In my last Author’s blog, I presented to very different reviews of the same book. The book was my first published novel, Traveler’s HOT L – The Time Traveler’s Resort. Here’s the link to that blog if you’d like to review or read it before continuing.
This article is part two of the three-part series. It’s titled, Authors: Reviewing Reviews – 2 of 3, Reviewing the Reviewers. Keep reading, and you’ll find out why.
What follows is a dissection of each review in turn. I removed pieces of the review and comment on each. The post ends with a section titled, Comments and Conclusion.
Booklife Review: 10/1/14
A rundown hotel hides a HOT L (Harmonious Overlap of Time Location), a nexus for time travel, in a series of stories that lack the execution to deliver on the premise. Debut novelist Downing’s conceptual framework is ambitious, sending readers into a medieval historical, two crime stories, and the book’s own alternate-universe sequel, but there’s nothing new in these familiar settings. PI Phil Mamba tries to catch a murderous politician in his past and inevitably ends up altering the future; no one believes the boy who says that his dolls can speak when, of course, they can. By the time Jesus is referred to as a temporal anomaly, it’s all too much, especially given how often explanations of theory and verbose descriptions (“he spoke with tenderness tinged with resignation”) slow the narrative. The recurring characters who direct the HOT L lack personality, limited to droll remarks and clichés such as “smooth the now-wrinkled time fabric.” Nearly every opportunity to treat these concepts originally has been missed. (BookLife)
Dissection: [Note. I wrote what follows as a “dissection” two weeks after that review was published. It still reflects my feelings quite well. See the comments/conclusion at the end of this post.]
My first reaction was disappointment. I can’t imagine anyone not being disappointed after receiving what is, essentially, a dismissal of a project of theirs.
Everyone is entitled to her/his opinion. This individual clearly does not like my style of writing. That’s fair—it is, after all, an opinion.
However, I am now somewhere between perplexed with and angry at some of what is written—because some of it is wrong.
No one ever goes back and does anything to change the future. Both Mamba and Michael restore the original timelines. This is more than a technicality. No future is altered. This is a point of angriness.
In Battle, three individuals are described as having disappeared from the timeline before Rose goes missing. Jesus disappears from the timeline. He’s never referred to as a temporal anomaly. It is the Ascension that is referenced. His presence on Earth is never questioned. A second point of angriness.
I think this is wrong. Most reader comment on the originality of the ideas. Specifically missing from the statement in the review is any mention of:
· The method of travel. Ripples, DNA stimulus,
· The fact that only specific items travel. No artifacts in either direction, consequences for taking artifacts.
· The fact that travelers return to original timeline with a real time lapse for the time they miss in nearly all cases.
· The fact that they don’t know how this all began. The premise of DNA Trek.
Collectively, these comprise my third point of angriness.
I disagree. Each character has a unique personality that is reinforced in every story. Chronos is a bit of a tease. Eternity is a literalist. Epoch is a legalist. Tempus is learning how to co-exist with humanity. However, this is now my opinion. It is a point of perplexity.
I guess the bottom line is still disappointment. But now, that disappointment is the lack of content integrity of the review. Much of what is written is a misrepresentation of the book.
Review by TimeTravelNexus <This is not the complete review. The selection illustrates what I want to emphasize. This entire Amazon review is available at https://goo.gl/pE9bmL The full-length review is on the TimeTravelNexus website: https://goo.gl/BJAazz. I think you’ll find that this selection is balanced in its content.>
…No, there's no missing "E" to make "hotel" - the "HOT L" is the "Harmonious Overlap of Time Location" and is the backbone of the brilliant time travel mechanism which is described most fully in the first short story. The following stories refer back to this - and even build upon it in some cases.
Time is described as a fabric which consists of interweaving threads and which can fold over itself. Time can also be considered as a pool which suffers ripples. Such imagery is used fully and allows for some wonderful reasoning behind why (and how) characters travel in time. It's one of the best descriptors of time that I've read and is definitely the high point of this collection!
Three of the eight stories really incorporated the time travel element well - the first with an explanation, another with a time travel tourist, and a third with its 'discovery' and development…
Time travel, or the link to the HOT L, in the other five stories seemed to me to be rather tenuous, or superfluous. For example, by casting a character back in time for a second shot at something which could just as easily have been covered in the first version of the time line [sic] in the narrative, or by tacking it onto the end of a story which would have been just fine without it.
Dissection: [Note. I wrote what follows as a “dissection” of this review for this post, five months after it was published.]
My first reaction was, “Wow! This reviewer gets it!” It’s obvious that he read this book focusing on the time travel aspect. He goes into detail about every story.
I was pleased to read this. Following this review, I did a written Q/A interview for a companion website https://www.time2timetravel.com/tag/cr-downing/ where I explained the development of the ideas behind the stories.
I agree. J I have problems with most time-travel processes. In most cases, the travelers come and go without ever being “gone.” In addition, materials and devices from the past and the future flit back and forth without little or no restriction in function. There are no checks and balances involved in the process. None of those “problems exist” in my time travel mechanism.
I agree here, mostly. Most readers are unaware that all the stories were not originally time travel stories. Three of the stories could not exist without the time travel component, although the amount of time travel that is described in Michael Casey O’Brien is minimal. Million-Dollar Mistake originally ended with a “storm” sending the counterfeiters back in time as a form of unexpected justice. Although I tweaked that time travel method, it’s always been time travel story to me.
I agree. The remaining stories were massaged to include a time travel component because I needed stories for the book. I added the time travel element to the other stories in what I felt was an adequate amount. This reviewer, who has a broad understanding of the elements of a time travel story, saw through my ruse. However, readers of my book who aren’t diehard sci-fi lovers like the variety in story format and genre. Many continued reading the other books in the series because of that.
Comments and Conclusion
If you’re going to do a review of a book,
- you should have some “feel” for the genre. The Booklife reviewer seems to have limited understanding of Sci-Fi as a genre and less for time travel as a sub-genre. If it’s not “your” genre, decline the assignment.
- please check the “facts” you print about that book. There is no reason to include something as being in the book when it is not in the book.
- please read the book; don’t just scan it. If you didn’t read the entire book, say so. Explain why you started scanning. Don’t write about what you didn’t read.
For me, the “take away” from this blog is to check out your reviewing service—if you can—before you ask for a review. Some of the reviewing services can be a bit more “be glad we agreed to review your self-published book” than “we’ll do our best to match genre interest in our reviewer to your genre.”
I’ll be writing about reviews you pay for two weeks from now.