Reviews on this site
Structure and policy
Since 2002, I rate movies I’ve seen. For the first 12 years, I did not note when I’d seen what; that started in 2013. Since 2016, I rate books. In the early years I studied the stuff and had proper reviews published in Spionen. For my own site, I now write to think. In Recent Theories of Narrative (1986), Wallace Martin wrote:
Those who talk or write about narratives contribute to the total dialogic context of literature, where the production of words entails the creation of value, through the work and pleasure of understanding.
There is work and pleasure in understanding, and the pleasure is greater than the work. I hope that’s why I write down my thoughts on some of the media I consume. However, I can’t say I “contribute”. I just apply the following constraints.
The medium of a reviewed work is identifiable from its tags:
Movies, TV, streaming video etc. have the “moving picture” tag.
Other media are not reviewed at all, so no albums, concerts, operas, exhibitions, podcasts, virtual reality scenes, bikes, architecture, birds or lint.
Undated reviews are either from memory of a time before I started writing reviews, or from renewed acquaintance. When my memories are badly faded, I do not write.
I do not review games in any medium, including printed books for wargames and role-playing games, regardless of fluff content. Any opinions on games go into non-review articles like The pulping of Delta Green.
Except where otherwise noted, I review complete works that I have experienced, unadulterated and in full. I try to avoid a hard line on notability, but under the completion criterion I very rarely review individual essays or amateur YouTube videos, and never anything more fragmentary, like news articles.
Structure of a review
Titles are indexed by time of release first, then alphabetically. Associated works—“franchises” in broad interpretation—are clustered except on indices dedicated to rating or length.
These are the visible properties of an individual review, in addition to site-wide features such as back references and tags.
I favour official English-language release titles. Some alternative titles are registered and will affect search results but are not displayed. I generally include long-ish subtitles and eschew typographic stylizations.
Year of release
Reviewed works are dated in the following order of descending preference:
Antemortem release, e.g. publication, recorded public performance etc. Where a work was serialized in publication, as on television or in a literary journal, the date of the first release (launch) is used in preference to any subsequent final issue or revised, consolidated novel.
Finalization, where a record or guess exists that is more credible than the date of a posthumous release. These dates are often approximate, particularly for ancient works.
Posthumous release. While releases are usually relatively well recorded and fixed as points of reference, they get ridiculous when they’re far removed from any possible modification the author might have made, hence the low priority.
Thus Lovecraft’s “Sweet Ermengarde” is listed as a 1917 work, representing an early estimate of its writing. It was first published in 1943, after the death of the author.
I rate the subjective value of an experience. This is essentially entertainment value, though I deny the existence of pure entertainment. I am entertained by learning, even about bad ideas and harmful influence, as is the case with Exodus.
The scale is explained in the index.
I developed creator credits as an extension of the tagging system on this site mainly for reviews of written works, since author names are traditionally favoured over release dates for references to literature.
Cast and crew credits for films etc. are a by-product. They are deliberately very spotty. Please do not use them as a source on who really did what on a production. I add them only when I have some personal interest in one of the creators, and then only for the most influential role he or she played in each production. Other people in the same role are then added for context, so as not to create the impression that the person of interest did all the work in that department.
The role of “writer-director” is applied even where someone other than the director wrote an original novel etc. as long as the director has sole credit for the screenplay as such. By contrast, where a director co-wrote the screenplay with someone else, I will default to give credit for direction only and ignore the writing.
The main body of a review may contain zero or more of the following sections.
Extent — of experience
Under the criterion of completion noted above, when I start a novel and do not finish it, I typically don’t review it. By the same token, the source films used on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988) appear separately only when I have seen them on their own terms.
Any exceptions are noted under “Extent”, which is short for “extent of experience”. For example, if I have seen only some seasons of a TV series but not all, or heard only translated narration to a documentary instead of the original narration, that goes in here.
I rarely comment on translations of or into text. I read Swedish and English fluently and will only mention subtitling of audio or translation of text into those languages if it’s from one into the other, e.g. reading an English-language book in Swedish translation. For languages where I am not fluent but can make do (e.g. Norwegian, Danish, French, Japanese) at the time of experience, I tend to mention the perceived impact.
This field was originally intended to give a quick overview of publication type (e.g. TV vs. OVA), genre (e.g. SF), interrelationships within a franchise (e.g. sequel vs. spin-off) and significant credits: The kind of information that can very quickly put the subject description into context for a reader without spoiling the plot.
Subsequent developments of the site, including the tagging system, creator credits, spoiler concealment and database-encoded franchise relationships, have left the categorization field in limbo. I use it less in newer reviews and may eventually drop it altogether.
An intrinsic introduction to the item under review. For fiction, this basically means plot, occasionally formulated with value judgements. Spoilers are hidden in recent reviews, but this is not universally applied.
The last section of running text holds general analysis, opinion and stuff hitting the keyboard.