Vonne’s Shelf: Whatever, the best blog ever, by John Scalzi (Part Two: The Big Idea)

An interesting aspect of John Scalzi’s wondrous blog is the introduction of new speculative fiction by other authors, most of whom I’ve never heard of. That’s great, because new talent is seen secreting its delicious creative juices, and at least one of the recent ones is a tale I have now put on my reading list. (That one can be found here:  http://whatever.scalzi.com/2016/02/17/the-big-idea-victor-lavalle/ )

He calls this segment “The Big Idea.” But it is NOT a review of each author’s work. No, no, no. It IS the author themselves writing about what inspired that work and where the characters took them during the process. This is a fresh take, and I like it a lot.

The only down side is it doesn’t give you much of a clue as to whether this book is actually worth reading for me, the potential customer. We all know there are a lot of books out there that are not really worth the time and effort. (If you’d like to see one, just see my own Novel page.) Too, there isn’t any indication of whether it is appropriate for younger readers. Many of them seem to come under the vampire/werewolf/zombie/fantasy classifications, and these are inexplicably still all the rage with tweenies or younger. (Personally, I find them a waste of time for a few reasons I won’t go into now, but none of that really matters for the subject at hand.) So the appeal of these are younger audiences, so that begs the question: “Are they age appropriate?” You’ll find no answer there. Who is likely to like it? (Yes, it is anathema for a writer to “dis” others’ creative works. But this could reasonably be called an endorsement, so it seems that should play a role. Or, am I just an idiot? Don’t answer that; I’ve already copped to it.)

This makes me very curious. Why does Mr. Scalzi allow other writers – lesser known, to say the least – take up valuable space on his blog? Maybe the word “valuable” gives a clue? Do they pay him rent space? I couldn’t find anything with my cursory search on the Interweb to validate that suggestion, nor anything on Scalzi’s website. Perhaps I’m lazy and don’t really care enough to fact check, but it isn’t a fact, just a wonderment. What I DID find is enough to know that I will never be allowed there. Oh, well.

I’m not even sure Scalzi reads the books. He does offer cryptic introductory paragraphs, but they could come from the flyleaf. That, too, is shrug-able. He does display a mountain of packages and pillars of books to give the idea he will read them all. Either he has a USB slot in his head to download books in seconds, or lives in between time dimensions in null-universe wherein one can read everything, blog daily at prodigious length, follow the political news like a junkie, spar with other celebrities about what-or-what-is-not a burrito, write fresh new SciFi, read and/or reply to some comment-ers on his blog, attend conventions, take copious pictures of his cats, and then a vacation cruise . . . all in a day’s work, right?

Though I think this is an important and occasionally interesting angle to give notice that there might be someone new to look for, it doesn’t let us know whether it is appropriate. He mentions YA as an acceptable submission, but other things too.

I will not imitate his practice. On this review page you will only find works I have read and thought about, that are pretty exclusively science fiction, and you’ll know what to expect for younger, or various, readers.

Please be sure to check out this part of his blog. You’ll like hearing from the author’s themselves.

VA 27 February 2016

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