Or: What Must It Be Like To Be That Person

A Review of an Audible Review

1,936 words.

A Review of an Audible Review

I saw a review on Audible of The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu (the sequel to Three Body Problem). I was transfixed while skimming this review, and I found myself wondering what it was like to be that person. I will quote it here in its entirely, a blatant violation of that person’s valuable copyright, because it must be preserved for future generations to study, and I could not work out how to find a permalink to the individual review on the page.

The aforementioned review, written by someone called “Master” in 2018, will now be read into the historical record. I did not write this review. I wish there was a way to mark sections of my page as “this isn’t mine Dear Google In The Sky, don’t associate it with me.” But these are the dangers we must face in these uncertain times to bring The Truth to our readers.

Any potential commentary on this review should be entirely self-evident, right? Surely.

Here we have a review, written in excessively flowery prose, which goes to extended lengths to complain about a book being excessively “full of literary noise,” and, presumably, not enough bullet points. A book that is a translation from an entirely different language, mind you.

Taken as a comedy routine, that review was pretty good. Full of absurdist exaggeration, the basis of most good comedy.

What’s it like to be someone who writes a review like that? For me, that would take a pretty significant investment in time to write and publish. Why would someone write a lengthy review and post it in a forum that is entirely ephemeral, which could be removed with the push of a few buttons?

Why does anyone write those reviews on Amazon? The really long ones, I mean. And especially the ones like this, that meticulously explain what is, in this person’s mind, the universally-understood Way to write science fiction. The All Meat and No Noise Way that they teach in all the fundamental science fiction writing classes.

What is the reward that balances out the time sink of writing a review like that?

Perhaps it was AI-generated. That might explain how long it is. I tried to get ChatGPT to write a similar review.

Not bad, actually, although I should have predicted ChatGPT wouldn’t understand the sarcasm in “excessive literary merit.” (Also it figured out Luke Daniels narrated the first book all by itself.)

But it’s still not long enough, and it keeps trying to be nice. No, Mr. Computer! It definitely did not contain immense depth and complexity, it was sickeningly noisy and kept banging on about Zhang Yan’s– excuse me, “Zhang Yan’s” dewey tears and blah, blah, blah, blah!

Just for the record, I’ve only just begun listening to The Dark Forest audiobook so I can’t really comment on it. One thing I have in common with Meat Reviewer, however, is that I, too, like Luke Daniels a lot. But I didn’t think he was suited to the material in Three Body Problem, and I don’t particularly mind the change. (Luke Daniels sounds very American and Three Body Problem is very Chinese. The new guy also sounds American, but dialed down a little bit.)

Anyway, I just feel bad for that reviewer. Will they make it to the end of the second book? Will they get through the third book? How will they ever feast on the meat of the story unless PJ Ochlan skips all those noisy bits??

Hey look, I added comments again, because it was easy and free. I don't recommend writing anything that you don't want to lose, because I don't know anything about the stability of this platform.