Why I Read This Book: It's the SFDG book for 2015-02-26.
A whole lot about Mistborn: The Final Empire rubbed me the wrong way. Some things are the bookWhy I Read This Book: It's the SFDG book for 2015-02-26.
A whole lot about Mistborn: The Final Empire rubbed me the wrong way. Some things are the book's fault; some things aren't.
1. My expectations. Unfortunately I was expecting the magic system to be interesting and worth analysis, and the writing to be almost as good as Scott Lynch's. Neither turned out to be the case.
2. Spoilers. I got bored several times and looked at the Internet to see what other people had said about this book. Unfortunately a lot of people casually dropped spoilers. My problem is that I was expecting a lot of these things to occur in the first book and they didn't.
3. Along these lines, there are a whole lot of mysterious things that I was expecting to be addressed that never were. (view spoiler)[What's with the ash? What's with the universal mist that falls every night? There was a hint that perhaps this is a different planet and people from earth came here; what's up with that? (hide spoiler)]
4. The style. In this book, Brandon Sanderson uses a style that I find pedestrian. He also has some stylistic tics that tend to knock me out of the story. For example, he often starts a sentence with a conjunction followed immediately by a comma. And, I hate that.
5. This is a modern (Fantasy) book with modern pacing. Which means that, to my taste, it's incredibly slow moving and bloated. Unfortunately for Sanderson, the book that I read immediately before this was Bob Shaw's The Peace Machine. In my opinion, Sanderson's book takes somewhere between 50 and 100 pages to hit its stride. The Peace Machine is about 180 pages total. Not only that, it's a revised version of a novel, and it's one chapter shorter than the original version of the novel. As you might expect, The Peace Machine hits the ground running and doesn't stop. Granted, Bob Shaw's plotting tends to be pretty herky jerky, but at least it's entertaining.
6. To be fair, I give Sanderson credit for revealing surprises all the way till (almost) the very end. Usually the climax and surprises happen farther from the end of the book, allowing things to cool down. In this case, I wanted to keep reading and find out What Happens Next – but our discussion is supposed to cover only this book. Maybe I'll read more now that I'm no longer constrained. On the other hand, maybe I won't.
7. So what about the magic system? It's interesting, but what Sanderson does with iron and steel really, really ticked me off. He emphasizes the fact that iron and steel are pushed (or pulled) directly away from someone. Good! I'm glad he thought about this, and decided to make it specific. (You could ask whether this means center-of-mass to center-of-mass, but that would probably be too nitpicky even for me.) Unfortunately, I've been trained in physics, and Sanderson doesn't seem to concern himself with things being off-center. Characters casually drop coins on the ground, without making sure they're standing directly above the coins; by his rules it seems to me that they should be flying off in diagonal directions. It seems to me that learning how to balance and hold yourself would be critical to using this sort of magic, but Sanderson glosses over these issues, except for two passing mentions of dropping three coins to get tripodal stability. It seems to me that people first learning this magic should need tripods all the time whereas experts could get away with a single point of support – and that's how you tell an expert.
8. One other thing about the magic system: It strikes me that, from a Computer Science (or programming) standpoint, you could think of these metals as being like bits that are set or not, meaning that for a small number of metals you could get a huge number of combinations. I think I'd enjoy a book that pursued this angle; it's really not Sanderson's fault that this isn't that book.
9. The story revolves around Kelsier and Vin. I didn't like either character. Actually both characters were kind of likable, but the author's approach tends to distance them from the reader (or at least from me). Elend and Dockson seemed more interesting, but perhaps they wouldn't be if Sanderson put his direct attention on them.
Overall I'd say I don't see the book as anything special, and Sanderson's style makes me perceive the book as longwinded, with occasional recoil-from-the-page moments. On the plus side, his knack for revealing surprises almost to the very end makes me interested in Finding Out What Happens Next, so I may decide to continue to book two. I wish I could say I look forward to it.
(At the SFDG meeting I rated this 7 out of 10. If I converted that numerically to the Goodreads scale, that would 3.5 . But I balk at rating it somewhere between "liked it" and "really liked it". Going by the text labels, the perfect score on Goodreads would be somewhere between "it was ok" and "liked it", so I'm giving it 2 stars here and wishing I could give it 2.5.) ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The date I finished is an estimate; it was the SFDG book for May 29, 2014 and I did not finish by then. I did finish a few days later.
Overall I'd rateThe date I finished is an estimate; it was the SFDG book for May 29, 2014 and I did not finish by then. I did finish a few days later.
Overall I'd rate it 8 out of 10. I strongly suspect I'd enjoy it more if I were to reread it.
The Audible reading is excellent, like many I've been listening to lately.
The person who recommended it to the SFDG has read/listened to it four times and rates it 11 out of 10(!). (Our rule is that you're allowed to give one book a rating at any given time. Incidentally, my wife's 11-point pick is Cryptonomicon, and mine is Her Smoke Rose Up Forever.)...more
Why I Read This Book: It's the SFDG book for 2013-06-29.
I have mixed feelings about this book; it presents aliens who use language in a very differentWhy I Read This Book: It's the SFDG book for 2013-06-29.
I have mixed feelings about this book; it presents aliens who use language in a very different way from the way humans do (or at least my limited understanding of the way humans do ;-) but it felt like the author cheated at several points. On the minus side, it's as bloated as the current fashion; on the plus side, the author did a deft job of making me realize the story wasn't what I thought it was, not just once, but several times.
I was thrilled to discover that Carole Nelson Douglas has now made all of her Irene Adler books available as ebooks and will pick them up as budget alI was thrilled to discover that Carole Nelson Douglas has now made all of her Irene Adler books available as ebooks and will pick them up as budget allows. This novella looked intriguing enough, and was inexpensive enough, that I couldn't resist it.
I enjoyed this even more than the Irene Adler novels I've read (the first three). I'll admit to occasional exasperation with the narrator of those novels; by contrast, this story is narrated by Adler herself. Fortunately, and perhaps not surprisingly, she's a much better narrator than Holmes was in Doyle's work.
It may be that one of the reasons I enjoyed this so much was the shorter length; I'll be very busy this week and was pleased to have something this good that I could read and finish in a single morning. (It's also possible that the shorter length forced the plot to be simple enough that I could easily follow it ;-).
A word on the ebook itself: A lot of long-time paper publishers have been putting out barebones ebooks of mediocre quality and high prices. (For instance, one of my favorite Isaac Asimov novels was so full of typos that it was clear no human had read it before it was republished.) By contrast, this ebook had nice artwork, was nicely proofread (I only caught one typo--a space where there shouldn't have been one), and had a very enjoyable afterword explaining how this particular story came to be written (and why Holmes ended up in such an unusual setting). I look forward to any more Irene Adler novellas that Ms. Douglas may release as ebooks.
(Finished on 2013-02-06 well before 9:00 EST.)...more
Our SF group meets once a month (except December) to discuss a particular book. The rule is that if you finish the book, you can give a rating from 1Our SF group meets once a month (except December) to discuss a particular book. The rule is that if you finish the book, you can give a rating from 1 (really terrible) to 10 (really great). About 40% of the way through this book I decided that I would finish it, so that I could give it a 1.
In my humble opinion, there's maybe a novelette's worth of "story" here. The characters are not particularly likable, the main city on Mercury is fairly ridiculous, and Robinson doesn't really bring any new ideas to the table. There are a couple of vivid scenes involving surviving a disaster, and a few clever coinages, but they're offset by particularly shallow discussions of consciousness and computing. Also, there are some metaphors that blew my suspension of disbelief because things are compared to objects that are familiar to 20th century readers but would be utterly unknown to characters in this time and place. Finally, as much as I love the Beatles' album Abbey Road, I find it hard to believe that it will still be well-known (and quoted) in three centuries....more