Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Massimo Marino - Speculative Fiction Writer

Before I introduce this week's Speculative Fiction Writer guest, I have great news - my eBook short story collection, Passing Time is already available to buy. I never thought the Kindle review stage would be so quick. It went live the same day I uploaded it, Monday. I ended Tuesday at number five in Amazon's Bestsellers in Horror Short Stories and number 55 in their Top 100 Paid Short Stories. For the blurb and purchase links, please visit here.

On with today's blog post.

Today I am thrilled to be introducing science fiction author Massimo Marino. Over to you, Massimo.

The difficult role of a reviewer...

Sometimes you think reviewing a book must be very easy. You liked it? 5-stars, you didn't? 1-star. Everything in between is a "yes, but" in the higher or lower tail of the distribution. Some writers take a 3-star as if the reader had said "as if I haven't read it".

It needs much more than that. In this year, when I decided to make my writing public for the first time, I spent a great deal with people, reading all possible reviews in Amazon and goodreads, and other sites too. Bloggers and reviews from groups and guilds who do essentially that: read books and share their impressions.

The biggest mistake I've seen, and the most common, is from readers who have a very specific recipe in mind concerning the stories they want to read. It does not matter whether the book is well written, has grammar errors, is not edited, it doesn't flow.

For these readers/reviewers if the story follows the expected recipe it is a GREAT book. Of course, they deceive themselves and others. They don't want to read a story, they want to be told the SAME story over and over again. These readers can give you a 5-star or a 1-star for just one reason: you told them THEIR story or NOT.

Many of the reviews I read around fall into this broad category. The reviewer is motivating his given rank and you can tell immediately it is not a review, it is an opinionated statement: "I liked it a lot because I love green dragons falling in love with their masters and then....". "I hated it when he betrayed his wife and I had to put the book down. It teaches cheating is acceptable. One star, not recommended."

The wise readers—of course—will be able to read through the lines and get whether a 5-star shows a terrible book, or if a 1-star suggests this could be truly great, provoking, mind-twisting read.

The weird discovery is when I read of bad-star ratings and the reviewer on the contrary tells us that the read made him angry, or the story was too much to bear for his convictions, or that the characters were all doing things that made him ate them, and love instead the poor victim who was helpless. How could the writer let this happen? ONE-STAR!

Poor reader, he had in front of his nose a great book, a writer that has been able to stir deeply inside his emotions and he did not recognize it.

Before reviewing, a reader should expect to hear a different story every time, a believable one, one that makes her sad, mad, laugh, and sometimes even cry. That is the ideal, but if only one of this feeling happens, the story has not betrayed her, it has shaken up her firm beliefs and sometimes—oftentimes—we don't want anyone to wake-up us from our steady, immutable dream.

I've seen this happen to any book, even immortal classics receiving one-stars from the above readers. You'll never please them unless you write only one story every time, you can only change the names of the characters but beware, not the plot, nor the final: the rule is to never surprise :)

Reviewing is difficult, you have to have a mind and a heart ready for it, and minds and hearts do work like umbrellas: they function at their best when they are open!

Short synopsis for "Daimones" - winner of 2012 PRG Reviewer's Choice Award in Science Fiction: 

Dan and his family awake one day in a world where everyone is dead but no evidence points to a cause. Initial searches for survivors yield nothing and, in panic, the family turns their house into a stronghold. Eventually, they find Laura, a survivor who manages to win their hearts...and leads Dan to temptation. Laura reveals her panicking encounter with strange entities which Dan recognizes in his childhood hallucinations. He forces himself to find and confront them: An older power controls the fate of men. 

Amazon Author Page (with more published works)

Author Bio: 

Massimo Marino comes from a scientist background: He spent years at CERN and The Lawrence Berkeley Lab followed by lead positions with Apple, Inc. and the World Economic Forum. He is also partner in a new startup in Geneva for smartphone applications: TAKEALL SA. Massimo currently lives in France and crosses the border with Switzerland multiple times daily. 

"Daimones" is the first volume of a trilogy, and is based on personal experience and facts with an added "what if" to provide an explanation to current and past events. It is his first novel. Watch the book trailer at Youtube. 

"Daimones" is the recipient of the 2012 PRG Award Reviewers' Choice in Science Fiction. 

He also writes short chilling, twisted, horror stories, sometimes while having breakfast. 

If interested in more details about Massimo Marino, please see his full profile on Linkedin.

Thank you, Massimo. A fascinating insight into the difficulty of both writing and receiving reviews. I'd love to know everyone's thoughts on this subject.


  1. Well-written reviews can really give a potential reader insight into a book. I doubt most readers think about the impact of reviews beyond offering their opinions, they way writers do.

    Sounds like a great book!

  2. Lovely Ellie!!! So so so so happy for you and your amazing anthology!! Well done you!

    And Massimo - all the best with your book!! Hope Dan finds the courage and love (with Laura) to fight this bad thing who kills nearly all of humanity!! Booo! But also the natural world? Double boo!! And as for negative passionate reviews - fine, have them but please take away the star rating system cos I really think the star-rating has such a visual impact! :-) Just my humble opinion! Take care

  3. So happy for Passing Time! Congrats a million, Ellie. :)

    Reviews can be very hard to write, and very hard to read if they concern your work. But they make writing better in the end, because we learn to see a different view of our work. Best of luck with writing, Massimo!


  4. It happens with all creations - books, movies, music. People go into it with preconceived notions.
    I've learned not to worry about most of the less-than-stellar reviews of my books, because those readers weren't my target audience.

  5. I'm not good at reviewing, and I know it. And I quite reading reviews of my work for sanity. As Alex says, most the curmudgeons aren't the target audience anyway.


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