20Jul2017 2015: The Dark Between the Lines
I'm still plumbing the depths of the Hugo nominees, but my plumbob may have finally hit bottom. The Dark Between the Stars is one of 120 novels by Kevin J Anderson. If ever somebody wished for talent on a monkey's paw, it is this man; he averages four "novels" a year and makes a very fine living at it. But I hope he doesn't enjoy it. In a year filled with extreme absurdism and infuriating halfsies, The Dark Between the Stars stands out as a singularly incompetent novel.
The basic formula is of a Galaxy-Ending Peril told through Point-Of-View Chapters from Too Many Characters, which describes fully 70% of all fantasy sci-fi these days. Except that the Too Many Characters on offer feel like half a character combined; nobody uses slang, nobody has a strange hobby, nobody has a unique inner voice. Each of the five-page(!) chapters blows through an event in a character's experience with the barest narration before warping to the next. The character development is all hung upon their job, their race, the status of their marriage. Nothing internal bubbles up to inflect their external situation.
Even this might be forgivable if the text itself were scintillating or unique. Instead we have what reads like a prank on the publishing company. The same dull narrative voice plods across the activities of all races and ages. Three-Body Problem had the same issue with simple grammar and a total lack of literary pizazz, but it had the excuse of being translated from a wildly different language. Kevin J Anderson is purportedly natively English, but his book burns my eyes like Atlanta Nights.
Halfway through the book -- I am nothing if not damnedly persistent -- it began to dawn on me. Hugo Awards. 2015. Wasn't GRR Martin saying something that year that wasn't "I'm done with my book"? Oh right! The Internet tried to destroy the Hugos by slating books that reflected their tastes. Sure enough, The Dark Between the Stars was one of their shining ideals. Listen. I've read through a lot of recent Hugo nominees over the past year. I understand that you Puppies may feel like you're surrounded by books about feelings written by women...because it's largely true. That is super happening in sci-fi right now. But even so, even if that is the fight you choose to fight, why would you choose The Dark Between the Stars as your avatar? Surely there is a good novel out there somewhere that has derring-do and Galaxy-Ending Peril? This. Book. Is. Not. Good. Which is a statement separate from "I hate this book". I think this book is entirely reflective of the three months Kevin can spare to write it, and it is bad. But I'm still reading it.
12Jul2017 1915: To the Test
Did everybody enjoy their holiday
day-in-the-middle-of-the-week? Me too. The constant 40% chance of rain kept me
from going anywhere but also didn't actually rain, so all the fireworks went off
without a hitch and without me.
July 4th is never the real holiday anyway. That comes the next weekend, when the mother-side family reunion affects some unsuspecting city. My mom and her twin were celebrating their Super-Sweet 60th so we had a more relaxed birthday theme than most years. I deployed a seven-foot crossword puzzle to great effect!
But this weekend could be even more exciting. There's a boardgame prototype exchange being brokered through my sister. She's an odd confluence of comic-book writers, musicians, and apparently at least two people who claim to be making a boardgame. I'm going to go put my Overlaird to the test! And hopefully scam some people into playing a game of Sol with me because it is rad. There's a lore book! No rules, just lore! I dig that kind of silly thing.