Mixed Reviews and Why We Ask For People to Leave Reviews

So far, reviews for our 7th issue have been somewhat mixed. Mostly positive, but still mixed.

Tangent Online’s reviews of Cirsova have been a bit of a crapshoot, depending largely on which reviewer ends up with a copy. Some of their reviewers have loved us, while others, like in the case of our latest issue, have been dismissive of us as ‘pulp’ with the ‘if you like that sort of thing’.

Jon Mollison has been doing a story-by-story review of the issue, and it’s been fairly positive so far.

Fletcher Vredenburgh gives this issue a tough, but fair, review as probably his least favorite of our run. Fletch was one of our earliest supporters outside of our immediate circles and given us great reviews in the past, so his criticisms of our new directions are ones we’ll seriously consider. But he’s also more a Sword & Sorcery guy, so his bias against Raygun Romance and Sword & Planet will be weighted accordingly.

Honestly, my growing bored with straight-up Sword & Sorcery may have adversely affected my story selections of those pieces that would best appeal to that crowd. The truth is, I’m not sure what direction I want to go yet in the future. 2018 will be sort of a “throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks” year for us. Not that I’m trying to break the mold, but I wanted to try some new things. Downside to all of the stories being a lock for the year, I’m not going to be able to make any mid-year course corrections.

Still, the only way we’ll be able to improve things or keep doing whatever it is you’re enjoying is if you leave us review!

I’m not harping on this cuz “muh algorithm”; I genuinely want to know what you guys think. Whose stories do you want more of (sorry, I can’t just beat stories out Schuyler Hernstrom), and whose stories just don’t work for you? Are there characters you want to back? Are there series you’ve gotten bored with? Let us know!

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12 responses to “Mixed Reviews and Why We Ask For People to Leave Reviews

  1. To be honest, I haven’t gotten to do much recreational reading lately, including the issues of Cirsova that I have saved on my tablet. But I did start digging into Issue Two just last night!

    And I am looking for short fiction fun for that very reason: I’m too damn busy for most long stuff right now.

    While some other folks might like the same very niche genre over and over in every issue, I’m not one of them. I like variety. I don’t want just Conan-style stories all the time, or just space opera, or even just broad fantasy or broad SF. I like variety! And if I can get that in one easy to find magazine, I don’t have to go find multiple mags to try and follow.

    Of course nothing is a one-stop, never need any other source place to find the escapism I need, but I certainly like finding a grab bag that surprises me with each new story and gives me something new every time I dig in to read.

    So as far as I’m concerned, keep surprising me. Keep taking risks. If I want straight (fill in the blank) I can get there elsewhere. Why paint yourself in a corner when you can have multiple universes to paint instead?!

    (I apologize if this comment repeated itself–had a log in issue…)

  2. How do you know you can’t beat stories out of Schuyler? Have you tried?

    I’ve only read issues 1-4 (I’ve posted Amazon reviews of those), although I have copies of every issue. I think I put my reading on hold in case I could get issue 5 in audio later.

    April’s going to be a light blogging month for me, but I’m hoping to put reviews of issues 2 and 3 up on my blog in May.

    It might just be me, but I’ve read two stories by Michael Reyes, one in Cirsova and one in Red Sun, and I just don’t “get” them. I’m missing whatever others are seeing in his work.

    • Audio books have fallen through for various reasons. Rights expired for 5 and I don’t see 6 coming through in the nick of time. Main thing is, we can only afford royalty-based at this point, which means pro-bono from our VAs, and we don’t want speculative work to interfere with paying contract work.

      Thing about Reyes is he’s doing new occult detective pulp… like, most of the stuff in that field is retro, with folks writing prohibition-era detectives having adventures with occult monsters, while he’s brought the whole thing forward–it’s pulpy and it’s technically a take on the occult detective, but it’s fully contemporary without aiming for the cheesy retro-vibe, in either setting or tone, most writers go for. It’s not for everyone, no, but it’s not the take you see on occult detective or “urban fantasy” that you usually get.

    • “How do you know you can’t beat stories out of Schuyler? Have you tried?”

      I’ve seen pictures of him with a sword. I’m not going to risk it.

  3. Okay, my thoughts: I think that the combination of the retro styling and heavily pulp inspired line made quite a splash. Everyone I’ve shown the physical issues to has been instantly drawn in. But I worry that the issues will start to feel the same and worse, start to feel like a gimmick. That’s not to say that the stories aren’t good, just that I think you’re going to have to keep upping your game.

    You’ve established that you can do Heroic Adventure, and I think that it’s important to remain faithful to that core readership. But at the same time you’ve got room to provide a mix of stories. I’d like to see more Weird Fiction, and New Wave inspired fiction, maybe even some set (*gasp*) in the present day.

    There are plenty of venues for Horror and Dark Fantasy out there, but in my opinion most of them run heavily to splatterpunk and nihilism/absurdity. I’m looking more for Frederick Brown, George Alec Effinger, Robert Sheckley, even Harlan Ellison–stories where the world is a little bit askew and you’re left feeling unsettled.

    Short fiction has always been the ideal medium for experimentation–not the pink slime navel-gazing “literary” stuff where nothing really happens, but solid stories told in new ways, set in new worlds.

    I hope this makes sense.

    • I have yet to read #7 due to an annoying backlog, but I do agree with Misha’s assessment. Keep your base of Heroic Adventure, but add other neglected styles like Weird Tales or non-nihilistic Horror. Your use of detective stories in #6 was a breath of fresh air while still fitting perfectly with what you’ve done.

      Just keep it exciting. That’s why the readers keep coming back.

  4. If you were interested in doing another themed issue some time, I’d love to see authors write stories set in something like Asimov’s Foundation series, but less the story of the empire(s) and more the story of characters trying to get by during the various stages of imperial decline, implosion, dark age, rebuilding, etc., with each author writing a story in one of the stages.

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