Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by nealasher, Feb 9, 2006.
Here's the first review to turn up: http://greenmanreview.com/book/book_asher_sablekeech.html
And this one: http://sfrevu.com/Review-id.php?id=3682
Sable Keech Game
Well, here's a bit of fun, you can play the Sable Keech game and also win copies of my books here: http://www.panmacmillan.com/sablekeech/
Just a quick 'heads-up'.
My interview with Neal is HERE.
As you might have guessed, Neal's not shy to say what he thinks!
Nice one -- thanks for that.
That was an interesting interview Neal. Thanks.
I was struck by the fact that you too don't outline, post notes all over your desk or plan too much ahead. I write the same way. I love the spontaneity of it when things just happen. I would imagine though that it's harder when you write sci/fi than fantasy to just go with the flow. You need so much technological credibility.
I was going home the other day and I had to laugh. I was getting off the train and I saw this man get off before I did. You know how sometimes things can look perfectly normal and then you turn around and look again and an entirely new perspective takes over, and the scene is totally altered? Well, this guy had a bluetooth phone sticking in his ear, a tiny receiver totally wireless, and it was flashing this intense blue on and off constantly. He moved as if it was a part of his body, and suddenly I had this vision of how far we have come and just how much technology we now take for granted that would have astounded us not too long ago. It must be hard to write sci/fi today when so much happens so fast, and when so much of what we only imagined years ago is not everywhere.
Gary, I read an excellent book recently called Writing a Blockbuster Novel -- Albert Zuckerman. Loads of interesting and useful advice, except all the stuff about planning a novel. Yeah, maybe with more planning we could produce something a bit more solid, maybe we wouldn't have to do so much editing to make it work, but would it be fun? Would it buggery.
Science fiction goes out of date faster than any other written form. Just think how many books the invention of the pc consigned to the bin. It's one I always go on about, but do you remember reading those old SF books in which the astrogator used a slide-rule? I imagine that my 'augs' will either go out-of-date in the next fifty years, or people will actually be using tech like that.
I'm honestly not so interested in writing a blockbuster novel. It sounds so formulaic, and it most certainly would be buggery. I wouldn't mind, of course, if coincidentally one of my books became a blockbuster , but I have no real interest in sitting down with the intention of writing one. I love the process and I live for it. My love of it eclipsed my concern for the product years ago. Now I write freely and edit thoroughly. Before, I wrote freely and edited only when I had to.
Gary, the book I mentioned is one of those that really has a crappy title, but for a writer a lot of the content is very interesting whether your purpose is writing a blockbuster or just writing.
Here’s a couple of new reviews, one in the Guardian and one in SFX: http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/roundupstory/0,,1717359,00.html
I bet. And I just reread my post and it sounds idiotic to me now. What I meant to say is that I love to write, not that I have no interest in writing a blockbuster. That's like saying I don't want to win the lottery. The only difference is you can't win if you don't buy a ticket, and I'm not sure that I have the right kind of funds to buy that kind of ticket.
I know what you meant and to it I'll reply, "Me too!" In the end if blockbusterdom and ridiculously bulging bank accounts were our aim, we would be writing aga-sagas or thrillers. Of course, that is not to say that we'd sneer at blockbusterdom and ridiculously bulging bank accounts, just that we're not prepared to write crap to achieve them.
Writers with standards? Whatever next?
Anyway, with apologies for the slight delay, my review of Neal's Voyage of the Sable Keech is HERE.
Enjoyed this one:
(from the review) ....even though I enjoyed The Skinner, I am pleased to write that I enjoyed this more. It is a complicated book, yet one which gives Neal a chance to expand his writing strengths: his extensive use of new, bizarre and yet plausible wildlife, his gleeful use of technology (particularly weaponry) and (rather unusually for an SF writer, I think), his humour.
Thanks for that, Mark. You've basically hit the nail on the head: I'm writing first and foremost to entertain. There's plenty of serious stuff in the book (Maybe the existential angst of immortals and a split-personality hive mind!), but if the reader doesn't find an escape for a little while and put it down afterwards thinking, "I enjoyed that!" then I'm not doing my job. Your comment about humour is also well-taken. I always feel that too many SF writers take themselves dreadfully seriously, failing to understand that the serious stuff they produce requires humour as a contrast. Cheers!
Neal, I see that Emerald City has also posted a review here.. I guess it's not as positive as one might ideally hope, but it gave me a good feel that I'll be wanting to pick it up and read it. I want to know what happens to Windcheater!
I guess that shows you how tastes can vary, Archren; reviews are, after all, just a person's opinion.
And thanks, Neal. I had better mention that for what it's worth, I totally agree that there are complex themes in there - we talked about at least one of them in the interview, and the hive mind is always brain-bending for me! - which was why I said the plot was complex. Perhaps I should've given those examples too.
Mark / Hobbit
Blimey, I'm not objecting, Hobbit - I very much enjoyed the review because of what you focused on. I can't say too often that my aim isn't to astound with my brilliance (which usually leads to literati boredom). I pointed out that the hive mind thread because many enjoy that kind of brain-bending stuff.
Archren, my initial reaction to Cheryl's review was grrrr, but then sitting back and reading it a second time I realised I was being a bit of a prima donna. Despite the book not being her sort of thing, it was a pretty good review after all. As someone recently pointed out to me: if I don't return to characters/stories readers have enjoyed I get complaints, and I get the same if I do return to them - if I don't do something new. If you check out the sfrevu one (link above) you'll see that John Berlyne's single gripe was the Sniper thread being 'more of the same' (thought I contend that it's turned on its head at the end) yet many fans really liked Sniper and wanted to see more of him.
It is a fact that the more well-known you become, the more reviews you see that flatly contradict each other. I have now received opinions/reviews declaring that X is my best book for each and every book. Which reviews do I ignore and which ones do I pay attention to? In the end I can only use my own judgement.
Here’s a couple of reviews from the excellent Rick Kleffel:
(the first is for The Engineer ReConditioned)
Just finished Sable Keech last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. The action and plot was great and Spatterjay is just a great setting for a story. I've only read The Skinner and this so far, but enjoyed both very much.
I've had a read through the reviews that have been posted in this thread and on the whole agree with them, but there are a couple of bits in the novel that I was slightly disappointed with.
The first of these being the whelk chasing ship plot. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it very much, but thought it would have been better as a short story rather than part of this one. I know that during this section the plot is moved forward, but it was the inbetween bits that just didn't seem right to me and I was expecting more from the monster at the end of the novel - it was sort of an anti-climax.
The other thing that didn't so much disappoint me, but rather I wish was more vague was the true identity of John Styx. As soon as the first Hooder incident was described and the later discussion about it, I pretty much knew who it was. If the hints were more subtle the surprise would have been better, but it was still great when it was finally revealed.
I know I'm picking on the smaller points there, but I can't say how much I enjoyed the book and very eager to start on the next (Engineer Reconditioned incase you were wondering ).
I commented on this on your blog, which I stumbled upon just recently.
I had intended to use the whelk plot thread to complete the novel, then subverted that simply because I expected the reader to expect that (??) Whilst you were disappointed by this, other readers would have moaned about the ending being too obvious. As to the identity of Styx, well, that's like so many things involved in writing this kind of stuff. How bright is your reader? With what degree of attention is your reader going to read the book? How much is giving too much away and how much is being too obscure? Not an easy call. It's one that for many I got wrong in Gridlinked by being too obscure.
Glad you enjoyed it and hope you enjoy The Engineer ReConditioned!
Thanks for the comment Neal. I know what you mean and although there were those couple of things that slightly disappointed me, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and couldn't recommend it highly enough to anyone who's yet to discover your work!
My girlfriend id currently reading Cowl and is loving it, and that's saying something for someone who very rarely reads anything I try and push under her nose. The only drawback to that is the fact that I now have to wait for her to finish before I can start
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