M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Economical World Building: Can Your Readers See Action or Do Your Characters Act in the Dark?

One fact of the writing life: all writers build worlds ... whether in the past, present, and future. Some bloggers even think the setting or world of a story is the equivalent of a character, something your protagonist, antagonist, and secondary characters must react to. Adding depth to my settings is one of my main chores when I revise.

Got a good demonstration on why I write fantasy rather than science-fiction when I read Peter F. Hamilton's gut-busting Great North Road. I don't much participate in the world around me ... and that include futuristic extrapolations. I'd never make a Millennial except for politics. I really don't want to be connected with the world around me. Hamilton's detailed extrapolation of your current mess makes me want to bury my head deeper.

Had another bone to pick with the book. I can't imagine holding the 900 page, gorilla-sized, thumb-busting hard back up to read. My thumbs would be catatonic. Even the paperback made them sore. Yeah, I could of used an e-reader, but the battery would of probably expired, not to be revived.

Yeah, you got it in one. I think the book is waaaaaaay too long. Remove the extra padding, and I think there's a great 4-500 page futuristic mystery in there with multiple plot lines and well-fleshed characters with vendettas rather than grievances. The tech is also an inventive extrapolation of current cyber connectivity, political oligarchies, and government surveillance. I also loved the way he solved the problem of space travel.

Short summary:  Set in Britain of the future, the story begins with the murder of one of a world-class oligarch's several hundred clones [all of which are involved in his business empire]. Detective Sidney Hurst gets the unwelcome task of solving the mystery which is soon linked to plots to the control of bio-oil produced on a distant planet which is transported via a type of space-portal. The source of bio-oil is plant-based from a planet that had no animal life until humans arrive. Evidence soon suggests that an alien being from that planet might have been responsible for the earth-side murder, which calls in the interference of governmental agencies.

The plot soon entwines with the mystery of whether or not Angela Trammel actually murdered another North clone years earlier, a crime for which she was imprisoned but released when the second murder occurred. Trammel claims an alien being killed North and members of his entourage. She is included in the expedition to find evidence of the alien on the bio-oil planet. Then, more mysterious deaths occur with lots of hints that Trammel isn't what she claims to be, including innocent. 

By this time, I'm around page 400 and skimming. Soon I'm skimming so fast, I'm losing track of the storyline. I'm giving the book three stars *** because it didn't hold my interest,  and I didn't finish the book though I did peek at the ending.

Granted monster books are an acquired taste like monster trucks. In my defense I say: I read the Lord of the Rings at least once a year. It keeps my interest though I've been reading the book since the 1960s. Guess I'm not a candidate for marketers of time travel.


My own writing isn't doing much new. I'm cleaning up stuff in my computer ... and groaning because the computer store when I bought my lapstop did NOT transfer ALL my files.  I've discovered I'm missing several short stories, and yeah, I shouted.

Did get a festering short story, revised to be set in Andor of the There Be Demons world, expanded. I'll be offering it free when I get it all set up. Need something different for the marketing lures. Use the free story links on Twitter to lure people to my author website.

Then, it's back to drafting the end of Crossings from the scattered thoughts currently hanging from the draft. And, did I say I've got revisions that must be transfered for The Ghost in the Closet so it can get copyedited and formatted? 

Then it's back to my Half-Elven revisions and writing.  Wheeww. Give me a moment while I stop panting.

Now I'm wondering if you can concentrate on one writing project at a time or do you take the shotgun approach?


Arlee Bird said...

Excellent observations about this book. I used to like really long books but now it can be difficult to stay with them like you indicate here. I like to know something about the setting where a story is taking place but I do think that sometimes the world can get in the way. Same way with characters--I don't need to know everything, but just enough relevant stuff.

You covered this well. I doubt whether I'll be reading this book.

Wrote By Rote
An A to Z Co-host blog

Unknown said...

It was still a disappointment. My critique members think he's a wonderful writer ... and I was looking forward to a good futuristic mystery.