Today I'd like to discuss an internet phenomenon that I've been observing for years: the Negative Fan. The Negative Fan is, for me, some one who develops a hobby or obsession with attacking a writer whom the Negative Fan believes to be bad, inadequate, a failure. For the Negative Fan this is a form of career. And it puzzles me. Why would anybody bother? [link]

Laurel K. Hamilton has also remarked on these "negative fans." I used to think they were an artifact of But they are in a lot of places. They campaign against the author they claim to find worthless. One has to wonder what is the point? All authors must face criticism, and they must face indifference. But the negative fan? One has to wonder at the point of it all. [link]

I can understand sustained negative campaigns regarding political parties, politicians, religions, religious leaders, etc. After all these entities seek to influence our lives, our laws, our taxes, our social and political values. But a sustained negative campaign against a novelist you believe to be terrible? Again. What's the point exactly? [link]

If I don't like an author, I don't read that author. Yet these negative fans will write in so many words: "This author has gone from bad to worse over the years, and here again is another terrible book that fails on all levels." What does this mean exactly? That the person has spent hours reading an author he or she is condemning? To what end? [link]

The lesson for me is this: the internet has enabled some negative fans who wage destructive campaigns against writers they dislike for personal reasons. So when I read a review, I carefully evaluate it. I never take a response to a novel at face value. I look for a context that makes the review trustworthy as honest, and relevant. [link]

Why do I discuss the negative fan at all? Because I think it's a relatively new phenomenon and one that can confuse people. In the old days, these campaigns didn't exist. Yes, a newspaper book reviewer, angry at having received a new novel by an author she hates, might blast that writer, true. But usually it wasn't a full blown or sustained obsession. The internet enables obsessions. [link]