Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lord of Chaos

Dreams and Speculation blog's Wheel of Time challenge: review of LoC.

Tor's Wheel of Time re-read and synopsis by Leigh Butler.

Sigh, what to say. I'm fully onboard with sci-fi author Adam Roberts' take on this series.

What I detest about the Wheel of Time series so far:

  1. I am not finding the characters to be interesting and compelling; rather I find them to be flawed creations that serve the plot. I detest when characters are stupid and dense merely to create plot tension, and that happens over and over. Mat could be interesting, Rand could be interesting, Perrin could be interesting... but they're mostly stupid. That's not fun to read, it's tiresome and condescending to readers. Feh.
  2. The BD/SM (bondage-discipline/sado-masochism) themes permeating the series -- what I'd call the dominance-submission theme, is repetitive and not insightfully handled. I expect works of literature to shed at least a small light on human nature, to create some catharsis, but that's asking too much from WoT, and I fear from the "epic fantasy" genre in general. The prurient naughtiness of the description of Egwene having her bare bottom spanked by the Wise Ones... words fail me, I want to say "wtf!?" The female characters are consumed with finding ways to dominate men (the one exception being Min, the tomboy.) Men, for the most part, are chumps about female wiles, except when Rand returns the favor, and the reader feels a cheap thrill of relief. Feh. 
  3. The good/evil theme? I'm still waiting for some development there.
  4. Finally, the writing style itself, which Roberts dwells on at length, is puffed up with circumlocutions, descriptions that add little or no insight into character or events, and repetitive characterizations (I've heard so much about Nynaeve yanking her braid that I expect her hair to fall out from the abuse.) I enjoy descriptions that create a vivid sense of place, when the place is important to the story (usually a major theme in sci-fi and fantasy), and some of these are quite good in WoT, but the way the character descriptions are handled spoils the effect. Really, if the author wanted sprightly plot turns and to go light on characterization, he should have used pungent, focused sentences, and shorten these books by 50%! Epic = bloat? Feh.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Adam Roberts' sharp and witty criticism of Wheel of Time

I relish Adam Roberts' criticisms of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. I'm slogging along, barely able to keep up with the one-book-per-month guilty pleasure/onerous chore of TJ's Wheel of Time Challenge. (see my footer.)

I was spoiled by George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. I thought other popular fantasy writing would be up to those standards. Au contraire, mes amis.

I love how Adam puts it:
...stylistically it’s the same hideous jumble, the same self-parodic bloat. Jordan is a writer who writes ‘this fire was not at all small, and the room seemed not far short of hot, a welcome heat that soaked into the flesh and banished shivers’ [343] because he is constitutionally allergic to the phrasing ‘a large fire warmed the room.’ He thinks the former sentence is more precise and therefore evocative. He’s wrong. That's not precision, it’s a finicky fussing textual aspergers, a style that can see nothing but details (and, more to the point, nothing but a certain very limited palate of details – colours of clothing, speed of movement, types of food, gradations of heat and cold—never the telling details great writers master). It is a style wholly incapable of illuminating penetration or evocation.
Go, Adam! Poor thing, he has to keep repeating this point on every WoT book review. But he does find spicy, fun ways to say it. I am looking forward to what he makes of Brandon Sanderson's work completing the series. From the snippets I've read by Sanderson, I'd say he's a much better writer.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

As liberal democracies decline into fascism...

I love this Daily Show.

What more can I say?

Well, since you asked, I'll try to be succinct:

Democracy requires an informed, educated, active, healthy and nourished population. As our newspapers and new outlets succumb to journalistic mediocrity and underfunding, there is a natural tendency for journalists to collaborate with corporate and government interests in controlling information and the cultural narratives. It is the most basic aspect of human nature to cower before authority, to seek protection and guidance from leaders. The challenging of authority and questioning of the accepted world-view is a perilous undertaking and usually regarded as a threat of the highest order. That, my dears, is why Socrates was put to death.

As people become less educated and informed, they become easy subjects for manipulation by those who wish to exert power and control. The means of that control is to use fear to encourage citizens to willingly surrender their freedoms and rights. You can read Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine to see how cataclysmic events and engineered false flag operations are used by governments and autocrats to grab control.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wordpress: show paginated list of posts at URLs other than site root

I FINALLY fixed the problem on Pugix's blog where the "more recent posts" wasn't paginating properly to older posts. Sadly, my question was ignored on the WordPress forum.

I found the answer in this WordPress documentation codex page, Making Your Blog Appear in a Non-Root Folder.

I *did* have to create a new template. The key was this: the posts.php template isn't a display template, it just generates the query, then loads the display template, index.php. So happy!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Revising Pugix's Wordpress Blog

Over the Memorial Day weekend I delved back into WordPress and made some needed changes for pugix.com, my husband's analog synthesizer blog. It uses WordPress 2.9.2, the current release, and a pack o' plugins.

In essence, we wanted to get current content onto the homepage, not just as a little "what's new" link in the sidebar. About four years ago I used WordPress to convert his static HTML, hard-to-maintain synth website into something that had better web presence and was more easily maintained and had an easier future development path. Now we wanted to make it a bit more blog-like by making the new content easy to find, and keeping the homepage fresh.