Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Short Book Reviews

Blasphemy by Douglas Preston - This is a decent science fiction novel about scientists making a machine that talks to God. It's got some faults. A bit slow getting started (the page-turny-ness cranks up after the first 100 pages), some thin characters, and a SciFi idea that stumbles toward the end and could have been pushed farther. But by the resolution, it's strengths win out - it's a rollicking read that recovers nicely with a satisfying conclusion, that has the added plus of possibly pissing off a few radical Christian fundamentalists. An enjoyable SciFi ride and it's Good Fun!

7 comments:

Carl V. said...

Don't you hate it though when books seem like if they had just a bit more tweaking that they would go from being just okay to being really great? Makes you wonder why some editors seem to be so vital to an author's success and others allow less than stellar works to slip through to publication.

David said...

Carl,
Yes I agree, but perhaps I overstated my minor complaints in my review. I did enjoy the book.

Now, if we were talking about George R.R. Martin's "A Feast for Crows"... ;P

Carl V. said...

I'm not sure any author who begins to be a bestseller gets the kind of editorial advice they need to once they have a few hits under their belts. Anyone who has been honest with me feels the same way about the Harry Potter books, about Robert Jordan's later books, etc. It is too bad as I have to believe there are good, courageous editors out there who could put the brakes on and tell an author that a book needs to be trimmed, tweaked, etc.

David said...

I think that may be often true, but of course it's not always the case. I'm sure it's easier to see when a novels had a bad editor than when one's had a good editor. If a book has had good editing, the work is invisible to the reader. I think the editor of "Blasphemy" did a fine job, as I ultimately did enjoy it.

I never read the Potter books, as I avoid novels with children as protagonists, so I can't offer a comment on those. As for the Jordan books, I only read a 2 or 3 before the repetition got the better of me.

As a fan of shorter novels, I always prefer a story to be told as cleanly, concisely and economically as possible, i.e. Willa Cather's modernist unfurnished approach.

So, I'm all for strong editing, which often seems out of style. Especially with fantasy writers who tend to pad out for "epic" length, and certain best-sellers who seemingly think their first drafts are impervious to the mighty Red Pen.

BTW - I got my copy of the Stainless Steel Rat in the mail today so I've got it added to the stack now :) A nice short novel; that's a sweet treat.

Robert said...

Well, I'm looking forward to this :) Never read anything by Mr. Preston, but I thought it would be a nice break from the fantasy and sci-fi that I usually read...

David said...

Robert: This one's a good place to start with Preston. If you like it, I'd recommend reading the Pendergast novels starting with "Relic".

Carl V. said...

How fun, hope you enjoy Stainless Steel Rat. It certainly is a quick read. I am a fan of the short book myself and am sad that the latest trend is to write monster books that double as weight lifting exercises whenever one reads them.