Can of worms, redux

can of worms We hear a lot about author behavior, but we examine the behavior of people who read their books less often because there’s a commercial component in there, an assumption that buying a book brings a lot of entitlement: probably more than actually exists, in fact. If I buy a book I am entitled to the contents of that story. Not control over what an author writes or how he or she chooses to tell his or her stories. Are you with me so far? Good.

I’m going to set forth hypothetical situation.

Julie Q. Author writes a book. She sells it and gets it published. Most reviews are good. There’s one reader, let’s call her Melinda, who really hates this particular book. Melinda blogs about it. She visits everyone else’s blog and talks about all the reasons she hates it. She makes it a crusade to be the one-lone-dissenting voice in the wilderness. And that’s all fine, right? It’s her opinion.

However, it’s unrealistic to believe that Julie is never going to get wind of what Melinda has been saying. Well-meaning fans are likely to send her links and offer to inflict a smackdown on her behalf. If Julie is classy, she says, “No, I’m not acknowledging this. She has a right to her opinion.”

So far, everything is fine, correct? The world is operating as the world will.

But what about if Melinda starts hanging around Julie’s blog because Julie runs a lot of contests. Do you think Melinda should be asking for free stuff when she hates Julie’s work? How does Julie handle this?

A question for the ages

“Isn’t Ann Aguirre more female-focused Science Fiction than SFR?”

SFR = sci-fi romance, in case you didn’t know.

That question comes from a comment in this blog post. It’s from an article talking about SFR covers. My Wanderlust cover is compared to a Lois McMaster Bujold one (which is pretty cool). It’s amazing that a cover done seventeen years ago could have elements in common with one designed recently.

But you know what’s funny? From one end of the spectrum, I get people telling me I don’t write “real” science fiction. It’s all girlie, full of relationships and such. It should come with a warning label! “Run away, herein lies girl cooties and coitus!” This quote comes from a review of Grimspace, found here:

Grimspace by Ann Aguirre is one of those novels that you thoroughly enjoy reading. You wouldn’t tell serious fans of speculative fiction that you did, but you would spend an entire evening devouring it anyway.

I’ve bolded the significant bit. It’s a nice review and it seems for that reader, my books qualify as a guilty pleasure. But it amuses me to be dismissed from both sides of the spectrum. I don’t write real science fiction. But apparently I don’t write real romance either. I fall into this nebulous gray space, where my science fiction is soft, squishy and romantic, but maybe… not a romance, according to some.

Is Grimspace just female-centric science fiction? Or is it nothing more than a romance in space (as real spec fic fans allege)? I’m going to go out on a limb and say it depends on your frame of reference.

I know what I think — and what I intended — but I’d like to ask those who read the book. What is Grimspace? Did it have a “real” romance? Is it “real” SF? Could it, ever, in any known universe, be …both?

Guest-blogging / reader survey

For September and October, I’m throwing my blog open to anyone who wants a platform. If you have something to say and you need a place to say it, email me at ann.aguirre at gmail.com.

You can use my blog to pimp your new releases. You can use my blog to bitch about a series that has gone into the toilet. You can use my blog to talk about global warming.

I’m also interested in hearing from readers. I’d like to pick your brains.

In other words…

Click here to take my quick reader survey.