A short rant about blogging and seasonal best-of lists.

Someone (a fictional character in a film) said that blogging is just graffiti with punctuation. That may be true to a point, but what’s wrong with that if it is? A lot of people praise graffiti as a genuine art form. I have diploma in journalism, so what is the difference between my opinion piece on my blog and if it was published in The Guardian? This is the time of year when all the lists of the best books (and films and CDs and…) come out on websites and in magazines and newspapers. Are they anything more than glorified adverts at worst or blogs at best? As with every review ever published they are simply opinion. Just because Amazon or the BBC or whoever pay for your words, does that make them any more valid than mine?

So. Let me look at the Amazon.com list of the top 10 SF and Fantasy of 2011.

Ready Player One by E Cline, The Magician King by L Grosman, Inheritance by C Paolini, A Dance with Dragons by GRR Martin, Embassytown by C Mieville, Among Others by J Watson, Akata Witch by N Okorafor, Leviathan Wakes by JSA Corey, The Wise Man’s Fear by P Rothfuss and Vortex by RC Wilson. Haven’t read any of the them. I do want to read the Cline and Meiville. I read the previous effort by Grosman so I might get round to reading that one too. My problem is that I read a lot of classics and more off the wall stuff, so I tend not to read new titles when they first come out. Based on fiction actually published this year, my favourites, in no particular order are Hell Ship by P Palmer, Deadline by M Grant (technically horror?) and The Neon Court by K Griffin. My favourite books I’ve actually read this year include Hyperion by D Simmons, Warm Bodies by I Marion, Generosity by R Powers, Zoo City by L Beukes, Little Brother by C Doctorow and The Dervish House by I McDonald. That, of course, doesn’t include some non-genre stuff, non-fiction or graphic novels I’ve enjoyed too. Titles listed by Publishers Weekly not already mentioned include Triptych by JM Frey and Unpossible by D Gregory. Not really come across those either.

So, what’s the point? People all over the internet and other media suggest opinions. Even lists based on sales cannot account for quality. Apply the argument to music and suddenly Justin Beber becomes one of the most relevant artists in history.  Blogging might indeed be graffiti with punctuation, but official lists are nothing more than sponsored clandestine graffiti. Banksy is commercial mainstream property today.

Make your own lists or don’t make any lists. Read books and write down your thoughts. Or don’t Don’t listen to self-appointed authority of any kind. Unless you want to.

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