Now that Isolate is finally published, I’ll be interested to see if reader reviews follow a familiar pattern to that of my earlier books, a pattern, interestingly enough, that also occurs in the political world.

Once one of my books is published, usually the first reader reviews are mixed, but almost immediately, along with those who liked the book are those who go to great lengths to find faults with it, of all sorts. Those quibblers and naysayers tend to have a greater presence in the days and weeks immediately following publication, but then, over time, those who quibble and carp about what’s in the book and about what’s not (and find the book “boring”) drop off, and later comments tend to be more positive.

What I find interesting about this is that it’s very similar to the reaction to major political events. Whatever the event or occurrence, the naysayers are usually out in force first, whether it was January 6th, or Obamacare, or walls and immigration, masks and vaccination.

Part of the similarity, I suspect, lies with the subject matter. Neither politics nor my books are simple, and anyone who’s studied either knows that. Anything that’s complex tends to draw opposition, possibly because saying “no” is always easier than a considered and thoughtful response.

In addition, in dealing with large numbers of people, even the best crafted regulation or law will have repercussions on someone. If a vaccine is 93% effective (and that’s high for a vaccine), that means that it doesn’t work well on 7% of those who receive it.

Likewise, even the best crafted thought-provoking book will irritate some people, and as study after study has shown, negative reactions show up more often first and more strongly than positive reactions. This has been true in politics as well. The AMA and most businesses were initially dead-set against FDR’s Social Security proposals. Going back a bit farther, the southern states would have blocked the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution had slavery been outlawed from the beginning.

But it doesn’t always happen that way, which is why, sometimes, it’s better to think things over, from books to politics.

13 thoughts on “Naysayers”

  1. Tom says:

    “Going back a bit farther, the southern states would have blocked the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution had slavery been outlawed from the beginning.”

    I think they did: and the US Constitution was weakened so that today the Confederacy is able to destroy the Union and with it the nation of United States of America (perhaps leaving three moderate sized states and a handful of smaller states).

    Worldwide the “democracies” are swamped by the naysayers (inside and outside the ‘government’ of the moment) who believe that they will be “free’ under systems of authority – their own sovereignty or ‘natural authoritarian’ guidance. Even the business people are discussing alternatives to co-operatives and corporations for international trade but for more practical reasons.

    If “Isolate” is what you indicated on U-Tube, and the publisher states on the flyleaf, then I for one will be very pleased with the book’s content expressing your knowledge of politics. Perhaps it will contain a solution to our presently dominant selfishness – short of mayhem (via the neuro-immune inflammatory reflex?). Whatever – by the end of reading the list of characters I was already smiling (not even on page 1 yet) and starting a guess list of their likely personalities.

    1. R. Hamilton says:

      “Selfish” also includes burning, looting (neither of which are “peaceful protest”), treating others as either tools for your cause/power or deplorables to be shamed, etc.

      Compared to that, a bias toward individual liberty rather than compulsory collectivism is hardly selfish at all, insofar as it also means supporting the liberty of others as well as one’s own.

      1. Tom says:

        Selfish: (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure. The definition does not include “burning, looting (neither of which are “peaceful protest”) but does include “treating others as either tools for your cause/power or deplorables to be shamed”.

        “Compulsory collectivism” occurs in communistic type of authoritarianism and is not an automatic result of the need for communal rules.

        So if one wishes to live with any other human(s) then we need to rules to live by and these necessitate diminishing individual “freedom” to increase communal “freedom” and safety. As noted in Isolate:

        “Life is a balance between what each of us thinks is best personally and what is best for the community as a whole. Rules should protect each of us from the worst people and impulses in our community but also protect (ensure the integrity of) the community.”

        But you know this.

        1. R. Hamilton says:

          Surely some of those rules should be able to distinguish between harmful actions and genuinely peaceful protest – unless there’s a selfish desire on the part of those who should be making that distinction to serve themselves by enabling such behavior, and a selfish desire by those who engage in such behavior to non-constructively vent their anger and/or profit.

          Of COURSE we need rules, but the less rules and intrusions on the liberty and resources of the individual, the better. Plenty of “blue laws” and others largely obsolete and useless are still on the books, and lots more than that are, even IF one concedes some value to their claimed benefits, not the least intrusive way of achieving those benefits.

          A tendency to expect government to be used to solve big problems should probably not be in the land of the free and the home of the brave, and certainly not in government.

  2. Ryan Patrick Jackson says:

    Although it detracts a bit from the main point you’re pushing. I’d also say that the initial naysaying also stems from the fact that a great number of people appear to come from a place where if something is not EXACTLY what they expect, then it is utter garbage and anyone who disagrees is a sellout/fake/whatever.

    Last Friday Amazon released the first 3 episodes of an Adaptation of a very long run fantasy series. This adaptation is supported by the editor of the series who is also the widow of the author, as well as the author she hand picked to finish the work. Yet almost every single complaint throws in a “As a Real fan of the work I KNOW that the author is rolling in their grave.”

    There’s no real allowance for honest disagreement or discussion and critique, just a loud shout that because it’s not exactly what they wanted it’s trash and every “real” fan would agree.

    I imagine this willd rop off as time goes.

    In a similar vein, I’ve noticed a certain pattern in people who critique your work and for many they seem almost attacked that anyone might disagree with them.

    1. R. Hamilton says:

      I mostly agree with you (for a change from my usual disagreeing with most people 🙂 ). The LOTR movies for example definitely made some changes I didn’t particularly like; but by and large, most of the changes they made were because a totally faithful rendering of the books into movies was commercially impossible; and from what I’ve read, they rejected at least some changes that would have been too incompatible.

      One doesn’t have to agree with someone 100% to have some grounds for cooperation or even appreciation…provided _they’re_ also not all-or-nothing in their position.

  3. Tom says:

    So I shall start the “naysayer” ball rolling.

    This “Grand Illusion” series appears to be exactly what I wished LEM would write. He understands and has experience from inside politics and government.

    However:… I am halfway through the book and Dekkard has still not discuss the event on page 31 with Ysella. Not even after a recurrence on page 243. The suspense is killing me; is it or is it not some form of “Metaverse”? How could the writer do this to me!

    1. R. Hamilton says:

      Be patient, you may yet encounter a partial explanation.

      For now, my guess is that it’s a bit of the flavor of agnostic-but-there’s-more-than-just-the-here-and-now that crops up from time to time. 🙂 Like prophesy in another series, for instance.

  4. Darcherd says:

    I’m over halfway through with Isolate and think it’s LEM’s best work to date. The new world he’s built is fascinating and detailed and the protagonists thoroughly likeable (something I’ve always loved about his works – you can keep your post-modern anti-heroes). The book could rightly be considered a work of political philosophy as much as fantasy fiction, with some very intriguing concepts ranging from parliamentary secret ballots to vote on measures with the totals only being counted at the party level to a startling level of approval for severe government censorship of the news. I already can’t wait for the next book!

  5. Grey says:

    Well, I quite liked it and have recommended it to my book friends. Sad we have to wait a few seasons for the next one.

    On the essay, it’s just so easy to whine, so they show up first. I note you don’t call them critics, which to me is correct as that kind of feedback requires thought and effort.

    Also, I really like the cover art; quite evocative of the characters and setting. Did you have much input there, LEM?

    1. I didn’t suggest the exact scene, but I had a fair amount of input on the details, for which I’m very grateful.

  6. john Stamps says:

    When I see one of your books, I stop and grab it. Since I believe in being responsible for my thoughts and actions, I like/ expect to enjoy the way your latest series will evolve. Like Nevil Shute, you evoke the deeper currents within. I find this satisfying.

  7. alecia flores says:

    I will be reviewing the book – I just finished it, & found your version of the Constitution (the Great Charter) interesting: it also makes sense. One quibble – could you please find a synonym for ‘sardonic’? I swear it appears once per page.

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