With Aftermath, the first canon Star Wars novel to tread where only Legends had been before, it’s only natural that some controversy would erupt.
Now, some of it has been people who just plain don’t like Chuck Wendig’s writing style and/or the book itself. I didn’t find the style bothersome and liked the book, but both are perfectly valid complaints.
And then, there are the… Others. Our old friends (‘friends’) the folks who are still bent out of shape that the old Expanded Universe has been decanonized. And, of course, the folks who are mad that some of Wendig’s characters happen to be gay.
Needless to say, neither group is particularly sympathetic. The Legends folks might have a case, if they weren’t so plain-out obnoxious, but if there’s a moderate part of this supremely ineffectual ‘movement’ they’re being drowned out.
Together, some outspoken members of those three groups all got the idea to… Leave a whole bunch of very quick, very many one-star reviews on Amazon. Jim C. Hines and Michael Patrick Hicks have some nice breakdowns of that. Of course, there’s also a wonderful irony here. Per Wendig himself:
…A passel of negative reviews actually elevates the book’s overall sales ranking. Which in turn garners it more sales. Amazon reps have been clear with me on this point: buyers buy books with reviews, period. Not good reviews, not bad reviews. But rather: quantity of reviews impress buyers to make purchases. So, leaving a ton of bad reviews actually increases the book’s sales. Ironic, and not likely what anyone supporting such a campaign intends.
His response to the objections regarding the gay characters needs to be read in full, though.
I’m not here to tell you how to feel about anything Star Wars. We are all adults here (or so I am going to assume for my own mental health,) and I can’t believe I have to keep saying this, but: Not everything in Star Wars is going to work for everyone, and that’s fine. Feel however you like about whatever, it’s no skin off my back. But that doesn’t give you the right to be a dick, and there’s far too much of that going around. Or, to throw it to Wendig again:
Loving something is fandom. Hate isn’t, or shouldn’t be, part of it. Fandom is about sharing awesome things with like-minded people. It isn’t about spreading hate and forming spiteful tribes. That’s heinous fuckery. Do not partake in heinous fuckery.
And to end this on a high note, check out DragonCon’s Wendig panel with Tosche Station and the latest Full of Sith.
12 Replies to “The Aftermath aftermath, or, what’s up with all those crazy Amazon reviews?”
This definitely needed to be said. Thank you for the links as well!
As one of the drowned out moderate Legends fans/mourners, I just want to say, leaving a negative review on a book you haven’t read is a jerk move and everyone involved should feel ashamed. There are much less hateful ways to push for the content you want.
Wendig’s response is pretty awesome. Hines and Hicks seem to conflate objection to gays with objection to new canon/writing style, though. I think Wendig does a better job of responding separately to his separate critics…
I’ll say this for Aftermath, it left me wanting more from the new post RotJ EU. That had to be what they’re going for.
You know, some of the flaws in the book made me upset. The biggest one, the lack of main characters, isn’t Wendig’s fault. And I completely understand Lucasfilm’s reasoning behind it. But I gave the book 4 stars after finishing it on my Kindle. I now want to give it 5 stars just because of all the whiny fleshlings that can’t handle change.
When I get around to updating my GoodReads (and maybe Amazon too, what the hell,) I’m going to give it 4, because I reserve 5 for things that are utterly spectacular, and no amount of whining is going to make me budge. But I’m stubborn like that.
But of course this was the only JTFA book I got at B&N, not Amazon…
Chuck Wendig is right on the money in his reply to all the haters, especially the Give Us Legends people and the Sad Puppy/homophobe people.
The organizers of the Give Us Legends people are clearly not interested in actually trying to get more Legends stories, instead they just want to be mad and act butthurt and think they are entitled and now are victims. Either that or they have no real idea of how to affect change. All they do is rage with their hatred and end up burning any chances that they have for constructive interaction with anyone: actual decision makers, authors, and other fans.
It’s an interesting situation. Personally, I knew the book was going to be divisive as soon as I read the first sample chapter, so I wasn’t too surprised to find it didn’t click with most SW readers. Wendig’s style is very choppy with lots of stop-and-go chapters and sentences. Works great within the context of his other novels, but it felt like he was applying a hard-boiled detective narrative to large-scale Star Wars story. It worked for some, obviously, but that kind of style is not characteristic of Star Wars novels. Wendig shouldn’t be shocked that he applied an unusual style to a long-running series and got push back for it.
But he swings a little wide, blaming homophobic readers, which, I didn’t see any reviews that made me think the negative reviews are centered around that, and I read a number of them while I was waiting for my copy to show up. I saw more push back when Lords of the Sith introduced the first gay character into the new canon, but even then it wasn’t that much of a response.
Nor do I think it’s a concerted effort on the part of Legends enthusiasts. For as many that I saw that could conceivably fit into that column, there were just as many folks leaving baseless 5-star reviews after Wendig asked his Twitter followers to “balance out” the negatives.
Basically, it’s one big clustercuss. There were also people who were ready to hate the novel regardless, based on some of Wendig’s less-than-diplomatic tweets before the release. Those I definitely saw get passed around. I think Wendig is blaming the wrong fire for the smoke.
From my own personal perspective: I’m currently halfway through and struggling to get to the end. This is after I burned through the other five canon novels fairly quick. The style doesn’t click with me, not a fan of the characters (Wedge isn’t playing the kind of role I thought he would), and there are a few too many cringy moments that the EU had mostly grown out of. “Two shakes of a nerf’s tail.” “I’m playing Imperial advocate.” “My planet for a speeder.” That kind of stuff. Taking an idiom and replacing a word or two with a Star Wars reference. There’s so much of that.
Might be nitpicky, but I can’t see myself giving it higher than 2 or 3 stars unless the ending just pulls out all the stops.
I never previously bought a Star Wars novel. Just not my bag, you know. When I heard Wendig was writing one I was like, “cool, maybe I’ll read it,” since I REALLY liked the Blue Blazes and his Miriam Black books.
The efforts of the “Bring back legends” crowd catalyzed me to buy Wendig’s book rather than letting it dawdle in my TBR pile forever.
And it’s really good.
So how’s that: the end result of the bring back legends campaign was to introduce a new reader to star wars books via canon novels, not legends, who might not have otherwise read them.
Barbara Streisand calling?
I didn’t see any homophobic or rants about the return of Legends on Amazon. He granted I only made it through 20 pages of reviews, but all of them talk about how poorly written it was.
True, EU fans shouldn’t through hate on a book just because it’s not Legends, but it seems Mr Wendig is blaming the boogeyman for all his problems when it doesn’t appear to be the case when looking at the negative comments this book is getting from all star wars fans in general.
The overall spread has changed in the past few days, I’m sure. Most of the posts on it are mentioning the initial reaction, for one, and there are no doubt a lot more actually legit reviews there now. It’s possible Amazon has removed some, too: They’ve done that in the past in similar situations when there are obvious shenanigans going on.
FYI, posting the same exact comment on two different sites? Not cool.
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