New Reviews:Jon Mollison and John DeNardo

We have a couple new reviews go live recently!

The first is from John DeNardo in his round-up of scifi short fiction on Kirkus:

Cirsova bills itself as a “magazine of thrilling adventure and daring suspense,” a sentiment that is embodied in its lead story, “Halcyon” by Caroline Furlong. The backdrop of the story is an interstellar war between humans and the alien race known as the Gorgons, ape-like creatures that appear to be ruled by a scientific ruling class. The setting is the planet Halcyon, where a group of humans have been laboring in the mud pits of an open-air prison. The point-of-view characters are the humans Marin and Siobhan, respectively a soldier and a scientist, who make a daring escape in the opening scene. True to the magazine’s promise, the story whisks along from one adventure to the next as the heroes encounter strange beasts and unlikely allies in a fun, serviceable story reminiscent of the science fantasy planetary adventures of yesteryear.

We’ll take “fun” and “serviceable”!

Next is from Jon Mollison, who received an ARC of Wild Star Rising:

With “Wild Star Rising”, the reader gets drawn into the action one small step at a time.  The seamless merger of sci-fi and fantasy results in an epic conflict that kicks off around the time of the final destruction of Atlantis.  The points where spacefaring nations interact with the denizens confined to the bottom of earth’s gravity-well make sense in a way that most efforts to marry the two genres don’t.  The writing crackles, and the adventure leaps from ship to prison to outer space to back in time with a relentless pace that’s a joy to follow along.  New characters step on scene fully formed, and fully described for newcomers to the series, and Tierney doesn’t shy away from jerking the rug out from the reader’s expectations in a way that is both fun and inspiring.

There’s more, but you should read the review for yourself.

One thing that Jon notes is that Wild Star Rising is where Wild Stars really finally clicked for him–it’s interesting he brings that up, because what I told Michael after first reading his manuscript was that “this one makes the older books better”. Wild Stars is a pretty dense universe, and Book of Circles has a LOT going on for a comic. The novels are solid, but the media res and sequel aspects can be a bit tricky. But I really think that someone coming into Wild Stars cold has a good entry point with Wild Star Rising. Better if you have all of the books, because you can read the first half of Wild Star Rising, go back and read the first three books that take place in between, then finish Wild Star Rising.

You’ll be pretty blown away by it all.

The 35th Anniversary Editions of Wild Stars will be shipping out to backers around the end of September to early October and will be available on Amazon in late October.

Kirkus Withdraws a Review (and that’s a big deal!)

Recently, YA author Laura Moriarty wrote and sent out arcs of a book called American Heart. Its description:

Imagine a United States in which registries and detainment camps for Muslim-Americans are a reality.

Fifteen-year-old Sarah-Mary Williams of Hannibal, Missouri, lives in this world, and though she has strong opinions on almost everything, she isn’t concerned with the internments because she doesn’t know any Muslims. She assumes that everything she reads and sees in the news is true, and that these plans are better for everyone’s safety.

But when she happens upon Sadaf, a Muslim fugitive determined to reach freedom in Canada, Sarah-Mary at first believes she must turn her in. But Sadaf challenges Sarah-Mary’s perceptions of right and wrong, and instead Sarah-Mary decides, with growing conviction, to do all she can to help Sadaf escape.

The two set off on a desperate journey, hitchhiking through the heart of an America that is at times courageous and kind, but always full of tension and danger for anyone deemed suspicious.

Basically a story about how Muslims are people too and rounding people up in camps is a bad thing, probably handled with all of the nuance and subtlety of Margaret Haddix’s cheesy Among the Hidden series.  Not really my kind of thing, probably written as a genuine and heart-felt progressive kumbaya from a well-intentioned liberal YA writer.

Unfortunately, it was less-than-well received by certain individuals on Goodreads:

Jabba the hudge

It’s easy to laugh about this, because progressives have the tendency to eat their own–you can never be progressive enough to satisfy those more progressive than you. So, “ha-ha, look at the lady who tried to virtue signal and got dog-piled for ‘doing it wrong'”, right? Well, it gets more complicated than that.

Moriarty had submitted her book for a Kirkus review, a site that will write reviews for authors on a for-pay basis. Now, paid reviews are sketchy as it is, but this is gonna take the cake!

Originally, Kirkus gave a positive review for Moriarty’s book. It was apparently even reviewed by a Muslim woman who “is an expert in children’s &YA literature and well-versed in the dangers of white savior narratives”, and “she found that American Heart offers a useful warning about the direction we’re headed in as far as racial enmity is concerned.”

So, ironically, Kirkus has chosen to silence a Muslim woman because people disagreed with her review. They’ve backpedaled and thrown up this new review calling the book problematic.

Here’s the thing about reviews. Reviews are always going to be subjective. They are the opinion of the reviewer giving the review based on their experiences, prejudices and believes as they make contact with the content they’re reviewing. So, yeah, even ‘fuck muh whiteness!’ up there is perfectly entitled to her review and I don’t have any real problem with it. But if you’re a review site whose sole purpose is, well, reviewing stuff, then you need to stand by reviewers’ reviews. You may feel like you need to say, as an editor, “I don’t necessarily agree with what this reviewer said,” but to pull down a review and take it out to the woodshed because people have different opinions from the reviewer means that you should probably get out of the reviewing business because your credibility is shot.

More from Slate.