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What I'm Reading - Grades

Or, to be a little more descriptive:

A - This book is a classic. You should definitely give it a try ASAP, and itís probably worth reading multiple times.

B - This book is very enjoyable. I recommend it, and it might be worth a reread.

C - This book was okay. If itís in a genre you particularly like, youíll probably find something to enjoy here -- but there are a lot of things that will distract and detract from your reading experience. Definitely not worth a reread.

D - This book was seriously flawed. It wasnít a complete waste of time, but thereís not enough here for me to recommend it on any level. Approach with extreme caution.

F - Complete and utter waste of time. Unless someone is paying you to read this book, donít bother.

Pluses and minuses generally modify or color these grades. An A- is an excellent book with a few flaws. A B+ is a good book with some memorable moments of genius peeking through.

Most of the grades youíll see from me will probably be in the A or B range. The reason for this is simple: Iím generally pretty good at picking what books I want to read. Since Iím not reading a lot of crap, Iím not in a position to review it.

An A+, it should be noted, is reserved for a book which immediately finds its way onto my personal Top 50. That isnít an exact science, since I donít actually keep a precise Top 50 list, but if Iím giving a book an A+ its because I think it compares favorably with Asimovís FOUNDATION TRILOGY, Kuttnerís FURY, Cherryhís CYTEEN, Howardís HOUR OF THE DRAGON, Banksí USE OF WEAPONS, Tolkienís LORD OF THE RINGS, Bujoldís MEMORY, or Besterís THE STARS MY DESTINATION. Take that as you will.

The basic theory of this grading system is Sturgeon's Law: 90% of everything is crap. I figure that if something falls into that 90% range, then it's not worth wasting the time to determine exactly how crappy it is -- so all of that material is simply graded F. The other grades deal entirely with that 10% of the pile which is worth our time to consider.

You may also want to take a look a the Five Facets, which gives some insight into the critical criteria I have for speculative fiction. ("Critical criteria" sounds like such a cold, impersonal term because it is so often used to describe a set of standards artificially imposed. In this case, however, I'm simply using to to mean "the reasons why I think I like the stuff that I like". It's a useful structure for describing my reactions, not a crucible I use to construct those reactions.)