I know who you are

In an earlier post, I asked you to tell me about yourself and what you’d like to see on this blog in the future. This is a follow-up to share the poll results and announce some upcoming features. Please use the comments section to let me know if you think I’m moving in the right/wrong direction. I don’t want to spend time typing things you don’t want to read; my wife is happy to listen to my grade-B material, and my dog thinks I’m the most interesting man in the world.

It seems that readers enjoy my reviews of mainstream novels as much as (probably more than) my reviews of indie short stories. I thought my value-added was searching out stories that had never been reviewed, but apparently it’s something else. Both types of reviews scored highly in the poll, and will therefore continue.

Fantasy reviews scored fairly well in the poll, so I’m considering writing a few, maybe one for every three or four sci-fi reviews. As a kid, I read quite a bit of fantasy, but I haven’t read much as an adult – just Bujold’s Curse of Chalion (which I enjoyed) and its first sequel (which I didn’t care for).

Given that about 2/3 of you are writers or aspiring writers, it’s not surprising that writing topics received about 2/3 support in the poll. I’m working on a series of articles which I hope will appeal to both authors and non-authors. In each post, I’ll describe a setting for a science fiction story, as well as some characters that you might find there. Sorry, you’ll have to provide your own plot. I was thinking of posting one of these every two weeks.

My idea for science articles was not as popular. Originally, I was planning to write articles about animals, plants, and local environments, but I’m dropping that for now; if I decide to resurrect the idea, I’ll create a new blog. I may still write an article or two about biology/ecology, but only as it might apply to alien life or off-world ecosystems.

The other topics scored even lower. I’ll be keeping the blog horror-free, unless I happen to read a story that combines sci-fi and horror. I won’t be searching out indie computer games to review, although I may post about a game if I happen to play one that has some science fiction content. I won’t be discussing book marketing strategies, unless at some far future date, while marketing something of my own, I notice that a technique works surprisingly well or poorly.

Looking at the sub-genre preferences, it seems that I should search out a story about a time-traveling galactic empire which explores space. I won’t be searching for stories about cyberpunk superheroes who fight monsters; I think we can all breathe a little easier. For me, the main surprises were that time travel scored so highly, and that military and alien invasion stories only received around 50% support.

North Americans seem to be my most interactive users; WordPress says that 60% of my traffic comes from the USA, while US users were 70% of my poll responders. Canadians were 6% at WordPress / 10% in the poll.

At first, I thought I had an all-male readership, but the ladies showed up to the party later, bringing the ratio to 50/50. Disturbingly, 10% of my users are either artificial intelligences, or aliens who use some alternate gender system.

A good mix of age groups responded, with the exception of teenagers. Maybe the teenagers are missing because I don’t review young adult stories, or maybe they just don’t read book review blogs. I could test the first theory by reviewing some young adult books, but I suspect they all contain awkward love stories which I’m not willing to read.

Again, please use the comments section to let me know if I’m interpreting my poll results correctly. I’m ready to adjust the balance of different types of posts if I get a clear consensus from my readers.


    1. I don’t know enough about physics to speak intelligently about the article, but it reminds me of something ecologists are always doing: “look, we programmed all the input variables and behaviors to our specifications, and were completely surprised when we discovered that the output matched our predictions!”.

  1. I suspect military science fiction has been a bit over done. I for one have heard enough about war in real life, and I want to read about something else.

    1. James, I’ve just posted a response to MT McGuire’s comment below, and I wanted to see if you had any further input. It sounds like you’re pretty much done with the military sub-genre, but I’m curious if there’s a middle ground for stories which combine some military activity and some character building, political intrigue, or other elements.

      1. I don’t have a problem with military Sci-Fi on principal. Starship Troopers is among my favorite books. I also enjoyed Cobra by Timothy Zhan, and although I haven’t read Old Man’s War yet, I’m looking forward to it. A few of my own stories have covered military themes, so I’m not against writing them, but at the moment I think the market is over saturated.

        As a separate point, books like Starship Troopers and Cobra are about war, but they don’t glorify war. They don’t read like action movies with some badass hero massacring evil aliens. We, the readers, don’t cheer for the parts where lots of people die. Back in the 90’s, that sort of thing didn’t bother me. I went to see Independence Day and thoroughly enjoyed it. But given more recent history, I now find that kind of story a little distasteful.

        My main point is that I do enjoy military science fiction when it’s thoughtfully executed. Even the less than thoughtful kind has a place in this genre, although I’d personally prefer not to read it; but science fiction can tell almost any kind of story we want. I just want to see more variety.

        1. Thanks for the additional feedback, James.

  2. Great results with your poll. I especially liked finding out that people liked time traveling galactic empires since I have a series with that as a theme.

    I also do science fiction book reviews at http://www.scifibookreview.com and agree with your findings there. Occasionally, I add in fantasy since it’s so hard to ignore these days with so much out there.

    If you’re looking for time travel ideas, I just did a blog suggesting a few books that you might want to enjoy.

    I look forward to your comments.

    1. Wow, I thought I was just being silly with that comment!

  3. I agree with the poster about military. The odd battle or fight is great but if that’s the only thing going on I get bored. That said, I like character development above everything and especially like it when said characters are alien or different from us. That probably doesn’t help does it? 🙂



    (one of the other unmentionable 80% although I’d say your figures could be applied as well to the internet as a whole as your blog. There was a point when I just couldn’t find anyone from my country, anywhere, to talk to!)

    1. Do you have any examples of military sci-fi that worked or didn’t work for you?

      I’m wondering if you’ve tried David Weber’s Honor Harrington series, or David Drake’s RCN series. Both follow military officers, and have a climactic battle at the end of each book, but combat doesn’t take up the majority of the pages. I’ve read some of each series, but haven’t finished either yet.

      I’ve really enjoyed John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War books, which have a bit more military conflict, but also have some interesting technologies and social/political issues. I’m a fan of military sci-fi (and some would say an old man), so this series was right up my alley anyway.

      1. To my shame, not really. Not because the idea of a military environment turns me off, I loved M.A.S.H. and I really enjoy the Patrick O’Brien books – not military sci-fi but definitely military. Mainly because I’m just a bit wary that if someone’s plugging a military environment as a factor that there may be an over emphasis on it. I’d be wary of something like Power Rangers on TV, all busting moves, long fight scenes and no dialogue, little characterisation and sparse plot development. I’m open to most things, to be honest.



        1. I read all of O’Brien’s M&C series as well. You might like the RCN series, as it was inspired by M&C. Weber’s series was inspired by Horatio Hornblower. Both Hornblower and M&C were inspired by the same real-life figure: Cochrane.

  4. reading SFF · · Reply

    If you find a novel featuring “a time-traveling galactic empire which explores space” and well-developed characters, that would be great. One sub-plot that I love and that I think was missing from the poll is alien artifacts. I just love stories featuring mysterious artifacts of lost alien civilizations. Preferably in space. (Too much Stargate, I guess 😉 )

    1. Good point, alien artifacts could be considered its own sub-genre. I just took the categories from Amazon’s Kindle store.

      I also enjoyed Stargate, but I never get the full experience of any television series. Because I’m frequently time traveling – um, I mean traveling between countries which have different television schedules – I always see episodes of a TV series out of order, and miss a few episodes completely.

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