Marconomics, Comet Whisperer, Clothing engineer
Literary criticism is a device for generating homogenised pap that conforms to the world-view of the criticising peer-group. The great strides in SF-Fantasy literature (Lem, Dunsany, Tolkien, etc.) have been made by people who didn't give a damn what anybody else thought.
Maybe that was a teensy bit harsh. I think that for criticism to be useful, the critic has to (i) understand what you are trying to do, and (ii) sympathise with that goal. It would be no good having me criticise an action-based novel full of thrills and spills, because I find action sequences of any kind dead boring. I would also pan a character-based novel if it had bad science, when the intended audience didn't care a fig for that sort of thing...If a majority of critics are aiming to 'get published', as a primary goal, I can't see that as being useful to me at all...
Actually, I empathise to some extent; but at the same time, I don't think it's beneficial to live in a coocoon either. Peer review may be complete crap, but in some ways, what is the alternative? Your written work may be in plain sight, but how are you going to get any impartial feedback at all, (other than me)without passing it more directly onto some audience? Writers are consumers of fiction as well, and any feedback will be at some level useful, even if it is just to realise how crappy other publishee wannabe's writing is compared to yours or your friends.
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