Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Fires of Heaven

Dreams and Speculation's Wheel of Time Challenge.

Tor.com's Wheel of Time reread of TFoH by the ever-entertaining and in-your-face Leigh Butler

Adam Roberts' witty and snide review of TFoH. What most concerns him is the writing style. And really, I agree with him.

A very sprawling read, and I really began to feel bored. Very tedious and repetitive detail. What kind of literary mind repeats unilluminating details over and over, as if that conveys character? Perhaps he wrote each scene in isolation, then stitched it all together without realizing, "hey, I used that same description in the last chapter." A good editor could have pruned and tightened this up and reduced it by 200 pages without losing anything. This book demonstrates a failure in editing as much as writing. Perhaps by book five RJ's Tor editors were bowing and scraping — unwisely.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Why I'm so tired of rock music

Rock music today cannot reproduce the excitement of its youth. People who were listening to music in the 60's and 70's remember the excitement, anticipation, and mind-opening of new albums by great rock bands. Progressive rock stations played that music, not corporatized market-oriented pablum. The problem today with "classic rock" is nostalgia. Yes, Led Zeppelin was great, but there cannot be a Led Zeppelin today. To see those old bands on tour is sad and wholly lacking the spirit of rock. For contrast, just look at the films of performances from the 60s and 70s, look at those audiences, and at how intense those concerts were. Not that I begrudge someone making a dollar, but don't ask me to get excited about hearing old songs trotted out 30 years later, or new songs sounding like old songs.

For me, the last interesting, exploratory and challenging rock music was (is) Sonic Youth. The last meaningful rock movement that engaged listeners in a cathartic experience was the Nirvana/Pixies "grunge" scene.

Society underwent convulsions and transformation in the 60's. That is why the music of 1969 is so much farther away from 1949 than 2009 is from 1989. Parents today can listen to the same music as their children. Parents of the baby boom generation had cultural references much closer to their own parents than to their children. Young people in the 60s and 70s had the feeling of being on the crest of a great change. Today there is little originality in popular music. Maybe that's because the concepts and attitudes about life and its problems have remained the same for the past 30 years.

(written as a response to this blog post by Krist Novoselic.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Starting The Fires of Heaven

So I broke down last night and started reading The Fires of Heaven, book 5 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. Participating in a reading group does give one some of the "stick" when the "carrot" isn't so tasty.

Elaida, the new Amyrlin Seat, is being ignored because although she instigated the revolt and deposing of the previous Amyrlin, she doesn't herself command enough power and authority over the other Aes Sedai co-conspirators.

I'm going to try and be less of a curmudgeon about this, I get tired of listening to my own criticism. I think I can enjoy this as long as my time is available! Maybe it will stimulate my own writing, I have been taking a short writing course at WriterHouse, and I should make a stab at "speculative fiction".

(I remember that the biggest badass guild in EverQuest was the Fires of Heaven. On my server, it was Triton.)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Shadow Rising

Book Love Affair blog discussion for this book and the Tor reread outline by Leigh Butler.

I feel like I'm being sucked along in this Wheel of Time epic. I'm not a rabid fan (they seem to be out there) but I am enjoying certain aspects of the story. It's written in a way that moves along well, for plot, and has dreamworld and magic themes that interest me, and I care just enough about the main characters to want to see what happens to them.

But still, I'm sad that there's so little depth of personality in the characters. Sigh.

Least liked scene: Egwene and Elayne chatting like junior high school girls about who's going to go out with Rand -- oh, excuse me -- who "really loves him." (gag me with a spoon, please!) The manipulativeness of the women, their disdain for men (even the women who claim to like men) is tedious. If this was a characteristic of just a handful of the female characters I could understand that as an intrinsic part of the story, but ALL the female characters despise men and talk to them in an egregiously condescending manner. And the men are social bumpkins who are unable to master the schemes of women; they respond like surly children who are constantly being scolded. In a word: there's NO romance going on anywhere in this epic, so move along. In defense, there is this conceit that men have broken the world, and now women are more powerful, but still, there should be some distinctness among characters about this condition of social relations between men and women. Bleah. I'm seriously considering not reading any more of this. The good part is that Rand seems to be becoming more of a man in this book, and he takes responsibility for his own actions, and resists the machinations of the women around him. Yes, the men are never manipulative, it's just the women.

Oh wait, maybe there is ONE female character who isn't SO manipulative: that would be Min. Whew. But she's rather a weakling, mostly a device for foreshadowing.