Lately I’ve been going over some of my earlier posts about the books I am reading and I have come to realize that at times I come across as more than a little arrogant. Yes, the whole point of the exercise is supposed to be to explain what I like and what I don’t like about each of these books, how I see them and so on, but at the same time I am all too aware of what goes into writing a book and I am afraid that there may be some instances in which I wind up sounding both hypercritical and disrespectful. After all, one of the things all the authors I write about have in common is that they have done a lot better than I have… not to mention that all the books I write about are books that have moved me in one way or another (okay, I admit that there are a couple of them, such as Crash and The Land of Mist, that moved me in the sense that they really, really annoyed me, but those are the exception rather than the rule, and at least when it comes to Crash I freely admit that a good chunk of my problem with that one has to do with my personal preferences rather than with the book itself).
Anyway, I suspect that part of the problem is that most of the books that make it to my blog are not the ones that take my breath away and leave me saying ‘flawless’ (unfortunately there’s very little one can say after that unless one wants to tack a rather boring list of superlatives after that), but rather those that leave me saying ‘I love it but…’ and to make matters worse an inordinate amount of attention tends to be lavished on that ‘but’, so today I’m going to be doing something completely different, I am going to be sharing a list of a few of those books that left me saying ‘flawless’, keep in mind that this list is not extensive and the books are featured in no particular order. Continue reading Flawless
Today I finished Star Maker, by Olaf Stapledon, and the first thing that comes to my mind is that this isn’t a novel, it is more of a treatise or a manifesto, though seeing how this is supposed to be science fiction those labels don’t quite fit either. Well, whatever the correct noun happens to be, this thing is way too long and wordy for my liking.
Okay, as you may have guessed by now I would rate this book as a major disappointment, especially considering that Sirius has long been one of my favorite SF books of all times, but at the same time I think I understand where the author is coming from, after all, the book was published in 1937, when the world was still struggling to move past the horrors of World War I and even a blind man could see that World War II was right around the corner. Of course, the fact that I do understand doesn’t mean I have to like it. The problem, at least as far as I am concerned, is that somewhere along the line, and before he even sat down to write this thing, the author seems to have forgotten about the need for such trifles as characters and a plot. Yes, in its own kind of way the book does offer a glimpse at how that particular period was perceived by those living in it, but its attempts at allegorizing, if they can even be called that, come across as more than a little ham-handed, not to mention that as the book progresses it grows in both arrogance and pseudo-mysticism until it becomes almost unbearable.
So does this thing have any redeeming qualities at all? Oddly enough the answer to that question is yes, and those go back to what is missing, namely characters and a plot. What can I say, writing a 272 pages ’novel’ unencumbered by either of those things seems to me like a pretty remakable achievement (that, and the fact that I feel like I should probably give it some leeway because, as I mentioned above, I can see where it is that the author is coming from, and I realize that some of my objections may have more to do with my poor understanding of what it meant to be alive in that period than with anything else).