Tuesday, October 20

Here's a question:

What is it with people who feel they have to sign in to Amazon.com just to trash my stuff?

One guy posted a one-star review after reading LS&TSOM -- borrowed from a library.

I mean, seriously: People hate my books so much they feel compelled to register with Amazon just to piss on them. The very first review they've ever posted in their lives . . . just to talk about what a shitty author I am? Really?

Seriously: what the fuck? Did I run over their dog?

In view of the first couple of comments, I think it's worthwhile to post the following clarification:

I'm really not complaining about the shots at my own books so much as I am just wondering about the phenomenon. The whole concept doesn't make sense to me.

I'm hip to critics, and reviewers, and people who just want their opinions heard. I guess what I really don't understand is why somebody would even READ a book that they hate so much . . . unless they're getting paid for it, I guess.

One guy (I don't remember for which book) posted a lengthy review in which he was sorry Amazon wouldn't let him give the book zero stars.

I mean, holy shit . . . and the really freaky thing is, he apparently read the whole book.

I guess I'm just unclear on the concept. I get the whole contrarian thing, where you feel compelled to stand out from what you think is mainstream. But this just doesn't make sense to me.

It's like sticking your hand in a fire so that you can complain about how much it hurts.


Danny said...

Amazon one-star reviews tend to be some of the most hilarious tripe I've ever read. The reason I like LS&TSOM is BECAUSE it reminds me of a 70s science fiction novel and the characters are captured just as they are in the movies. It's a charm that many people can't understand, especially an average EU fan! These aren't guys that read Gene Wolfe and Michael Moorcock, and they probably have no experience with Daley's Han Solo trilogy! I'm getting a little long winded here, but what I think I mean to say is that they have no frame of reference with which to measure quality!

WarlordGrego said...

Dude, Matt, I'll give you some advice.

"Fuck 'em"

Seriously, You're the best author I've ever read. I don't claim to be especially well-read, but I do tend to get around. Nobody even fucking compares.

These dipshits who have nothing better to do than trash your stuff are losers.

Its symptomatic of the internet though. You give an asshole a forum, and he becomes a bigger asshole.

Don't take it personally. We all think you rock balls.

MWS said...

Yeah, thanks. I appreciate the support.

I'm really not complaining so much as I am just wondering. The whole concept just doesn't make sense to me.

I'm hip to critics, and reviewers, and people who just want their opinions heard. I guess what I really don't understand is why somebody would even READ a book that they hate so much . . .

One guy (I don't remember for which book) posted a lengthy review in which he was sorry Amazon wouldn't let him give the book zero stars.

I mean, holy shit . . . and the really freaky thing is, he apparently read the whole book.

I guess I'm just unclear on the concept. I get the whole contrarian thing, where you feel compelled to stand out from what you think is mainstream thinking. But this jsut doesn't make sense to me.

It's like sticking your hand in a fire so that you can tell people how much it hurts.

Matt Hughes said...

It is quite the interesting thing, isn't it? I don't quite understand it. Myself, if I don't like a book, I put it to the side or give it to my local library. I don't torture myself by reading the entire thing.

Now books I like, my wife forces me to put aside or I won't get any sleep.

Guy said...

LS&TSOM reminded me of the Silver Age of comics. I can't say they remind me of the Han Solo trilogy that Brian Daley wrote, which I've never read. Liked the ones A.C. Crispin did though.

I just read the review you were talking about, and all the other one-star reviews to boot, and it reminded me of the sites people have created just to criticize games/movies/television. I think some people just enjoy the attention. Some of these sites are actually pretty entertaining, but they put effort into it.

Nathan said...

Amazon's whole review system is a joke. Any time I'm interested in a new book, I make sure to click through and check the reviewer's other reviews, because chances are the reviewer's just a friend of the author or someone who's never reviewed anything else and whose review can immediately be discounted. And, yes, there are the types who feel the need to register just to tell the world how much they loathed a book.

What I don't understand -- I used to be a "Top 100" reviewer or some such, and I'd have a cadre of people who, every time I reviewed a book, would immediately tag my review "not helpful" to try to pull my ranking down. How fulfilling could that possibly be, to log onto Amazon every day just to vote some stranger's review "not helpful" regardless of its content?

Tom Dickinson said...

I heard a story on NPR's "On The Media" recently about how most star-based review systems (Amazon, eBay, Youtube) skew positive, so much so that it becomes problematic. I think the reason LS&TSOM might attract people of the opposite tendency is the stereotypical nerd vitriol.

A lot of people who read LS&TSOM are EU completionists who feel responsible for reading every single Star Wars novel that comes out, regardless of whether it strikes their fancy, as though it were somehow their job. And it may be that LS&TSOM was not what this guy wanted in a SW novel (since it certainly isn't like a lot of the SW novels published over the past ten years).

In other words, it's the same sort of vitriol that's leveled against the prequels and the Clone Wars animated series. Irrational it may be, but frankly I think it's a brute fact of the audience you're writing for, when you put "Star Wars" on the cover of a book.

That aside, I can only echo the positive comments about LS&TSOM, but I'll let that be, since you don't seem to be looking for gushing praise.

Josh said...

I only bother to leave reviews if I really, really like the book. If I don't like a book I either stop reading it or finish it, put it away and never think about it again.

PS: I signed up on blogger just to leave this comment.

PPS: Not really, but wouldn't that have been awesome?

Tim said...

It's just Amazon. The signal:noise there is insane. Just wait until someone there notices (or thinks they notice) your oppressive leftist commie fascist leanings, MWS. Then, oh yes, THEN you will learn the stupidity of Amazon users.

Also, they sell milk by the gallon.

Anonymous said...

Ha! Thanks to Josh for my first real laugh of the day. Much appreciated, sir.

And to Matt: I know how you feel. Google maps has a "Rate this Establishment" feature (I actually don't know what it's called). And employees from rival companies often create accounts, bash our store, then delete the accounts.

Some people just make you sit there and say, "Really? I mean... really?"

Casey said...

I am a huge fan of your work, and I have to say, LS&TSOM was a work of /art./ The whole point (or at least, the point I got out of it) was to pay tribute to classic, old school Star Wars, and at the same time be a fantastically beautiful work of literature.

Don't let the ignorant losers get you down!

Guy said...

I've realized I don't remember much of anything of nearly all the Star Wars book I've read. I've read the 4-5 Zahn books, and remember a number of characters but can't for the life of me tell what they do. I can only remember two things about Traitor, I only vaguely recall one part of of one book in A.C. Crispin's Han Solo trilogy...what the hell happened in Shatterpoint? What happened in LS&TSOM that made me think Lando was one of the coolest characters in it? I don't remember! Panic!

I just reread the Acts of Caine. Now I'm going to have to reread the Chronicles of the Force (which is what I'm now officially calling your SW collection).

@ Tom:
It's not vitriol bashing the prequel trilogy. It's just bad sport; it's no fun sniping the elephant in the room. :P

Michael said...

Just wanted to say I love all your books, I am a Star Wars completionist and I have to say some of the books from the late 90's were a bit of a struggle... The NJO was a big turn a round for the EU I thinks.

PS After I read Tim's comments I did go and check amazon.com for Milk. Expensive Ass Milk
I see Amazon in a whole new light now.

The other Scott said...

I hope you find an answer Matt, because it confuses the hell out me as well. If the book doesn't entertain, stop reading. It seems simple enough. But some of the reviews, especially on Amazon, it's like these people believe the author busted their ass writing their novel for the specific purposes of wasting their time or as some kind of specific insult against the reviewer.
I guess some people just need to be heard, and the only way they can be certain they're being heard is to be a big enough jackass that someone, somewhere comments on it.

Dan said...

So I had been debating on buying an old copy of Iron Dawn since I've loved everything of yours I've read, and had started reading some reviews from Amazon, but now I seem compelled to ask some real fans what they think.

Should I dish out about $6 of my hard earned money to get a copy of Iron Dawn?

Scott said...

Hell, maybe he's right and I - we - just have horrible taste in books. ;-)

Hey, if some people love your work and some people hate your work, you're clearly doing something right, right?

Guy said...


I read Heroes Die, and then the next book I read was Iron Dawn. It was funny when I read it, the writing seemed so different I had this moment where I thought "is this the same author? Really?"

It's a good book. I'd reread Iron Dawn or Jericho Moon again. Barra and her companions are great characters, and it's great to see a female character so well written.

Michael said...


Iron Dawn and Jericho Moon are great, I'd spend as much as it takes to get a copy if I were you. It takes place in the old testament time and Matt does a wonderful job spinning his fiction in with it.
If you buy it off amazon make sure to get a gallon of milk too

Guy said...

If you want milk, make it hemp milk.

Andy Butula said...

The Internet!
Because people stopped listening to you years ago in real life.

Some people just like to spew vitriol. The really good assholes know enough to finish a book before they trash it because of the time(s) someone eviscerated their "point" by citing their lack of complete knowledge.

Curt Long said...

It was probably that asshat terry brooks who was just jealous that you outsold his version of episode one.

but seriously the number of people who go through this life with the only intent of make others life's miserable have a special place in hell..

天星 said...

All I want to say is this, I hope all the Star Wars Novels are written by you, Matt.

Pizzope said...

Wait, when did your work become mainstream?

Knightfall1138 said...

I haven't read LS&TSOM yet, myself, but the bashing doesn't necessarily surprise me, considering the fanbase. It doesn't take a whole lot to get them pissed off royally. Like an earlier poster said, some people read these books as though it's their job to do so.

I'm planning on giving it a read soon, I just gotta get through the queue of books I have going on right now, including Heroes Die and your protege's book, Locke Lamora.

Anonymous said...

For a lot of people it seems like one of (if not the primary) perks of taking in a story is that after it's over they get to go back and specifically state, point by point, why it completely insulted their taste. You see this a lot in genre fandom especially. People hate the prequels, yet they seem to know these films on an intimate, line by line level. People think Robert Jordan is infantile kiddie crap, yet they seemingly have read each of his books and are familiar with every one of his hundreds of characters. Hell, I've even seen people call Gene Wolfe a terrible writer with practically no redeeming qualities.

I think the key is to simply try your best to filter out the obvious hyperbole when looking for real reviews and feedback. I know that if I didn't do this and in turn took these "Worst Book Ever" people seriously, there's no way I could maintain interest in the SF/F scene.

- Zach H.

Peter said...

What I thought amusing about the reviews was one one good review said you got the characterizations perfect, while another said you got them completely wrong. It is all in perception. Personally I thought it was a wonderful book.

Salt-Man Z said...

I've been under the impression that most SW fans absolutely loved LSatSoM. (Then again, I only lurk at TheForce.net, and not the official starwars.com boards.)

As for the "why would you waste time reading a book you hate?" question, I personally don't feel qualified to judge a work (be it a single book, or sometimes a series) unless I consume the whole thing. There are a lot of books where the payoff doesn't come until the very end. Sometimes the payoff is worth it, and sometimes it isn't, but you'll never know until you get there. (Of course, I do like to do my homework in advance, and only pick up books that I'm reasonably sure I'll enjoy.)

The Barra books are the only published Stover books that I haven't read yet (though I own them all.) Good to hear that they're as good as his other stuff.

Christopher said...

Opinions are like assholes. Everyone's got one, and they're all full of shit.

not that it matters, but Mindor was one of, if not the greatest SW books ever written.

Guy said...

Opinions are a lot like assholes. Some people get paid a lot to show them off, and more do it for free.

MWS said...

Guy. Nice one.

Rob Locke said...

The reviewer was just playing Poke the Bear.

Guy said...

I picked up Brian Daley's Han Solo trilogy today. I'm looking forward to digging into it. All three volumes in one. Had to pick up Shatterpoint again, since I think I actually lost that one PCSing from the East Coast to the West Coast.

I get some badass Han Solo, I get some badass Mace Windu, how is my week not complete?

Michael said...

Gods below. I knew I was a Heretic (huge Star Wars fan who LOVED "Traitor" and is really pissed off about the Vergere retcon they've done), but that's just dumb. If I don't like a book, I STOP READING IT.

Anyway. New blog reader, hi!

MWS said...

And welcome.

wak said...

It is probably the "tongues-in-search-of-rimjobs" as you so mildly put it.

wak said...

Alas, it appears I was mistaken; after actually looking at when the reviews were made. They cannot all be THE "tongues-in-search-of-rimjobs"; the description still fits well though.

There is the possibility that they are made up of (or are like) those Higgs boson particles and are able to post reviews in the past. This highly scientific conclusion was established on the basis that things "abhorred by reality" must be similar.

What escapes me is that a lot of them praise NJO+ for being so "like" Star Wars... while your book is not.

They probably think Dan Brown is the greatest writer in the universe (style not substance [I'm not a fan of his substance myself but I can see how someone who masturbates to the Illuminati would be]), and still read picture books like The Hungry Little Caterpillar or whatever it was titled.

IDK maybe they are so obsessed with story and continuity they forgot that fiction can teach something too, especially when it comes to delving inside the mind, which you are a master of.

Now I have to go write a five star review for the book from memory, the universe has to be brought back into balance.

MWS said...

Soooo . . .

It was you, then? I noticed a new 5 star review of LS&TSOM -- and then discovered it was somebody's first review. I was actually going to mention it in a new post . . .

All right, 'fess up.

And also: thanks.

wak said...

Your welcome.

I don't post reviews on Amazon, because the only thing I have ever bought from there is a computer cord.

I usually recommend your books to my... friends... on some forum boards, but I've been kicked off of all of them for being too disagreeable, so they'll never be seen again.

I'll have to review some more things, so it doesn't look too suspicious.

Katana Geldar said...

Giving bad reviews of bad books does have some sort of pleasure though, but when people trash a book simply for the hell of it...it makes you wonder.

One thing I hate is people who are resistant in reading new things because they are afraid of the effect of what they learn and it seriously rocks their boat to the point where they tell people NOT to read it. You don't have to agree with the premise of a story to like the book, I feel this way about the works of Oscar Wilde. The story is sometimes bad but it's beautifully written.

MWS said...

KG, you're killin' me. Bad but beautifully written? Yikes. (Beautifully written works for me, tho')

Not that I mind have Oscar Wilde's name coming up in this blog (since I've read most of what he wrote, and basically loved all of it, because, y'know, genius is as genius does, and all that.)

And, also, welcome to the blog, KG. I think you've not written here before, unless you did so under another name.

To the various folks here, it's worth noting that Katana Geldar is a major Defender of Traitor on the Force.Net. For which all of you are grateful.

Yes, you are. I have spoken.

All the TF.N folks are welcome here, by the way. Even people who hate my still (Stryker and Jadesfire spring to mind). Please let everybody back there know that they can come here and talk about how the EU sucks donkey ass, and nothing worse will happen than pointed fingers and derisive laughter.

Oh, and I have been known to play a little rough with people who are difficult to get along with. But you don't have to tell anybody that; it's usually more fun to let them find out for themselves.

Guy said...

I think you have to define what Star Wars is to you, and based on that decide if you like any of the published works (or the prequel trilogy), or if you simply believe Star Wars should have remained one of the dozen amazing science fictiony things to come out of the 80s.

I always felt anything related to Star Wars should have Meaning. George Lucas drew on everything from Kurosawa to Buck Rogers and Joseph Campbell (who did a series of interviews at the Skywalker Ranch that are worth watching) among others to create an incredible mythology. It wasn't just swashbuckling across the stars, characters weren't just thrown into situations to pad a story, and the Jedi represented something more than things getting thrown across the room and choreography that makes John Woo drool.

I can't get into the EU much, because all the things that made Star Wars epic are lost there. I'm struggling to get through Han Solo At Star's End because things are just happening for reasons. It's not even on par with Firefly in story or characters. I'm not so in love with the characters that I don't care what you do to them, just as long as I can read about or see them one more time.

Your books in the Star Wars universe are the exception. I didn't care much for Traitor as a story (but the writing and philosophy on the Force were excellent, as were a number of scenes) because I didn't know the characters, I hadn't read any of the other books associated with the Yuuzhon Vong (sp?) war, so I was struggling to figure out what the hell was going on. But RotS, Shatterpoint, LS&TSOM? Fantastic, because in some way in each of them I'm reminded of the themes and ideas of the original movies.

Non of the others I've read have been done so well. Zahn's Thrawn trilogy may be the exception, but it's been so long since I've read that I only remember vague details.

Sad thing is, if I want great Star Wars in the EU universe, I'll play KotOR or The Force Unleashed.

tgibbs said...

I loved Iron Dawn, and I wish Matthew Stover would write another book with the characters--except that I'm afraid that it would have to come out of his Caine writing time, since it looks like the Star Wars books are probably paying the rent. Nothing against the Star Wars books, which I haven't yet read, due to my aversion to novelizations/sequels to movies (and in Stover's case, the feeling that working in somebody else's universe is underutilization of a great talent). I expect that I'll get over it and read them eventually, just because it is Stover.

wak said...

Underutilization? Not a chance. Using someone else's characters in someone else's Universe (and making a readable story) requires the same amount of talent. Now, taking a character that was utterly annoying and generally disliked, and making him... well let's just say there's a whole era in the EU dedicated to him now.

Then there is Darth Vader, one the most loved movie villains of all time. There's a problem though... Whiny Bitch (Hayden Christensen) "transforming" into Darth Vader, made no sense. That is until MWS got a hold of him. What made that novel so great, was that it not only kept true to the story line but to the script as well and still made the transformation believable.

As for the other two, you already know that most of the main characters won't die. Which should take away some suspense. But that doesn't happen because as you read through and get lost in the story, you kind of forget the "Hero" has to live.

As an aside, I recommend you read Karen Travis's essay about media tie-ins; it's in Star Wars on Trial.

That covers all of them correct? Now if I could just get a copy of that Flash Gordon book...

MWS said...

And thanks to both of you.

I still have some hopes of returning to Barra & Co, if certain other plans of mine should come to satisfactory fruition. I have tremendous affection for those characters and that milieu, as they are responsible for launching my career.

The Bronze-to-Iron Age transition has a number of features that recommend it as an ideal environment for adventure fantasy -- civilization in the Mediterranean is collapsing into a Dark Age, and the constraint of staying consistent with archaeological sources solves one of the fantasy adventure author's greatest challenges, which is figuring out why the characters can't just Use Magic to accomplish their ends.

It's also worth noting that as soon as an author undertakes to maintain an ongoing story over multiple volumes, he or she is subject to almost exactly the same storytelling situation that a Star Wars author faces -- except with his or her own proprietary characters, there's no one to tell you "No, Luke does NOT commit suicide out of guilt for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people on the Death Star."

One of the main differences between the Acts of Caine and most ongoing franchises is that each book is written as though it will be the final book in the series (because as far as I know, it will be). This has been a bit of a problem for them in terms of marketing, as each one tends to be different -- sometimes radically so -- from the ones that have come before . . .).

As for the Flash Gordon book, well . . . I don't own the rights. My contract lets me off the hook for "accidental disclosure," but that would be hard to argue if I, say, posted the ms on the Internet.

This is a sore point for me, as I LOVED that book, and I was very proud of what I did in the way of updating Flash to the 21st Century while maintaining all the Good Stuff that made him famous in the first place.

So it goes. Hi ho.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the later comment, but...

On the topic of good and bad reviews, I just read this one on one of my favourite blogs. It's actually really good. It makes me smile to think that the good reviews are well-written and the bad reviews are poorly-written. I think that says something important.


PeterWilliam said...

Posting way late, but it could always be Robert Stanek. I've seen plenty of posts at SFFWorld and Westeros exposing his sock puppet charades. Nice blog, btw.

BlueNight said...

I enjoyed it, most notably because the bad guy's concept of the Dark Side matches my own philosophy quite closely.

However, I didn't think the framing story's conclusion was satisfying. I was expecting something more like the opening chapters of "Outcast" where Luke is called on the carpet for the sins of the Jedi. (Five years after ROTJ is too soon for such an event, I guess; "Outcast" happens 40 years afterward.)