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bear by san

March 2017



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can't sleep books will eat me

We're so sorry, Uncle Albert--

I had a lovely, if truncated, Eastercon. Rather wish I were still there, in fact, but I have to leave in a couple of hours for Heathrow, and I had to make it back to England yesterday so I could make it to my flight home on time. Le sigh. My life for the last three weeks has been a George Carlin routine. The one about the stuff. *g*

My hosts here have been incredibly charming, and any number of people (most recently pigeonhed, who delivered me from Glasgow to the Prestwick airport in nearly-legal time) have been incredibly gracious about helping out with travels and research. It's all good.

About all of Scotland I got to see was hills in the distance, and about all of Glasgow I got to see was the River Clyde, which I am rather half in love with. (I'm a fan of a good river.) It's a changeable river, the Clyde. With many moods.

At the con, I embarrassed myself horrible participating in the quiz show (would you believe that the rules I know for charades are sort of nothing like the real rules?) but had a grand time nonetheless. I was one one panel on the margins of genre, or possibly the margins of respectability, which mostly turned into a very knowledgeable discussion of foreign-language writers writing SFF in their native tongues, or in English; and on another one regarding the tension between accessibility and literary merit in SFF. I also met a bunch of wonderful people, fans and writers and artists and combinations of the above.

All in all, a very good 36 hours. Filet of con, as it were. And I was brain-eaten by fluffcthulhu, as well. Now I have an excuse.

I do still have a cold. Alas. Which I will be beating into submissions with Beacham's Powders Capsules so I can fly without rupturing something.

Back in the states tonight! I sort of miss My Own Bed. Like you do.

Yesterday, I read Book #42, Patricia Cornwell's Predator. Because the airport had it, okay, and I wasn't going to read Dan Brown.

You would think this series would have hit bottom by now, but they actually keep getting worse. There's not even a pretense at a mystery narrative any more; rather, there's a soap opera (written in sort of very erratic third person present tense (bad present tense, the kind with extra helping verbs) that occasionally comes unmoored--or unglued--and drifts off into objective or omniscient) with occasional Thomas-Harris style serial killer POV segments, except, you know, not as convincing as the similar bits in Red Dragon. It's all written in short sentences of mostly short words, which is helpful when one is drugged up on cold meds for flying, and curiously, the most convincing POV is that of an elderly, confused woman with Alzheimers.

Cornwell's books have always suffered from what truepenny calls a lack of generosity of spirit. The narrative is more interested in judging than illuminating, and all of the characters grow more and more unlikable and caricaturish as time goes by. (They were never, you know, deep. But when you start actively rooting for the sociopaths, you know something's gone off the deep end.) Also, I have never personally known a group of women who are as all-consumingly concerned with their appearances as the female characters in these novels. An occasional woman? Yes. As a class... not so much. 

Also, the plot structure on this one is so transparent I had more or less figured out what was going on by the end of the first hundred pages.

Now, I've skipped the last several of these, so I missed how the usual cast of characters all somehow wound up in Florida running their own autocratic little agency that apparently has no legal authority, but walks all over the local police department anyway. Conveniently, of course, all of the good guys are competent and all of the (incidental) inconveniences are incompetent, manipulative, or both. The actual villains, on the other hand, are both entirely lucky, and hypercompetent.

I remember, back in the day, reading Cruel and Unusual, and mostly liking it. But this has become a universe where the narrative view of the world is so jaundiced and rotten and judgmental that it makes me feel a bit grubby to visit it.


I gave up on Patricia Cornwell after the one that ended with the rather ludicrous helicopter chase. I could no longer suspend my disbelief.
me too, and Sharon McCrumb too... even for trash Cornwell is dispiriting... Junklit should at least make you feel better..
Why read books like Cornwall's where you know 1) Everyone good dies/suffers 2) for no good reason whatsoever and 3) you can see it coming by page five? Still I would rather read depressing Cornwall than self-congratulating Dan Brown. It is too utterly unbearable to have someone write Speculative Fiction that is completely cliched as if he were a Fount of Brand New Ideas.

Cornwall suffers from the Criminal Intensification Effect. Like Lescroart, you might start out with a simple puzzle, competently handled, but in the next book you need to heighten the Terror Quotient, then Make it Personal. So by the tenth or so book, the only thing you can do is kill their children/best friends/burn down their house while making the protagonists feel guilty about it all.
You have much more patience and discernment nor I. I stopped reading Cornwell long since not as a conscious decision but because there always seemed to be something more interesting than her newest offering.

And totally off-topic, I have been muchly enjoying your reports from the British Isle.

Beannachd leibh, ---Caitrin a Masaitiusadh
Is Cornwell the one who's absolutely nuts re: Jack the Ripper? Like whoa?

(Welcome back!)
Yes, but she's supposed to be absolutely nuts generally. With, um, serious control issues and a general intolerance for criticism or even simple disagreement.
This may be why the books keep getting worse.
Ahhh. My. I've never read any of her books--just caught a Jack the Ripper tv thingy that featured her. And: yikes.
I found Cornwell's shift (in the last few books) to using predominantly third person to be jarring and disingenuous. It seems to me that she used first person more in earlier books which at least gave me a sense of buy-in. The third person narrative makes it even more judgemental than I found her previous work.
the continuous third person is just, teh dumb. I got bored after people kept coming in thru her plate glass window. Um, maybe change it, then?

and yes, this last precinct thing is ridiculous.

however, i noticed at the drugstore the other day? Novelizations of the TV Show BONES.

i can not wrap my head around a novelization of a tv show that is based on a book based on a writer who is a forensic dr, about a forensic dr who is also a writer.

it makes my brain hurt.
Ow. That just makes my head hurt, too.
Well, to be fair, having now read a couple of the novels (and devoured all of the show fresh off the airwaves), the two 'Temperance Brennan' characters pretty much share a name and half a profession, and nothing more.

Body type, age, personality, co-workers, are all radically different. Yes, they're both bone-studiers who write novels on the side (offcamera and with really no mention of it made, other than the fact that some people they run into have read their books). That's pretty much all they share. I don't think they even have the same hair and eye color.
well, that and Tempe is at least a mature woman in the novels... (I have read all of them, but Bones I couldn't sit thru..so)
I loved the show, which brought me to the books ... and the only thing they have in common that I could tell was also the thing I liked -- the cracking good mystery with lots of fiddly forensic details.

The show also has gorgeous bantery repartee and characters I loved; the book also has a really neat protagonist in tight first and good writing/plotting (see upthread about Dan Brown; the inverse of that). I like 'em both, but I certainly don't see much in common between them. :->


no, they are muchly different, and I really don't see David Boreanaz as anything but the looming towheaded bringer of mope ;)
Yes. When her books became more about Scarpetta's fucked up relationships with her daughter and lover and everyone else, and also about the serial killer/predator fixated on *her*, they became more and more incredible to me. I have the same problem with... oh, damn, now I can't remember the man's name and a quick perusal of the shelves was no help... that Louisiana writer who writes the Dave Robicheaux (now that I can remember--sheesh) books. His character is more concerned with settling scores than solving the case, and his dysfunction gets in the way of the story.

And as far as recursion goes, I once abridged for audio book the novelization of the Lost in Space movie based on the TV show.
James Lee Burke. Again. Falling into the trap of Criminal Intensification.

Why do reviewers complain about SF trilogies, when Criminal/Mystery novelists have ten or twenty books set in the same milieu?
>> "... and I wasn't going to read Dan Brown."

Haha, you can read anything and be forgiven with that line. *puts down copy of airport-Goodkind*

I've been haphazardly reading some more (i.e., not-Da-Vinci-Code-related) Dan Brown lately, and maaaaaaaan.

I knew NOTHING about the 'cool infodump field' in the DaVincis, therefore they were cool to me. However, Deception Point (which is about investigative science, fossils, intelligence-gathering, and astrophysics) and Digital Fortress (about cryptography, hackers, and intelligence-gathering) have fields I DO know about, to a greater or lesser degree, and I can see all over the place where he's pulling nonsense out of his own ass and smearing it around on the page with all kinds of Sensationalistic! Adjectives! and action scenes.

It's like he thinks every book has to be a Blockbuster Hollywood Movie, with the Biggest and Best and Hardest and Evillest and Scariest and Most Sekrit of everything.

In *each book*.

Gets old.
Oh, totally. As I jested here, when he was first getting sued, the only person with a good reason to steal Dan Brown over plot theft is Dan Brown!
Plus, he threw in all kinds of totally bullshit random things to 'heighten tension' and muck up the plot when he needed it mucked ... instead of, y'know, actually WRITING a plot complication.

Plus, the over-the-top action sequence chase scenes got stupider than anything I've EVER seen Hollywood do.
I gave up on reading Cornwell (after reading 6 ot 8 of them in a row) at ... what my book list tells me is UNNATURAL EXPOSURE, in which I believe (spoiler alert) it turned out the person whodunnit had had a bone marrow transplanet and therefore his blood type didn't match the DNA left at the scene, or something to that effect. It was completely unsupported in the context of the novel, with absolutely no way for the reader to have concluded it, and I was so disgusted that I stopped reading her. The increasing gloom didn't help (though it was Elizabeth George's books I stopped reading because I couldn't take the unending misery of the world they lived in anymore).
I stopped reading Elizabeth George because she cheats. And also, she's got this subtle distrassing sexism that runs through her work that makes me crazy.
Mr Brenchey he say, you lie, you didn't embarrass yourself at all, except to the extent that participating in the quiz was in itself embarrassing (but that it's true, you don't know the proper rules for charades).

...wish I'd been there, sounds fun.