The Aftermath of Aftermath's Aftermath

Star-Wars-Aftermath-header-700x300So things have been buzzing quite a bit over Chuck Wendig's latest, a media tie-in novel to a small franchise you might have heard of called Star Wars: Aftermath. I wrote a piece about some of the reactions floating around out there in the wake of this book's Force Friday release on Sept. 4, and it seems to have been drawing a lot of eyeballs. Wordpress tells me it's getting lots of traffic and that my stats are booming. In fact, yesterday and today have been the two most-visited days this little blog has seen (if not ever, than at least in quite a very, very long time). And in these last two days, my post on Star Wars has become the most viewed post of the year on this blog. Crazy stuff, that.

Apparently getting mentioned by Chuck Wendig and The Mary Sue is a good way to generate traffic to a single entry on this blog. Not that I'm complaining. I'm happy for the visit, and maybe a few will stick around for more in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.

In a much less ego-centric fashion, though, the salient point to take away is that whatever protests were aimed at Aftermath have clearly failed. If the goal, either from rabid fans of the prior Star Wars Expanded Universe or rabid puppy/GamerGate types who loathe diversity in their science fiction, was to steer people away from this latest Star Wars novel, then it has seriously failed. If the goal was to shut down any interest in the title, then that, too, has failed.

The mob rule that 1-star reviewers had enjoyed over the weekend is slowly degrading as less divisive readers and fans weigh in. Over the last 24 hours reviews have doubled, and the 1-star reviews, which at the time of my writing yesterday had accounted for more than 50% of the book's reviews, has now dropped to 40% and the title's overall rating has increased from two stars to 2.7.

I suspect that the book's ratings will increase as more people chime in. Soon, balance will be restored to the Force.

While any title is bound to have 1-star reviews, the velocity and ferocity with which they came is more than a little bit suspicious. So, I think that what we're seeing now is an increase in level-headedness, an increase in honest reviews from those less invested in the old Expanded Universe, and the curious who were brought into the fold because of all the vitriol and attention brought to Aftermath by this anti-Disney, anti-New EU campaign (if that was, in fact, the leading cause behind all those initial 1-stars).

This whole campaign kerfluffle has also given the book a lot of attention at Amazon, as the curious click through to that book and buy it, increasing the book's sales ranking, as noted by Mr. Wendig over at his blog:

Amazon algorithms are interested not in the quality of the reviews but rather the attention that the reviews and the book get. (Meaning, a passel of negative reviews actually elevates the book’s overall sales ranking. Which in turn garners it more sales. Amazon reps have been clear with me on this point: buyers buy books with reviews, period. Not good reviews, not bad reviews. But rather: quantity of reviews impress buyers to make purchases. So, leaving a ton of bad reviews actually increases the book’s sales.

If my own writing on this 1-star campaign yesterday is anything to go by, then many more readers will soon be discovering and purchasing Aftermath just to see what all the hubbub is. And that, of course, means that the campaign against the Expanded Universe and diversity in our fiction has, again, failed and failed miserably.

Michael Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.


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