Alterjess Alterjess's Comments (member since Mar 15, 2010)

Alterjess's comments from the The Sword and Laser group.

(showing 41-60 of 318)

Sep 12, 2012 05:41AM

4170 Overall the use if colourful language needs to be adopted carefully and not used just to shock, but used in the context of the character and the situation. Watch the "King's Speech" there is lots of swearing in that, but in one scene it works brilliantly because of the situation and reasoning behind it, I don't think anyone was offended by it.

I tend to think excessive swearing works better in performance than in writing - try reading a Mamet play vs watching one. (I'm trying to imagine Armando Iannucci writing a novel, and I just can't. He needs actors to bring his gorgeous, filthy language to life.)

That said, people do swear in real life, and fake swears almost always stand out more than a real one would because we're all mentally filling in what that character should have said. I mean, look at what happens to movies on network TV:

To me, "Space!" and "Galaxy!" add to the overall atmosphere of the book, that is, the kind of absurdly charming wide-eyed futurism where we were going to have a hotel on the moon by 1975 and all the housework would be done by robots because we had entered the SPACE AGE.
Sep 11, 2012 10:20AM

4170 Mists of Avalon ended up annoying me because of how anti-male it seemed. It *is* possible to portray strong women without weakening men.

It's also possible to tell generic/universal human stories without excluding women.

The problem in his book is not that Asimov is telling a specifically "male" story, the problem is that he is telling a supposedly generic human story with an (almost) all-male cast. You could flip the gender of almost any character without changing the story one bit - the only thing inherently male about Hari Seldon is the pronouns.
Sep 10, 2012 09:13AM

4170 To be fair, he has some sex in The Gods Themselves

Oh yes, by "these stories" I meant specifically Foundation.
Sep 10, 2012 07:43AM

4170 The NY Times this weekend printed an excerpt from Nate Silver's new book on prediction, which may be of interest in this thread. It's online here:

One of the most interesting things this chapter (on weather forecasting) discusses is that even with a supercomputer crunching huge amounts of data, the predictions are better when a human interprets the results because the one thing we still do better than computers is pattern recognition.
Sep 10, 2012 06:46AM

4170 Narrative tools much more then characters. That's way they are so... generic.

And this, I think, is why Asimov doesn't have any female main characters - he's very much in that mode of "default human = guy." He's trying to write a universal human story, and that means a story about some guys. I'd like to say it's an old-fashioned way of thinking, but most modern writers do it too. (Any movie with a female lead risks being sidelined as a chick flick. But a movie with a male lead is presumed to be for everyone.)

By the last story in the book, I was mentally recasting about half the characters as female, just for fun. It's pretty easy since the names are made-up and nobody in these stories has sex or goes to the bathroom.
Sep 08, 2012 10:57AM

4170 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (entire "trilogy"), Dune (through God Emperor), Vorkosigan books (Brothers in Arms through A Civil Campaign for maximum arc-y goodness), Watership Down.
Sep 08, 2012 10:53AM

4170 I finished Foundation, and have decided to tackle my TBR pile before it takes over the bedroom. First up is Hull Zero Three, which I'm just barely into and am finding completely fascinating.
Sep 07, 2012 10:40AM

4170 Rob wrote: "I grew up in the late 80s/early 90s and have had a computer nearly all my life. But I remember pre-modem/internet days, so that might be what puts me in that middle category."

I was born in 1978, and I remember very clearly our first computer (no modem, ran DOS, giant floppies). I'd put myself in the "noticed but didn't mind" category when it comes to this book.
Sep 07, 2012 09:51AM

4170 I could have used the new Kindle's "time to read" feature on this book - when I picked it up last night to read, I didn't realize I was only three pages from the end! (I also could have just looked at the percentage the night before, but...I didn't.)

There are currently 59 holds on the Kindle version of Cloud Atlas at the library, so I may move on to Second Foundation before rereading that one.
Sep 05, 2012 05:25PM

4170 Number of the Beast is pretty much THE weird one, on a scale of 1 to WTF.

When I was in my Heinlein phase, my favorite was Time Enough for Love, but I think The Moon is a Harsh Mistress has held up better over time.

Orphans of the Sky might be another good starting point, since it's nice and short.
Sep 05, 2012 04:28PM

4170 Does he have any good stories or anecdotes to share with us from his guest appearance on "Community"?

Beat me to it! I guess it would be too much of a cliche to ask him "HOW ARE YOU SO AWESOME?" wouldn't it?
Sep 05, 2012 12:43PM

4170 I think it was Tom who cited examples of this: we used to be able to fly commercially at supersonic speeds. We can't do that anymore. We used to have a manned reusable spaceship. We don't have those anymore.

I'm not sure those are good examples of technology moving backwards - in Foundation, the periphery worlds go back to fossil fuels because nobody on the planet knows how to build or repair a nuclear reactor anymore. That's hardly equivalent to NASA retiring the shuttle so they can spend their resources on sending robots to Mars instead.

(Likewise, the Concorde doesn't exist anymore because that particular venture ceased to be profitable, but we still have Virgin Galactic.)
Sep 04, 2012 10:59AM

4170 In Leviathan Wakes, the characters refer to their "handhelds," presumably so the authors wouldn't be tied to a trendy term like "tablet" or "slate." or a potentially dated one like "calculator."

But in 20 years, our kids are going to be asking "Handhelds? How would a society that's colonized the asteroid belt not have neural implants yet??"
Sep 04, 2012 06:07AM

4170 I doubt we will ever progress to the point where we have enough data to make psychohistory plausible. There will always be too many variables.
Sep 03, 2012 05:16PM

4170 I once watched a performance of Hamlet where the couple behind me spent literally the entire play going "Oh, THIS is where that line comes from!"

My personal "Casablanca" in this regard is Planet of the Apes. By the time I saw the actual film, I'd seen eleventy-bajillion parodies of it and there was simply no hope of my being able to take any part of it seriously.

As for Foundation, I'm finding the opposite is true. I lemmed this book as a teenager because at the time I was reading mostly Heinlein and Herbert and I found Asimov's style just deathly dull in comparison. Now that I'm giving him another shot, I find I have the patience to appreciate his work, and I'm very glad I did.
Sep 03, 2012 05:03PM

4170 I was fine with the nuclear power and paper books - this isn't gadget sci-fi, it's ideas sci-fi. Asimov is exploring questions about how technology/information/knowledge can/should/might be used. Doesn't particularly matter what the tech is.

The only thing that threw me was the frequent mentions of "Vegan tabacco." Took me ages to figure out he meant tabacco from the star system Vega, and not tabacco free of animal byproducts.
Aug 29, 2012 10:44AM

4170 Nine Tomorrows is a fantastic short story collection to begin with. ("The Last Question" is a must for Douglas Adams fans.)
Aug 29, 2012 10:34AM

4170 Andrew wrote: "Most (if not all?) of Dickens's books are so long and detailed not just because he was an exceptionally verbose author, but because the novels were originally published in serial form and he was payed by the word."

Sorry, but the "paid by the word" myth is one of my pet peeves. It's not true:
Wit vs skill? (34 new)
Aug 28, 2012 06:07AM

4170 I found Burrich's attitudes about the Wit to be the one really jarring false note in the book. Maybe because the only people with the Wit in the book (that we know of so far) are Burrich and Fitz, so we really only have Burrich's word that it's a Very Bad Thing That Only Bad People Do So Don't Do It. (view spoiler) We never see an example of someone who has used the Wit too much and is now trapped in an animal mind. As far as the events in this book are concerned, we see Fitz using the Wit to be nice to dogs and horses, and we see Burrich being an asshole about it.

By the end of the whole (view spoiler) thing, I felt like Burrich's Wit issues were a clumsy plot device to make sure (view spoiler) at that point in the book.
Aug 23, 2012 06:10PM

4170 I think most avid SSF readers are more forgiving of bad prose within these genres.

I agree with this, but I'm not sure SFF fans are different in this regard than any other genre - I'm sure fans of mysteries or romance novels or westerns will put up with less-than-stellar writing within their favored genres too, if the book has enough good points to balance it out.

So far, I like Hobb's writing. Fitz has a clear and distinctive voice, and she seems to be avoiding the main pitfall of first-person narration which is too much telling and not enough showing. (As opposed to Tigana, for example, where I literally had to force myself to read more than a few pages at a time - it just couldn't hold my attention.)

topics created by Alterjess