When we founded the NYRSF, we devoted a lot of discussion to the form of the ideal review and presented our ideas at many science fiction conventions on panels. One day, then editor Greg Cox, master of metaphor, invented the example of the Samurai Vampire subgenre novel. It was so compressed, clear, and to the point that it became our standard summary description. The rest would have been history had it ever been preserved. Nothing ever again will match the spontaneity (and gestures) of Greg Cox's original live delivery on stage. But as instruction to later generations of reviewers, we have prevailed upon him to write down the bare schema of his magnificent system and present it here under the rubric:
Again, Samurai Vampires
The difference between a quickie review ("thumbs up!") and genuine criticism is often a sense of context. Take the latest samurai vampire novel, for instance. A good NYRSF review should do more than simply report the reviewer's gut reaction to this particular book. It should place it in the context of the author's other work, and of the work of others today, and in the past in this esteemed and popular category. Indeed it should place this individual novel within the larger context of vampire samurai fiction as a whole. Where does this book fit in the grand history of the saumrai vampire novel? How does it compare against the great samurai vampire novels of the past. What are the essential virtues, expectations, and/or limitations of the entire samurai vampire genre? And does this novel imply whither goest the samurai vampire novel? This sort of context can make a good review all the more informative and illuminating.
And at the NYRSF, we still want our reviewers to aspire to this goal. Commonly when we edit a review we ask the writer for more context. And we recommend these considerations to all reviewers everywhere. We want to thank Greg Cox for this moment of enlightenment.
—David G. Hartwell & the Editors
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We seek thoughtful, insightful, and well-written reviews of worthy science fiction, fantasy, and horror books. Our credo is that we publish "reviews which reveal the strengths and weaknesses of good books." We tend not to publish negative reviews, though we do publish reviews that examine with precision the unsuccessful elements of worthwhile books. Contrawise, we do not publish reviews which are simply gushes of unexamined praise even of the best books; we want thoughtful reviews. We are not interested in reviewing every book published -- nor even the majority of books published; please query us beforehand if you are interested in reviewing a specific title. We will consider well-written and substantial reviews of books by any author, from any publisher. Reviews need not be limited solely to one book; we encourage reviewers to compare books with similar themes and to place individual works in context within an author's oeuvre and/or within the context of the field of speculative fiction as a whole. We recommend that you read the piece "Again, Samurai Vampires, " [see above] for more advice. We expect revised prose, not first-draft material. We edit reviews frequently and will request revisions if needed. No extensive changes will be made to your work without your prior notification and approval.
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