quinta-feira, julho 13, 2017

Smart-Alecky SF: "Skullsworn" by Brian Staveley



“’If I wanted you dead, you would be dead’?” He sucked some blood from between his teeth, then spat it onto the cobbles. “What is that? A line from some mid-century melodrama? You heard that onstage a few nights ago?”

In “Skullsworn” by Brian Staveley


Reasons to avoid some Fantasy:

1. Trilogies - a story seldom needs 3 volumes, nobody wants to read the 'excluded middle' of tosh, let alone wait for the third volume when they have forgotten the contents of the first - strike George R.R. Martin;

2. Sequel proliferation. Ditto objection 1 squared - strike Eddings et al;

3. Formulaic - It's often better to re-read Tolkien, skipping some of his embarrassing attempts at females than read the whole thing again with different silly names - strike all sorts of piffle;

4. Silly names - countries; cities; people. How about concepts; recipes; politics - invent something - move to include Iain M. Banks 'Culture' - or does invention have to belong to THE science fiction part of SF?

5. Written by die cast. Surely much is the product of hashish and D&D - this you can make up for yourself;

6. Poor writing - to wit the obviously much beloved Staveley - whilst his books were entertaining they are limited by his repetitive vocabulary; why can't his educated characters master the conditional subjunctive…?

One of the common failing of most fantasy fiction is that the morality and emotional conflict of the antagonists is never explored or it feels gimmicky. We get a lot of stuff wherein the good guys become less good, and the bad guys stay smart-alecky. Characters tend to be stupid. It’s how an author can impart information to the reader that the character themselves haven’t picked up on yet. It’s also an engagement tactic: did you guess, right? May as well read the next chapter and find out, you stupid reader. What else? Ah yes. Strong romance...check, Romance the focus...check, World Without Plenty of magic...check, some clichés...check, Some semi-explicit stuff...check. All genres of books have many poor and average writers and some great ones - fantasy writing is just as good as any other kind of writing and the best fantasy provides some excellent analysis and criticism of reality as well as imagining coherent alternative realities and managing to be both funny at some points and gripping at others.  I despair of so much fantasy fiction. There is a lot of landfill quality stuff out there; but also, too many multi-volume epics with formulaic plots. How many more times will that downtrodden turn out to be the heir to the kingdom? (feel free to substitute “ploughboy orphan” by “Assassin that has ten days to kill ten people enumerated in an ancient song, including ‘the one you love / who will not come again.’” or by any other input placeholder you wish).

I don't know why I bother reading crap like this. Staveley no more...



SF = Speculative Fiction.

4 comentários:

Book Stooge disse...

Well, at least you've crossed an author off your list so you won't waste future time with him.
Count that as a silver lining I guess...

Manuel Antão disse...

Life is too short...and I'm not getting any younger...

Book Stooge disse...

Sadly, I suspect the slushpile walk through is going to continue until we die. But just think, once you die, you won't have to worry about it, ever again!
Now, isn't that a comforting thought? ;-)

Manuel Antão disse...

Only in regretting now I won't be able to read any more top-notch SF After I'm Dead...