Saturday, February 28, 2015

the sci-fi post

Quest for the Well of Souls, The Return of Nathan Brazil, and Twilight at the Well of Souls by Jack L. Chalker.  Quest was less deliberately crude than previous novels, although by this point, I'm getting fatigued by all the exclamation points, not to mention the author's use of italics, primarily in dialogue but also in narration, to lend emphasis.  Let's not talk about his descriptions at introductions... let's just not.

Return suffered some editing problems-- mainly fairly large inconsistencies.  Details and names were changed or swapped for other locations, and time spans, which were very clearly stated in previous books, were different lengths in here.  In recounting-- or rather, retelling-- part of the story that came before, details and motivations were added that were never previously mentioned and which probably would have had a pretty big impact on the earlier novels.
Unfortunately, although this book moves the story along, a lot of it is just repetition.
Twilight is starting to get a little better, in the quality of writing and descriptions, although the good-ish sections are paid for by a fair few truly purple sections.  It's difficult to follow at times, as the author is rewriting huge swathes of backstory.  It doesn't work.
Series-wise, I have a few problems with the story:
A whole handful of characters live hundreds (and hundreds) of years, but most are just fine.  One does go loony, and this is implied as the natural, expected state for anyone of that age, but she's pretty much alone in that.  Some characters are ok, but lose most of their memories of anything before the last couple centuries; others have no memory loss at all.  There is no consistency.
Second, you can tell the author is scraping the bottom of the barrel on the imagination every time he has to invent new alien species-- they pretty much all look like earth animals with changes, but they make no sense.  A tree-dwelling flying squirrel that never, ever, ever goes in water, because that's where the predators are, would not have a duck bill.  It's thoughtless.  There is even a feeble attempt to work this craptitude into the story, but it is a blatant grasp at CYA.

My original reactions, circa-- judging by the pen and handwriting-- 2002-2004:
Quest:  This is the most poorly-written, entirely plot-driven collection of books that I've ever read, but I just keep reading them.  "I can't help it, it's a compulsion." [points to you if you know the quote.]
In addition to all his old vices, I noticed the author likes to use the phrase "try and" and "different than."  Rrr, stupid writers.
Plus, this book was almost entirely set-up anyway, which is really sucky in a plot-driven series.
Return: Once again, mostly set-up, which angers me.  Plus, things are getting really out of hand, as far as believability goes.  These people just live for thousands of years, through totally unbelievable artificial means and don't really suffer any ill effects, either mentally or emotionally.  It's rather annoying.
Twilight: Well, at least something actually happened in this book. 

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