Reviewing

In June 2009, I real-time reviewed Allyson Bird’s collection BULL-RUNNING FOR GIRLS here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/08/15/bull-running-for-girls-by-allyson-bird/

Later, this collection won the BFS Award for best Collection for the year of its publication.

Without again going into the rights and wrongs, much controversy followed.  Much harm was done to that controversy’s various participants’ well-being as well as to certain aspects of the horror genre. It later spilled over into other controversies.  It still goes on today.

Last week, the Prism section of the British Fantasy Society Journal published a very negative review of Allyson Bird’s new collection ‘Wine and Rank Poison’.   Fair enough. I haven’t read ‘WARP’, so I can’t comment on the substance of the review.

However, I was aghast to learn today that the by-line of that review is the recorded pseudonym of the editor of the ‘Prism’ section of the BFS Journal where that ‘WARP’ review appears.  But, furthermore (you couldn’t make this up!),  it is claimed that the pseudonym was used by someone else (i.e. not that editor of Prism) to write the review.

My strong view is that attempting this apparent subterfuge was a serious error of judgement and puts the whole ‘WARP’ review in question – especially knowing, as the writer of that review must have done, of the bitter and damaging controversy attached to Allyson’s earlier collection.

Over ten years, with Nemonymous, I facilitated author-agreed methods of late-labelling for by-lines of works of fiction

In contrast, Prism’s above method of presenting a hopefully unbiased review of a book with a pseudonymous by-line of the publication’s editor – a review that was so expressed it was bound to wound its author and publisher – frankly beggars belief.  And now – up to the point in time of my writing this blog (19 Jan, 7.15 pm GMT) – attempts have apparently been made ostensibly to muddy the waters by publicly saying it was not written by the recorded owner of the pseudonymous by-line…

I am both aghast and confused.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Reviewing

  1. 20 Jan 8.55 am GMT
    I have now found the Prism editor’s explanation at his blog.
    Although I would like to question further, I think we should now pass on to defuse this ‘drama’ that seems to have been sought.

  2. Once I saw that Blog this morning, I hoped all conversations about this issue would cease so as to defuse the drama that appeared to be sought by its instigator. And I said so. But since they have continued elsewhere, I’ve now tried to give my objective view about why I think it has blown up in the way it has.

    The way I see it:
    1. Bitter and damaging controversial issue concerning a book, an issue that I think has lasted for two years, one that has spilled over into various other controversies in our small world..
    2. Negative review of another book connected with 1. above, a review published this week in the Prism section of the BFS Journal. Fair enough. Can’t comment there as I haven’t read the book. If it had stopped there, I’m pretty sure there would have been no fuss.
    3. Two reviews in that Prism section of the BFS Journal, one under the Prism Editor’s own name, another under his own pseudonym, the first review positive, the second (of the above book in 2. above) negative. This muddies the waters of the inevitably controversial negative review.
    4. Followed today by the Prism Editor’s Blog that does not (for me) explain anything but seems to gain enjoyment about a ‘shitstorm’ spreading, not caring about being lambasted, being an imp of the perverse, etc.

    Bearing in mind point 1. above, I feel this of all book reviews in the history of our small press world should have been 100% transparent. If it had been transparent, it would have helped the Prism editor to judge his own theory in his blog:
    “Astonishment at what some people have said would be nearer the mark, though not quite. I had a strong feeling there would be a reaction like this – and that it would have happened whether the reviewer used a pen name or not. The effrontery of publishing a fairly negative review would have been enough.”

    I wish all this were not so. It makes me sad to see it.

    df lewis

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