oft regarded as the series’ best film, ESB is usually the golden standard of “Hey, this is a great Star Wars flick.” To the degree that the director of TLJ has stated many times that TLJ was to be compared to ESB, both in tone and in what it did for the series. Many have made the case that if one wanted to criticize TLJ, they needed to do so through the lens of ESB, based on the director’s comments.

So I did. I sat down and watched ESB, enjoying it, and then I switched to TLJ, coming at it anew with what I’d just seen and the admonition from said reader that it deserved a second chance. And, by the end, I’d reached a new conclusion.

The Last Jedi is even worse than I’d thought.

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Tighten the Belt

So, continuing the week-long run of “I’ve got news and stuff to say!” here we are at Wednesday. And, to no one’s surprise, there’s still stuff going on.

So, today’s post? A financial update. Effectively, I’m tightening my belt and going into drought mode.

Why? Simple. The part-time job I have has hit some dry spells in these summer months. Said part-time job already cut corners where it could, but now that we’re in the realm of little business for the next month, that means fewer hours for everyone. Fewer hours means less pay and, well … yeah, a tighter belt for the month. And odd gigs around town.

The interesting bit about this is that Shadow of an Empire launched just around the time everything started to slow down. And while Shadow of an Empire‘s launch wasn’t as strong as Colony‘s (the Sci-Fi Epic continues to wear the crown) it was strong, and as of right now has left a longer-lasting tail.

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Op-Ed: Fixing One Small Part of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

And with that title, I already feel the eyes of the internet upon me. Which is kind of the point. I wouldn’t be posting this otherwise.

Plus, it’s my website. I can post what I want. So there (despite a few internet commentators who have actually posted, in pure seriousness, the XKCD strip about “being shown the door” regarding content on my own website, without any trace of irony or acknowledgement of the ridiculousness of their demands).

Enough navel-gazing. This editorial is about The Last Jedi, specifically about what went wrong with one small part of it, and how it could have been fixed.

Because let’s be honest: There was a lot wrong with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It definitely wasn’t Star Wars Holiday Special levels of bad, but at the same time … Well, let’s just say there were a lot of Star Wars fans out there who had thought that they’d never seen anything in the series that could possibly perform worse than the prequels.

Yeah, talking about something that didn’t work in The Last Jedi is easier than shooting fish in a barrel. Suffice it to say, its creators pretty much set the bar about as low as it could possibly be set without reaching Holiday Special levels. I remember seeing Facebook and Twitter posts from people I knew, dedicated fans, talking about how they’d gone back and seen it a second time, hoping they’d missed something critical the first time around.

Yeah, you’ve probably seen some measure of this controversy. Personally? It’s not at all without merit. The Last Jedi kind of came across as a film that didn’t understand what Star Wars was about past the visual element. And sure, we got some great scenes—the battle with Snoke’s Praetorian Guard is a six-minute slug-fest that is absolutely one of the more fantastic Star Wars fights—but we also got some stuff that really dropped hard.

One of these, which I want to talk about today, is Finn’s butchered character arc. Actually, butchered isn’t the proper term. More … grossly mishandled character arc.

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The Cycle Begins Anew

This one might be a little … scattered. Why? Well, I just got back from the dentist.

hate going to the dentist. Nothing against dentists, actually; they’re some of the kinder doctors I know. And it’s not because I’ve had a traumatic experience in my past or have horrible dental problems (I take meticulous care of my teeth because I don’t like the dentist). I just have a weird, paranoid, irrational fear of people messing with my teeth.

Weird, right? Go figure. I know it’s irrational, but that doesn’t stop my body from flooding me with enough adrenaline that my hands shake during a checkup. Those poor dentists. I put on some tunes and zone out as best I can, but even then they can tell I don’t want to be there.

Point being, I’m coming off an adrenaline rush right now. Which is fitting. Because coming off of a book launch feels a little similar in a lot of ways. Just … more spread out.

So then, how is Shadow of an Empire doing? Well … it’s doing pretty well.

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