Perhaps it’s schadenfreude, or simple voyeurism, but only Ian McEwan and Margaret Atwood can make unlikeable characters so engaging. McEwan is also a master at believable immersion in the technical aspects of the characters’ world, in a way that myself, a former scientist, is totally engrossed. McEwan nails how scientists think, interact, and the hypocrisies and benefits, habits and mannerisms, as well as the unique demands on the mind and “real lives” of scientists. Reading this book was like being back as a professional scientists. The conversations were realistic, the thoughts and judgments of the characters were completely like the people I’ve worked with. Continue reading “Solar by Ian McEwan (Goodreads Review)”→
I saw Solo: A Star Wars Story on Sunday, and I was impressed. It was a fun movie, not as dreadfully serious as the other three new films, and had some nice surprises. Spoilers: you actually get to see Warwick Davis’ face on screen. There is no Boba Fett, no Jabba the Hutt, and there is little about The Force, the Jedi, the Republic, and I didn’t see many stormtroopers. Come to think of it, there was an entire fighting force devoid of stormtroopers, something never-before-seen (not counting Clone Wars). The ships, the droids, the planets, the villains, and the primary conflict are all completely new.
The rise of social media has given many readers new ways to cross authors off the list.
The internet is great, but it’s a double-edged sword, especially when it comes to authors. When I was a kid, authors lived in far off worlds whose locations were rarely hinted at by About The Author passages. If I passed Dan Simmons or C.J. Cherryh on the street when I was growing up in Boulder, Colorado, I never would have known it. Everyone knows Stephen King lived in Maine (and for a while he lived in Boulder, and set one of his books there), but King is not only a superstar, he’s a down-to-earth guy who most readers find accessible (even if his books aren’t; although sales suggest they are). One can believe he not only lives in a house, but he coaches Little League. The details of Arthur C. Clarke’s personal life came out pretty well in his later books, but for most authors, they might have been dead and I wouldn’t have known it.
Western literature’s oldest critic tells us why critique partners help us avoid the idiot plot… .
I finished revising The Last Omen last week, and have moved on to trying a new approach to short story writing. The novel came up in conversation with my wife two nights ago and I discovered, yet again, that telling the events of the story does wonders for ironing out the plot.
My wife is not a fantasy reader, in fact, she reads very little fiction, and since discovering audiobooks has gotten most of her “literature” from Audible. She does love a good supernatural story, but mostly in contemporary form, and on TV or a movie. I think fantasy readers are especially forgiving when it comes to certain elements of plot as long as there is cool stuff going on. As an example of this attitude, Brandon Sanderson’s most important law of magic is “err on the side of awesome.” We write and read fantasy because it’s fun, and because it satisfies our craving for the stupendous, but someone really into that side of things is not the best critic when it comes to plot. Continue reading “Aristotle Says “Pitch Your Book””→