Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Angie Gallant and her book "review" revisited
Published on December 17, 2013 By Draginol In Everything Else

imageWhat do you do if your troll husband gets banned from a forum for being an obnoxious dick? Well, most people might ask their husbands what has gotten into them. Why would they put so much effort to alienate people that they would get kicked out of a forum that they’ve spent years on?

But if you’re Angie Gallant and you run a site dedicated to smearing other people, you respond by putting up a fake review of the book written by the person who was the target of your husband’s trolling. In Crazy Land, this apparently makes sense.

Angie Gallant, aka The Unamommer managed to summon enough bile to write a multi-page trashing of my little fantasy book I had written.  Let me emphasize this, she chose to target me specifically because of her husband’s obsession. I had done nothing to her (or her husband for that matter).  To this day, I have no idea how I became the focus of their family’s obsession.  Since 2010, she’s only had time to crap on 3 books (including mine) so the choice of going after me was no coincidence. Her husband got banned, she decided to blame the victim of her husband’s relentless trolling and spew forth her venom in a review that was presented as objective to the unwary.

One could almost respect her misdirected bile if it weren’t so petty, small and nasty.  While one could argue the strengths and weaknesses of the book all day, I will say this: Her venom is mostly directed at the grammar in the book and a political subtext that only exists in her imagination. Mind you, this is a book that was edited and published by Del Rey and had the same editors as Game of Thrones.  Anyone, including myself, can pick out bits and pieces of the book to ridicule but the same can be said for pretty much any book.  She doesn’t really target the story or the characters very much.  One hopes she hasn’t read Huckleberry Finn or we’d need to get her a fainting couch.

While it’s pointless to discuss the subjective merits of my book, I think it’s safe to say that the average reader would probably find her criticisms much more enlightening if they knew that they were written in response to her husband’s banning from a popular gaming forum. 

To illustrate some of the absurdities of her “review” let me point out a few lines from it to give you a taste.

Yes, he wants to build a border fence to keep the dark people and mutants out, and if that doesn’t work, he wants to burn the magical bridge.

If you’re bat shit insane enough, I suppose anything can be read into everything. In the book, there is no fence. There are no mutants. The people she represents as “dark people” are actually very light gray. I suppose you could call the bridge “magical” in the sense that the bridge has enchantments on it to make it more robust. 

So how does her interpretation match with the actual book? You have a continent that has been split into two. On the West side are the Kingdoms of Men and on the East side you have light-gray skinned beings called the Fallen.  Think of them essentially as Orcs from that well known white supremacist series called Lord of the Rings.

Now, you might wonder, how did she somehow imagine this story as some sort of illegal immigration allegory? That brings us back as to why her husband (and later her) got banned. There are right wingers. There are left wingers. And then we have…well I don’t know how to describe them. But to them, everything is seen through the eyes of politics.

To give you an idea, our olive-skinned hero is described as a “minority”. I kid you not. On a fantasy world we now have identity politics.  Here’s a quote:

There’s also the Handsome Knight Who Is Secretly A Titan and the Token Member Of The Minority With Special Powers…[emphasis mine]

A “Token Member Of The..” Now, I want to point out here that we have someone who’s lampooning my book because of my grammar while At The Same Time Is Capitalizing Every Word In A Sentence. I could go into some detail that most of her grammatical trashing has to do with the inner monologues of characters who speak in their own distinct ways but that would be too easy.

Let’s imagine a book where the good guys have built a fortress, let’s call it Minas Tirith. The fortress is built to keep an eye out for any hint that the bad guys, long defeated, might come back.  A normal person would probably not think twice about that.  But if you’re a left-wing moonbat you might write:

There’s even a point where one character, the lord of a white person keep built on the non-white people continent, has thoughts on how he would like to resolve the matter. [emphasis mine]

That’s an actual quote. The evil white people are stealing land from who? The native Elementians? What?

You see, in her mind, the land is divided based on skin color.  We have white people and “non-white” people (even though the Fallen are actually lighter than most of the Kingdoms of Men in Elemental and in fact some of the Kingdoms of Men are very dark skinned but that wouldn’t fit her narrative).  She probably realized at some point that crapping on the book for sentence structure of the inner monologues of different characters was too ridiculous to swallow and thus had to insert some bizarre racist/bigot subtext in order to justify her screed. 

What’s funny is that I’ve seen her and her friends talk about how it’s not cool to go after people in “real life”.  Apparently, that rule didn’t apply to me. I mean, I deserve to be hated because, I…because…um, I don’t share her political views I guess (I’m one of those evil libertarian types – look out or I’ll advocate that the government not do anything to you!). Therefore, I deserved to be trolled on a video game site and when her husband got banned for it (not at my request mind you, I had nothing to do with his banning) she decided to try to strike at me in a way that would hit home. 

So why do I bring this up now? Because, ironically, 3 years later I still hear bullshit from people who hear I wrote a “racist” book.  My fun little fantasy book, was twisted by her and her ilk into being something it’s not.  I had years and years of notes and concepts for the book in question.  It is a world and a story that I’ve long wanted to share and it has nothing to do with politics or race.

While I suspect she’s incapable of any degree of empathy, can you imagine how exciting it would be to have a book you’ve dreamed of writing be published by Random House only to have someone orchestrate a trashing of it because their husband got banned from a forum after they, for reasons no one understands why, trolled you for months?  It’s not like I did something to these people. 

In my career I’ve dealt with a lot of criticism. Some justified, some not. This was a case where someone went out of their way to target me in the hopes of harming me well outside some forum discussion.  And guess what? It worked. Congratulations.  Her and her friends managed to get my book review score down to 3 stars.  I have no idea what score my book would have “naturally” got.  But a half dozen 1-star reviews, led by her husband and with followers from her blog certainly ensured we’d never find out.  At various times, I considered organizing a counter to it. With millions of people to reach out to, it would be relatively easy to get a couple hundred positive reviews. But I decided not to. Whatever score it got, trolls and all, is what it got. I won’t even link to it here to emphasize I’m not trying to encourage reviewing it (it’s irrelevant now, 3 years on, nobody cares anymore about the book itself).

Anyone who’s played any of the Elemental games knows there’s no political overtones to them.  You could criticize it for not innovating on the classic fantasy tropes (Trogs and Urxen being various types of Orcs for instance) but sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

What amazes me, is that someone who is supposedly a functional adult, a parent even would take the banning of their husband’s as an opportunity to put time and energy into trying to harm someone who had done nothing to her or her husband.  In hindsight, I should have vigorously responded to her disgusting, obnoxious and petty review.  You can’t let this crap stand or else it’ll take on a life of its own. It’s not a mistake I’ll be repeating.


Comments (Page 2)
on Dec 27, 2013

The internet has always been a place where people can do harm just because they can, or out of spite or some misguided anger. It's easy for some people to take on an angry or vindictive persona when all they are looking at is a pc monitor.

Thankfully things are changing and people are starting to be held accountable for what they do on the internet, as Justine Sacco recently found out; so have a number of tweeters in the UK, jailed for making hateful comments. What ever you do or say on the internet is there for all to see. Always be mindful of that and conduct yourself appropriately. Also be aware your employer will expect you to behave in a professional manner even though you are not in the workplace (see ms Sacco).

The day of the troll is numbered. People who misbehave in public will hang themselves in public, and about time too.

on Dec 27, 2013

Fuzzy Logic

The internet has always been a place where people can do harm just because they can, or out of spite or some misguided anger. It's easy for some people to take on an angry or vindictive persona when all they are looking at is a pc monitor.

Thankfully things are changing and people are starting to be held accountable for what they do on the internet, as Justine Sacco recently found out; so have a number of tweeters in the UK, jailed for making hateful comments. What ever you do or say on the internet is there for all to see. Always be mindful of that and conduct yourself appropriately. Also be aware your employer will expect you to behave in a professional manner even though you are not in the workplace (see ms Sacco).

The day of the troll is numbered. People who misbehave in public will hang themselves in public, and about time too.

I wouldn't want to see someone jailed for their words.  I also wouldn't want to see people lose their jobs (like Sacco did) for words.  

I think it's an issue of harm. If you harm someone else, you should face consequences for it.  But there needs to be actual harm. Hurt feelings is not harm.

For example, imagine if I made my living being an author.  Now, because my book was published by Random House and was everywhere, it sold very well. But imagine if I had been an independent writer and Amazon was the only place my book was available, Angie Gallant and her friends might have done me real harm.

Now, I think she has every legal right to do what she did. Sure, it makes her a deplorable human being but she has a right to be a deplorable human being. However, other people, such as the victims of people like her, have a right to respond.

Up to this point, the "more powerful" person has been expected to not respond. It's a derivative of the old "ignore the bullies and they'll move on" concept -- doubly true if you actually have the power to strike back. I think that attitude has largely faded in the last couple years. I know it has for me. 

But I agree with you on your conclusion and I'll repeat what you wrote:

The day of the troll is numbered. People who misbehave in public will hang themselves in public, and about time too.

 

on Dec 27, 2013

I agree with every comment in this topic, I have nothing to add but just wanted to say this 

 

on Dec 27, 2013

GeomanNL

I agree with every comment in this topic, I have nothing to add but just wanted to say this 

 

That's because the trolls are in the Global Warming post.  

on Dec 27, 2013

Frogboy
I was raised that taking the high road means ignoring trolls. That is a social rule that I think is worth keeping -- to a point. But there is a threshold, and I don't know where that threshold is, where you have to respond to it vigorously.

 

I too was raised to "turn the other cheek", but that went out the window as soon as others that I care about entered into the equation.  Time and energy are precious, and need be defended.  We may not be able to change others, but we can demonstrate self-respect and compassion.  Now I defend myself as if I were defending a child (from another child), keeping the goal of diffusing the situation at the front of my mind.  Right and wrong are generally quite clear from a selfless perspective, or by removing oneself from the equation and just taking an honorable and respectful approach.  Most people just need to be shown how to treat each other, having not grown up with good examples.  Peace being the goal, it exists, but needs to be defended.  In other words, don't let things disturb your peace, and be compassionate when others are rattled.  Try beginning your responses to these trolls with "Aw, c'mon guys..."  Like we're all on the same team, but they're shootin buckets into the other team's goal simply because their parents wouldn't give them a ride to practice and they don't really know what they're doing.

 

edit: While I haven't had a chance to read your novel yet, it is on my list, if for no other reason than to experience what was obviously a major piece of the very deep vision you had for the Elemental universe.  The fact that it's fantasy mythos just sweetens the pot.  You wrote a book of lore for a strategy game.  That is just cool.

Such things were more common in the early days of gaming, and remembering how much steeping myself in a game's lore used to enhanced the game play experience, I can envision how much reading the book might expand each game of FE or LH.

on Dec 27, 2013

really Brad? .. i mean.. REALLY?... dont you have better things to do with your mind than post a rant about some slut who has nothing but time on her hands?

move on with your life, enjoy it, and stop going insane over trifle matters  ...... PLEASE...

I mean, in my mind she has already won, she set out to upset you, piss you off, shake your soul... whatever.... your reacting, getting upset over her, letting her basically ruin your life,   so just STOP IT.

let it go. live, breath, laugh, smile, LOVE life without her, period.

the obsession stops now.....

on Dec 27, 2013

Frogboy


Quoting Alstein, reply 11
Astroturfing positive reviews- you would have been found out (especially as obsessive as some people were at the time) , and it would have made things worse.  It was a good call to not do what you were thinking of doing. 

A couple of years after all that mess, I actually did get to read the book.   I have no clue what those two were on about.


That said, the best revenge is living well when it comes to these sorts of folks. 

re "astroturfing" that would have been the point, to let those guys know that if I played by the same rules they did I could have any rating I wanted. Aftersll, they astroturfed my book with their 1 star reviews. 

 

 

If you got caught, and it would be likely that you would- it would have done a lot of harm to your other business.  Any positive reviews of your products would have become suspect- people would think you bought the review scores.  

 

If I didn't know a company except for the fact that they got caught manipulating review scores, I'd think very negatively about the quality of products from said company.  

 

You can do the same thing, but the consequences for you and Stardock would have been much, much higher- fair or not.  That's why the whole "more powerful don't get to respond" is in place- not because of any moral reason, but because of practical reasons.

 

Sometimes what comes around goes around- I remember someone giving you a hard time on Twitter a few months ago- she tries to put out a game on Greenlight a few months later, gets death threats.  (undeserved, and I don't think she was a bad person, just wrong and unfairly giving you a hard time)

on Dec 27, 2013

Alstein, don't be absurd.

It is not only common but widely accepted that people will rally their fans for some cause. Maybe it's a vote for game of the year on some site. Maybe it's a petition for some cause.  Heck, radio hosts regularly rally their fans to give reviews. Apps pop up reminders go go give them a review. 

If I had rallied our supporters to go review my book no one (at least no one who is sane) would have thought twice.  But I didn't. I did the opposite. I even coerced a friend of the family to remove her review when I found out she had reviewed it because she wasn't an objective reviewer.  

 @vamp, I write a lot of blogs on a lot of topics. One blog focussing on the trolling of a book I wrote a few years back I don't think represents an obsession. Similarly, if I write a post about that jerk who cut me off in traffic last week that won't mean I'm obsessed with him either.

 

on Dec 28, 2013

That's fine.

 

I thought you meant actually astroturfing reviews, which I thought was massively out of character for you- but I'm sure those two have irritated you than most folks ever have.

 

on Dec 28, 2013

Alstein

That's fine.

 

I thought you meant actually astroturfing reviews, which I thought was massively out of character for you- but I'm sure those two have irritated you than most folks ever have.

 

we might just have different definitions. I think of astroturfing as organizing people to vote on something. I.e. The p&r qt3 nuts getting together and attacking anorther member's book. 

What do you mean by astroturfing then?

on Dec 28, 2013

i have to say, that if i would have read the book, there is a high chance i would have rated it very low as well. but that's just my taste, i prefer authors like Mario Vargas Llosa or V.S. Naipaul.

the racism part is crap though. not really necessary to single out this book. if you apply such standards, most books of that genre would need to be labeled racist. 

on Dec 28, 2013

the racism part is crap though. not really necessary to single out this book. if you apply such standards, most books of that genre would need to be labeled racist.

I grew up with Noddy ....running around naked...issues with Mister Plod.....Big Ears....Golliwogs.....

Good old Enid ....

Back when no-one knew how to spell pee cee ....

on Dec 28, 2013

Here are two fairly recent positive ratings. I don't think her review is having much of an impact anymore.

http://www.amazon.com/Elemental-Destinys-Embers-Bradley-Wardell/product-reviews/0345517865/ref=cm_cr_dp_qt_hist_five?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addFiveStar&showViewpoints=0

 

on Dec 28, 2013

Is the book review by this woman any less trolling as this OP is trolling against her? Although I might call both pieces flaming and not trolling. Trolling is subtle, something said in such a manner as to get the other person's goat without them getting a clue as to what's happening. There are no such subtleties in either her review or this OP.

i.e. as a writer you should know the difference (trolling)

i.e. your book sucks (flaming)

i.e. I didn't like the book (opinion)

I hate to think that just because someone has a different view/opinion, it shouldn't mean that they are trolling. Maybe they just don't agree or are not a fan.

on Dec 28, 2013

Trolling is never subtle.

Just because it's often dismissed/ignored does not mean it wasn't noted.

As for your 'ie's...

"your book sucks" is actually the opinion.

"I didn't like the book" is a statement [of alleged fact on their part].

What makes the 'review' trolling is the motivation behind its posting....namely a response to her hubby being removed from the book site....

 

 

 

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