Monday, August 23, 2004

Quick Cuts

Here's a brief look at some of the serial stuff I've read the past few months:

  1. Alan Dean Foster's Into the Thinking Kingdoms is the 2nd book of his Journeys of the Catechist fantasy trilogy, about herdsman (think African-analogue) Etjole Ehomba's quest to fulfill a vow to a dead man. This book (as well as the first one) lacks depth, has almost simple prose and a tendency to repeat Ehomba's individual adventures in almost all the chapters. However, Foster's writing is sly, almost subversive despite the shallowness of the plot. Really nothing more than just a fun read.
  2. Peter Hamilton's Reality Dysfunction Part 2: Expansion is the second half of the 1st book of the Night's Dawn trilogy. (If you think the US version of this series is complicated, you should see how thick the original British-publication books were.) Hamilton's space opera series supposedly raised the bar for SF writing, what with its future of gene-engineered Edenists and nano-enhanced Adamists battling the Dead (sorry, no zombies here) and for most of the time, it lives up to its hype. However, Hamilton's characters and universe isn't as engaging as, say Dan Simmons' Hyperion saga, and it was a bit of a slog to read this.
  3. R. Scott Bakker's The Darkness that Comes Before (book 1 of The Prince of Nothing) is the newest serial BFF (big fat fantasy) book to hit the shelves. A new author, Bakker has taken a page from veteran BFF writers George R.R. Martin, Steven Erikson and Robert Jordan through solid world-building yet avoids creating another clichéd pseudo-European medieval world by setting his invention in a Middle-East analogue. Likewise, interesting use of Bakker's doctorate in philosophy in his characters, including the use of Friedrich Nietzché and the uberman. However, Bakker's prose is still clumsy a bit in places and wordy in others.

Some people may ask where I get the patience to read these multi-volume books. For example, Bakker's work is supposed to run into 9 volumes! I suppose that I just can't resist a good story, like the king before Scheherazade. I also have a knack of jumping into the middle of a book (or in the middle of a series of books) without comprehension-inferential-contextual problems. (Whatever that is...)

Lastly, one must remember that JRR Tolkien's masterpiece was considered to be one whole book and not the trilogy everyone thinks it is.

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