Thursday, March 12, 2015

oo, slightly behind for March posts

step it up, me.

The Sea is Full of Stars by Jack L. Chalker.  Sea has some if the biggest editing mistakes to date-- people who leave the room but suddenly reappear, structures and set-ups which were described in great detail in previous novels now working in completely different ways.  Also, it seems obvious that this story set takes place thousands of years after the previous book, but references "our" history.  After resetting the universe, there would be major changes to the timeline; there would have to be, or the story would loop and there could be no hope for a different outcome.  Yet the author and characters reference Earth history that is the same as the shared history of the first half of the series.
Very poor.  I've started the last in the series, but I'm sad about it.

Saga vol. 4, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.  This didn't really move the story forward very much.  And while certain elements used previously have obviously been there for shock value, they have been previously well-played.  That is not the case in this installment.  How many different heads can we see blown into itty bitty pieces?  Tone it down, the gratuitous violence is now getting in the way of the story.

The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie.  I read this years ago, and just finished rereading it, as I chose it for my new library book group.  Tonight was the first meeting, and no one actually showed up, which is a real shame, because below are my musings and questions that I would have used to instigate stimulating conversation.  Feel free to use them as jumping-off points with your own bookgroups when you strong-arm them into reading this wonderful book, because honestly, the questions from the publisher are very sad.
(p6) "Pain is an event.  It happens to you, and you deal with it in whatever way you can."  Thomas is talking about physical pain.  How much of it is really mind over matter?  How much of other kinds of pain do we manufacture ourselves?
The author jumps about in descriptions, nearly going off topic all the time.  What effect does this have on the reader?  on the reading?
Thomas revises his opinion of Sarah's age several times during their first encounter, from 19 at most up through possibly 30.  What does she do to make him revise his opinion?  Is it even her doing?  Does the age given (p.17 gives dob, making her about 32 if story is set in year of publication) match up with your interpretation and assumption of her age, based on her character?
Thomas gives the pseudonym of James Fincham several times-- to Sarah, and to Toffee Spencer.  Does the name have a significance?  Early on, he says "...then my name isn't James Fincham.// Which, of course, it isn't."  But he uses the name so pervasively that sort of it is really his name.
In the first part of the book, we get everything-- every conversation, every step, every thought.  Right before Thomas' dinner with the Woolves, we learn things are happening to Thomas that he doesn't tell us.  For another chunk of the book, time stretches out farther and farther without anything being conveyed to us.  Is Thomas only telling the parts that support his version of events?  Why are some things only mentioned, not shown?  Or mentioned further after the fact?  How much of the Kevlar-suited Minister-of-Finance double cross did Thomas know about before the day on the slope?
(p293) Thomas starts referring to himself in the 3rd person in narration ("...said Ricky, turning back to Benjamin.") when he'd doing terroristy things.  Why this time, in Casablanca, but not before, in Switzerland?
One review says "an intricate thriller laced with Wodehousian humor."  Read any Wodehouse?  [Jeeves and Wooster ran 1990-1993.]  [I have read some Wodehouse, and the similarities are not immediately apparent to me, but I also didn't compare them side-by-side.  However, when one author is used to describe the work of another, a side-by-side comparison shouldn't really be necessary.  The derivative work should flaunt it; it should be visible from a distance.]
The author has written a screenplay adaptation.  Cast picks?  Insert thoughts on how well the story will translate to screen.  Sound track suggestions.  [I don't think this would actually translate very well to a movie, because the important parts of the story happen inside Thomas' head.  The reason the book is funny and engaging is because of his surprising, startling narration, and the reason it's interesting is because he, and we, can't quite figure who, if anyone, is a good guy.  Those sorts of things don't translate well to movies.  The movie would be full of all the actiony bits-- the fights, the tailing, the escapes, the secret meetings-- and so would be exciting, but it wouldn't capture even half the story.]  [I listened to one of my Pandora stations, which mostly plays Queen and Led Zepplin, while reading alot of this, and that seemed to fit,]
There is a rumor that a sequel, The Paper Soldier, will be released... eventually.  Is a sequel necessary?  Speculate as to focus, plot.  [Any sequel likely couldn't compare, and is unnecessary to finish the story.  A second story is not required.]

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