The end came a little too quickly, a little too easily, though I only recognized the full danger afterward. Still, a very good book, set in a terrifyiThe end came a little too quickly, a little too easily, though I only recognized the full danger afterward. Still, a very good book, set in a terrifying world--a world a great many men would like to create. ...more
Lots of synonym confusion and a way of telling, not showing, that is odd and off kilter in the beginning, but it develops into an interesting story wiLots of synonym confusion and a way of telling, not showing, that is odd and off kilter in the beginning, but it develops into an interesting story with interesting characters. I actually did get swept up into the battle for survival.
I'm not sure I would actually pay for further books in the series, but I wouldn't mind seeing the way this turns out.
And it was still MUCH better written than the mass market garbage I'm reading now--and the mass market garbage I just finished. ...more
The last chapter is so far off base as to make one wince. And, knowing what we know now about Luke and Leia, their interactions are just plain creepy.The last chapter is so far off base as to make one wince. And, knowing what we know now about Luke and Leia, their interactions are just plain creepy. Actually, they're kind of creepy even if we don't know their true relation.
However....look at all the pieces that ended up part of the film! Mimban becomes Dagobah. The Coway become Ewoks. The rock battle. The severed arm! The big worm, the hulking monster to be defeated.
I still think it was pretty clumsily written, but it was sanctioned by George Lucas, so while it doesn't really fit in the canon, there must have been something in it George wanted. ...more
The first indication of self- or vanity publishing is the format. If there is a double space between each paragraph, it's a clear indicator the originThe first indication of self- or vanity publishing is the format. If there is a double space between each paragraph, it's a clear indicator the original work was written in Word and then set up for e-publishing in Word without changing the format. Books are not professionally published like that. There is no extra space between paragraphs. The format puts me instantly on my guard.
Crackerjack Publishing appears to be a self-publishing venture.
This is the first (apparently) self-published work I've read that didn't have me growling in annoyance on every page. There was the promise of a story there and most of the mechanics of genuine storytelling were in play. I did care about what happened to some of the characters, enough to keep reading.
However, the writing style is dry, flat and mechanical. The author has no love for the language and doesn't see the magic in it. He doesn't hear the music of language; he's entirely focused on the mechanics of what he is doing. That's not always a bad thing--John Grisham has made a pretty lucrative career out of desiccated language and I'm the only one who can't read him without feeling like my brain is starving.
The plot has problems as well. Characters know things they shouldn't know, problems get solved too easily, entire civilizations are gambled on the hope that a complete stranger will choose to request something he shouldn't even know is an option.
And the ultimate message of the story, at least in theory, that humanity is more precious and wise than any computer program could ever be, gets poisoned by a simplistic political jab at socialism. The author has another book called The Rand Principle. I'm not going to look, because I don't care, but the Rand is probably Ayn Rand, whose selfish ideology has corrupted modern life enough. (And besides, she was a hyprcrite who drew Social Security and Medicare at the end of her life, something she said no one should ever do.)
This has potential, but it lacks complexity and depth. ...more
Every work has an audience, and is written toward an intended audience. It's no use saying the author wrote it for herself; even if she believes she dEvery work has an audience, and is written toward an intended audience. It's no use saying the author wrote it for herself; even if she believes she did, she still had someone else in mind, someone she imagined would read it.
Shadow Unit's intended audience is LiveJournal. Period. From the interstitial "blog entries" to the dialogue to the descriptions to the relationships, this is a LiveJournal fan community work. There are many times I had to stop and ask myself, "Would someone really say that, if she weren't nostril deep in LJ fan community?"
It's not all a bad thing--the LJ community tends to be literate beyond the SF/geek fanbase, and so that adds a layer that you won't find in the kind of TV shows this story is based on. But there are still deep problems with the characters that I find myself withdrawing from, just as I have found myself withdrawing from the LJ community.
The first and biggest problem with LJ-flavored fiction is the old "men written as women with penises" problem. There's a "blog" (LiveJournal has never been particularly bloggy to me--it's really a much more literate and game-devoid early version of Facebook based not on who you know but who you find) entry in which Chaz Villette reveals he is going on a date. He actually (jokingly) begs someone to dress him and do his hair. Now that's something adorable you would see on LJ. That's not how I perceive (I'm putting the onus on me here) a federal agent to behave in a public, albeit friendslocked forum.
(Let's be serious here. Would any federal agent, knowing what he knows about the law and what can be done to get around, even flout it, would put this kind of thing out on LiveJournal, of all services?)
And there's the whole "dress me, do my hair!" thing as a young man (the youngest man on the team), who has a macho (but gay) Texan and a 60's throwback they call "Duke" after the Doonesbury character, as colleagues, would likely never be caught saying, never mind squealing with two of the three woman who look at him in a motherly sort of way. I know, stereotypes.
It's probably just me, but I find the LiveJournal flavor so pervasive, that it puts me off the whole project. I can't make it work in my head, and when I do, it feels sticky, like onehanded use of the keyboard.
I enjoy the characters, and the stories are fairly well constructed, though poorly written. Having to backtrack once or twice to figure out who is speaking or what is happening in a scene is my problem. I'm reading too fast or I'm not paying attention. When I have to backtrack every third or fourth scene, or I have to reread to figure out why a character I thought was dead is suddenly speaking is the author's problem. (Or, since I've withdrawn from LJ culture, again my problem? Not getting the shorthand?)
It's not working for me. That doesn't mean it won't work for you. But I'm feeling like the wallflower at the party (or worse, one of the cheerleaders who quit the squad), and that is never how your reader should feel. ...more
The only piece I thought was really good was "Sudden, Broken and Unexpected," by Steven Popkes. It's the story of a failed superstar who really has aThe only piece I thought was really good was "Sudden, Broken and Unexpected," by Steven Popkes. It's the story of a failed superstar who really has a genius for fixing broken or mediocre songs. I'd like Anita to read it, because the musical terminology is really dense. The science fiction is that he's paired with a computer construct pop star who has a genius of her own. It doesn't go where any lesser author would take it; the ending is delightful. ...more
I just absolutely tore through the book. It was a breathless, headlong rush. Very, very good. I want to read them all now, but I have a lot of other tI just absolutely tore through the book. It was a breathless, headlong rush. Very, very good. I want to read them all now, but I have a lot of other things in the way first. ...more
If you can get through the cliche-ridden, over-the-top prologue--I almost didn't--you will find some rewarding characters and some interesting ideas.If you can get through the cliche-ridden, over-the-top prologue--I almost didn't--you will find some rewarding characters and some interesting ideas.
I was just getting into the flow of the story, however, when the author misused the word "reign" in a sentence. It was something like, "reigning in her emotions." This is why we have copyeditors, and why spellcheckers and beta readers aren't enough.
Reigning is what a king does.
Reining is what you do to a horse.
It's great that people are self-publishing and getting an audience, but it's frustrating for me to want to get into a story and find myself knocked out of it by errors and lazy language. Part of it is my problem, I know, because I just don't have the tolerance for shortcuts anymore.
My final complaint is that I find the whole prologue craze to be tedious and unnecessary. Prologues do nothing for the plot. They tease anticipation from the reader by offering a taste of what is to come and then jerking away the bait. So they are more or less just advertisements of the story before it begins. Editors suggest them when the opening is weak, to keep the reader invested.
Better idea: strengthen the opening.
No more prologues! (Honestly, this book would have been vastly improved by cutting it altogether.) ...more
I think it's brilliant psychologically, morally, ethically and in exploration of gender roles, but I can't give it the fifth star because it's just aI think it's brilliant psychologically, morally, ethically and in exploration of gender roles, but I can't give it the fifth star because it's just a touch cold. It's a thought experiment with emotions involved, but none that reach right into me and pull.
Nevertheless, it's a great book and it's very relevant right now. ...more