My First Reviews Are In

“Thief of Futures” was my first story to appear in a major speculative fiction publication, so I was expecting it to get a wide readership and garner a few reviews.  I’ve never had my work formally reviewed by total strangers before, so I admit I was a little nervous.  I’ve seen the reviews at two of the larger publications.  Lois Tilton at Locus and Richard Aphron at Tangent both reviewed the September issue of Lightspeed Magazine and both gave my story less than stellar reviews.  Ouch!

Digging into the reviews, however, I find one of main complaints from both reviewers is that they felt “Thief of Futures” was not science fiction.  Ms. Tilton wrote “[w]hile the dystopian setting suggests a vaguely cyberpunked future, the future-stealing places this one squarely in the camp of fantasy” and Mr. Aphron notes “the story can’t be good sf, because it’s not sf.  It’s a fantasy story set in the future.”  Hmm….  Valid “complaints,” but my story is what it is, and this seems more a complaint about the editor’s selection of my story for his science fiction magazine, than my story.  I wonder if “Thief of Futures” had appeared in a strictly fantasy magazine if they would have written different reviews. 

Overall, Ms. Tilton didn’t care for my story much (although the twist seemed to work for her).  Mr. Aphron did give it some small praise: “I liked the setting…Minton portrayed the sweltering Malaysian city well” and concluded by saying you might enjoy it if you like crime stories. 

I know my stories will not appeal to everyone.  That’s the way it is, and that’s fine—I write what I write.  I know from reader feedback that several people did like the story enough leave comments.  But you know, I don’t write stories for the praise (although it’s nice to hear when people like them).  I write stories I would like to read.  Hopefully others enjoy them, too.  I’m not sure how many other reviews I’ll read—my story “Observations on a Clock” (February 2012 issue of Asimov‘s) will be the next in line for both Locus and Tangent—but I am sucker for punishment, so I’ll probably check them out not matter how much I know I shouldn’t.

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About D. Thomas Minton

Writer of speculative fiction
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2 Responses to My First Reviews Are In

  1. Actually, I’m reading your blog right now because I just finished Thief of Futures and loved it. It’s falls squarely into that more nebulous catch all genre, ‘speculative fiction’, and that was fine with me. I don’t think most readers are sitting with a ‘fantasy versus sf’ checklist with each story they read – I think they want a futuristic or magical world, and characters with problems that are both recognizable and unique (check!) I loved the character driven conflict, her child versus mine, I loved the twists in the story, and the vaguely dystopian world. I’m looking forward to more of your work.

    • Thanks for dropping in, Karen, and leaving encouraging words. I think you’re right about most readers. If a story works for them, whether it’s “pure” science fiction, “pure” fantasy, or cross-genre doesn’t matter. When I read, it all comes back to characters and conflict. Speculative fiction simply allows for different ways to explore human issues. I’d like to think I write things that I would want to read. My best to you and please come again.

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