The Hugo season of science fiction & fantasy is on, so what better way to start than by reviewing something that isn’t a finalist, that I actually enjoyed, and that none of you have even heard about?Continue reading “Review: The Long Long Long Long rescue, by Robert Zoltan.”
The original goal of this post was to write a mini-essay on something that annoys me about contemporary writing. As far as I know, it has no name, and I struggled to find one, so I had to settle for something as cumbersome as “mid-action or mid-description beginnings.” Essentially, the story starts in media res, but not in the middle of the plot, but in the middle of a scene, with people (sometimes a lot of people) doing, sometimes exciting or action-related, stuff… for no reason we can discern. No goals, context, purpose, or meaning are given. It’s just a picture, like a movie scene (and in many cases, it shows the writer imagined it as such.)
The protagonist can be fighting another person (and we know nothing about them so we have no reason to care,) sweating profusely from some equally strenuous activity, engaging in a heavy dialogue with a character we know nothing about, or sometimes it’s a cliché-ridden description as the character prepares to do one of those things (the standard in fantasy until a few years ago was to describe, for some unfathomable reason, the sky – usually a sunset or dawn- and how that light reflected on the local vegetation.)
The opposite, of course, is to start like all stories have always been written, with a small, perhaps only a single sentence, explanation about the why, where, and when so we can contextualize what is happening and will happen.
When reading Asimov’s editorials on adventure I got the impression that he probably would have wanted to write more of them, perhaps thinking the magazine was going to last longer. A certain idea or thesis seemed to be developing on those pages, one about the place of adventure in literature, its relationship with science fiction, and so on, but sadly we’ll never know if it had a conclusion.
Besides sporting imposing sideburns and writing a few books, Isaac Asimov also lent his name to various magazines and products. One of them, mostly unknown compared to the more familiar Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, was Asimov’s Adventure Science Fiction Magazine. Unfortunately, it was a short-lived publication, with only four issues between late 1978 and late 1979.
tl;dr version: 9/10, buy the damn book.
Recommended for: People who enjoy good and strong writing, those who want to go back to the real roots of fantasy, pulp fans, and people who like to think about what they read. For fans of R.E. Howard, Burroughs, and Jack Vance this should be a no-brainer.
Not recommended for: Spineless cowards, soviet agents of International Communism, people who enjoy being laughed at, and lovers of YA fantasy fodder.
“Critics who treat ‘adult’ as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
C.S. Lewis, “On Three Ways of Writing for Children” (1952)