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Thread: Unreadable SF.

  1. #31
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    When anyone mentions ďunreadableĒ science fiction I think of one author before any other. Elizabeth Moon.
    Now I know she has been fairly recently nominated for some award. I donít care, for me she is a persona non grata.
    She is responsible for The Serrano Legacy and for that I will never forgive her, or read any of her books again. The SL is a series of 6 books, and I read 3 before coming to conclusion that it wasnít going to get any better(it certainly couldnít get any worse).
    Let me say once and for all, I like horses, I like them a lot. Some of my best friends are horses (ok I lied about that bit), Theoretically it would be possible to incorporate something about horses into a science fiction story, colonising a new planet with humans and animals from Earth. etc. What I donít want is a science fiction story crammed full of handy little hints like how to choose a good hunting horse (donít forget to look at itís teeth and hocks- itís important!) After choosing your horse, you must go for a jolly good gallop.
    I donít want to give the impression itís all about horses, no indeed. Itís also full of Aunts. Now aunts are clever and wise so they generally run things, planets, navies big businesses. Uncles however are pretty stupid, although they can be amiable at times. They might be ostensibly the head of business, governments and navies, but they are guided by those clever aunts.
    Well thereís lots more about this series that I didnít like but Iím starting to get all depressed, so Iíll stop here.
    I just wish I could forget this whole series, but it seems I canít. Basically Iím embarrassed that I read 3 books instead of chucking all the books into the skip after reading 50 pages.
    I think Iíll go down the pub for a pint, thatíll cheer me up.

    cheers

    42

  2. #32
    BookWyrm Archren's Avatar
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    In the "one man's trash..." category, I love Elizabeth Moon's stuff because it is fun and doesn't take itself too seriously. I treat it like a sorbet between courses at a feast, a palate cleanser, as it were.

    And since I'm not as cool as I think I am, I'll note that I was completely unable to finish John Clute's "Appleseed." His prose is breathtakingly beautiful, but it wasn't deployed in the service of anything resembling a coherent plot or interesting characters. I think I've mentioned this on another thread somewhere, so I'll leave it at that.

  3. #33
    Hip, cool, jiggy wit' it emohawk's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Archren
    I was completely unable to finish John Clute's "Appleseed." His prose is breathtakingly beautiful, but it wasn't deployed in the service of anything resembling a coherent plot or interesting characters.
    I've always felt that John Clute was someone who really wanted to be a writer but didn't have the storytelling talent, so became a reviewer. To that end he seems to try to make his reviews pieces of "literature" which at the end of the day barely have anything interesting to say and make it hard to determine whether he actually liked to book or not. Bare in mind I haven't read his well regarded Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, only some of the reviews on various websites, particularly his column on scifi.com.

    I have a copy of Silverberg's Dying Inside with a foreword by John Clute. Now Dying Inside is arguably one of - if not the - most beautifully written SF novels ever, but John Clute seems to feel the need to compete with the novel itself in writing his foreword, yet having nothing particularly interesting or worthwhile to comment on about the book. It's like he just wants to use to opportunity to showcase his writing style. When I've bought copies for others or lent it out I've had to tell people not to read the foreword - it's just that detracting to the novel.

    Then again, what do I know - he's the respected critic, I'm just a reader.

  4. #34
    BookWyrm Archren's Avatar
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    Thank you emohawk, it's really reassuring to know that I'm not alone on that score.

  5. #35
    Registered User lemming's Avatar
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    one novel that was an absolute struggle to read was Dune.
    Ohhhhh yeah. Plots within plots within plots, all right.

    Tedium within tedium within tedium.

    Stupid political subtleties within stupid political subtleties within stupid political subtleties.

    Ridiculous huge powerful worms who could never have found enough to eat to sustain their energy expenditures in the big sandy awesome vast desert.

    Ugh, I so wish I could clear my memory of ever having read that book.


    (Zelazny too. I hate every word, and I've tried. Unreadable!)

  6. #36

    Dune

    In some ways, Lemming, I can understand how you feel about the book, Dune.

    Like I posted earlier on this thread, Dune was a book that I did not want to read when I was in high school.

    Times change. People change. As you get older, you learn patience and maturity.

    I read Dune years later and only after the movie came out. It is not a fast paced action book, but it is a literary masterpiece written by a master. What you found tedious, I found great!
    What bored a number of readers out there, I found exciting. The book was better then the movie.

    We find in books what we crave. If you don't like long involved plots within plots, then don't read Dune.
    If you love highly detailed plots within plots then read Dune.

  7. #37
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    Originally posted by lemming
    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.
    Do yourself a favor. Don't.

    I actually like a few a Delaney's other works and being a huge postapocolyptic fan I was really looking forward to this one. It was quite simply the biggest dissapointment I've ever had reading sci/fi and I read about two books a months.

    But...... Since we've talked about one man's treasure - If your thing is extremely graphic, underaged, bisexual sex (and once with a tree, what the hell was that!), no plot, two hundred pages of the writer's notes (I'm not joking, they're in there) and a story that ends mid-sentence, then this is the book for you.

  8. #38
    I loved Trouble On Triton and have gotten many great personal recommendations for Dahlgren, so I will completely ignore all of you Delany haters (btw, DELANY, no second E)

  9. #39
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    Originally posted by trentdick2882
    I loved Trouble On Triton and have gotten many great personal recommendations for Dahlgren, so I will completely ignore all of you Delany haters (btw, DELANY, no second E)
    And while we're being technical the book is spelled Dhalgren. (H before A)

    By the way, if you do read it please explain the tree-love scene to me.

  10. #40
    Hip, cool, jiggy wit' it emohawk's Avatar
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    Originally posted by ironchef texmex
    If your thing is extremely graphic, underaged, bisexual sex (and once with a tree, what the hell was that!), no plot, two hundred pages of the writer's notes (I'm not joking, they're in there) and a story that ends mid-sentence, then this is the book for you.
    It starts mid-sentence too. And there's only so many times you can read descriptions of semen getting encrusted in pubic hair.
    I got the impression though that it's one of those novels that would get better with repeated readings, it obviously is an important and excellent piece of literature - just not exactly an "enjoyable romp for the average reader"

  11. #41
    Anitaverse Refugee FicusFan's Avatar
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    "To Wound the Autumnal City" is the sentence fragment the book starts with, the ending sentence fragment is actually the first half of the above sentence (with a double "to"). The story is circular, and perhaps about a story from the inside - since Kid/d seems to be writing it at various points.

    Dhalgren is not meant to be picked apart, it is meant to be experienced, and Delany scrambles your senses first. It is like being inside the Dali painting with the melting clocks. You have to give up relying on linear progression, and perspective, and just accept what is on the page.


    It starts, in the dark, it could be late summer or early fall, it could be anywhere, it is on the grassy verge of a highway and you meet a man who might or might not be named Kidd/Kid who might or might not be a poet or a writer, who might or might not be 17 or 45, who may or may not have made love to a woman before, during, or after she may or may not have turned into a tree. And it just gets better

    Every time you read it is a different experience because you focus on different parts. I have read it over 10 times since I first got it in 1976 or so. It is my favorite book. If I were stranded on a desert island it would be the only book I would need.

    I also think his characters are among the most realistic and are incredibly human in terms of thoughts, emotions, and actions. He also tends to include character types that are overlooked in SF and F: Minorities, the Poor, Gay,Lesbian and Bisexual. He plays with language and his SF&F before Dhalgren is more focused on use of language because he was trying to conform to normal social standards. After he let his characters become people who he was interested in writing about.

    I also like Driftglass, Atlantis: Three Tales his auto-biography Motion of Light on Water, and The Mad Man. He also does very good non-fiction. He is very personable and funny, and has a great sense of humor.

    I also love CJ Cherryh, and the first 3 books of the Dune series (I revile the Anderson/Herbert stuff).

    Stuff I don't like:

    I am not a fan of Ursula LeGuin who to me, writes boring books peopled with dry stick characters. Greg Bear seems to be a boring writer when it comes to story details and characters, and Bruce Sterling is incapable of actually finishing a thought or a story, he just keeps adding more stuff to avoid having an ending. Will McCarthy seemed to be incoherent in his first book, and Paul Levinson is like reading a kindergardner at novel length ( I give him the benefit of the doubt that he is competent at shorter lengths - the mind boggles if he is as bad at short stories). I did not enjoy Tanith Lee, her writing seemed cold and lifeless, so I never finished the first book of hers that I read.

  12. #42
    Originally posted by ironchef texmex


    And while we're being technical the book is spelled Dhalgren. (H before A)

    By the way, if you do read it please explain the tree-love scene to me.
    whoops

  13. #43
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    [QUOTE]Originally posted by FicusFan
    [B[COLOR=blue]
    It starts, in the dark, it could be late summer or early fall, it could be anywhere, it is on the grassy verge of a highway and you meet a man who might or might not be named Kidd/Kid who might or might not be a poet or a writer, who might or might not be 17 or 45, who may or may not have made love to a woman before, during, or after she may or may not have turned into a tree. And it just gets better

    That wasn't the scene I was talking about. The one I'm talking about is halfway through the book, in the park, man and tree, roll music.

    And let me just say that the book didn't entirely spoil me on Delany. I still have Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand on my shelf and I'll read it someday. But now I check the back cover of Sam's books first. If it says anything about "and the love for a young boy" I pass.

  14. #44
    Registered User lemming's Avatar
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    Wow, it's not often I can be zapped for two spelling mistakes in one post. All I can say is that yesterday was not my day, and give my apologies to Delany, who wrote Dhalgren. (Does it excuse me at all that I just got back from a trip to Dahlgren, VA, earlier this week? The town spelling is not the book title spelling.)

    Interesting to hear such a glowing review from you, FicusFan.

    And to ironchef texmex: Go ahead and try Stars in my Pocket, but I hope you're ready to read about the erotic qualities of dirty fingernails. I made it halfway through. The sad thing is, I put it down because it was boring, not because of the sex, and now I can't remember what it's really about.

  15. #45

    hmmm

    I must say, FicusFan seems to have a high tolerance for twisted sex in stories, so that might account for the difference in opinion. I know that one recommendation by Ficus, Black Wine by Candas Dorsey, I bought for my wife as a gift since it sounded like a really good story.

    She said it was a good story, but the incestuous lesbian sex between the twin sisters was something of a turn-off, as was when they watched their grandmother have sex. And apparently that was some of the least unusual sex in the book. Needless to say, I was a little embarrassed I hadn't read it first to check it out!

    That said, some of Ficus' other recommendations have become some of my favorite books.

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