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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

BLURBS FOR BOOKS YOU DON'T WANT TO READ

Fantasy:
"Just like The Lord of the Rings, only written by a 36-year-old who lives in his mother's basement"

SF:
"Combines the dynamic characters and dialog of David Weber with John Ringo's scintillating mastery of English prose craftsmanship"


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Thursday, January 20, 2005

WHOOPDY-FARPIN'-DOO

Jerry "kiss-my-butt-I've-got-5-PhDs-and-a Computer" Pournelle has announced the release of his and Larry "I Write Like a Brain-Damage Case" Niven's new opus, Burning Tower. Here's what Jackass has to say about it:

"BURNING TOWER is a romance. My wife likes it. It's also heroic fantasy, but the kind we write with rivets and nuts and bolts. And it's a whacking good story if I do say so myself.

You can read BURNING TOWER without having read THE BURNING CITY, but you'll like both. We now end this commercial and take you back to the regularly scheduled Chaos Manor chaos."

"Whacking good story", if Burning City is any guide, means 800 pages of detailed, day-by-day description of the protagonist's life, starting at the blastula stage, and unfolded with eye-glazing, stultifying, mind-numbing exposition. With some sort of plot about a burning city pasted on, somewhere in the verbiage.

Back in their prime, SF authors could turn out a whacking good story that moved right along, and resolved itself in ca. 150 pages. I assume they were constrained by the economics of publishing at the time, with an initial serialization in Galaxy or Analog followed by a slightly expanded version in paperback. It didn't pay very well, and SF was a publishing ghetto. Yet authors such as Heinlein, Anderson, Laumer, Dickson and many others were able to produce entertaining, stimulating and important work. Something changed over the last 25 years. Now, authors are free to take up as many pages as they wish, with few constraints. And the results generally suck. What the farg does every lame piece of crap have to devote 400 + pages to the charater's entire life, from conception on? what does it add to the story? And whatever happened to writing? Not that most SF was ever the home of finely honed, lapidary prose, but at least authors had some sense of grammer, dialog, plot construction, character. What passes for SF these days all too often isn't writing, it's word-processing. Leaden dialog, pointless action, retarded science and cardboard characters. I'm looking at YOU, David Weber.

Back in the good old days the bulk of SF writers could be divided into two main camps--good scientists with limited writing skills, and good writers with limited scientific skills. Either camp was able to produce some major talent.

And what do we get now? Well, in some small number of cases we get scientists who write well.
The rest of the time we get utter bilge secreted by pointless fanboy writers with no writing skills and zero scientific background.




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