Monday 27 April 2009

The Wertzone: Plans, Thoughts & Explanations

Graeme's post here is interesting, in which he asks people what they want to see more of on his blog. It's an interesting post, mainly as it's not something I've massively thought about over the years. I post stuff I want to post on my blog and if other people like it, than awesome. My original thought on the blog was to make it a repository for my online reviews all collected into one easy-to-access space, and its subsequent very moderate rise in popularity has been a happy side-effect of that.

That said, I do try to break things up a little for variety's sake, if nothing else. I had a few book reviews in rapid succession last week, and now there have been a few computer game ones as well, and there's a couple of DVD ones coming up. I know some people out there only stop by for the book reviews and ignore the games, and possibly vice versa, so mixing it up is also good for them as well. I've also got some increased coverage of Transformers coming up (an article on the Marvel comics and some reviews of the graphic novels) which may very well bemuse those stopping by to see what the latest Richard Morgan novel is like :-)

Whilst I'm mulling over this point, this is also a good point to answer a couple of long-standing questions people have asked me irregularly:

Why no competitions?
I now have enough contacts at various publishers to start organising competitions, but to be blunt I'm not a fan of them. People like Pat handle them far better than I do, and for me they would be the point where the fun of blogging goes out the window and it turns into an (unpaid) job. I may revisit this point in the future, but for now unless it was for something very special, I'm not going to be running any competitions.

Why no interviews?
This is a tougher one, but again it's not really where my strengths lie. I'm not a fan of the stiff email-exchange format a lot of online interviews take and I'd much prefer to talk to authors face-to-face. Unfortunately, opportunities for the latter usually arise at publisher events when alcohol is on hand, and structured conversations tend to fall apart under those circumstances :-) That said, this is something I will revisit at some point.

Why not more opinions/articles on the latest hot blog discussion topic?
Specifically, why didn't I say anything about the recent queryfail/editorfail/racefail etc palava that absorbed a lot of e-hours? Well, to be blunt a lot of those discussions are completely fruitless. When you get people genuinely saying, with apparently straight faces, that writers should not write about people or cultures or genders they are not a member of, then there's not much point getting into a discussion with them. I'm also usually pretty late hearing about these topics and getting into them three weeks after they flared up seems a bit pointless. I like discussing news items and I like talking about reviews, things that are solid and can be discussed. I think there are more than a few of the SF&F blogs out there which get into these discussions regularly have a tendency to wander off into in-depth conversations about something someone you've never heard of said at a convention three years ago which indicates they might actually be a member of the Illuminati or something. Who gives a toss? I'd much rather be talking about the new Alastair Reynolds novel, or if Caprica is engaging in the issues of artificial sentience in a meaningful way (the answer to the latter, by the way, will be answered next week), or if Blake's 7 is a better space opera than BSG (the answer to that is kind of).

Anyway, just something I thought worth mentioning after reading Graeme's post.

Currently Reading: The City and The City by China Mieville
Currently Watching: Lost Season 5 (TV), Heroes Season 3.5 (TV)
Currently Playing: Mafia


Mulluane said...

But Adam, you just interviewed yourself! And did a really good job if I may say so.


bloggeratf said...

What about your view on say a theme in SF/F. I just did short article on torture and writing it helped me understand things a lot more clearly than I had before. From what you post it sounds like you are really doing a lot of this for yourself, so you might actually enjoy it as opposed to the standard review format. + It allows you to cross-link different reviews from your blog and bring back some oldies but goodies.

ediFanoB said...

Adam, I visit your blog like other blogs on a regularly base. And I do the same on all blogs: I pick and choose the posts I'm interested in. In case I have to say something I leave a comment.
Before I started to read blogs and so on I played games. Therefore I appreciate to read about games from time to time. Unfortunately there is now time left for playing. I have to decide whether I want to watch TV, read a book, read blogs, ...
To be honest there are so many competitions....

I like your blog because it is different from other blogs. You go your own way. The most important thing is that you enjoy your blog! Readers have a feeling whether a blogger likes his blog or not.
Keep on the good work.

Anyway I like bloggeratf's ideas.
It seems there are more people who like to read about "oldies" than I expected.

Anonymous said...

Yours is my favourite fantasy blog, and I think what I like most about it is that there's so much 'classic' stuff, not just the latest books that've been sent out to you for free and are usually mediocre. Most other blogs seem to cover these books almost exclusive once they get a bit of popularity. Competitions to win said books are even worse.

Also love the joint coverage on TVs, games, etc. I guess my two cents it, don't change anything! ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm reading you from Italy, and for what is worth you should know that in time your blog has become the first that I check every time I surf from into my sff bookmark folder, thus replacing other supposedly more successful places where one can find a lot of giveaways but very few reviews, which is what really matters, to me at least.
If you could only arrange some interviews once in a while, that would be perfect, but that's up to you I guess, if and when you like :)


Anonymous said...

I like most of your policies (especially no competitions, I wouldn't mind some interviews ^^)

that writers should not write about people or cultures or genders they are not a member ofYour ignorance is showing. :(

Anonymous said...

You could try making your blog relevant , review modern genre games , books and movies/tv

or you could just stop, because your reviews are a bit shit anyway

Gabriele Campbell said...

Well, to be blunt a lot of those discussions are completely fruitless.Amen to that. I'm glad for every blog that stays out of those messes and gives me something interesting to read while I wait for the storms in teacups to settle down.

Anonymous said...

These reasons are exactly why your blog is the only one I'm still reading (in the "SF/F reviews" category). No competition is something I really appreciate. I'd be fine with interviews but that's just not something I'm looking for.

Unknown said...

I like what you're doing. Your reviews are much better than most bloggers.

Adam Whitehead said...

"What about your view on say a theme in SF/F."

That's an interesting idea and maybe something I'll look at.

"that writers should not write about people or cultures or genders they are not a member of" "Your ignorance is showing."

I understand that wasn't the whole thrust of the argument in that debate, but there was a hardcore of people advocating exactly that, and taking that advice would effectively kill anyone's desire to be a writer.

"You could try making your blog relevant , review modern genre games , books and movies/tv"

I've been doing exactly that since the blog started. I reviewed WATCHMEN on day of release, been reviewing ARCs since very early on and have been occasionally dishing out reviews of new games (although with my PC getting a bit long in the tooth that isn't always possible any more).

"I'd be fine with interviews but that's just not something I'm looking for."

I would be interested in doing interviews if I came at them from a different angle. Maybe filmed or voice-recorded ones rather than just email exchanges? Also, I was a little bit disaparaging on the interview front, as I have done several in cooperation with Pat and others before.

Jebus said...

Actually yours and Spec Horizons are turning into my fave blogs lately, especially yours. I think stick with what you're doing 'cause it's obviously working.

I agree on the interview front as well, I actually can't stand those staid and stilted email interviews that use the same or similar sets of questions for every situation. I think a nice audio or video interview is much better and flowing - that recent one with Ray Feist on some UK site was much more interesting than other written ones with him.

Keep it up even if it takes Viagra.

Anonymous said...

I understand that wasn't the whole thrust of the argument in that debateThat's what disturbs me most in what you wrote in your post. What you take of from a fairly complex, interwoven and lengthy discussion about racism and appropriation in the SFF genres was only a straight man version of the most extreme anti-racist people? Dude, I didn't agree with what everyone said from there, but I would never misrepresent the entire debate this way. Given how typically misrepresented anti-racist positions are as too angry or too emotional (as they were indeed in this debate, and perhaps you missed it but there were some painfully ugly and sinister insults waved around); that's just Not Cool to do.

If you feel like it's too complicated for you to talk about, and that it wouldn't help, then do just that. Don't misrepresent what people said.

taking that advice would effectively kill anyone's desire to be a writer.Being a writer means being aware that your work will be criticised. Criticising a work as containing racist stereotypes is absolutely fair. Writers who can't take that kind of stuff without throwing a hissy fit and insulting their critics because their work was criticised should either not be in this business, or not posting their reactions to criticism in public and making an embarrassment of themselves.

Not to mention the part where the racism in the industry is depleting all the writers of colour's wish to write. Or read. And yes it does that, people have written about this.

Adam Whitehead said...

Maybe I didn't explain myself well.

The advancement of the extreme fringe in that paticular debate killed any interest I had in the rest of the debate, no matter that other thought-provoking discussions had been raised before that point. Trying to listen to the intelligent points of the discussion whilst tuning out the stupidity simply became far too much work, far too quickly, as is sometimes the case with these matters.

I think I may have also just demonstrated why I don't get involved in these discussions in the first place :-)

Anonymous said...

Maybe I didn't explain myself well.I see nothing in what you explained that disqualify what I said. You took a complex and deep discussion and chose to act as if only the most extreme people's opinion (and even a fairly distorted version of those opinions) were the only thing representing all those discussions and people. On the topic of racism and publicly in your blog, without giving any of your readers the capacity to judge for themselves otherwise. That's fairly ignorant, dismissive, lazy and offensive.

And again, if you don't take part in the discussion, then you don't take part in it. You just did, and you chose the pro-racist side. Go you.

Adam Whitehead said...

I think after recent events on a certain message board you know damn well that I am not in any sense a 'pro-racist' in any way, shape or form.

Anonymous said...

Great blog, don't change a winning concept. Or rather: continue doing it the way you enjoy most.

Pete said...

Keep up the great work Adam, the blog is great and one I visit very regularly. I like the reviews of all types of media, being a reader and gamer.
After reading your post I don't quite understand how anyone could consider it pro-racist. Your summation was a fair point about having to wade through piles of drek to find thought provoking work is not only boring but hard on the eyes. (I can only read so many comments in caps lock in a row.)

Anonymous said...

That's why I'm so angry to see you say that. That's also why I tried to explain to you why I thought it was wrong. I'd just have unsubscribed from any other blogger's feed.

Surely you know the difference between criticism as "what you just did was" and "you are a"?