Sunday, June 26, 2011

Disappointing Scifi

I really enjoy my summer reading. It's time for entertainment, for scifi and mysteries and YA fiction. But I have to admit I like well-written entertainment. This book was a major disappointment.

Reader that I am, I still finished it by virtue of rapid skimming. Which is probably how a lot of things ought to be read.

Leviathan Rising (Pax Britannia)Leviathan Rising by Jonathan Green

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I love scifi and alternative histories, so I thought I had a winner when I started this book. The prologue is set on a tramp ship smuggling opium TO Britain (google "steps to opium production" to see why this thrilled me!).

If you read because you like good writing, then avoid this book. After the promising prologue, you'll be dropped into a world of writing in which characterizations consist of the hero going around the dinner table listing key points of each character to himself, and the author has never met an adjective he didn't like and use. For instance, at the height of a scene in which the horrible monster - perhaps a Kraken, perhaps the result of horrible scientific experiments - is being attacked by giant sharks, Green writes: "There wasn't one thought to the contrary in his mind that the sharks' attack against the Kraken was a happy accident as far as those on board the Nemo were concerned but then serendipity was playing its part quite nicely nonetheless, and suddenly the facility was a viable objective again, the open hole of its docking gate within reach." In the first 1/5 of the book, Green repeatedly refers to the shadow of the cleavage of the female romantic's lead about 5 times. She is, by the way, svelte AND curvaceous. And a range of discriminatory comments about people who are not Anglo flow out of character's mouths or the hero's internal dialogue. Historically accurate? Ironic? Perhaps, the way Green writes it seems that these are simply acceptable ways to refer to Indians, Chinese, and so on.

I haven't read the earlier book in Green's series, which means that in my reading experience of this book there was no world-building whatsoever. Darwinists of some sort are bad, and Queen Victoria has been ruling for 160 years. Green might want to spend a little more of his words on showing his world, and far fewer passages like: "The other more senior ladies of the party had wisely kept to more traditional, and therefore, restrained designs."


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