It seems only fitting that tonight's interview be with Ken of Neth Space. Guys like Adam, Ken and Larry (well known bloggers of sf&f) became well known for their contributions to conversations at wotmania. The wotmania forum site closed today, signaling the end of an era, at least in the online sf&f community. Though I never had any contributions to wotmania, I like to think I'm of the second generation of what bloggers like Pat, Ken, Adam, Larry and others started on that forum board. So, sit back, relax and enjoy a look into the sf&f community with Ken from Neth Space.
PW: Will you describe your best day ever at Neth Space?
Ken: This would be toss-up between a few events.
Just after starting I started Neth Space I installed a stat counter. It was a complete shock to discover that people were reading my blog and that these people were literally from all over the world. It was a moment when the academic knowledge of the ‘world wide web’ being a literal term became personal to my experience.
Similar to the moment above, there was a point when I realized that someone who posted a comment at my blog was a well-known and inspected editor. This led me to approaching him about receiving review copies – he was happy to set me up with his publicist. I’ve been a big fan of Pyr ever since (of course this is mostly due to the consistently high quality product they put out).
The other moment that comes to mind is my first true contact with a ‘rock-star’ of SFF. I emailed George RR Martin about doing a short interview. I got an email back from him in less than an hour (you can read the interview here). It was a sort of ‘wow’ moment – I had just gotten and email from George RR Martin. I’ve since gotten a bit used to this sort of thing, but it still brings a warm-fuzzy feeling.
PW: Will you describe your worst day ever at Neth Space?
Ken: The day that Robert Jordan died.
We can debate the quality of Wheel of Time all you want, but Robert Jordan was giant in the fantasy field and on a personal level, his books were responsible for really getting me hooked in the genre.
I’ve always been a big reader and I’d read a bit of SFF prior to Jordan, but picking up The Eye of the World when I was a freshman in college simply changed everything. I immediately ran out and bought all the books in the series that were available – up to The Fires of Heaven with Lord of Chaos coming out in paperback shortly thereafter. I read and re-read the books, and eventually I found my way to the internet to see if I could find out info about upcoming books. A whole new world opened up to me with the fan pages and message boards centered on the Wheel of Time. This led me to reading more and more SFF and eventually to creating my blog.
Like so many of Jordan’s fans, his death hit me hard. His books started me on my own journey, and for that I could never thank him enough. And his premature death left so much unsaid.
PW: Were you ever tempted to just walk away? What’s been your most frustrating moment?
Ken: I’ve never been tempted to walk away, but the most frustrating moment is easily when an author didn’t react well to a negative review I had written about her book. I think what really bothered her is that I didn’t finish the book and I chose to write about it anyway. I stated right up front that I didn’t finish the book, so I don’t see this as an issue.
The discussion started out civil and informative, but turned bad when the author became snarky and out-right rude. I left it there since I no longer had nice things to say myself. But the author didn’t let it die and continued to bring it up, making me out to be some sort of nasty, vindictive person out to make her look bad.
Eventually it all died down for good.
PW: What’s the main reason that keeps you coming back to Neth Space?
Ken: I’m a fan. I’m a big fan of reading and such and blogging became the next step along my journey. It’s fun too (and a great distraction from work).
PW: When did you realize Neth Space was more than blog; that it was really big?
Ken: Well, I’m not sure I’d use the term ‘really big’. It’s all relative and my little blog doesn’t get near the traffic of many others out there. I don’t really think my blogging style will ever lead to a huge audience, but I’m confident that plenty of people out there are enjoying it.
Otherwise it’s been gradual. But I’m always happy when I find out that industry people and authors are out there reading.
PW: What is the ‘state-of-the-nation’ for sf&f bloggerdom?
Ken: I believe that SFF bloggerdom has reached a plateau. It seems that in the late ‘90s early ‘00s it got off to a start – probably a slow start in terms of volume but with relatively high growth rates. Sometime in 2005-2006, things started to really get big. Pat over at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist wasn’t the first by a long shot, but he was probably the first fan blogger to gain such a large and public audience in such a short time period. This was in about 2005. I came onto the scene in early 2006 just before things really started shooting up. Blogs were relatively new and everyone was still figuring them out.
Now blogs have become a recognized force in the SFF world. And they are about a dime a dozen these days. The question is where do they go from here. Is this plateau a peak with a long slide downward in the future? Will the plateau continue onwards? Or do we have some more growth in the future?
My instinct is that blogs are here to stay for a while (in some form or another). But I also feel that the SFF world has room for both growth and contraction. Wherever things do go, I’ll be right there.
PW: What blog would you point me towards, as a compelling arena of sf&f, for the Sunday Night Spotlight?
Ken: What is this, a pyramid scheme?
Larry over at OF Blog of the Fallen is always good for stirring things up. I’ve ‘known’ Larry for somewhere around 8 years from my involvement at wotmania.com, which is sadly closing soon. He’s since turned his focus to blogging and is much more literary and international than most bloggers out there. He’s also landed a few paid reviews and a job as assistant editor (or similar) for an upcoming anthology. His blog is simply one of the most respected around (and one of that loves to stir the pot).
I’m also a big fan of Jeff over at Fantasy Book News & Reviews. For whatever reason, Jeff prompts me to respond to blog posts more than any other blog I follow – and that is a big compliment. Jeff also has created a huge index of book reviews for fantasy books, mostly epic fantasy. It’s wonderful resource.
PW: What is the funniest story you have to tell regarding Neth Space?
Ken: Let’s face it – I’m fairly lazy at times (though I’ve always preferred the term ‘gifted underachiever’), and one symptom is my liberal use of cut and paste for things around the blog. Well, I apparently missed a substitution I need to make in getting some interview questions ready for a rather popular author (he’s won a couple of Hugo Awards) with a huge internet following.
When I got his answers and I saw the very literal answer he gave to the question I immediately became unbelievably embarrassed, complete with that horrific sinking feeling. After I crawled on my virtual hands and knees and begged for forgiveness, we chose to leave the interview as it stood, showing my embarrassment to all the internet world. You can read the result here.
PW: What is your boldest prediction for sf&f in 2010?
Ken: A tragic plane crash that kills George RR Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, and Scott Lynch? – Dear Lord I hope not.
I have no idea what bold prediction I can really make, but I think it’s safe to say that 2010 will be the year of Brandon Sanderson. I predict that The Gathering Storm will be released to massive praise here in a few months and that will carry him into 2010, when he’ll release the first book in his planned 10-book series, The Way of Kings, another book in his Alcatraz series, and I think it’s likely that he’ll get penultimate Wheel of Time out by the end of 2010. That kind of production is simply phenomenal, and I simply can’t wait to see how it works out.
PW: What is the type of story that you are burning to read, or even write yourself?
Ken: Well, I have no desire to write, so that part is easy. As for the story I’m burning to read – I don’t know, and that is just fine by me. It’s the story that I have no idea is coming that I look forward to. Sure, the next book by ___ that I’ve been waiting for is great, but it’s the unexpected that has me excited.
My thanks to Ken for being a sport and being interviewed. I've been fortunate to interact with Ken a bit through the forum boards at sffworld, and it's been my pleasure. On a personal note, what little I've come to know of Ken, personally, is that he is a considerate man of humor and conscience. Do yourself a favor and enjoy some time at Neth Space.