Unusual Events Has Been Removed From SPFBO 2016

All right, guys, it’s official. I just heard back from Mark Lawrence, the head of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, and now that the competition has begun, my book could not be moved to another reviewer, so instead, I’ve elected to withdraw my entry from the competition (for the reasons for doing so, see this post here). It’s sad that it had to be done, but I feel my reasons were sound.

It is somewhat of a disappointment, however, in more ways than one. First, it’s a shame that it had to come to a removal. I was really interested to see what reviews would have cropped up from the SPFBO, as well as what sort of extended audience I could gather. But in light of their review practices … no gain would have been worth throwing my support behind it. Secondly, it is a shame that such review practices are even a small part of the SPFBO. Perhaps that will change, I would put my voice out as saying I strongly encourage them to do so, but I’m not holding my breath.

So, that’s the bad news. Sort of. I can’t help but feel it’s a good thing, in the long run. There are some things one just shouldn’t associate with, and reviewing and rating books with the focusing lens of “Is the character/writer X race or not?” is one of them.

In other news, the book in question can still be read and enjoyed by those of you who won’t care so much what Samantha’s, Alma’s, Jacob Rocke’s, or Mathoni’s gender or ethnic heritage happen to be over getting a great story. You can find the book here.

Thanks for the advice, guys, and thanks for standing with me on this one. I’m glad I’m not the only one who considers this important.

 

EDIT: Whoa. This blew up. This was just supposed to be news for my regular readers. So let me make something very, very clear, just in case. This was a news post keeping my readers up to date. I voiced a concern about one of the sites in the larger picture, and when SPFBO couldn’t bump me to a different review site, decided to withdraw. That’s what it is, please don’t make a mountain out of a molehill or put undeserved antagonism on the wrong party, and keep a level head.

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6 thoughts on “Unusual Events Has Been Removed From SPFBO 2016

  1. Found this searching for SPFBO on twitter. I’m sorry but I don’t get it. Fantasy Faction has like 50 contributors. They review ANYTHING, no matter who wrote it. They post loads of articles from individual contributors with different opinions. I saw the initial post they did about SPFBO and they have three different people reading the contest books and none of them are the person who reviewed Otherbound. So I guess I’m just surprised you pulled your book based on a review by someone who wasn’t even going to read it. I agree that judging a book by its author’s skin colour/gender/whatever is wrong (though I kind of think that’s not the same as making an active decision to read (say) a few women authors because you realise you’ve only read men for the past year, or vice versa, but that’s a whole different conversation). I simply don’t see any evidence there would have been that kind of bias against you. Seriously, Fantasy Faction loves white male authors as much as the rest of the fantasy world does. I never saw them review Abercrombie or Lawrence or Rothfuss or Sanderson or ANYONE negatively because they happen to be white men. As far as I call tell, most of the reviewers don’t care who wrote the book as long as it’s good. As for the original review that offended you, my take is that just because someone likes finding books that have more unusual protagonists, doesn’t mean they go out of their way to dislike books that have more traditional protagonists. They were just pleased to find something that spoke to them more personally.

    Anyway to change the subject to something happier, I read the sample of the book you pulled and liked it. Where would you recommend starting with your books?

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    • I understand where you’re coming from, but in my limited experience with Fantasy Faction, what you hold simply hasn’t been true. In the few short weeks I’ve followed the site out of interest in SPFBO, I’ve noted instances of discrimination against books and authors because of the race or gender of their characters—enough that in light of the most recent review, I decided I did not want to be associated with such attitudes.

      I get that there are a variety of people on the site, and multiple contributors, but from my perspective, it’s still part of the same site, and that site has been tainted by a clear dismissal of characters and stories based on race and gender. Even if it’s only a fraction of the site engaging in that kind of attitude, I don’t want to associate myself with it, and I have little proof that others on the site don’t share similar views that could negatively impact me or others. The most tangible statement I can make is to simply withdraw my entry into the SPFBO selection, as that was the option I was given when I made my concerns known. They can still review my book, of course, but not in any capacity of “I sent this to you to examine,” only in the capacity of “We have this, and want to review it.” But on my end, my hands are clean if the reviewer of the title decides to continue to espouse the views and attitudes that I found so repulsive, as I have washed my hands of involvement.

      I didn’t know who was going to review it, but rather simply followed the site and noted with increasing discomfort the reviews and commentary that was being posted, which led me to decide to pull the title out of association. Even if the reviewer that would have handled it had not been one sharing those views, I have no guarantee of that, nor would I want my material posted alongside material that did share those views.

      It sounds as though you’re far more familiar with the site than I, and maybe I simply chose to keep an eye on it during a period that was unfortunately discriminatory, but I still feel that in light of that fact, I’d rather keep my distance.

      As far as checking out Unusual Events’ sample, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Honestly, since you’ve already enjoyed it, and if you don’t mind some brief spoilers for the first third of Dead Silver, I’d recommend just starting with Unusual Events. You could even skip the Dead Silver side story and go back to it later if you wanted to check that title out first, but Unusual Events is a great sample of variety of genres and works I’ve played in. If you’d like to start at the beginning, you can grab One Drink, which is a short read (and my first, so much rougher than my later works) You could also try Dead Silver and then move onto Unusual Events, but reading one over the other wouldn’t hurt much.

      Either way, thanks for chiming in, and I hope you enjoy Unusual Events!

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      • Thanks for replying, man. I completely understand anyone taking a stance against discrimination. Just wondering though – can you point me in the direction of stuff on the site where reviewers have been actively discriminatory AGAINST certain races/genders? I guess I see a difference between “I’m really happy this book features X kind of character because I haven’t seen enough characters of this kind” and “I really hate books that DON’T have X kind of character”, and I’d like to see for myself if FF crosses the line (IMO).

        Thanks man. Looking forward to checking your stuff out.

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        • The one quoted in the article I wrote on the topic is certainly the foremost and most recent (and definitely fails to pass the flip test, making it very clearly a case of discrimination), and the writer of that openly admitted that the book may not have gotten the review it did if the main characters had been another race, but going back further …

          There’s the article arguing that main characters need to be homosexual, where the author makes the argument that in this day and age it’s not hard to go back and change stories, and then presents a laundry list of stories they would like to see rewritten by the authors with homosexual main characters, and brings up a number of friendship scenarios that they wanted to see ‘be more than friends.’ The main argument basically boils down to “any main character should be homosexual.” As they put it, the homosexual main character needs to be “… the staple of fantasy and science-fiction …” (EDIT: A note on the phrasing there. “The staple,” implying only, as opposed to “a staple.”)

          Going back a few reviews, we have a review that brings up race once again, and while not as harshly said as the first review that caught my eye, still comes off as somewhat odd, especially with their phrasing (the phrase they use, “deeply problematic,” comes to mind) with regards to praising the titles race choices.

          Compared to the next review in line (Three-Body Problem), which not once raises the issue of “this book is better/worse because of the ethnicity of the main characters,” but rather just talks about the book, like a breath of fresh air.

          Maybe it’s a shift on the site, or maybe if going back a few weeks more occurrences pop up, but even the recent weeks show enough of a suspect trend, that in the eyes of that latest review, I was done.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. “I’d probably have loved the book even if both of the leads were white and straight,” pretty clearly suggests that “white and straight” are considered inferior, which meets the definition of both sexism and racism. The interesting thing is that someone feels perfectly comfortable in saying something like this without apparently any understanding of the implications. It’s not necessary for discrimination to be apparent if the attitudes are visible. For example, David Riley was recently attacked and forced to step down from the Stoker jury because of presumed racism based on his stance on immigration.

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