Wow, Connie Willis can really write. Her depiction of time travelers in London during WW II is convincing, to say the least.
I found myself enjoying thWow, Connie Willis can really write. Her depiction of time travelers in London during WW II is convincing, to say the least.
I found myself enjoying the story more and more, the farther I got on. The last 150 pages were the best of all. I'm speaking here of the combination of Blackout and All Clear, since they comprise a single story.
Many of Willis's novels center around characters trying to accomplish things and failing, over and over. There's a sort of chaotic feel about them that remind me of my more frustrating days in the boiling mess that life can sometimes become. For that very reason, the many chapters in which Willis's characters encounter one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the other, I find myself almost as frustrated as the characters themselves must feel. I consider it good writing to evoke those feelings in a reader.
At the same time, the plot of several of Willis's books center around this kind of frustrated activity of the main characters. In some books, I've found that it gets old. Evoking strong feelings in the reader is good, but eventually I want the plot to move forward, and the characters to make some kind of progress.
Just at the point where I was beginning to feel that the story might become frustrating, Willis smoothly changes the tone and pace. I was left fully satisfied that, while being true to her style of writing, and her common theme of frustration in the midst of chaos, she wrote just enough of it, and then moved along.
I've been impressed with the majority of the Willis novels I've read, but there have been a couple of misses in my opinion. This is not one of them. It is on a par with "Doomsday Book," which I loved. It's a direct hit; Blackout and All Clear tell I story that I cared about and enjoyed immensely.
Sometimes Heinlein was blinded by the brilliance of his own ideas, which left him unable to objectively evaluate their true merit. Nevertheless, his iSometimes Heinlein was blinded by the brilliance of his own ideas, which left him unable to objectively evaluate their true merit. Nevertheless, his ideas are brilliant, and fascinating to read. This book is full of some of his most interesting ideas, and some of his best writing. He was at the top of his form when he wrote this -- the Hugo he won for it was well deserved. ...more
It's late, and I don't have it in me to write a well thought out review at this moment. But if I did write one, I'd have to comment on the excellent wIt's late, and I don't have it in me to write a well thought out review at this moment. But if I did write one, I'd have to comment on the excellent writing, and the wealth of interesting ideas. I'd need to talk about how Gaiman always seems to know just when to explain, and when to leave things vague. I'd want to praise his use of interesting metaphors, while at the same time not allowing the metaphors to become overpowering.
And, if I weren't so tired, I'm sure I'd come up with even more good things to say. ...more
This won a Hugo award, really? Then it's overrated. Bacigalupi's writing is not particularly noteworthy. I didn't find myself marveling at the use ofThis won a Hugo award, really? Then it's overrated. Bacigalupi's writing is not particularly noteworthy. I didn't find myself marveling at the use of words, or his innovative use of the English language. And like many writers today, he seems to think that describing acts of abuse in vivid detail is important to the story. It's not; it's a cheap gimmick that amounts to abuse of the reader. Better writers know when they can (and should) rely on the imagination of the reader. And while there are a few interesting characters, it seemed there were even more uninteresting caricatures.
As with a lot of modern novels, it seems purposely written to turn into a screenplay. Exciting action sequences? Check. Characters who get what's coming to them in the end? Got it. Characters with angst over their exact loyalties? Sure. The whole thing comes off with as much subtlety as one of the genetically-engineered elephants (a.k.a. megodonts) that permeate the story. Hollywood, here we come.
Still, it wasn't a total loss. Bacigalupi has some interesting ideas about one possible future, and he had my attention with those. And a few times I found the images he painted were vivid, if not beautiful. But the good moments were the exception, and on the whole, I'm not sure if I'll attempt Bacigalupi again. ...more
I was a little disappointed by this book. I like Simak, but I want to like him better than I do. His stories are thoughtful, have an interesting premiI was a little disappointed by this book. I like Simak, but I want to like him better than I do. His stories are thoughtful, have an interesting premise, and the plots resolve in unexpected ways. This book has some nice writing as well, with inviting descriptions of nature.
But somehow, the book feels like it is missing connections. The protagonist is first seen as a soldier in a bloody war, but that experience don't seem to have a significant bearing later in the book. And Enoch's 'shadow people' seem only loosely connected to the story itself. It's almost as if there are several stories mingled together. The people watching Enoch start out as a source of tension in the story, and then almost fade away entirely, coming back only in the end to provide Enoch himself with assistance that he wouldn't otherwise have. This seems like a contrivance, and ultimately detracts, rather than adds to the story.
The final resolution failed to satisfy. The plot (and the book jacket) expected the protagonist, forced by the situation around him, to creatively solve the problems with which he was presented. He did that, to some degree, but the resolution was just as reliant on a series of coincidences, and the unusual abilities of one of the secondary characters. In a way, it became a 'deus ex machina' solution, which I dislike. This one was tempered by a certain amount of subtlety, but still, it blunts the impact of tension the author worked to build. ...more
Media influences media, and so popular novels today often read like movie scripts. This is one of the oldest novels I've read that has that flavor. ItMedia influences media, and so popular novels today often read like movie scripts. This is one of the oldest novels I've read that has that flavor. It reminds me of the disaster movies that were popular in the 1970s; The Towering Inferno, Earthquake, etc.
Switching between characters that have no impact on, or involvement in the main thrust of the story splits up the focus. It takes away from the main themes, without managing to make the book into a real disaster story. So while the quality of the writing makes the book readable, the fractured plot detracts.
And as others have mentioned, the themes are very dated now. Those themes, along with a decent treatment of the popular disaster format were undoubtedly what gained it a Hugo for best novel, but they have aged poorly. ...more