There's something that occasionally bugs me. I'll pick up Book One of something, like it, go through the books in order---then find the tone of Book Eight is so different from the original Book One that I'm not sure I want to go on---and sometimes don't.
Usually I'm late in coming to them, whatever they are, and wind up reading them through all at once, one by one.
Happens in the best of them. The tone of the first Alvin Maker book was different from the last (to date) one. Probably I'll pick up any more when and if---they seemed to hit a couple of nerves with me, and I regretted coming to the series so late in it...
A long series seems to be more of a marketing concept than a literary concept.
One effect of that kind of marketing had on me, made me determined any single work of mine would stand entirely on its own. Somebody reading it wouldn't have to get a bunch of other stories just to figure out what was going on. I never had much luck with it in writing-for-publication, of course, but when I tried it in a series in Internet Fan Fiction, I got quite a few compliments for it.
For least favorite author... ergh. I find Herbert (and his successors) to be far too long winded, and I find the internal dialog in Dune to be annoying to no end.
As a genre, I don't like books based on video games.
Most disappointing read (that I finished), for me, was Rendezvous with Rama, by Arthur C Clarke, was a book that I slogged through, only to get caught by the last sentence, and realized that the book was just a hook for a trilogy. I didn't care enough to puy the others. Same thing with 2001. Actually, now that I think on it, there's not much of Clarke's stuff I like.
If it was a hook for a trilogy, it was awfully delayed. Rendezvous with Rama was, as I recall, successful (didn't it win, or at least get nominated, for the Hugo and Nebula that year?) But it took twenty-some years and a co-writer to bring the next volume out.
Come to think of it, those books disappointed me, largely because the world of the first sequel didn't seem to have anything to do with the world of the original---then they left that world behind, too, leaving me wondering what happened in the Solar System afterwards...
I say it was the hook for a trilogy, because the last word of the first book was "Ramans do everything in threes." - I just about threw the stupid book across the room.
Posts: 60 | Registered: Jun 2008
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I remember reading that, but I didn't take it that way. (Edited to add: I thought Clarke was saying, more or less, that old saying about how the universe is more wonderful than we can imagine, and leaving it at that.)
I think when that book came out, there was only one trilogy, and it was fantasy (Lord of the Rings). Clarke hadn't been in the habit of writing sequels to his novels, that I recall, and it didn't even occur to me that he might be planning to write one to Rendevous with Rama.
As Robert pointed out, there wasn't one until years later when it seemed that everyone who was anyone was collaborating with some new writer to get sequels out (and I suspect the new writers were the ones who were doing most of the writing in at least some of those cases).
Did you read it when if first came out, or later, when there were sequels to it?
[This message has been edited by Corky (edited July 16, 2008).]
At the risk of being pubicly humiliated I have to defend the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer. I loved them. They're addicting and fun. And they can't be that bad if almost everyone I know reads them and likes them. I'm not saying that something is good just because everyone likes it. But she has to be doing something right if my sister can read it and like it. My sister struggled with reading her whole life. She could never finish one book. She is the opposite of a "reader". She actually read and finished the first two books. We were amazed. A book that can make my sister read has to be doing something right. I do know what you mean by the "Mary Sue" comment. I thought it was fun. There's such a strong movement against the helpless female these days that it was almost reshreshing to read a book that indulged in it so shamelessly. But of course there will never be a book that everyone loves.
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LOTR isn't a trilogy; it's a single massive novel that got chopped into three. But I think you're right about the endless series being a marketing ploy. It's one way to establish a brand, and gain a faithful readership. There have been long series I've read my way through; EE Smith's 'Lensman' series (back when I was a student. I wouldn't bother now.), Sharpe, Hornblower, Anne McCaffrey's Dragonflight books, though I didn't like the later ones so well. That computer started working far too conveniently.
The problem is to generate an idea which will continue to produce viable plots, characters, etc. for a lifetime of writing! There must be other ways to establish a brand.
I know I read Rendezvous with Rama when it came out---well, a year after, when it came out in paperback. No hint of a sequel other than that open-ending very last sentence. And, come to think of it, at that point I hadn't even read Lord of the Rings and may not have heard the word "trilogy." As I recall, Rama was the First Big Thing from Clarke since 2001.
The McCaffrey Dragon books started out as a trilogy, then two trilogies, then an open-ended series with prequels and sequels...though the first two books were compiled from a series of stories mostly published in Analog, of all places. (I don't think I read them either until later---I may have read the first story in the Hugo Winners collection.)
satate, you had better not be publicly humiliated, at least not here where I have any say.
And for whatever it may be worth, I read and enjoyed the Twilight books as well, and I'm looking forward to the next one.
I have said before (and will say again, whenever I get the chance or see the need) that fiction writers have two main aspects of their work that they need to consider.
The first is what I call "wordsmithing" which refers to the actual writing.
The second I call "storytelling" which refers to what the writing is about.
I submit that good "storytellers" like Stephanie Meyer and JK Rowling, to name two, will get a lot of people to read books who might never have done so, but they will also get a lot of complaints from people who care about "wordsmithing."
I also submit that the books that sell in the fiction market are the books with great stories, and not necessarily great writing.
A great story covers a multitude of writing sins, but great writing will never make up for a poor story.
And maybe when people post about a book in this topic, they could be a little more clear about which aspect (wordsmithing or storytelling or both) made them hate the book.
By the way, tommose's reaction to RENDEVOUS WITH RAMA reminded me of something connected to LORD OF THE RINGS (a couple of somethings, actually).
I remember running into people who had read BORED OF THE RINGS before reading the story which it satirized, and being saddened that their experience with Tolkien's work was trivialized by reading the satire first.
Then I ran into people who had read SWORD OF SHANNARA before reading LORD OF THE RINGS and who asserted that Tolkien had "ripped off" Brooks. That outraged me.
Sometimes, context really can make a difference (I'd submit that it does all of the time, but I'm hedging here).
I agree that the story takes priority over the writing (though that's never an excuse for doing less than your best at the latter), but what about the characters? There was a time when I read mainly for the story, and I enjoyed stuff like EE Smith's 'Lensman' series, which I'd never be able to stomach now. These days I value both; I like a good story, but I also expect to find three-dimensional people in it. But looking at the sales of, say, Dan Brown, it's evident that there are a lot of people out there who that doesn't apply to.
Posts: 185 | Registered: Oct 2007
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Never quite had the nerve to read Bored of the Rings.
The "Lensman" series was one of the first set of books I read, after I exhausted the works of Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke. I remember seeing them in one edition, then another with different cover artwork, which I finally bought. (Don't know why, actually.)
But so ignorant at the time was I, that I picked up the third book of the series, not realizing what "series" meant. (It wasn't catastrophic---basically, Books Three through Five were one continuous epic, the others being kinda pasted on in retrospect.)
I'm glad to have read that somebody else found Foundation to be excruciatingly boring. I found the prelude to be much, much better!
My least favorite book/author? To be perfectly frank, I don't have enough time to read books that don't immediately catch my attention. I don't read novels nearly enough anyway, since I'm constantly swamped with textbooks while reading things on forums, websites and more.
I hated the Thomas Covenant books. (What was that author's name? It's been so long since I read them). Actually, I should say I hated the first Thomas Covenant book, because I never read any of the other ones. An entire book in which I don't like, empathize, or care about a single character, and in which I actually hope the main character fails because he's such a crappy guy? Nope, not good.
[This message has been edited by wetwilly (edited August 03, 2008).]
Stephen R. Donaldson, if memory serves me right.
I picked up some recent reprints of the original Foundation Series, and, I've gotta say, after about thirty-five years...it's less wonderful than it was. Did I really think this was as wonderful as I know I did back then? It has a lot of interesting stuff...but also has the characters doing a lot of chewing the fat...besides, I've read a lot of real history since then, and I can't see some of the things as happening the way Asimov has them happen...
(One problem with knowing too much...I regret not ever thinking to ask Asimov if the character Lord Dorwin was based on the then-British ambassador to the US, Lord Halifax, once known as Lord Irwin...I don't know if anyone ever did...)
[edited to fix a typo...hope it's the only one...]
[This message has been edited by Robert Nowall (edited August 03, 2008).]
Now I'm going to step on some toes >< I just couldn't finish Steven Erikson's Gardens of the Moon. I just couldn't. I think it's just where I draw the line fantasy-wise. All of the writing seemed a bit too over-the-top. And I know I should have read on to see about Ganoes Paran, but he just seemed so cliche and dull. Sorry was the only good part about the first half of that book, the only thing that kept me reading. But as to who she was and why she was there, I hadn't a clue really. It was probably the most confusing intro I've ever read, and maybe that's why I got so lost so early. O well...
Posts: 26 | Registered: Sep 2008
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Dies the Fire by S.M. Sterling. I read this the whole way through, hoping that it would get better, but it didn't. It was such a great premise, but the book itself is unbelievable, even when you're used to reading fantasy, a lot of the things that the people do in the book go against human nature. At least, that's how I felt. It's possible that everyone else loved it.
Posts: 10 | Registered: Apr 2008
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Hey, I just found this thread. Oh, bad books... Yes, that is one of the reasons why I took up the word processor to begin with. Why is it that I can walk out of a bad movie, but I have to read on in a book. Time investment-wise, that just doesn't make sense.
The Sword of Truth series. Wasn't that supposed to be the most awesome series in the whole wide world? Well, after reading Robert Jordin it was a terrible comedown. Things were so dang predictable. Eddings' Belgaraid Series. Fantasy folks, please answer this question, why is it that when you have the Ultimate Super Dude, Like Rand or Ender, the only person who doesn't know they are some sort of grand chosen one is them? Rand and Ender are great because they weren't exactly psyched with the idea of their crucial roles, but they owned it. That is too much for me. I can't stand a book that shows me this person who is so clueless that they can't put the birthmark and the assasins and the strange magical happenings together and come up with at least a hunch that they are going to be saving something. I don't want the fate of all of MY tribes resting on someone of that intellectual calliber.
And no matter how many times I stop to think, "Oh come on now," I have to read the series out.
Then there was some series called Something Magic. Anyone help me out here? Trilogy, government project goes wrong, people in modern world start taking on supernatural powers. I remember there were Dragons and these fairy like things. Goldie a blind guy and this lawyer and... ah nevermind, that's how much I LOVED that one.
And the best for last, or worst rather, is my reading drug of choice; Stephen King. Mostly anything by him. I think he's an amazing writer but a terrible story teller. He hurts me bad with his endings. Why is it he has to do these terrible things to kids. I have 3 and I can't help but to paste one of my kids' face on his dead-kid character. Cujo - (unlike the movie, Kid dies from asthma attack); Cell - what a friggin rip!; The Mist, OMG, the father has to do what in the end? I was crying and cussing Mr. King that particular night; Storm of the Century - I read that one, such a cute boy, such a good father; Duma Key - again, can you say Daddy-Daughter issues; Lisey's Stories - Oh man, those kids, Where was DHR in all of that?
Am I a masochist? I fall in love with the people though. I'll never say Mr. King is a bad writer, but I will stick by the fact that he must be on a mission to depress the world, yeah? My heart aches for days after one of his better/worse ones involving kids. I'd have to say above all, these are the worst ones because the others were such a joke that they were just poorly written or thought out, but The Kid Tragedies have a REAL impact on me and it isn't a sunny one.
Which book would be worse? One that's so bad you simply can't finish and so it ends up not wasting too much time? Or one that is just not bad enough to give up on, but when you finish the last page you feel like you've had valuable hours stolen from you? Cos there are loads of the former which you close after 20 pages, but it takes a special kind of book to keep you reading, even though you don't want to. Posts: 4 | Registered: Aug 2008
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Good point, Willis. If you don't finish it, how can you know it was really that bad?
My problem is that there are so many books and so little time, and I just can't keep reading a book that does not make it worth my time. So I risk missing out on some stuff that would have been worth reading if I'd kept at it. But I don't think I miss it all that much.
quote:If you don't finish it, how can you know it was really that bad?
As is often said, "one does not have to eat all of the egg to know it is rotten."
Me? Well, I can think of only a few books I've thought were rotten, that I've failed to finish. But I've got to beware---I've taken up The Brothers Karamazov and War and Peace recently, and liked them a whole lot better than when I read them in high school.
And I fail to finish a lot of books, not because they're lousy---but because one thing crowds out another. My reading of War and Peace stalled out at the end of Book One---further in than I got in high school---but has been crowded out by this and that.
I can think of a few books I stopped reading because they were rotten. The one that comes to mind---can't remember the title, but it was a recent fantasy, and Book Two of a series, about intelligent centaurs. Two chapters in and I could read no more.