Unreadable SF.

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Mugwump, Mar 27, 2004.

  1. Mugwump

    Mugwump New Member

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    We’ve all come across these frustrations. List them (and the reasons for abandonment) below:
     
  2. Ouroboros

    Ouroboros Give me liberty!

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    Simon R. Green's Deathstalker series : Green takes a fun-if-dim Star Wars inspired universe and populates it with one lethal death machine after another, letting them kill each other off one by one. The problem being that he takes several novels to do it in, with an awesome amount of repetition. He will literally repeat the backstory almost verbatim three times per book.

    Aside from that, Green writes well below 'fun pulp' in the realm of 'kitsch crap'. Murderous teddy bear cyborgs may sound fun, but they're not. Red haired feisty female space pirates never giving our muscle-bound hero a break but secretly loving him may sound fun, but they're not. Wafer thin characters, a rebellion plot seemingly written by a 12 year old and as I said, you don't have to sit through it just once, he's sure to repeat back what has happened so far every few hundred pages.

    I can think of a few others, but I'm not sure they're worthy of villifying in public to the same degree as the above.
     
  3. Gregg Bradley

    Gregg Bradley New Member

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    Unreadable sci-fi?

    Well, if it was in Chinese or Russian I most definitely couldn't read it! ;)

    Seriously, i can't speak for all sci-fi fans, but I would never discuss in public another author's short comings.

    All science fiction books are treasures to me, even if i couldn't get into a-- difficult to understand novel.

    However......................
     
  4. Mugwump

    Mugwump New Member

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    Okay - David Brin's Kiln People, the absolute worst novel I've read in years.

    Also pretty much anything by Samuel L. Delany. I cannot understand the worship.
     
  5. lemming

    lemming New Member

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    I have to second the "anything by Samuel Delaney". I feel the greatest of guilt saying this, because... I've met him. I loved him. He liked me. We had similar thoughts about the movie Species. And still, if I make myself read something by him, almost every sentence is a slog and in 30 minutes I won't be able to remember what the story was about. :/

    Because hope springs eternal, one day I will still try to read Dahlgren. :)
     
  6. Erfael

    Erfael Lemurs!!! Staff Member

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    I'm with you, Mug. That's(Kiln People) the only book I have abandoned in the last year, and I can't say that I feel any the worse for not knowing how it turned out.
     
  7. knivesout

    knivesout unconditional roach love

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    Kevin J Anderson's Hopscotch. the premise was very flimsily presented and the characters were such cardobaord cut outs. The prose itself smacked too much of the sort of mildly-dumbed down narrative you get occasionally in YA novels. I just went and traded it in for somethung else after finishing a hundred pages. Avoid this man's books, please.

    Paul Pruess: Broken Symmetries. A very cool premise marred by an attempt to appeal to the techno-thriller crowd as well, and this horrible habit writers have of making a couple of their main characters attractive and involved in a sexual relationship with each other, in hopes of landing a movie deal.

    I'm still unsure on Delaney - I really liked his short stories collected in Driftglass, really didn;t make head nor tail of The Einstein Intersection.
     
  8. scooter13

    scooter13 Woof, woof!

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    One man's treasure ............. ;)

    Actually, I didn't love Kiln People, but I did find it entertaining enough to keep reading it. Though I found the ending a bit cheesy.

    The one book that I found unreadable was Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. There is just too much science, it hurt my brain. And other than two characters (over the 300 pages I did manage), I found all of them childish and annoying. Though even through what I disliked, I can see why others adore this book. It just wasn't for me.
     
  9. SusF

    SusF Who me?

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    I still struggle to try to read the original Foundation books by Asimov, even though I've read everything else of his over the years.

    Anything by CJ Cherryh. I just can't get into it. I've tried over and over again since I met her years ago and she used to come to our little Science Fiction club. She's great in person.

    Anything by Frank Herbert execept the first Dune book.

    Susan
     
  10. Gregg Bradley

    Gregg Bradley New Member

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    I find her or his work a brilliant piece of writing. Although, I'm still trying to get through the first two chapters.....;)

    Glad I named my book "Red Stars". Has nothing to do with the above novel.
     
  11. Mugwump

    Mugwump New Member

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    Agreed. I fought my way through Downbelow Station. Three chapters of Rimrunners convinced me she's just too much hard work.
     
  12. ezchaos

    ezchaos Next to Arch Stanton

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    I'll agree that some of Cherryh's books are pretty painful to get through. However, a few were good, IMO.

    I read the first Chanur book and had to put down the second book in the series. Both books were just very boring and not much seemed to happen. The 2nd book is probably the only SF book I haven't finished. On the other hand, I can give a huge list of fantasy books I've put down.....:rolleyes:
     
  13. toriphile

    toriphile New Member

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    Anything cyberpunk (well, there are some exceptions: Besher's novels, for example.)
    Speaking of Cherryh - her stuff is usually great but Downbelow Station is one of the few books I couldn't finish.
    Greg Bear: he's probably my 'unreadable author'. I loved Blood Music but his other novels just don't work for me. Moving Mars was painfully boring and unjustifiably long. Still, he is someone who's ideas I admire.
    (He's not sci-fi, but) Raymond Feist is a disaster.
     
  14. emohawk

    emohawk Hip, cool, jiggy wit' it

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    I had the same problem, to the point where after I read a sentence I couldn't remember what I'd just read because I wasn't paying attention anymore. I'm going to give it another go some day though. Having said that I really enjoyed Cyteen so I won't write off Cherryh as an author, maybe it was just that novel?

    I agree with you about Delany as well, though I did like Babel-17. I can appreciate his work, but it's just such an uphill battle to read. For example Dhalgren is obviously a great achievement, and I liked bits of it, but most of the time my obviously feeble brain couldn't grasp what the point he was trying to make was. Maybe writing about decay, voilence and sexual exoerimentation/depravity was cathartic for him.

    Another author that I find can be a real struggle is Gene Wolfe. I loved The Book of the New Sun, but the other novels of his I've read just couldn't hold my interest. He manages to make me think the problem is more with me than him so I periodically keep trying his work. His new fantasy novel(s) The Wizard Knight looks hopeful though.

    These are clearly not bad authors, just sometimes inaccessable.
     
  15. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper What's taters, Precious?

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    The Mars trilogy was science filled but I liked it.
    But....I found The Years of Rice and Salt SOOOOOOOOOOO boring. Reincarnation....blech!!
     
  16. Kamakhya

    Kamakhya Seeker of Stuff

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    It always amazes me what some readers find hard to read. Some of the authors mentioned are favorites of mine. At the same time, my least favorite authors, I know to be favorites aroud here, namely Philip K. Dick, Roger Zelazny and Harlan Ellison. It is indeed a situation of what is one person's trash is another's gold. I really don't like (in general) the whole "let's get metaphysical and obtuse" phase of SF in the late 70's and early 80's. But, this was a major phase of SF and I do respect it for what it was.

    Have no fear, Gregg Bradley, we are not here to trash authors. We do not tolerate indescriminate author bashing here. But, no author can reach out to all readers. We all have our likes and dislikes.
     
  17. Gregg Bradley

    Gregg Bradley New Member

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    Just like you, Kamakhya, some of those authors listed for distain are also some of my favorites. I don't believe that one author who writes several or hundreds of novels should be trashed.
    However, I can understand when a particular book can be labeled as "trash" or "it stinks" or "is very hard to follow".
    Trying to write a 356 page novel or more is not an easy chore.

    On the other side, free speech is a God-given human right. Everyone has an opinion on who they like and who they are displeased with. I'm attitude is the same on Amazon.com.
    One star to five stars!:D
     
  18. knivesout

    knivesout unconditional roach love

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    It certainly is subjective - to the extent that the Kevin Anderson book I panned earlier actually had very glowing blurbs on it by other SF writers like Gregory Benford. Threads like this are really only about opinion - nothing is carved in stone and I certainly wouldn't take offence at others panning some of my faves (actually a couple have!). It is useful however, in that, if you know of a member who has similar tastes, you can get a heads-up on what you may want to avoid.
     
  19. Archren

    Archren BookWyrm

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    Let me completely second that sentiment, tbird. I've never been able to get more than 2 chapters into "Rice and Salt."

    C.J. Cherryh is one that I have real trouble with, but I probably haven't given her a fair shot. I tried "Foreigner," hated it, and never tried anything else.

    Let me add Tad William's "Otherland" series in here. Talk about incomprehensible! Again, put the first one down halfway through and never looked back. Way too many storylines, it seemed like there was no center to that book at all.
     
  20. Thekherham

    Thekherham Auburn-furred Alien

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    A lot of people might disagree with me, but one novel that was an absolute struggle to read was Dune.

    I haven't even bothered to read any of the sequels.