Author Rating: D

Author Rating: D

Otherland: The Happiest Dead Boy In The World (read 7/24/12) Don’t Bother

This novelette published as one of five by various authors in the Legends II anthology is so bad that I was only able to manage one page before I gave it up as a completely bad job.


Author Rating: D

Pegasus In Space (read 12/7/11) Avoid

I love science fiction, and bad science fiction makes me very irritable.  Anne McCaffrey has managed to irritate me very much indeed.  It is doubly irritating because she has been so highly recommended by so many for so long and there has been so much high praise written about her after her recent death, but, in my opinion, it is all completely undeserved.  Her writing is terrible, her plots are juvenile, her characters are childish and the internal consistency is nonexistent.

If you value good writing, well conceived story lines, do not bother with the writings of Anne McCaffrey.

Beyond Between (read 7/24/12) Don’t Bother

This novelette published as one of five by various authors in the Legends II anthology did nothing to redeem my bad opinion of Anne McCaffrey but only reinforced it. Awful, awful writing. I just do not understand how McCaffrey has managed to get published at all, much less attract the readership she apparently has.

Author Rating: D

Isle of Dogs (read 10/20/11) AVOID

Wow, does Patricia Cornwell have something really big she’s using to blackmail someone at Putnam to get them to publish her books? One reviewer at Amazon wonders whether “we have a case of an imperious, arrogant author who has cheesed off her publishers enough that they’re letting her readers see what she’s really like?”

This novel is supposed to have been a change for Cornwell from serial killer/suspense to what the San Francisco Examiner describes as “the world of black humor.” They were a little too generous in suggesting that she “nearly conquers it,” but Carl Hiaasen doesn’t need to move over because Cornwell won’t be keeping him company. Cornwell writes at about the level of a fifth-grader and wouldn’t recognize humor if it ran her over.

Let me give you an example:

“I thought we were doing our best to play down this pirate business,” the governor seemed to remember. [“Seemed to remember”? WTF?] “Didn’t I order Superintendent Hammer not to release any statements to the press about anything without our approving it first?” [Could dialogue be any more awkward?]

“You certainly did. And so far, we’re managing to keep the sensational details out of the media.”

“You don’t suppose Trooper Truth [give me a fucking break] intends to keep blabbing about our pirate problem on the Internet, do you?”

“Yes, sir, “Trader replied as if he knew this for a fact. “We can rest assured his website is going to open a can of worms, because by all appearances, it’s an inside job and I fear your administration could be blamed if things really get ugly.”

“You might be right. I get blamed for most things,” the governor confessed as his stomach rumbled and his intestines lurched into activity like worms suddenly exposed to daylight. He wished Trader had not mentioned a can of worms.

Cornwell received money for writing that crap. There truly is no justice.

Governor Crimm picked up his nineteenth-century magnifying glass, which was English and made of ivory. Peering through the lens, he made out enough of the essay’s contents to get interested and slightly offended.

Really, Putnam?

The only mystery here is how this crap got published.

Author Rating: D

Cryptonomicon (read 5/31/11) AVOID

What a disappointment! Wasted hours I’ll never get back!

I suffered through 170 pages, hoping beyond hope that this would improve because it came so widely and enthusiastically recommended, but it is among the worst of the worst. Neal Stephenson is in desperate need of an editor, but the world would have been a better place had the publisher declined this waste of paper in the first place. I understand why it is over 900 pages long — when Stephenson isn’t repeating himself endlessly, he’s filling pages with number strings in an apparent attempt to numb the reader into a coma with complex math.

Seriously, your time is better spent sitting in a dark room with a blanket over your head than reading this book.

The Baroque Cycle:

Quicksilver (not yet read)

The Confusion (not yet read)

The System of the World (not yet read)

(Wikpedia) [A] series of novels by American writer Neal Stephenson. It was published in three volumes containing 8 books in 2003 and 2004.The story follows the adventures of a sizeable cast of characters living amidst some of the central events of the late 17th and early 18th centuries in Europe. Despite featuring a literary treatment consistent with historical fiction, Stephenson has characterized the work as science fiction, due to the presence of some anomalous occurrences and the work’s particular emphasis on themes relating to science and technology. The sciences of cryptology and numismatics feature heavily in the series.

The books travel throughout Early Modern Europe between the Restoration Stuart Monarchy until the beginning of the 18th century. Though most of the focus is in Europe, the adventures of Jack do take him throughout the world and the fledgling British colonies in North America are important to Daniel Waterhouse. Quicksilver takes place mainly in the years between the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in England (1660) and the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The Confusion follows Quicksilver without temporal interruption, but ranges geographically from Europe and the Mediterranean through India to Manila, Japan, and Mexico. The System of the World takes place principally in London in 1714, about ten years after the events of The Confusion.

Author Rating: D

The Roaring Boy (read 2/15/10) AVOID

Edward Marston is the author of numerous mysteries set in the Elizabethan period and featuring Nicholas Bracewell. Based on having read this one — an insult to the reader’s intelligence — I would recommend avoiding this author.

The story starts out reasonably enough but soon devolves into pure stupidity. The characters are neither true to the period nor to human nature in general. Given the number and nature of the typographical errors, it would seem that the editor and proofreader didn’t see any point in putting any effort to clean it up.

Author Rating: D

The Memoirs of Cleopatra (read 1/7/10) AVOID

What a huge disappointment! And when I say “huge,” I’m talking 957 pages. Earlier I had attempted Colin Falconer‘s appalling When We Were Gods: A Novel of Cleopatra. Wanting to find a better book about the Queen of the Nile, I looked at recommendations over at Amazon. This book was described as being well written and historically accurate.

How bad is this book? There were times that I feared my eyes would literally roll up into my head. I managed to force my way through two-thirds of turgid, often extremely boring prose before I finally gave it up as a serious waste of time.

George’s Cleopatra is certainly more intelligent than Falconer’s but only marginally so. Periods during which Caesar or Marc Anthony are absent go on and on and on with Cleopatra doing nothing but pine and whine about their absence. If these sections had been shortened, the book would be no more than 500 pages. If the sex scenes had been shortened, the book would be about 100 pages.

Reading this book is truly a waste of your time. You can learn more useful information about Cleopatra VII at Wikipedia than by submitting yourself to suffering through the truly excruciating writing of Margaret George.

Author Rating: D

Celtika (read 12/15/09) forget about it

This is the first of Holdstock’s Merlin Codex series. The story covers the period before Arthur. Seven hundred years after Jason‘s death, Merlin discovers that Medea had not murdered Jason’s sons but had moved them forward in time. But Jason is not dead, he is still aboard his ship the Argonaut in the bottom of a frozen lake. Merlin rescues him and they set out to find Jason’s sons. It is through this adventure that Merlin first meets Urtha, an ancestor of Arthur, setting the stage for Holdstock’s version of the Arthurian Legend.

I was a bit impatient with the first third of the book but I think that is more my fault than the author’s. I have always found Merlin to be the more interesting character, and Holdstock does a pretty good job of bringing him to life.

The Iron Grail (read 1/18/10) forget about it

Merlin is in Alba (England) and finds Urtha’s stronghold, Taurovinda, has been taken over by ghosts of the dead and not-yet-born while Urtha and Merlin were off avenging the murder of Urtha’s family and to help Jason find his oldest son. Everyone eventually gets back to Taurovinda, the ghosts are cleared out and an expedition is mounted into Ghostland to find Jason’s second son.

The editing could have been much better. There are swaths that are confusing and/or contradictory, and too much that is repetitive. It would have been better had the first two books been combined and the filler left out.

The Broken Kings (read 2/9/10) forget about it

Reality finally came home to roost by page 65 of this, the third book in Holdstock’s “Merlin Coded.” Reading these novels is a complete waste of your time. Endless bullshit that signifies nothing, full of seemingly endless contradiction so that I could take no more and have thrown it over as a bad job.

Holdstock’s Merlin is unengaging, the action so slow and plodding that I couldn’t manage more than three or four pages before passing out.

If you like Arthur/Merlin stories, I highly recommend Peter David‘s very humorous series. Now there’s a “living mythmaker.” Holdstock? Meh.

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