August 6th, 2007

writing literature vonnegut asshole

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"What kind of evil overlord are you going to be, anyway?"
"Apparently, a better one than I thought."

Book report #66: Phil & Kaja Foglio, Girl Genius Vol 1, Agatha Heterodyne and the Beetleburg Clank
Book report #67: Phil & Kaja Foglio,
Girl Genius Vol 2, Agatha Heterodyne and the Airship City
Book report #68: Phil & Kaja Foglio, Girl Genius Vol 3, Agatha Heterodyne and the Monster Engine

*happy sigh*

Madcap slapstick steampunk adventure, with occasional talking cats, and the casual vivisection of every available genre trope.

Imagine if you will a world in which the mad scientists are the heroes, the heroes are the problem, and there are a high percentage of random dirigibles.

Good times, good times.
sf sapphire and steel winning

i am friend to the undertow i take you in i don't let go

It's been a long time since I rounded up any reviews, but I was just updating the Undertow page at my website with some ecstatic praise, and I thought I would post the links and excerpts here as well. (Because honestly, nobody visits the website.)

Well, first, Paige Roberts reviews Whiskey & Water for, and seems to like it. (Fair warning, as reviews of second books often is, this one is spoilery for the first book.)

It's a very nice, positive review.

And on to Undertow. There are spoilers in almost all of these. I think the Kleffel one is safe.

Paul Di Filippo, at SCIFI.COM, says:

Bear's very neatly configured, compact and entertaining novel reminds me of the early novels of George R.R. Martin, back in the days when he used to write science fiction. Or, in a closer approximation to this book's exact blend of readability, action, speculation and characterization, let me cite the prime mid-career work of Poul Anderson. Excluding its postmodern trappings of wiredness (a trope that's well done, actually, convincingly showing us people who are used to being always online), this book might have come from the pen of Anderson during, say, the time he was writing The People of the Wind (1973).

Bear's ranids could stand in for Anderson's winged aliens. She digs into their culture—with several sections written from ranid point of view—with anthropological care and gusto. Her human characters are all proactive doers in the Anderson mode, not given over to angst or anomie. In fact, the ease with which Cricket accepts André's murder of Lucienne is almost too cavalier. But they're not insensitive dullards, either. It's just that Bear's concerned with keeping all her plates spinning in a surprising, vibrant manner, not with any kind of Weltschermz. And at this she succeeds admirably.

I totally love, "planet-bound space opera of the postmodern sort," which totally beats out "A planetary romance in which Little Fuzzy meets The Italian Job," as a one-line description of the work under consideration. Also, "in a closer approximation to this book's exact blend of readability, action, speculation and characterization, let me cite the prime mid-career work of Poul Anderson." may be the nicest thing anybody's ever said about my writing.

I'm done now. I can lie down and have a nice rest.

Carolyn Frank, for SFRevu, says:

The biological/ecological perspective is addressed in detail, with in-depth descriptions of the watery world and the native ranids, a highly credible extrapolation of known environments and associated fauna. The space travel and interplanetary communications are the more typical science fiction forms, needed for the plot and accepted on their own terms. The two areas of science combine to form a rich palette, with which the author paints an intricate tale, weaving the paths of the major actors into a truly enthralling story.

I love good reviews. I love bad reviews, too, as long as they're smart.

Finally, NPR's Rick Kleffel, reviewing Undertow for the Agony Column (scroll down for the review), says:

As much as we may like labels and similarities, genres and movements, the best stuff falls right between the cracks and often lands on the paperback racks. There's something about that little mass-market paperback original that can really spark your interest. It's a nostalgia thing, to be sure. Most of us start our book buying days at the paperback racks, because a kid selling ice cream floats to people who walk down the street on a hot summer day isn’t pulling in the kind of money required to buy hardcovers. If you want to read, then at the outset, at least, reading comes first. Format comes later, when income becomes disposable and you've got shelves to put all those books on. But first, you just want the pages, and in a form you can shove in a pocket, purse, or backpack easily. Bantam Dell has been doing this for decades, and they've not stopped yet. So when you see a copy of the new novel by Elizabeth Bear, 'Undertow' (Bantam Dell ; August 7, 2007 ; $6.99), you can ask yourself how you might have felt back in the day, seeing say, 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' by Philip K. Dick on the racks. Might have looked a bit trashy. And it might one day be collected in the American Library as a literary classic.

Thomas M. Wagner of SF loved it less, and seemed to have a much harder time with the quantum mechanics than Paul Di Filippo did (I should clue in you, constant weader; the bogus thing about the speculative physics in this book isn't the use of the observer effect. It's something else entirely. And it's completely bogus. But I know it, so it's okay. *g*) but still found several nice things to say.

Alas, no love from Publishers Weekly. I suspect they can't keep up.

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nightclubbing. we're nightclubbing. we're an ice machine.

And done with the CEM.

The end of the book still makes me sniffly. Some of that may be the auctorial "Awww, and now the book is leaving home for school" thing, of course, but on the other hand, it may be effective.

On this readthrough, I caught a math error, a stupid science slip-up, and an editing artifact, in addition to all the fiddly sentency stuff. I wonder how many boo boos I missed?

I also took out a whole metric fuckload of ellipses, successfully defended my archaisms from the CEM, and falled in love with the characters all over again.

Also, I think I may have figured out who the POV characters for Book Two of Jacob's Ladder are. Because they are not the same as the POV characters for Book One.

I think people are going to like this one.

It's fun.