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Thread: K.J. Parker

  1. #76
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    I tink Eventine was umm gently pointing out a mistake by the great KatG. I tink she may have confused the two names.

  2. #77
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    Apparently, K.J. Parker may very well be a pseudonym cooked up by Tom Holt or a male author. Which at first disappointed me, as Parker was lauded as part of New Weird, and I was happy to have a woman prominently in there so we didn't get tiresome comments that women couldn't possibly write New Weird. But now, with people swearing Parker must be female because they can tell by the style, etc., it's kind of funny, whether the author is actually female or male.
    Actually, the female New Weird comments never really happened because after Mieville, the flag-flyer for the whole movement is Steph Swainston, a notably female author

    Agreed that must have been a mistake, KJ Parker predates the New Weird movement by some years and the books of hers I've read are not New Weird in nature.

    I actually asked several people who do know who KJ Parker is what the situation is, and all they could say is that there are NDAs involved, which I have to admit is weird. With Parker established as a very successful author 12 years and 11 novels into a successful career, her true identity being known at this point would not appear to change her popularity. If she's really a 'he', I can see that perhaps pissing some people off, however.

  3. #78
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eventine View Post
    Ahem. K.J. Bishop. Ahem.
    LOL, oops. Just forget I brought it up. And yes, Swainston is also very prominent.

  4. #79
    It never entered my mind algernoninc's Avatar
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    browsing through the fantasticfiction site, i see the new K J Parker - "the Foldin Knife" is slotted for February 2010. Can anybody confirm this? Any early review, impressions?
    I'm reading the Scavenger series now, and when I finish i will have read all the books published under this name, so I'm interested in the new one.

  5. #80
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    Parker's next book has been confirmed as being The Hammer (though I'm seeing the variant title Hammerfall being listed in some places) and is another stand-alone due in February 2011, involving an uneasy peace on an island between colonists and the natives.

    Just to totally confuse things, the Orbit Autumn Catalogue lists Parker as 'him' once again

  6. #81
    Omnibus Prime Moderator PeterWilliam's Avatar
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    Review of Devices and Desires:

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterWilliam
    I have seen and read a great deal on K.J. Parker throughout the blogosphere. As a result, I became rather circumspect, due to the nature of the differing reactions. Regular readers/bloggers of sf&f liked Parker, while casual readers/forum posters seemed only mildly moved, at best. I jumped to the conclusion that it was "an elite thing," thus I wouldn't be interested. I was most definitely wrong.

    This glorious find, for me, occurred one evening as I took my birthday gift card (Books-a-Million) to the closest store in town. I was there, primarily, looking for Ranger's Apprentice books I could hold onto for my son one day (I'm certainly hoping he'll become a reader). I found one such book and then, with plenty of gift card value remaining, began searching the sf&f section. I found the entire Engineer's trilogy sitting there -- staring at me. It was simply time for me to give Parker a try.

    This story follows the actions of an engineer, and fugitive from justice, of an industrial, regional power as he lays a proactive strategy to bring about a war that will return him to his wife and daughter. The engineer, Ziani Vaatzes, uses his keen mechanical insight, and native intelligence, to pre-arrange a course of events that leaves the Guilds, as well as rivaling, next-door aristocracies reacting in a most flat-footed manner. The realization that there has been a set-up, or 'long game' if you will, usually comes after ruination, while a very few seem to know precisely what is taking place -- waiting for their proper moment to assert themselves, and achieve their own ends.

    There are no heroes or villains in such a tale. The intrigue is non-stop and most of the characters involved are surprisingly unaware of the stakes involved. In the end, it felt like a combination of the character driven dramas of Tad Williams and the tantalizing and pivotal plot points dangled just beyond the reader's reach, common in works by R. Scott Bakker. There are no epic scale battles, no quest objects, no magic system, no mythical creatures and no dark overlord. There is a lot of engineering though. Parker takes the reader on an adventure that could be described as historical science fiction. Science fiction, traditionally, takes its reader into a futuristic setting, imagining what technology will be able to do one day. Parker takes science fiction, and the reader, retro. The reader follows learning how to improvise mills, lathes and cams and the author makes it all more interesting than I'm sure the topic truly is.

    Parker writes in a third-person quasi-limited approach. That is to say that the author drops occasional subtle hints which leave the reader speculating about impending, foreshadowed and massive plot shifts upcoming in the tale. If all such Parker works are like this, I will have found another favorite author to watch.

    There is simply no other way to say it, K.J. Parker, in Devices and Desires, hauls the reader through the pages.

    Highly Recommended to Must Read
    Last edited by PeterWilliam; August 4th, 2010 at 07:12 AM.

  7. #82
    Omnibus Prime Moderator PeterWilliam's Avatar
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    Review of Evil for Evil:

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterWilliam
    The war upon Civitas Eremiae, by Mezentia, is all but complete. The ultimate goal of which, however, has not been achieved. Several of the individuals marked for death, by Mezentia, have survived. As a result, Mezentia's eye turns to Civitas Vadanis and it's remarkable amount of native wealth, in the form of silver mines. It won't be long before Mezentia manufactures a pretext upon which to make Civitas Vadanis the next target of the war.

    In fact, who can hope to be safe from Mezentia. Indeed, the only thing they seem to fear are the vast, innumerable hoard of Cure Hardy beyond the desert. The Aram Chantat tribe alone numbers over one million. The only solace for Mezentia is that there is no easy path across the desert. If there were, or one was discovered, Mezentia would be facing what would amount to certain annhiliation, a fact Ziani Vaatzes is poignantly aware of and hopes to exploit.

    And then, a most unique political alliance is proposed. Among all these machinations, Ziani Vaatzes continues to poke, file, trim, shave, thread, calibrate and nudge events into an alignment most suited to his own ends. Indeed, Parker's core message is that, for love, a human being will do anything. It is the direct by-product of this dynamic that gives humanity it's notions of "good" and "evil." While I may not agree, you can certainly see that Parker has an extremely coherent and salient point.

    The characters are much the same: the Eremian Duke Orsea and his wife, the Duchess Veratriz; the Eremian Duke's former chief of staff, Miel Ducas; the Vadanai Duke Valens; the exiled Mezentian engineer, Ziani Vaatzes; and the Mezentian bureaucrat Lucao Psellus, who is slowly unwinding, and understanding, several intricately laid webs. The only new character installment of note is the unusual and bizarre, Gace Daurenja. What Vaatzes does for the story, Daurenja does to Vaatzes. Daurenja is able to twist and mold Vaatzes to fit his own agenda. As each man vies to incorporate the other into their plan, which one will come to a complete understanding, thus mastering, the other first? It would seem the outcome is overwhelmingly dependent upon the answer.

    The more I read this trilogy, the more difficulty I have in pinning down a definitive description of Parker's style. It reads like a hybridization of the third-person voice and narrative, interwoven with first-person thoughts cavalierly tossed onto the page. I really, really like it - with one minor exception.

    With perhaps 150 pages to go in the book, I became mildly aware of an acute irritation I was developing toward some of the characters. In stopping to analyze precisely why and what, I realized it wasn't the characters, but a particular theme beginning to be espoused by multiple characters. It was the theme that concepts such as duty and love are the true motile power for other concepts - like good, evil, creativity and destruction. Apparently, love makes the world go round. Some of the characters began to bemoan their individual circumstances because love, duty, or both, had 'done them wrong.' The Self-Pitysburg Address was tolerable once, but after reading it from Orsea, Ducas, Veratriz and Valens, it went from being old to an irritant rather quickly.

    All in all, however, this is the strongest 'middle book' to a trilogy that I have yet read. K.J. Parker has, with this book, lived up to the standards set for me in the previous one, and I now look forward to getting my hands on all-things-K.J. Parker that I can find.

    Highly Recommended to Must Read
    Last edited by PeterWilliam; August 4th, 2010 at 07:11 AM.

  8. #83
    It never entered my mind algernoninc's Avatar
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    Peter, I like your reviews, and respect the effort you put in them, but the small font is extremely annoying and difficult to read.
    Can't you please do something about it?

  9. #84
    Omnibus Prime Moderator PeterWilliam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by algernoninc View Post
    Peter, I like your reviews, and respect the effort you put in them, but the small font is extremely annoying and difficult to read.
    Can't you please do something about it?
    My apologies. One of the things that can short-circuit my limited attention span is long posts. Thus, I assume everyone else isn't keen on seeing them either.

    Or it is perhaps a subconscious concern over wasting too much e-paper.

  10. #85
    It never entered my mind algernoninc's Avatar
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    thank you
    keep 'em coming

  11. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeterWilliam View Post
    My apologies. One of the things that can short-circuit my limited attention span is long posts. Thus, I assume everyone else isn't keen on seeing them either.

    Or it is perhaps a subconscious concern over wasting too much e-paper.
    Well, it doesn't make it actually shorter... just harder to read. So yeah, I'd say no to the small font.

    As for Parker, I only have his/her The Folding Knife. Don't know when I'll get to it. I'm keeping an eye on the other trilogies that have already been released, but it'll be a long while before I get to them.

  12. #87
    Omnibus Prime Moderator PeterWilliam's Avatar
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    My take on The Escapement:
    Quote Originally Posted by PeterWilliam
    With The Escapement, K.J. Parker brings the Engineer trilogy to a close. The climax that has built thus far, explodes (literally) before the gates of Mezentia. The result, while not necessarily expected or anticipated, is in keeping with the style Parker has set thus far. In that sense, the ending seemed symmetrical and orderly, while also being bittersweet -- probably more bitter than sweet.

    The destruction brought about by love and duty is a dominating theme throughout. In that sense, each character defines their circumstances as, "having had no choice." While I found the characters' reasoning, positions and definitions unpersuasive, it remained consistent, coherent and self-contained.

    Truly, there is a malaise that underlies the characters, theme and totality of the tale. I wouldn't necessarily link it to the concept of 'depressing' proper, but would attempt to pin it down as "dysthymia, secondary to PTSD."

    One item that was very noticeable to me was that the cultures within the tale had a near-total absence of any spirituality. There were no priesthoods, deities or religions, which seemed rather unusual since nearly every culture among our species has something to that effect. Within the trilogy, such things are briefly addressed by stating that certain cultures (i.e. Mezentine, Vadanai) used to have such things. I don't recall where they went, but it was treated as a vestigial element of the culture that had long since fallen away.

    Without interviewing the author on the matter, it isn't likely to be discovered if the temperamental, and spiritual, apathy was a part of the plot design, or if it was the subtle influence of the author's own experiences/worldview. It does make me wonder, as though I were plagued with an inexorable itch, what the person behind the K.J. Parker pseudonym is really like.

    Either way, the Engineer trilogy was a wonderfully composed and executed trilogy, which has convinced me to go forth and acquire every other work by K.J. Parker that I can find. Based upon the Engineer trilogy alone, Parker deserves a larger profile than he/she (frackin' pseudonyms!) currently has.

  13. #88
    The only Parker book I've read was Sharps, which I liked very much. I have Devices and Desires but have not yet picked it up.

    But that's not the point. The point is, in church (Episcopal) this morning while saying the confession, i noted we said the phrase we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts...

    I don't know if that phrase in particular calls to mind the themes of the first Engineer Trilogy book or not. Perhaps, whoever Parker actually is, they are familiar with the Anglican/Episcopalian liturgy. I am likely the only one interested in that...

  14. #89
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Perhaps, whoever Parker actually is, they are familiar with the Anglican/Episcopalian liturgy.
    I feel fairly confident in saying the usage is deliberate, Whitleyrr: good call!
    Mark

  15. #90
    Now, if it's the inscription on the inside cover, I'm going to feel pretty silly.

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