"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Jan 4, 2011

Returning the Awful

Not a fan of bookstores. Something unsavory about buying words. I understand why authors trade words for food purchasing permission slips. Gotta eat. Gotta make it to tomorrow.

Still don't like the middle men.

But, I love books.

In proportion to how little I enjoy book reviews. Which says much. And, a lot.

So, I won't break a good habit and review the particular book in mind. I don't know what process the author has used, in the past, which allowed him to write decent enough stories. But, he didn't go there for this one. I've even enjoyed a few of his gunned up novels in the past, with a pulpy sort of appreciation for action. (Hell, I even spent money on the Herbert/Anderson continuations of the Dune saga - and the son and his partner lack the skill, depth of characterization, world-building deftness and plotting genius of the father. A serviceable story, but iffy execution.)

Not an author I'd recommend reading for character insight. Or his unsubtle politics. But, whatever. I respect SM Stirling's ability to tell a story, as a different example, and his politics don't get in the way of that.

Not this book. Not this author.

I won't keep this book. Back to the hated book store with this one. Or, maybe Goodwill. Or the trash.

That terrible. That awful.

I mean, c'mon now. Does the grain of the ammunition matter, each time you mention a new weapon? Does the reader really need an anvilicious three page punch in the face on Evil Iran in the middle of an alien invasion? That Wallachian prince, without any set up or credible preparation of reader expectation?

Why not just write a book titled "I like Guns and Jesus. Oh, an Aliens invade the Earth," then copy and paste "articles" from the National Review, the NRA, Alex Jones, the GOP's website and the Worldview Weekend?

That bad.

Anyway: Out of the Dark, by David Weber. Not a good book.

If you have any temptation whatsoever to read it, may I kindly suggest instead:

The Bookman, by Lavie Tidhar

And just because I need to clear the gunzenjezus out of me mind:

To Reign in Hell, by Steven Brust


Randal Graves said...

I dig mom & pop bookstores where the shelves are crammed, a faint whiff of the musty hanging over everything.

That said, you don't mind if I steal I like Guns and Jesus. Oh, an Aliens invade the Earth, do you? That should be used for *something*.

Landru said...

I got The High King of Montival from my wish list for Christmas, and have thus far found it worth the weight in my bag on this week's trip to Jesusland.

What do you know about Steve Stirling's politics? Is he a wackaloon? Just curious. I'll still eat up the Change series with a spoon, for reasons I do not understand.

Bruce said...

Why the hate for booksellers, Jack? I work at a bookstore, and the workers here are just like workers everywhere else I've been, just like the writers whose motivation for selling words you understand: just doing what they have to. And at the end of each dreary week, we're allowed to give some of the pittance we've earned back to our multi-millionaire boss in exchange for a slight discount on a few books for ourselves. This setup is no better than the retail of any other product, but I fail to see how it's any worse or more deserving of your scorn.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I dig mom & pop bookstores where the shelves are crammed, a faint whiff of the musty hanging over everything.

If there's a cat, even better!

I navigated to Amazon, and the book in question is being excoriated in the reviews section.

Jack Crow said...


Here in the ManchVee, there are zero mom-and-pops, for new books. Two used (paperbacks, mostly Harlequins) book stores. No private vendors for new books.

I did something I've almost never done before. I returned it.


Stirling's a "classic liberal," I think. He's really good at keeping himself away from author tracts, but he doesn't miss an opportunity to Turtledove his leads into taking a Rooseveltian pose. Military liberalism, I guess is the term I looking for. But, he's a great story teller (superior, in fact - if you get a chance: "Peshawar Lancers"), so much is forgiven.


Bookstores, not bookstore employees. I have a problem with corporations selling books, not with the people who labor at their tasks.


I sat down with the book in the store and read the first chapter. My usual practice. It was an interesting introduction, almost good, and the author isn't terrible elsewhere. The hook worked. There was nothing but rotten hot dog on that fishing line, sadly.

I'll check out the online reviews, for comedy alone.

Thanks, and respect,


Landru said...

That surprises me. Not that I'm arguing, but it surprises me.

And yeah, Peshawar Lancers is somewhere in the top five percent of my vague planning list.

Harry Turtledove makes me feel dirty. Apparently, I like feeling dirty.

Joseph said...

To Reign In Hell is an awesome story, a great re-imagining of Satan's rebellion against God. Something about Steven Brust's books always seems very "human" to me.

I skimmed through the Dune prequels because the writing was so awful. I've thrown away exactly one book in my life -- a novel by Yamada Futaro, for truly egregious sexism above and beyond the call of duty.

Jack Crow said...


I haz comprehension problems. What surprises?


I've only read "To Reign..." and "Freedom and Necessity" with Emma Bull. I don't know where to start with Brust's more famous series.


The Dune prequels suffer from the combination of a good plot, poorly told, in my humble opinion. The elder Herbert took a could-be-hard-to-believe story and world-built and character developed it into a masterpiece. If it wasn't sci-fi, it would be considered superior literature. He was a master story teller. The story suffers in lesser hands.



Cüneyt said...

Anvilicious? You're not a TV Tropes reader, are you Crow?

Jack Crow said...

I learned the word there, yep. I really, really, really like that word.

TvTropes is the very best use of the internet, ever.

Cüneyt said...

Agreed. And sorry for the hard time I gave you a while back on Mr. Boyd's page. I've been reading you since then and I am very impressed.

Landru said...

I sort of had Stirling pegged on the other side of the spectrum, but I'm not pretending that was a well-considered position.

Jack Crow said...


It's all good. If I took anything on the internet all that personally for any period of time, I'd be obliged to shoot myself in the face with a potato launcher. My wife would also thank me for de-uglifying the house during my period of prolonged convalescence. I'm a small minded asshole, too.


I also type as if I'm wrong. I just have him pegged as "classic liberal" since he almost always has a character (I'm assuming as an author avatar) who voices the same concerns, in his series - order, justice, universalism, Western liberal values, tolerance - who stands as a foil to the fanatics and roughnecks who break heads and advance the plot.

Perhaps it's not in fact an AA, and I'm just wrong again. I can live with that. My kids will gain another feast day for their calendars, too: Dad Was Wrong, Again, Event Number 12578.



Joseph said...

For Brust's Vlad Taltos series, I started with Taltos, which I would recommend because it happens to be chronologically first, although published in the middle; publication order would probably be fine, too (Jhereg was the first to be published) -- the books are all somewhat out of chronological order anyway.

The Khaavren Romances (starting with The Phoenix Guards) are great, but better read after at least some of the main series.