First, it is worth noting that early book reviews sometimes influence later ones. The influence appears in the similarity of the topics mentioned and even the phrases used. Still, there is collective value in the insights the reviews provide.
It is also worth noting that Corr Syl is my first novel. I have much to learn, and the value I derive from reviews will probably increase as my knowledge and experience increase.
Most of the 17 book reviews of Corr Syl has received mention the book’s conservation theme. I had worked to keep the theme firmly in the background, and expected that Immediacy, the Tsaeb philosophy of consequences would receive more attention. Immediacy indirectly explains humanities many flaws. Didn’t happen, but I am relieved that none of the reviewers felt that the way I presented the conservation theme was so didactic that it interfered with their enjoyment of the story.
One of the book’s other themes is Corr Syl’s “coming of age” experience. This is a steady influence throughout the novel, and it is one of the factors in determining the conclusion. Nevertheless, only one reviewer picked it out as a principal element, and most don’t mention it. It is a common story element, however, and is probably essential even if not remarkable.
Reviewers mentioned some of the other important elements of the story–the nature of perception and of intelligence, and Corr Syl’s plan for repairing human society–but they said little about them. I am eager to see what other reviewers will say about these topics.
Some of the reviewers noted that the story is hard science fiction, but others called it fantasy or mixed the two types. The difference, of course, is that all the propositions contained within a science fiction story must have explanations that meet the testability criterion. If the events and features have no testable explanations, they aren’t science, and the story is fantasy or magic. Stories often contain a mix of testable and untestable ideas, and are properly called “science fiction and fantasy.” Unlike hard science fiction author, Robert Forward who commented that his story provided a basic lesson in physics, I did not try to explain the evolutionary processes that could produce my principal story elements. But I tried to stay within the limits of what was actually possible.
Another interesting thing about these first 17 reviews, is that most of them mention that Corr Syl and the other characters are well-developed. As I worked on the story, I learned that I am more of a plot than a character writer. I always felt that the characters needed better back-stories and traits of their own, or as Kris Neri says better “hidden” stories. Nancy Kress teaches that back-stories determine character traits and reactions. The back-stories need to be clear in the writer’s mind. If not, inconsistent behavior can occur and distract readers. Since my characters are acceptable to some critics, I am further convinced that Roy Peter Clark must be right, writing can be learned.
Readers’ Favorite sent Corr Syl the Warrior out for review in September. The five reviews received include three 5-star and two 4-star reviews. Click here to read Lit Amri’s review and the comments by Bill Howard and others
Corr Syl the Warrior is in the Booktown Book of the Month contest. You can vote for it here (scroll down when you get to Booktown’s site).
I am happy to send free books to reviewers. If you want to review Corr Syl the Warrior, use the comment form to send me your email address for a Kindle eBook, or your mailing address for a paperback. The books ship direct from Amazon. Amazon is the best place to post reviews. You have to mention that you received a complimentary copy from the author.
In today’s comments we fretted over the definition of average, oohed and aahed over some DIY costume skills, and (with the help of Gravity’s science advisor) teased out the precise intersection of science and story-telling.
When the science is inaccurate the story is no longer science fiction. It becomes fantasy. That’s fine, but even fantasy has rules. Departure from accuracy without new rules can get you bad reviews.
See on io9.com
Mutant Powers of the 1950’s.
When my friend Joe and I read this in 7th Grade we were thoroughly impressed, and still mention scenes we recall.
Theodore Sturgeon’s characters and story development are excellent. His plots are slightly weaker, but still very good.
Rereading the book, I was struck by the nostalgia it stirred for 1930-40 mid western United States society. Seems a bit corny now that we have become so sophisticated.
This book is good reading for any boy or girl in the middle grades.
Twenty-one paperback copies of Corr Syl the Warrior ship to LibraryThing winners this week. My thanks to all who participated.
Note to readers:
When you begin this book, you enter the world of the Tsaeb (pronounced with a silent ‘T’, long ‘a‘, and silent ‘e‘ ‘Sabe‘). The Tsaeb civilization appeared on Earth more than 30 million years ago. It is the latest stage in the social evolution of Earth’s intelligent creatures. On the Earth of the Tsaeb, intelligence is a trait shared by all animals. Many things that we humans might find strange are commonplace among the Tsaeb. But in some things the Tsaeb are not strange at all. They revere humor, appreciate beauty, friendship and truth, and they fall in love.
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All of my recent writing reflects my concerns for wildlife, natural vegetation, and nature conservation. My debut novel, Corr Syl the Warrior, the sequel, Corr Syl the Terrible, have nature conservation themes, and so do others in the pipeline. Writers often express their concern for nature in their novels. Ant Hill: A Novel by Edward O. Wilson is a recent example.
Writers and reviewers sometimes refer to books with a nature conservation theme as Eco Fiction with or without a space or a hyphen. The term seems perfectly appropriate for books like Ant Hill, and Edward Abbey’s Monkey Wrench Gang. The term is also applied to speculative fiction such as Frank Herbert’s Dune and The Green Brain. A lifelong fan of science fiction, I have always been fond of such stories. To help distinguish them, I am introducing the hashtag #EcoSciFi. I haven’t seen this hashtag anywhere yet, but it seems like a useful term, at least for readers who like science fiction and have interests in conservation. Adding the #EcoSciFi tag will help identify Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter references to books and stories that fit within this sub-genre. I prefer it to #EcoSyFy and #CliFi, but those are valid variations.