The Most Important Stuff I Did in 2013

So, it’s award season. And that means there’s a lot of shit floating around about who’s eligible for what. One thing I don’t see much of is the blogging community touting their actual work. There’s some chat here and there about “I’m eligible for fan writer!” Or, “my blog is a fanzine!” I’m glad that’s happening, but shouldn’t we be talking about the actual work?

Over the last twelve months we’ve all read and written and consumed a lot of material, some of which was memorable, some which wasn’t. Some of which was widely read, some of which wasn’t. And the vagaries of the internet are such that even good writing often goes overlooked due to news cycles and posting times and the like. I think that’s a shame regardless of whether or not me, or any my colleagues, are eligible for an award.

Hopefully, this starts a meme among the blogs. Here’s what I think was my best work in 2013.

Night Shade Books: What went wrong? - This post was something like two months in the making. I first had an inkling that Night Shade was about to implode in August of 2012.  Fast forward several months. Over the course of a week I had editors, literary agents, and half dozen authors providing background material for me to put this piece into the appropriate context. I take a lot of pride in the end product. I could have broken this story well before Publisher’s Weekly or i09 or anyone else posted it, but I felt like the narrative I had to tell was more important than the news cycle. I hope you agree.

Can we stop talking about the Hugos now?
Mission Statement: The Hugos and Worldcon Aren’t What I Expected, Etc. - These two posts were very related. The first was a diatribe about what I saw as fundamental flaws in the Hugo as a representative award. It was linked extensively and sparked several side conversations, ultimately leading to an article in ‘The Guardian’. The second post was after attending Worldcon and seeing the Hugo process first hand. I think taken together the posts show a cycle of this blogger to come to understand the Hugos in their appropriate context.

On Gender Parity and Cover Art - One of the last things I wrote in 2013, but one of the most important. I felt like art has been one of the areas that hasn’t had the same kind of light shone on it with regards to gender equality. Hopefully this post illuminated some of the problems.

Suvudu Universe: Hai Can I Haz Ur Stuffz? -This was a community service announcement as much as it was reporting. I felt like Suvudu was really not doing right by bloggers, a practice they continue today. Some say my response was overblown. I disagree. Bloggers deserve the same kind of rights over the work we produce as anyone else. And rights grabs in small print is dishonest as far as I’m concerned.

The Writer as a Meme in SF&F Culture - If there’s one thing I wrote this year that’s fundamentally grounded in the history of the FanZine, this is the one. It’s a post about convention culture and the caches that become tradeable within it. I really wish more people had read it and extrapolated from it what I was trying to communicate. Maybe it’ll get a second life at some point.

25 Reasons I’m Not a Writer — My Tribute to NaNoWriMo’ers - This shit was funny.

Death, and Death in Science Fiction and Fantasy – A personal piece about the death of my father in law turned into something a little more preachy than I expected. But, the point is salient (I think). Our fiction has a funny way of treating death sometimes.

Cozying up with Cozy Fiction - I ask the question, is comfort inherently problematic for fiction? I make a case and come to no conclusion. A blogger who waffles? No way.

Readability: What is it and why does it matter? - One of those posts no one read, but I think had a fascinating discussion embedded in it. Is there a better way to evaluate fiction than the methods we use today? What lessons can we learn from other statistically driven enterprises?

The First Law Trilogy Reread – Ongoing! I have Joe Abercrombie on the brain!

And I wrote some reviews too…

The Riftwar Saga: Fifteen Years Later

A Political Comparison: Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch and Up Against It by MJ Locke

The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

And I edited a book…which would be eligible for things like non-fiction awards or Best Related Work, etc. I really can’t take very much credit for it as it is the work of 50+ bloggers, novelists, and essayists on all kinds of subjects.


Spec Fic 12 Cover

If you’re a blogger who’s proud of the work they’ve done. Link it in the comments here.


Justin Landon

Justin Landon is the Overlord of Staffer's Book Review. When he's not writing things of dubious value to the world, he's at the gym or being a dad. You can follow him on a multitude of social media, which is strongly suggested lest you miss out on vital information that could someday save your life.

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  • Nathan (@reviewbarn) January 13, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    I loved your coverage of the Night Shade debacle. You should rightly be proud of that one. And oh my god am I behind on the First Law read along. That I am not actually reading along with because I have the series basically memorized.

    To think, I first started following you a couple years ago because you had giveaways. Now you don’t and your more must read than ever.

    • Justin Landon January 13, 2014 at 9:09 pm

      I could do more giveaways. It’s true. They’re so much WORK though. lol

  • Andrea J January 13, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    there’s only one blog post I wrote this year that I’m *proud* of, and *proud* might not be the right word. it was very short. it wasn’t about a book.

    • Justin Landon January 13, 2014 at 9:21 pm

      Preach. I’m just overly proud of everything I type. lulz.

  • Jared January 14, 2014 at 1:36 am

    I’m such a fan of the Night Shade post. It was something many people *thought* about and more had *opinions* about, but you put in the legwork to get us a great, educational, enlightening story. (The others are great too – I had forgotten the fun of the readability post!)

  • Michael J. Martinez January 16, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Speaking as both a Night Shade author and a former journalist, I have to agree that your Night Shade work really was top notch. It provided a lot of context we didn’t get from other sources and allowed authors to make better informed choices. You did good there.

  • Bibliotropic January 18, 2014 at 8:43 am

    You definitely had a good year for thought-provoking coverage!

    There were a couple of posts I was somewhat proud of this past year, and I’m trying to overcome my urge to downplay them and say, “But it feels like bragging to post links to them.” Maybe I have a right and reason to be proud of what I’ve written. (What a Girl Wants: What Girls in Geekdom are Allowed to do. A sort of tongue-in-cheek sarcastic exploration of which aspects of geekdom girls are welcome in, and how it’s often viewed as the way they’re “supposed” to participate.) (Reading in a Vacuum – Objective vs Subjective Reviews. Written after I read a book that wasn’t BAD, per se, but because it was so very like a dozen other books I’d also read, I didn’t feel I could rate it very highly. Looking at how what we’ve read shapes what we will read, how we read it, and how we react to it.)

    There were a couple of other posts I was somewhat proud of, but for various reasons they’re rather controversial, and I don’t want to bring a drama llama to the party. :p

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