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Thread: Unreadable SF.

  1. #76
    Aged Literary Seagull
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    Probably gonna get crucifed for this one....


    3001 by Arthur C Clarke.

    I don't think I got past the 3rd chapter. It's like he threw something together in a hurry, to make a dollar. The first two books were pretty good, 2061 was okay at best, but I just couldn't finish this one. Just too weak and unreadable for me. I don't even know how it ended, but when I stop reading after chapter 3, that was too much.

    Honorable Mention-Kevin J Anderson's "Fantastic Voyage" of an alien body(I've forgotten the exact name). I say honorable because it was totally readable until it disintigrated into another "Aliens want to take over the world" hokum.

  2. #77
    Member of the Month™ Ropie's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Old But Fun Thread Resurrections - Part I

    Unreadable? These are my biggest SF failures to date:

    The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress (Robert Heinlein) - I read about 100 pages into this before I threw it in the bin and declared my house a 'moonspeak'-free zone.

    Fire Upon the Deep (Vernor Vinge) - Sophisticated but impenetrably dull to me, though to be fair I don't really enjoy space operas that much generally.

    But they pale into comparison next to Downbelow Station (C J Cherryh) - I would have got further into this book if it had been a solid lump of lead rather than 300 (or so) paper pages of utter detritus. Boring does not begin to describe it, I was almost catatonic after 60 pages.

  3. #78
    I like cheese LaBelle's Avatar
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    This might be a bit harsh but most SF is unreadable to me. It seems as though I have seen the same plots and characters in about a million other stories and movies. The situations and conflicts are typical, the dialogue is wooden, I don't care about protagonist, the villain is stereotypical, the secondary characters are useless...the love interest is annoying and you want her/him to die.

    SF isn't usually an area that draws in the best of the best in terms of writing quality so you end up with a few gems hidden in a big steaming pile of s***...excuse the expression.

  4. #79
    Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein and The Faded Sun trilogy by Cherryh come to mind. I couldn't make myself finish either one. Not coincidently I haven't tried anything else by either author.

  5. #80
    Member of the Month™ Ropie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaBelle View Post
    This might be a bit harsh but most SF is unreadable to me. It seems as though I have seen the same plots and characters in about a million other stories and movies. The situations and conflicts are typical, the dialogue is wooden, I don't care about protagonist, the villain is stereotypical, the secondary characters are useless...the love interest is annoying and you want her/him to die.

    SF isn't usually an area that draws in the best of the best in terms of writing quality so you end up with a few gems hidden in a big steaming pile of s***...excuse the expression.
    Firstly, this is not the thread to make such statements really, we want specifics. Secondly, since you obviously know so much about SF to be able to make such a sweeping comment I can't believe you have wasted so much time reading things that you find unreadable. I'm afraid I can't even be bothered to give you the names of the countless examples of wonderful situations, conflicts, dialogue, characterization and writing quality that I have encountered in SF.
    Last edited by Ropie; May 5th, 2008 at 06:16 PM.

  6. #81
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    Some of the big name sf authors/books I could not read: OS Card, J. Haldeman, most Vinge, the post Moving Mars/Queen of Angels Greg Bear, Ben Bova, R. Hubbard, W. Gibson and B. Sterling

    And for the above post, why waste energy answering an obvious troll?

  7. #82
    Old Fogey Fan RimWorlder's Avatar
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    LaMorte umm, I mean, LaBelle - you sound like someone from that vanity press that's been ripping so many would-be authors off...

    Ficus - I made similar comments about Dhalgren in another thread on here, just can't find it at the moment. I'm referencing the circularity of the plot, the fact that its a gestalt and engenders an emotional, rather than an intellectual, appeal, etc., etc. And particularly the fact that you find something different every time you read it. I swear the book literally changes from read to read.

    This thread gave me the glimmer of an idea for a story: what if an author/government org or some similar protaganist, could MAKE every reader like their stories and/or hate certain other author's works?

    I mean, deep down, each of us is disappointed, confused and bothered by the fact that not everyone agrees with our likes/dislikes, and can't understand how someone else could refrain from vomiting after reading that POS we hated so much - right? Wave the magic wand and suddenly, everyone thinks that Dhalgren is the greatest masterpiece and that Dune should be burnt on sight - or something. (BTW - I liked both, just for the record).

    Imagine being an author on the 'outs' - or a terrible writer on the 'in'.

  8. #83
    Member of the Month™ Ropie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by suciul View Post
    And for the above post, why waste energy answering an obvious troll?
    Oh, I just noticed the post count I saw red, I just saw red I tell you!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ropie View Post
    Oh, I just noticed the post count I saw red, I just saw red I tell you!
    Me too when I saw the post last night and was prepared to rip off a nasty response, but then I thought why give the poster satisfaction? Better to ignore...

  10. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by suciul View Post
    Some of the big name sf authors/books I could not read: OS Card, J. Haldeman, most Vinge, the post Moving Mars/Queen of Angels Greg Bear, Ben Bova, R. Hubbard, W. Gibson and B. Sterling
    Quote Originally Posted by RimWorlder View Post
    Ficus - I made similar comments about Dhalgren in another thread on here, just can't find it at the moment. I'm referencing the circularity of the plot, the fact that its a gestalt and engenders an emotional, rather than an intellectual, appeal, etc., etc. And particularly the fact that you find something different every time you read it. I swear the book literally changes from read to read.
    Coincidentally I just started Neuromancer last night. It's certainly not plain-sailing in the readability stakes but just a few pages in there is already considerable atmosphere in the prose. I suppose readability can often equate to familiarity and that something quite wide of what is usually expected from a book, Dhalgren probably also being a case in point, will cause frustration. In the end it probably comes down to our willingness to accept the author's motives, or maybe there is also a skill in being able to do so (something like empathy)?

  11. #86
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    why waste energy answering an obvious troll?
    Me too when I saw the post last night and was prepared to rip off a nasty response, but then I thought why give the poster satisfaction? Better to ignore...
    Steady, folks... there's some pretty big assumptions being thrown around there.

    Reminder: we don't flame, we treat with respect, even if their views to you seem misguided.

    Threads like this seem to bring out the worst in people, particularly when they are your favourites being threatened, perhaps.

    Let's keep it civil and show by example here where people may be wrong!

    Mark / Hobbit
    Mark

  12. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ropie View Post
    Coincidentally I just started Neuromancer last night. It's certainly not plain-sailing in the readability stakes but just a few pages in there is already considerable atmosphere in the prose. I suppose readability can often equate to familiarity and that something quite wide of what is usually expected from a book, Dhalgren probably also being a case in point, will cause frustration. In the end it probably comes down to our willingness to accept the author's motives, or maybe there is also a skill in being able to do so (something like empathy)?
    Interesting post; for me usually if a book is of interest, a lot depends on author's style; but Neuromancer is not of much interest to me since most cyberpunk is not; I read The Difference Engine by Gibson and Stirling and liked it ok, but that was steampunk and I love that. If Mr. Gibson would put out a book that interests me, I would give it a try. Usually near-future/contemporary books are of very little interest to me for various reasons - mostly that I am too immersed in today's culture with all the information I have to process everyday for work, so those books almost always ring false to me- I want more distant future or past

    The same was true with N. Stephenson; I couldn't care less for Diamond Age, but I always have been willing to give a try to The Baroque cycle when in the mood, and this year I've done Quicksilver, loved it and intend to do the rest sooner or later.

    Regarding Delany, Dhalgren is on my list to read and I own it; I loved Babel 17 and The Einstein Intersection and liked Nova.
    Last edited by suciul; May 5th, 2008 at 02:32 PM.

  13. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbit View Post
    Let's keep it civil and show by example here where people may be wrong!
    Apologies if I came across as a little too annoyed, Hobbit. I have amended my original reply just slightly. When people attack the whole raison d'etre of a forum though, it can be a bit frustrating.

  14. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by suciul View Post
    Regarding Delany, Dhalgren is on my list to read and I own it; I loved Babel 17 and The Einstein Intersection and liked Nova.
    Mine too I believe it is a favourite of several members here. I also liked Nova a lot though the violent ending was a bit of a let down for me.

  15. #90
    I like cheese LaBelle's Avatar
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    Wow, I give an opinion and suddenly I'm a troll. Most people wouldn't have a problem saying they found the majority of romance novels to be shallow and unreadable...yet when I say I've read way to many bad sci-fi books I get completely flamed.

    I never said all sci-fi in general was bad, I've read several sci-fis that were incredibly well written (granted I read more fantasy than sci-fi), on the other hand, I've read far more that should never have made it to print. My point was that sci-fi is a genre that often has so many people that try to write it and can't write it well that the authors and books that are actually good are hard to find.

    So...geez...calm down.

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