October 26th, 2008, 06:31 AM
Hrm, all the hyped/buzzed authors that i've read in the last few years I've enjoyed. Lynch, Abercombie, Rothfuss and Ruckley have all become must buys for me. Rothfuss in particular. Guess I'm just easy to please I don't actually listen to the hype content but if a name is mentioned enough i'll give it a go so mb my expectations arn't inflated by hype. I just want to see what all the fuss is about and add my 2 cents.
Going back awhile though, Perido Street Station for me was a complete waste of money for me.
Last edited by ChrisW; October 26th, 2008 at 06:34 AM.
October 27th, 2008, 03:10 PM
Obviously up to something
First thing that came to mind (and I think I've seen it mentioned somewhere else in this topic) is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell. Ghaw. That was aweful. I couldn't finish it. In fact, I think I stopped reading about halfway through, about 50 pages after I figured that the exiting part was not finally beginning after all.
And, of course, the usual suspects (although you should also know that I tried reading these when I was younger and only read translated work, which is terribly bad here in The Netherlands):
- GRRRRRRR Martin
- Zimmer Bradley
I actually thought of retrying Goodkind, but I'm a bit reluctant to waste money on books that I might not like. Especially when I know that I did not like them before.
October 27th, 2008, 03:58 PM
Hype is something that I avoid at all costs. Not the books & authors that are hyped, but the hype itself. I had actually never heard of Patrick Rothfuss or Name of the Wind until I went into a bookstore, saw the paperback on the shelf, read the back cover and bought it. Beacause of this, the hype had no effect on me and I enjoyed the snot out of this book. I wasn't even aware of the fact that it was a series until i reached the last page, & swore out loud that I'd have to wait.
I learned my lesson about hype many years ago with China Melville's "Perdido Street Station." Everyone praised the hell out of this book. I thought, "it must be wonderful!!" I was dead wrong.
I learned my lesson about hype a couple of years ago with Donaldson's "Convenant" series. It praises were sang from the highest mountains. I read the entire first trilogy in one long weekend. Afterwards, I felt my time would have been better spent digging a ditch with a spoon.
I learned my lesson about hype a couple of years ago with anything written by Neil Gaiman. Other than "Stardust", which almost doesn't count, I found eveything he wrote felt like a bad smell permenantly stuck under my nose.
I have actually found my "hype" experiences to be so profound that I have a hard time actually trying some the authors recommended on these threads. I am sure I would be missing out on many novels and series that I would truly enjoy, but I am tired of spending both time and money on novels in which the hype was nothing more than the subjective opinions of people who share a wide variety of tastes. (Not an insult, merely a point of fact.)
Now that I think about it, I can't think of a single novel or series that I have picked up solely on hype and thoroughly enjoyed. I picked up a first edition "Game of Thrones" thinking it was historical fiction before I knew anything about it. (Just think how much that book would go on eBay!!) I read HPatSS before it became popular based solely on the blurb on the cover. I read Hobb before I ever came to this, or any other web site. I also notice that many of the authors I do read, most on here dislike (Goodkind, Douglass, etc.) So, I guess that means most of your "hype" sucks!!
October 28th, 2008, 01:30 AM
I will say that one problem with hype is that it's generated by people who genuinely like a book or author. Take Perdido Street Station, which I like, though I admit there was something off about the dialogue. Nevertheless, a lot of people like the book and are going to recommend it thereby creating more hype. In other words, popular books are popular for a reason.
Someone earlier mentioned that he was told Martin's work was the greatest fantasy ever, then said he'd only put it in his Top 20. Now if you think Martin is over-hyped but still fits in your top 20, unlike Perdido Street Station, which doesn't even make your top 100, imagine how many people place Martin right at #1 in comparison to Mieville.
It makes sense to me that people place Martin so highly. Very few people actually hate his work and you're only going to out of your way to talk about an author if you love or hate him. No one goes out of their way to say he's ok.
October 28th, 2008, 02:14 AM
Interesting thoughts here. I think the distinction between hype and buzz is important. What readers think of a novel is buzz, while what the promotional, marketing blurbs drum up about a novel in advance, is "hype"--in other words, people with vested interests trying to sell books. I have no problem with buzz, even if I disagree. I have a problem with dishonest, hyperbolic hype--it does no one any favors except the author and publisher (initially).
Originally Posted by Irrelevant
Your second statement about Martin brings me to my second point (where I criticize hyperbole and people complain that these things are purely subjective; they are not). Good writing is identifiable--and so is poor writing. Sure, tastes play into the equation (generally when overlooking flaws), but when a novel is flawed on basic, objective levels, then it is fair for a reader to point it out. There are real, quantifiable faults in Lynch's first novel and to Rothfuss' Name of the Wind, flaws that exclude them from "classic" consideration or even "best fantasy in 30 years" hype. Even fans of these novels admit this. Does that mean that people shouldn't "buy" them? Not at all! There are flawed books I love. People willing to overlook those flaws certainly should go out and buy those books. Few novels are truly "classic", and some manage that status inspite of their flaws for a select audience.
Now, Martin, by most accounts, can arguably figure into the upper echelon of fantasists (though I contend he's not so much a fantasist as a deconstructionist; and the spate of historical buffs masquerading as fantasy authors has begun to hurt the genre, in my opinion, just as the recent bevy of scientists has drained the life from science fiction). While I don't think Martin's the greatest fantasy writer working today (and certainly not "ever), with the exception of his disappointing last novel, I can objectively point out that he's certainly a worthy candidate in any discussino of the best fantasy novelists/series. I might not agree wholeheartedly, but I can understand the sentiment and the logic behind it.
So, I argue that judging authors is not that subjective--not when one understands fictional craft (and more people do than most will admit). I haven't read all of Perdido Street Station (pertaining to your Mieville comment), but I do find that many people feel that Mieville doesn't write characters so much as situations and doesn't write stories so much as social allegories--all of this is fair criticism and it would certainly turn me off from his novels. That, and his prose is very mannered and not as "stylistic" as many claim. Style should be transparent, a tone that serves the story rather than distracts. From what I have read of him, I felt distanced from the story itself and that's where my first complaint would fall. However, I reserve the right to change my mind should I ever finish one of his novels.
Either way, I think this is an important discussion. I have no problem with hype if it FITS the novel involved. There ARE books that deserve the hype. And there are those who do not.
October 28th, 2008, 11:19 AM
C.S. Lewis. I can see why he'd make an impression on young, unformed children, but his romanticized totalitarianism, celebration of death, hatred of humanity and contempt for and dismissal of all human achievement and intellectual curiosity that can't be harnessed to the service of his all-encompassing worldview are definite turn-offs. As is his targeting of defenseless young minds. A story's not a soapbox.
But he's got some skill with words and for beautifying his ideology with the borrowed feathers of other myths.
I feel much the same about LeHaye, Jenkins and their ilk.
And those Twilight books from Meyers make my skin crawl.
Not too fond of Philip Pullman either. The third book of the His Dark Materials trilogy was a major letdown. The storyline strayed all over the place and the established characterization and plot points all fell apart. Ditto the soapbox comment. His preaching gets dull after awhile.
Vote Kellhus in '08!
October 28th, 2008, 11:20 AM
Here is what's frustrating me about what you're saying, Ranke. You are talking as if flaws in a book are objective, and that everybody sees the same flaws in books, and places the same importance on these books. You claim that Name of the Wind is obviously flawed, and there's no way, in the history of the universe, anyone can ever consider it the best book they've read in the past 30 years because of these so-obvious flaws.
People see flaws different ways. Something you see as an obvious flaw, someone else might see as a strength. The editor in question claimed that this book is the best she'd read in 30 years. Could she be lying? Certainly. Is she lying? As soon as someone reads her mind and tells me that she was lying, then I'll believe.
Whether or not the statement is completely true, the editor must have held the book in very high regard. A well respected editor such as herself cannot make such a claim about every book she publishes, or even more than a couple. I think it's entirely possible that she either saw the things you saw as flaws, and said they were strengths, or they really weren't very important to her. I could give you a list of flaws for every book I've ever read, but I still have personal favorites.
October 28th, 2008, 02:05 PM
I eat fish.
Who gets to decide that? You? Critics? Popular vote?
Originally Posted by Ranke Lidyek
And are you implying that classics don't have flaws, and that's what makes them classics? I can point out plenty of classics that I think are intensely flawed. Doesn't stop them from being classics. And what about a book like Catch 22 that did not fare so well at launch but, in paperback form, became a hit, with people discussing it and referencing for years to come with no real marketing push. The initial reviews were very mixed, with some critics saying it was too flippant and heavy-handed, but others claimed it was terribly witty and deft in execution. But who was right, and when?
I disagree with what your saying here. I do think there is objectivity in writing, but it doesn't reach much further than grammar and punctuation. Style, content, thoroughness on particular subjects -- just about everything else is subjective.
As for classics, I'd argue they develop that status by simply outlasting. They make a splash with the people of the time, then continue to be purchased, recommended and discussed for long after. They pass the test of time. Sort of like slang. Some words are only around for a few years, but the ones people won't drop and continue to use long after their conception eventually find their way into dictionaries.
October 28th, 2008, 10:14 PM
I respect your opinion. Here's why you're wrong.
Originally Posted by Bear
If you were correct, then every film ever made would be flawless (no grammar or punctuation there, my friend). You CAN judge a work based on things other than punctuation (it's called structure, dialogue, plot, stimulus/internalization/response, characterization, etc.--things that are harder to "see", but things that experienced readers and especially writers are privy to). NotW is OBVIOUSLY flawed. Read it again and think on these things (grrr, I hate having to pound on one novel--a novel I enjoyed, actually).
One: lack of stakes (stoned dragons as your climax?). Two: the third person was spotty and redundant (if I hear Bast try to fellate "poor" Kote one more time--we GET it already!--this served no purpose and diminished Kote's character). Nothing interesting happened until about page 200. The opening was amateurish. Three: the pace was too slow with too much repetition. Hit your mark and move on. It's a tenet of screenwriting that can and should be applied to prose. Yes, a PLOT is important, folks. Four: Kvothe is a "Mary Sue" (he does EVERYTHING better than everyone else and most of the other characters aren't even foils, but "furniture" for Kvothe to sit on). My main issue is that great writing consistently does one thing: make every word count. NotW failed in this regard.
I'm not implying that classics are flawless (I think no work truly is), but they DO possess outstanding characteristics that make them rise above their flaws. However, most classics don't have quite so many flaws as NotW. Do I think Wolheim lied? Honestly, YES. No way in hell she hasn't read a better fantasy in 30 years. It's a ridiculous statement. I sure have.
Do I think NotW is a bad book? Hell no. I enjoyed it, for the most part. And I'll buy the second novel. I do understand why people would recommend the book. I feel people should buy it myself. But I'm not going to say with a straight face that it's a "classic novel or the best fantasy I've read in 30 years" because it simply isn't. Instead, I'll enjoy it for what it is. A good, sometimes very good, novel. What's wrong with that?
So there you go.
October 29th, 2008, 12:17 AM
As a media professional, I think this example's flawed. Films do have an incredibly nuanced grammar about them that's been developed over the history of cinematography. It's just a different iconography than those we see in literature that's made of lighting, colors, edits, pacing, dialogue, and mis en scene, just to name a few points. One very much can judge a film based on its own grammar and punctuation, but you have to judge within the language that is used. One example of a bad movie, in my mind, is Bu San. The pacing is terrible, there's no real plot, it's colors are overly dark, and the editing is just mindless. I'm judging it not just on a good/bad scale, but I'm looking at the technical merits of the piece to form my opinion.
Originally Posted by Ranke Lidyek
On the topic of books and hype, I've never been terribly impressed by Neil Stephenson's work in general. I typically find the stories to be quite enjoyable, characters are practically smothered by the world building. Also, many of the plots that he writes feel too large for one volume. He crams so much in that character development and natural feel in the pacing is lost on me.
October 29th, 2008, 12:33 AM
But, you mention plot in there. Many of the grammatical (technical) elements of filmmaking are less known by movie-viewers than the elements involved in prose, which are seen. The "grammatical" elements in film are unseen, for the most part. They are "technical". The STORY (and style) are the director's and excluded from judgment or consideration according to Bear (and others). This does not equate to grammatical criticism in literature as a more apt comparison to grammar in filmic terms would be "composition" within a scene (framing), lighting, etc. Those are elements that "set" the world within the framework--they are not encompassing of the script or the story told within (in most cases). The argument Bear made prior to this is that one cannot judge story--only grammar.
It's patently absurd.
Last edited by Ranke Lidyek; October 29th, 2008 at 12:42 AM.
October 29th, 2008, 12:52 AM
Classic status doesn't mean flawlessness. Beethoven's ninth symphony has an overlong finale, and Tchaikovsky's Manfred symphony's finale is piss-weak.
What makes a piece of art timeless, or emblematic of its times or genre, is that its strengths make the faults dissolve into irrelevance.
October 29th, 2008, 06:24 AM
To think that you can objectively judge a novel (or any art form) is pure arrogance. Any criteria you set for the judging will be inherently subjective based on what you value in a text.
To judge something objectively it must be concrete fact. If you are an objective judge then you are essentially declaring yourself the arbiter of good taste, and that anyone who values texts differently from you is wrong.
I disagree with your assessment of Mieville writing situations not characters, I found with characters to be generally well rounded and interesting. I guess my opinion is wrong, huh?
October 29th, 2008, 07:33 AM
Apparently there is an issue with reading and comprehension on your part. I'm not saying one person is the ultimate arbiter of taste. I'm saying you CAN quantify good writing (though it's easier to notice the bad). Yes, there are some things (usually tied to thematic elements or authorical conceits/devices) that are more subjective, but writing can be analyzed on many levels, just as critics analyze films.
Originally Posted by Fruitonica
People like you want to say there is no difference between good writing and bad (if your argument is carried out to it's inevitable conclusion). I say that's ridiculous. Certain tenets of good (or bad) writing exist; it has NOTHING to do with me at all. I could care less if you agree with me on anything. In reality, I'm probably more forgiving and less likely to catch flaws in many novels as I want very much to enjoy the journey, but I'm not going to sit and dismiss fair criticism of any work, even my own.
However, criticism doesn't mean one isn't allowed to enjoy a novel. It depends on what, as readers, we're willing to overlook.
October 29th, 2008, 09:18 AM
Originally Posted by Ranke Lidyek
I think you meant 'I couldn't care less.' Your post, my friend, is no classic.