Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Taking a Break

After five years of writing reviews for Rocket Stack Rank, I'm going to take an indefinite break. This month marks five years since we started the site, and so it seemed like a good time to pause. Eric will continue to operate the site, producing monthly lists of stories for 11 magazines (with blurbs from the publisher or a few sentences from the story) and aggregating recommendations from other sources (currently 6 reviewers, 16 awards, 7 year's best anthologies), but I won't be reviewing stories myself. Not for a while, at least.

Five years ago, in September 2015, Eric and I started Rocket Stack Rank as a response to the Sad/Rabid Puppy episode that ruined the 2015 Hugo Awards. As we said at the time, we wanted "to create a website to encourage readers of science fiction and fantasy to read and nominate more short fiction."

The response was very positive, and we've enjoyed steady support from readers. We quickly ramped up to a few thousand unique monthly users, with 20-30,000 monthly page views (we recently passed 1,000,000 total page views), and we're currently the #1 Google result for "short science fiction story reviews." Best of all, we were finalists for the Hugo Award for Best Fanzine three times (2017, 2018, 2019). Thank you for supporting us!

In the past five years, I've read and reviewed 3,979 stories, totaling 32,755,701 words of fiction or about the equivalent of 328 novels. In the process, I wrote 604,515 words worth of reviews--as much text as in six novels.
What I've not done is take a break. For five years, I've read and reviewed stories on a deadline--even on vacations--and every month on the 15th, we've produced our "Monthly Ratings," showing all the new short fiction for that month together with key information like the word counts and the recommendations of other reviewers. 

For a long time, that wasn't a problem; this was a labor of love, and Eric and I happily made it first priority. But over the last few months, it has become a burden, and I've had to force myself to read the stories and write the reviews. This isn't because the stories got worse--it's because we've found other things we want to spend time on. That being the case, it's time for me to stop, at least for a while.

We're still going to produce the Monthly Ratings, the Year-To-Date lists, and themed selections of outstanding speculative short fiction, but I'm going to stop reading and reviewing for the most part.

Greg Hullender

7 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Really sad and totally understandable. A well deserved break. Your ratings and summaries has been really helpful to me. It is really valuable as a guide in what to read when you cant read everything. Happy to see the site will still be updated as an aggregator for other reviewers. But really thank you so far for your efforts, both of you!

  2. I will miss your reviews, but can certainly understand the need for a break. Glad to hear Eric will continue the monthly lists, etc. I've definitely enjoyed having this site as my index to speculative short fiction. Thanks to you both!

    1. Thank you for being a loyal fan all these years. We've appreciated your many thoughtful comments.

  3. I will absolutely miss your reviews, but good for you for making this tough decision. Enjoy your time off!

  4. Thank you so much for all the work you've put in! The reviews will be missed, but it's great that the other functionality (including the themed selections!) will remain.

  5. I've enjoyed coming to Rocket Stack Rank every time I finish a story in a short fiction magazine. This site is a big reason I bought print subscriptions to F&SF, Asimov's and Analog this year. Thanks for the herculean amount of reading and reviewing you've done here! Enjoy the break.