I have mixed feelings about this book. Overall, it was a fun, light read, and was one of the stronger, less-obnoxiously overt books in the Steampunk gI have mixed feelings about this book. Overall, it was a fun, light read, and was one of the stronger, less-obnoxiously overt books in the Steampunk genre. I have some issues with Steampunk in general in that there seems to be a kind of ridiculously pervasive feel of "weirdtech for the sake of weirdtech" through most steampunk genre novels. There was not so much of that here; rather this book felt more like a historical fiction piece with a happenstance connection to steampunk tech and concepts, which was somewhat refreshing. The author certainly did their historical homework, as well as geographically, including references and locational scenes that led me to believe that the author had visited these places, such was their detail.
The one sticking point I had seemed to be that this book had a bit of an identity crisis. It felt wholeheartedly as though the author was writing for a YA audience, with a style and idiom that seemed aimed entirely at the teen/late teen crowd. Perhaps it's a generational thing, but I don't remember my YA books having quite so many vulgarities tossed into their chapters.
Additionally, on the stylistic front, I felt that there was an odd feeling of nonchalance in the writing. During action scenes, I didn't get a lot of a sense of actual action, so to speak, as while the writing wasn't dry overall, it lacked a certain oomph that other books' fight scenes and battles seemed to have. Everything seemed to happen almost as if it were preordained in the protagonist's mind, and there was little sense of impending failure, even when things seemed like the author was trying to portray them as the "bleakest moment" of the book.
Overall, not a horrible book, and definitely entertaining in parts, but not one that entirely captivated me and made me want to just keep reading. I will probably check out some of the other books in this series just to see if my issues with the book stemmed from "Debut Novel" jitters, or if they span the entire series. ...more
There are very few books that I put down and walk away from in frustration. As can be guessed, this book happens to be one of them. Overall, this fallThere are very few books that I put down and walk away from in frustration. As can be guessed, this book happens to be one of them. Overall, this falls into my "good attempt, but failed to stick the landing" category of books, in that there were excellent concepts, ideas, and themes throughout the story, but this was foiled by an overall lack of cohesion, relatable characters, and definable style.
I liked a lot of the concepts that were put forth throughout Six Gun Tarot, and many of the characters had unique traits that made them distinguishable on a surface level, but they lacked a certain something to make them enough for me to get involved with.
Another problem I had seemed to be scale and management of the story. The author seemed intent on cramming so much into the plot that many things had to be shaved down to a minimum of effort, like the aforementioned characterization. Many things seemed to be skimmed over and lightly touched upon, but never fleshed out, and partly because there seemed to be just so much to deal with.
As far as stylistic issues, I will acknowledge that I may be judging a bit too harshly on this front. I had just come off of a couple of novels by William Gibson, and the stylistic differences between Gibson and Belcher are not only jarring in theme, but also seemingly on entirely different levels of competence and nuance. Six Gun Tarot seemed to be somewhat blunt and forthright in how things were described, while Gibson's prose takes on a dreamlike quality that flows once you get into it. Needless to say, this was a jarring switch when going from one book to another, and was probably why I had such issues with it. It didn't help that nearly every single chapter had flashbacks and remembrances that seemed to bog down the flow of the book - especially during the climax and denouement. Flashbacks are, when used sparingly, effective tools of writing, but they do tend to apply the literary brakes to the feel of the plot.
While I had quite a few issues with this book, I admit that it was probably not the best thing to follow up a William Gibson book, and I acknowledge that this may have colored my perception of the book somewhat. I'll have to possibly pick this one up and give it another go at some future date. For now, though, I remain unimpressed in general. ...more
Pulpier than a gallon of Minutemaid OJ filtered through a ground up tree. But that's what I expected, so that's what I got. Not horrible, not great, bPulpier than a gallon of Minutemaid OJ filtered through a ground up tree. But that's what I expected, so that's what I got. Not horrible, not great, but probably not something I'd go looking for very often. Some of the language was overblown and stilted, and the character of the Shadow was, by today's standards, absolutely ridiculous, and I often wondered just how Lamont Cranston managed to accomplish anything without everyone automatically spotting him as The Shadow - absolutely no attempt at subtlety, subterfuge, or any kind of ability to hide a secret identity.
But then, I live in an age of The Gritty Reboot, where fantastic things and ridiculous supherheroes are mashed sideways into the frame of 'reality', given superheroic yet still just-barely realistic abilities, gadgets, and plots, and filmed in shadow before being projected onto a screen with all the gamma settings set to zero. The silly, pulp-laden antics of The Shadow wouldn't survive today's grittier-than-a-mile-of-desert-road heroes and superheroes, though I have no doubt that somewhere, some desperate movie executive is trying to finagle the Gritty Reboot version of The Shadow in an attempt at making a quick buck (especially considering that just about everyone has forgotten the ill-fated Alec Baldwin vehicle of the '90s). ...more
There's an adage that says a sequel is never as good as the story, movie, or book that it is based off of. That adage holds very true here. In the firThere's an adage that says a sequel is never as good as the story, movie, or book that it is based off of. That adage holds very true here. In the first book, I was enchanted with the fact that this was one of the first series of books I had read that was in that gray "middle ground" that seemed rather unexplored in sci-fi. That middle ground where science hadn't progressed to the point where such things as inertial dampers, force fields and gravity generators existed, the way they do in Star Trek or Star Wars, instead leaving the ground fertile for realistic sci-fi. The kind where people who lived outside of Earth gravity evolved differently, where the ultra-fast dispensation of information was hampered by vast, unthinkable distances, where in order to move from place to place on your ship, you had to watch where you were going, otherwise you might crack your skull on the bulkhead trying to stop at your destination.
In other words, sci-fi placed in a time and space between the clumsy, clunky cans-full-of-air of our present age, and the science-magic of transporters and warp drive, turbo lasers and blasters of the future. Overlay all of that with an intriguing mystery/horror story about genetic modification, corporate sociopathy, and alien genetics, and I was fairly entranced.
While this second book takes on all of that and expands on it admirably, it still falls somewhat flat. Some of it was a result of details from the first book being glossed over as inconsequential (the main protagonist's cancer issues from the first book are touched on in the first section involving him, and then never mentioned again), some of it was the far more politically-oriented storytelling of the gamesmanship and manipulation played by people in positions of power (some of which can be minimally fascinating, but is overall rather dull and lifeless to me), and some of it was a sense of disjointedness and a lack of focus. I stopped reading at one point because the image of the authors going "wait...you mean the first book was successful? Crap! We've got to crank out another one! Get writing!" There were also little action-movie throwaway tropes that stuck out to me and made me shake my head slightly when I noted them.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this book, and even with its flaws, it continued the themes and story of the first one more than adequately. Even weighing in at around 600 or so pages, I chewed through the book in about a week. I usually go two or more, in most cases. ...more
Not the best of the Clockwork Century series that I've read, but not bad in general. My one major complaint is that there seemed to be a lack of tensiNot the best of the Clockwork Century series that I've read, but not bad in general. My one major complaint is that there seemed to be a lack of tension towards the latter parts of the book, making the whole thing seem like one big amusement park ride, rather than a submarine adventure story.
Other than that, I can't really say much more about it. Maybe on further readings, I'll be able to come up with more. ...more