Sep 212011

I’ve gotten about halfway through Horizon Storm, book 3 of The Saga of Seven Suns. It’s still pretty good, but my observations from the previous blog post still stand.

After putting the book down and turning off the light, I eventually fell asleep at about 2:30am. During the whopping two hours of sleep I got, I dreamed I was still reading the book, except my brain had amplified Anderson’s tendency to use a lot of short sentences. The whole thing was now written at the about the third grade level:

“Jess saw Cesca. He walked over to Cesca. Cesca wanted to touch him. He told her no. He said it would hurt her. Cesca was sad…”

…and on, and on, and ON, for what seemed like hours. I was actually glad to wake up but, since I couldn’t get back to sleep, I spent the next two and a half hours on the couch reading more of the book.

Sep 062011

While using the stationary bike at my in-laws’ beach house this past weekend, I pulled Kevin J. Anderson’s “Hidden Empire” off the shelf to kill time. It’s the first of the seven-book series “Saga of Seven Suns”; an epic space opera about an extremely powerful alien civilization that lives in the cores of gas giants, and attacks Earth’s colonies in retaliation for the accidental destruction of one of their planets.

Aaron had had this series at home, but gave it to his dad when he was done. He saw I was reading it, and warned me that it was merely “ok”, but I liked it enough to keep reading. I finished the first book and started on the second before we left, bringing the whole series back home with me.

The various plots are very similar to those in Peter Hamilton’s three big series, and I really loved all of them (though I liked the “Night’s Dawn” series a bit less than the others due to a couple really dull subplots). However, I’m finding that Anderson’s series is less compelling than any of Hamilton’s, and I can’t quite put my finger on why.

Anderson has created multiple highly-detailed and well thought-out civilizations and cultures, distinctive and consistent characters, and linked his subplots together well (so far).

It just hit me: the tech is lacking.

All of Hamilton’s series had fascinating examples of imagined future technology, and he described them in such detail that I wanted them to be real; I wanted neural nanonics, Affinity, Gaia motes, field functions, and to be a Multiple (and still do). He also described many scenes involving technology in a techno-thriller style, slowing down an event that happened in a mere second or two and describing each step in the chain.

By contrast, Anderson’s tech is pretty pedestrian. The inner workings of the Klikiss Torch, early in the first book, is fairly interesting, but so far there’s nothing that’s made me say, “That’s so cool!”.

I’ll probably keep reading the series, because the story is interesting and there’ve been some good plot twists, but if I were to grade the first book I’d have to give it a B.

Apr 292011

Now I just need to follow it.

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

— Ira Glass (via nefffy)

Feb 282008

The other day (ok, a few weeks ago) I went back and read some of my very first blog entries, which were done on Blogger at the dawn of weblogs. I had completely forgotten about it until I was transferring all of my old IDs and passwords from my PDA to my Crackberry, and decided to see if it was still there.

While reading them, it was really obvious how much my writing style has changed over the years. My early entries were much more raw than they are now, because I was writing anonymously, if publicly. I certainly can’t say I censor myself now, per se, except where it’s prudent to protect my job, but I do craft most of my entries with an eye toward how it will read for my friends and passers-by. Some truly personal stuff I filter out, but there aren’t many of those entries.

It also made me consider the danger of putting so much of my life’s memories on remote hardware and software whose ownership has changed hands twice already, and is now owned by a Russian company. Not that I have anything against Russia; I’m sure the mobsters and proto-dictators who run the place are very nice people once you get to know them, but if their servers blow up, or get hacked, or are sold to buy rogue nukes for Chechnyan rebels, there goes a lot of myself that I’ve poured into those “pages”.

This makes it really tempting to grab the leather-bound journal Aaron once bought me, and a good pen, and leave my gift to posterity there but, if I did that, my inner attention whore wouldn’t have an audience. Really, isn’t that one of the main reasons we all do this? :oP

Anyone know if LJ has a backup option?

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