Tigriffin

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Fan
Name: Tigriffin
Alias(es):
Type: Reviewers with Pseuds
Fandoms: Star Trek:TOS
Communities:
Other:
URL:
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Tigriffin was a pseud for Forum's zine review column.

This fan self-identified as female, and her real name was never revealed or discovered.

Who is Tigriffin?

Some fans speculated that this reviewer was Paula Smith, but this was never proven or disproven.

Joan Verba wrote another possibility:
This reviewer was more acerbic and less professional than H.O. Petard of Spectrum. I still have no idea who Tigriffin was. But Tigriffin wrote many reviews, and initially had the irritating habit of referring to himself or herself in the third person. [1]

Regarding a Very Controversial Review by Tigriffin of Dilithium Crystals #1

From Interstat #33, comments by Karen B:

I would like to make a few comments concerning the "review" of Dilithium Crystals by Tigriffin in Forum #4.

To Tigriffin: What gives you the privilege of playing God that you can perform merciless butchery on this or any other zine? Your initial paragraph, meant to be humorous I suspect, is a masterful example of hypocrisy. The actual "review" is disgusting in its inane attempt to make "good and bad" comments with which to salve your inflated and egotistic conscience. No zine or person(s) deserves to be treated in the manner in which you did Dilithium Crystals. A great deal of time, energy, money and especially a large piece of one's self goes into putting out a zine. When this kind of ambition is made into reality, who are you to cry shame?—especially when it is a first zine. What I do see is someone hiding—yes, hiding—behind a pseudonym pointing fingers and being childishly and viciously nasty. Such remarks as "good—nobody dies" or "good—it was only two pages long, bad—this story is trite, heavy-handed, malicious and character defaming." have no place in an impartial review. The last paragraph "overall contents" was unintelligible and implied the proofreader was the only person making a "laudable effort". Oh, yes, the printing shop seems to have passed your inspection also; how nice of you to actually make a kind judgment on something. Since you feel it's such a good approach, I believe I shall utilize your good/bad idea. Tigriffin's review: Good—I now have an extra sheet of paper to paper-train my new pet goldfish. Bad—the entire review. [2]
Another fan complains about the review, saying that it was:
... the most careless hatchet-job I have ever read in fandom. [3]
Patricia B addressed Karen B's letter complaining about the harsh review of Dilithium Crystals:
If you intend to try and deny the press its right to print reviews, you're going to find yourself up against big guns, the Constitution of the United States, for one. Good or bad, brimming with praise or extremely scathing, it is an editor's/publisher's right to print reviews! My mother once said, if you can't stand the heat stay out of the kitchen.... Just as a zine editor has the right to publish,a reviewer has the right to tear that publication to ribbons! [4]
Comment by Karen B:
To [Carol W] (I#35): If you would like to step down from your soapbox for a moment and read my letter in I#33, you will find my remarks addressed to Tigriffin — not to Forum. The mentioning of Forum was strictly for the purpose of reference to the review's location. There was never a question of whether Forum as publisher and/or editor had the "right" to print the review. My objection was to the lack of courtesy, decency and good taste in Tigriffin's "review". Please spare me the berations and citing of the U.S. Constitution, I have been in fan-dom long enough to understand the prerogatives of publishers and editors. This reply to you is not meant to be derogatory in any manner, I simply object to being chastised for something I didn't do. [5]
From Vel Jaeger:
[Karen B's] letter in I#33 disturbed me greatly, and continues to do so even now, months later. The prospect of a vicious critic reviewing fan publications, who would offer criticism that is less than constructive, is most distressing. Having read neither DILITHIUM CRYSTALS nor Tigriffin's review of it I feel I can react objectively to Karen's letter. I must agree that it is grossly unfair to hide behind a pseudonym, and I don't like flippant reviews on principal, especially not of amateur works. If the purpose of a review is to enable a reader to decide whether or not to purchase the publication, fine - but there's no reason to be cruel about it. I feel like biting my tongue when pressed to comment on a work that is less than noteworthy. If I can offer no encouragement whatever, I remain silent. I'd rather be considered rude in not replying than to be heartless. Karen's letter has haunted me, and prompted me to purchase a copy of FORUM. I have #6 in hand, which contains another review by Tigriffin. I now see what angered Karen so: Tigriffin writes with a style that can only be described as "smart-ass". Sorry if the word offends anybody, but that's the attitude of superiority I perceive. I can't tell exactly what she's saying without constantly rereading, and the compliments are mostly backhanded. None of the other reviewers use this manner, and it's simply not necessary! An aspect of fandom that I've enjoyed is the willingness of creative people to help each other develop their talents. Sorry, KathE, as much as I enjoyed the rest of FORUM my sympathies lie with Karen - and I don't even know her. [6]
From D. Booker:
On the subject of Tigriffin and reviews in general, may I be permitted to take what seems to be very much a minority view? I like Tigriffin's reviews in FORUM. I think she is witty, amusing, and refreshingly cynical about fan-fiction. All too many reviewers seem to think that if they say anything negative they will have destroyed some fragile little egos, or else will have laid themselves open for similar treatment when they in turn publish something. Concerning "Dilithium Crystals", I read the zine twice, both before and after the review appeared, and I think Tigriffin was if anything, too lenient in her treatment of some of the material, especially that piece about Majel Roddenberry. The purpose of a review is to provide an opinion as to whether or not something is worth spending money on. It is not intended to provide breathless praise (Mother is the proper source of that) or free lessons in creative writing. As an occasional reviewer myself (of professionally published books)I can tell you one thing—more people will read a sarcastic or ironic review that states a definite position than will read a kind, sweet, "say something nice or nothing at all" whitewash. Anyway, let's face it, writing stories and poetry for publication, whether for profit or ego-boo, is nothing but a socially acceptable form of exhibitionism. If you can't stand being stared at, don't dance on the tables. [7]
Carol W revisits the zine review flap and addresses Karen B:
In your letter (I#33) you said that you felt the reviewer, Tigriffin, was "playing God" and performing "merciless butchery" on DILITHIUM CRYSTALS. First understand, I have not read DILITHIUM CRYSTALS and don't know Tigriffin, so I am completely unbiased. Secondly, correct me if I'm wrong, but do not fan publishers/writers/artists strive for the same level of quality as pros? Since discovering fandom, I have seen nothing but quality work from INTERSTAT to the story zines. I don't see the people who produce fan lit as infants who have to be given their criticisms in pablum form, lest their feelings be hurt. If they can produce the kind of excellence I've been seeing, then they ought to be able to take a little—or a lot—of harsh reviewing. All reviewers "play God". Whether they praise or put down, is it not their job to cast judgments and opinions upon the efforts of talented folk who have put their heart and soul into their work? Idealistically, a reviewer should always direct criticism toward the constructive, and should not be unthinking or callous about it. Problem is, it doesn't always happen that way... Granted I'm applying pro references to fans but the fans I know don't want special treatment. Personally, if someone says anything I produce is lousy, I can do several things: take a hard, long look at the work being criticized and decide if the criticism is valid, and if it is, learn from it, and if it isn't, I can ignore it. I can't tell that someone how to voice his or her criticism. As far as a first zine receiving a harsh review is concerned, I have no sympathy. Does an umpire let a batter take a base when he's really just struck out, because it's his first time at bat? Sure it must hurt to hear it for the first time, but it's those who can handle it and gain from it who end up being the Alan Dean Fosters of the world, not those who take offense and feel sorry for themselves. By the way, I have several friends who used pseudonyms. And they aren't hiding from anything. [8]
Rebecca H comments:
I also read Tigriffin's reviews, and I must say that I was dismayed by the tone and snipping in those "reviews". I write reviews, I publish reviews, I read reviews; and reviews seem to fall into one of two major categories. One, of course, is the critique, and I don't honestly think most reviewers are capable of honest critiques. A good reviewer stands aside and critiques from a totally technical point of view, without injecting any personal opinion - or if he does, he is careful to note personal opinion as such. I've seen too many reviews which were nothing but personal opinion disguised as a review. The second major category is that of the informative review; and that is what is needed, especially in zines like FORUM which cater to the fanzine-buying public. In this type of review, one presents a quick synopsis of each story, the idea being to inform the prospective buyer of what that zine contains so the buyer will know if it is of interest to him. Such reviews are not cute, are not funny, and do not take stabs at either the contributors or the editor. They simply present the zine. And yes - in this type of review you can tell the reader that "the mimeo runs", that "the illustrations do not look like the characters", etc., but it should be done in a straightforward manner without any attempt on the part of the reviewer to either sway the reader, or hurt the zine being reviewed. Again, personal opinion has no place in such a review, unless it is obvious that that is what it is. Personal opinion should never be confused with a statement of fact, nor should personal opinion be substituted for objective analysis. In other words, a reviewer's prime function is to inform so that a buyer can make a wise choice. If a review doesn't inform, then it has failed its purpose. Frankly, Tigriffin's reviews tell me nothing about the zines - only that Tigriffin wishes to make a name for her/him/itself in an extremely hurtful manner. The reviews are a poor imitation of Gene Shalit (whom I've never appreciated) and they aren't even entertaining (though they try to be). They seem to be an attempt to entertain at the expense of the zines victimized, and that's a pretty cheap shot. Let's see reviews that help readers make informed choices, not reviews which try (in vain) to bolster the reviewer's ego at someone else's expense... [added by phone]... Have just read the latest issue of FORUM and in it appeared another review by Tigriffin. Was shocked to notice the change in the mythical figure's reviewing style. It was not the usual hatchet-job we have come to expect from Tigriffin. It was far more mellow in tone and far more rational in content. It is to be hoped that Tigriffin will continue in a more responsible manner in her future reviews. [9]

Pseuds, Reviews, and "Hatchet Jobs"

In a lengthy personal statement in the spring of 1981 titled "Tigriffin Reviews Tigriffin," wrote about the discussion regarding her reviews:

The following statement is intended as an overview, or, if you prefer, an explanation of Tigriffin's review philosophies. This is the first, last, and only time such a response will appear, as Tigriffin's function is to review fanzines, not exchange personal opinions on such esoteric subjects as the definition of humor, history of the pseudonym in literature, or how best to coddle sensitive artistic souls.

The main purpose of a fanzine review is to provide potential purchasers with a basis on which to decide whether or not they wish to order the zine. A collection of bland synopses will not meet the need. If it would, there would be no reason for reviews. The announcements that make up the larger part of FORUM would suffice. It is Tigriffin's opinion that a review should meet the following criteria.

HONESTY: A serious problem with far too many reviewers is their apparent need to 'stroke' fanzine publishers, presumably with the expectation of being treated in like fashion when their own work is published. In an tempting to be polite, outright lies are sometimes perpetrated on zine purchasers.

Contrary to popular opinion, Tigriffin does not turn out 'hatchet jobs' or 'cheap shots' for the pleasure of imagining the editorial blood and tears that will result. Her harsh words are aimed solely at attempts to pass of a sloppy piece of work under the guise of amateurism. It goes without saying that no fan-produced work should be judged with the same strictness a professional story would be subjected to. This does not excuse lazy writing or editing. And if fannish writers and editors are moved to double-check their fanzine on the chance it will fall into Tigriffin's predatory claws good.

READER INTEREST: People looking at a selection of snapshots will al ways look first for their own faces, and then for those of their friends, before examining the rest of the picture for details of interest. Readers of fanzine reviews go through a similar process. If the reader has not read the zine and does not know the writers or editors, the only source of personal identification left is the words the reviewer has chosen to describe the zine. If the reviewer's essence, or style, does not capture the reader's interest, then the reviewer has wasted both time and paper.

In all probability, the reader merely scans the words and forgets every one of them as soon as she turns the page. Far from encouraging the reader to consider purchasing the zine, a dry rehashing of the facts gives the zine in question a smart shove towards obscurity.

LACK OF BIAS: You may be surprised to learn that Tigriffin has prejudices; strong preferences for the work of certain fans, which she must strive to surpress when she reviews. This is the sole reason for her use of a pseudonym. There was some chance that her favorable reviews (there have been a few) would have been taken less seriously if they had

been published under her regular name. If the reviewer uses a pseudonym, nothing comes into a reader's mind during the course of the review but her previous reviews. This device provides FORUM readers with an unobstructed view of Tigriffin's criteria for worthwhile fanzines, which is necessary, as they are not all created equal.

Tigriffin exercises some criticism by implication, solely in her choice of zines for review. Some zines are safe forever because they seem to be written and edited by the terminally incompetent. It is both socially unacceptable and morally wrong to harm those who cannot help themselves, so these zines pass unmentioned. Then there are the brave souls who send their zines to KathE and ask to have them reviewed. They take their chances. If Tigriffin feels they were capable of superior work and failed to accomplish it because well-meaning but misguided friends had over-praised their pieces, the review will reflect this opinion. Occasionally, Tigriffin will review a zine she bought for her own collection, a zine which she feels safe in recommending it to fandom in general. Those who have read her negative reviews can rest safely in the assurance that Tigriffin is not a professional dispenser of empty praise. Providing they have found her personal tastes in Treklit close to theirs in the past, they can buy the zine at once with no fear of being stung.

This is the first, and last, and only time such a response will appear as Tigriffin's function is to review fanzines, not exchange personal opinions on esoteric subjects... The main purpose of a fanzine review is to provide potential purchasers with a basis on which to decide whether or not they wish to order the zine... In conclusion, Tigriffin acknowledges that she has not as yet attained perfection in the art of reviewing. There are instances in all seven of her reviews for Forum where the unbiased eye will detect a poorly chose word, a misjudgement in the propriety of a clever remark, or, even a typographical error. These shortcomings are evident to Tigriffin as well, and she hopes to eliminate them with practice and perserverance... Tigriffin stands by her overall assessment of every story and every fanzine, as well as her belief in this system of evaluation, and will continue to do so. It is to be hoped fandom at large can respect this moral position, even if they must disagree with some of the reviews it produces. [10]

From Boldly Writing: "Despite this disclaimer, by November there was a heated protest, both in Interstat and in Forum, of Tigriffin's review of Dilithium Crystals a Star Trek fanzine from Jacqueline Edwards... Critics took Tigriffin to task for having little good to say about the fanzine." A fan in Datazine #7 called Tigriffin's review "...the most careless hatchet-job I have ever read in fandom."

Fan Reaction

On the subject of Tigriffin and reviews in general, may I be permitted to take what seems to be very much a minority view? I like Tigriffin's reviews in FORUM. I think she is witty, amusing, and refreshingly cynical about fan-fiction. All too many reviewers seem to think that if they say anything negative they will have destroyed some fragile little egos, or else will have laid themselves open for similar treatment when they in turn publish something. Concerning "Dilithium Crystals", I read the zine twice, both before and after the review appeared, and I think Tigriffin was if anything, too lenient in her treatment of some of the material, especially that piece about Majel Roddenberry. The purpose of a review is to provide an opinion as to whether or not something is worth spending money on. It is not intended to provide breathless praise (Mother is the proper source of that) or free lessons in creative writing. As an occasional reviewer myself (of professionally published books)I can tell you one thing—more people will read a sarcastic or ironic review that states a definite position than will read a kind, sweet, "say something nice or nothing at all" whitewash. Anyway, let's face it, writing stories and poetry for publication, whether for profit or ego-boo, is nothing but a socially acceptable form of exhibitionism. If you can't stand being stared at, don't dance on the tables. [11]

Zines Reviewed in "Forum"

The reviews in "Forum," before it was retitled Datazine.

References

  1. from Joan Verba in Boldly Writing
  2. from Interstat #33
  3. from Datazine #7
  4. In Interstat #35
  5. in Interstat #36
  6. comment by Vel Jaeger in Interstat #36
  7. from Interstat #39
  8. from Interstat #37
  9. from Interstat #37
  10. from Datazine #8
  11. comment by D. Booker in Interstat #39