Books I Loathed discussion

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Loathed Titles > Unnecessary cruelty: Chung Kuo and The Chronoliths

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message 1: by Seth (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:19PM) (new)

Seth I refused to even discuss Chung Kuo 1: The Middle Kingdom for about two years after I tried to read it. I made it about 300 pages in and encountered a prolonged, graphic, and unusually brutal rape scene which servered only to prove that 1) the villain was a bad guy and 2) the author was "tough."

I discovered later that the friend who had loaned it to me had suggested I stop around 300 pages in, to get the entertaining setup and not read the rape.


The Chronoliths isn't nearly as bad, but it is another case of an author being told to "make things hard on the protagonist" and not knowing why. It is filled with repeared violence and cruely that doesn't drive the plot anywhere; in fact, it gets in the way of the plot. I suspect the authro wanted to show that he could write that kind of violence but didn't know how to make it part of the story.


message 2: by Seth (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:20PM) (new)

Seth The year The Chronoliths was on the ballot was my first year voting in the Hugos. I was astounded and felt I was clearly missing something; it didn't seem to be in the same category as the other noms at all.

I was put off by the incidental actions more than the actual story. Maybe that was the main problem in how I read it. I felt pages that should have been cut were left in to be "tuff" rather than to advance the action. I didn't find the major plot very compelling, though, so I may have missed the connection.

I'll give it another try in a couple of years. I find I like a lot of books more after a bit of digestion. I just had that happen with The Fat White Vampire Blues.


message 3: by Michael (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:20PM) (new)

Michael I loved The Chronoliths, but I've loved all of RCW's books so far.

Needless brutality in novels can be a big turn-off, though, especially when it lends NOTHING to the story, and sometimes when it actually does. Case in point: Stephen Donaldson's Gap series. The first book is ... nasty, brutish and short ... but it sets up the rest of the series, which I enjoyed a lot more.


message 4: by Seth (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:21PM) (new)

Seth The Gap Series is one of my all-time favorites, and The Real Story (the first book, which is the only one that stands on its own) is a truly painful experience I would never recommend to certain of my friends. All of the violence does support the story and upcoming character development, but it's really hard to see at that point and it's not entirely worth it to many people even so.

But since it does support the story, I'm willing to let it go. I'm certainly willing to understand people who don't. I similarly like the Elric Saga, which one of my friends once called five hundred pages of papercuts down the reader's wrist.

It's hurting the characters just to hurt them as though that qualifies as character development that really bugs me.

The worst example I can think of is the prevalent meme in certain classes on modern fantasy and horror whereby the heroine has to have ben raped to be tough enough to be a heroine. Cheap, offensive, and even good writers fall into it as a trope of the genre.


message 5: by Michael (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:21PM) (new)

Michael We seem to be on the same wavelength, Seth. Hope you don't mind if I friend you. Anyone who loves Donaldson is a friend of mine IMHO!


message 6: by Kay (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:21PM) (new)

Kay | 20 comments Good points Seth. I have problems with the Gap series, I really do. On the one hand, the Ring Cycle as Space Opera - such a great concept! On the other hand, the violence Morn Hyland endures ... ugh. But in the end, the scope, scale and sheer chutzpah of the writing win me over every time. By all gods though, I hate the first book ... in fact, although I own them all, that first skinny one is the only one I've never re-read.

Mind you, I'm a Mishima fan too, so perhaps I'm just weird.


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