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In Search of ... the WORST in sci-fi POD samplers!


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Posted on Sep 28, 2014 12:27:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 28, 2014 12:29:05 PM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
A funny thing happened on the way to the forum...

Tu & The Collectors

Nice cover illustration, but then two pages of table of contents. Personal preference, but I have come to prefer not having the author do this. Especially when some (a lot) of the "chapters" are only a few pages in length. So I just skipped over this.

First indication of problems to come, though: A "preface" that asks the reader to "consider" a quote by Carl Sagan... and then proceeds to mangle the first sentence of the quote into weird, ungrammatical chunks. Before telling us again at the end that it's by Carl Sagan.

OK... onward. The first paragraph of the main text is in present tense. The rest is in past. Why? Also, the author has decided not to indent the beginning of each paragraph and instead skips a line between them. The thing with adding the name of the speaker before dialog, almost script-style, has already been mentioned in another thread (where the author flogged this thing, in ignorance or defiance of Amazon's policies):

Clive - "Hey, Michael, good to see ya. [...]"

So maybe this non-indented/line-skipping thing is another conscious attempt at a script/standard-text hybrid. Or an artifact of text to/from HTML conversion? Hard to tell. Harder to care.

Ub (ub?)... it's just... bad. And not even in the funny way that makes it amusing to pick apart. The author requested that I buy the book for the privilege of then writing a "nasty review" of it. I'll save myself both the money and the time and just do this.

Amazon provides the Look Inside! feature and free Kindle samples for a reason: so that customers can avoid dreck like this. But as always, don't take my word for it; go ye and see for yourselves!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 22, 2012 5:12:35 AM PST
Ronald Craig says:
LOL. I need to fire up the iPad and download that sample.

"The horror... the horror...."

(I made the mistake of visiting the author's page here, though. Always a bad move: he seems like an otherwise nice guy. And this thing about intentionally copying the pulp scifi style has me a bit concerned: I haven't read enough of that... stuff to know whether he's artfully mimicking the bad, or is just bad all on his ownsome. Oh well... COURAGE!)

Posted on Dec 20, 2012 11:51:46 PM PST
Fullme7al says:
These threads are soo wrong, but so funny as well. I can't stop reading, and for now have nothing to contribute but a bump.

Posted on Dec 20, 2012 4:13:14 PM PST
Ronald Craig says:
Bump.

It appears newcomers(?) have started flogging their wares here again instead of in the proper forum, so maybe it's time to revive this critter. So what if it's been dead for a year and a half? M&M (Now 100% More Nuts!) resuscitates her fabulous yet consumptive science-in-sci-fi-drag threads all the time!

Next up: the pulping of some new SF: The Nathan Daniels Saga!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2011 6:21:40 AM PDT
terzap says:
heh heh!

Posted on Jun 11, 2011 4:46:20 AM PDT
This thread gives a whole new definition to the term 'Craig's List'...

Posted on Jun 10, 2011 6:41:11 AM PDT
Ow! This was painful fun. I once told a professor I'd worked for years to be concise and if he wanted twenty pages on the subject he'd have to find me an expert in obfuscatory language and "fluff" to provide filler. He said he knew several, but accepted the five pages, anyway. I wonder if he'd read some of these.

Posted on Jun 10, 2011 5:47:18 AM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
O Anthias! Wont thy heart to the rewriting thereof! :D

(Hiya back, C.S. Hyphens, like all things, are best when used in moderation!)

Posted on Jun 10, 2011 5:05:52 AM PDT
Hyphens are my friend...

(Hiya, Ronald!)

Posted on Jun 10, 2011 4:15:21 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Dec 30, 2012 3:37:50 AM PST]

Posted on Jun 8, 2011 8:17:34 AM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
I'm sure the answer is much too obvious for anyone here to have ever actually asked themselves "Why would someone *have* to publish their own book?", but just in case I'm wrong (been known to happen on occasion), here's yet another definitive example (in a continually growing list thereof):

The Black Hole Experiments: An astounding 21st century sci-fi classic!

The Black Hole Experiments

(Not sure yet what the difference is between the two listings...)

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2011 3:07:40 PM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
"True it's none of my business what you. Too bad I have touched a sensitive nerve in you."

Ah, Charles, how sweet! You just keep poking around and I'll let you know if you get anywhere near a nerve, m'kay? LOL

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2011 2:59:10 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 5, 2011 3:53:42 PM PDT
Ronald Craig,
Every reader is a critic and your reviews are insightful. I just think that you have an edge that would put a good story together. It is not an attempt at a put down, but just an observation.
I'm not casting doubt on your qualification to teach English in Japan, just that I would hope that you would finish your dissertation and move forward towards a higher degree, as I would hope anyone with the ability to do so would.
True it's none of my business what you do. Too bad I have touched a sensitive nerve in you.
As far as others go. I don't live for their approval. It's not important what others think of me, but what I think of them. As for readers, there are tens of thousands of books out there, a lot of them free.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2011 1:24:27 AM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
(I don't even technically qualify as a reviewer, having only commented on the first couple pages of the sample of his book.)

Posted on Apr 4, 2011 8:47:51 PM PDT
D.L. Mains says:
Why do writers who don't like a review automatically challenge the critic to do better? Do chefs tell food critics to make their own dinner? Do artists tell art critics to pick up a brush? When you put your work out to the public, you have to expect that you cannot please everyone.

Nothing bothers a potential reader more than un-professionalism. Attacking a reviewer who expresses a negative opinion is unprofessional. So is attacking a reviewer by using bad grammar and poor word usage.

Just saying...

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 4, 2011 6:08:22 PM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
Hi, Charles! Still bitter, I see. Exercise your creative powers and imagine how gratifying I'm finding that fact. :)

I'm not sure why you think an MA in Linguistics would have any particular bearing on writing a science fiction novel. (Although there are a number of great scifi stories out there that reference linguistic topics!) Or why you feel the need to keep casting doubt on my background and occupation. I mean, I certainly haven't felt any need to imply, for example, that you were actually a draft dodger who spent the Vietnam years in Canada. Or that your ecological concerns are just a posture aimed at increasing sales of your book.

No, I'm finding it quite sufficient to comment on your spamming of threads here, the poor quality of your writing as exhibited in the samples of your book, and your abysmal behavior as an author faced with such criticism. Potential readers=customers are watching you, Charles.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 4, 2011 2:21:07 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 4, 2011 4:50:23 PM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2011 7:19:41 AM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
I saw where you'd given it three stars, so I wasn't sure if it was appropriate for this thread, but then I read the first paragraph.

LOL.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2011 3:25:06 AM PDT
A Galaxy Unknown: (A Galaxy Unknown, Book 1)

This is fun stuff. God Mode Sue saves the universe

Posted on Mar 31, 2011 12:15:33 PM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
(Sorry for the delay... I evidently fell asleep during Ghost Lab again!)

OK... let's boogie. Strander by MR Charles D Hartik is a brave book, truly trendsetting in its near complete eschewal of the use of hyphens to disambiguate the masses of modifiers which the author loves to pile up on any noun unfortunate enough to wander within his grasp. From the paperback sample (Note: I've also checked the Kindle sample, and it's the same, indicating that the author has enough confidence in his work to have left it unchanged since the first publication in 2007):

Kallex was angry at himself. He'd failed his final exam by drifting into a momentary daydream of a Digi-ball game played earlier that day.

If he could step out through the thick glass in the neglected observation area and die in the hot wind and ultraviolet radiation, it would be better than separation from Karla, who he knew since the age of five when they both were brought into the dome by their Caver parents.
_____
OK, that's not so bad, right? The "who he knew" should probably be past perfect, but then again, that construction is slowly merging with the past in American English and is pretty much just something fake professors worry about. Let's move on...

He leaned his whole back against the observation area's thick composite outer wall. Vibration from the wind powered generators several floors below soaked into his flesh. He pressed an ear against the wall and a roar of wind driven grit grinding against the outside of the dome seemed to fill his head.
_____
Hmm... "wind powered generators". There's the first of those places I personally would find easier to read with a hyphen. And here's yet another: "wind driven grit"! That "a roar" is a bit odd, too. "A roar like a thousand angry voices" sounds better because it's somewhat indefinite, but Kallex here is hearing something very specific, so shouldn't it be "the roar"? (And do we really need to be told that the grit is GRinding aGainst the *outside* of the dome?) OK, brace yourselves...

He crouched low and moved to a corner of the opaque observation window long ago clouded like a cataract. He brushed a lock of hair from his eyes and gazed through the only clear spot in the thick glass. He saw bright ultraviolet saturated sunlight illuminating orange tinted blackish leaf covered tendrils of stocky green plants growing low to the ground wave in a horrendous wind.
_____
Those first two sentences aren't terrible (we probably don't need to be reminded that the glass is "thick" again, but whatever), but then all hell breaks loose in the third. Go ahead, parse that sucker, I dare you! LOL. Hint: the main verb appears to be "wave", but Arrakeen sandworms take me if I have any idea what its subject is!

We could also discuss world-building a bit here and why an observation window on a planet with hot, grit-bearing winds [See what I did there, Charles? Hyphens are your friends!] was apparently not provided with retractable shutters, but there's just so much language-related bad writing goodness to savor, why bother?

He placed a cheek on the thermal resistant glass and felt heat soak into his face. He almost felt comfortable but his fear and anger grew larger than his efforts at distraction. The failure of his final exam crashed back into his mind.
_____
Ignoring the problem of the warning signs of imminent failure inherent in a heat-resistant glass transmitting heat, that's not too bad. And there's what may probably be a major problem with this book: the spottiness of the quality of the writing...

He heard footsteps in the hallway. He had never run across anyone here before. There were too many interesting activities available for most dome residents than a visit to a neglected observation area.
_____
Um... OK. I see a "than" but no comparative. "There were too many activities available more interesting for...." Come on, MR Hartik, that's just sloppy. And so is this:

When he was new to the dome, he'd wandered aimlessly through isolated dome hallways. On one such wandering, he found a neglected observation area. He considered it his private retreat.
_____
I'm glad it was pointed out that they were "dome hallways". Otherwise I might have imagined hallways on the colony ship, or amidst the alien ruins. (No, I don't know if there are alien ruins; haven't read that far ahead in the Kindle sample. About 27 pages in that, versus only six or so in the paperback sample here.)

OK... that's just the first page. The REAL fun starts with the dialogue on the second page. I'll leave the joys of discovery hidden in that joust-on-stilts to any interested readers (unless asked to continue, that is!) and close this installment with...

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Charles D Hartik has had a lifelong interest in the health of planet Earth's life. His awareness of the critical problems life on Earth are currently facing grew when he realized that many worse case scenarios presented to the public were in many cases understated. He authored Strander in the hope of awakening readers to the possibilities of a cascade of worse case scenarios happening unless a change in priorities takes places.
_____
(sigh) Can't help himself, can he? *IS* currently facing. And isn't it usually "worst case scenarios" (with or without hyphen!). And "risk" or "danger" would seem better than "possibilities".

Anyway, ask yourself: does this seem like something you want to risk $16.00 (or even $5.00 for the Kindle version) on?

Posted on Mar 31, 2011 1:25:53 AM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
Since I'm getting ready to leave the office, where I do my "loser fake professor" thang, I'll just bump this with an announcement of things to come:

Next fish up on the chopping block:

Strander (Volume 1) by MISTER Charles D Hartik (Author).

This one's tasty. Stay tuned! :)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 6, 2011 6:14:38 PM PST
Ronald Craig says:
It probably would have been more accurate to say that I simply have read that much of it. Then again, we usually read more of what we like... LOL.

Monroe, you mean? ;)

Posted on Feb 6, 2011 7:18:14 AM PST
There would be tea and cookies ...

No pressure intended. I believe you stated earlier that you are not that fond of military scifi. (The male half of the team says however that your life will be forever bereft of a transcendent experience ...)
I think he's channeling Marilyn.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 6, 2011 3:07:35 AM PST
Ronald Craig says:
Hi, Luther. Yeah... that was a wild thread, huh? Oh well, that was then, this is now. ;)

"As an aside, will someone explain to me why so many authors who know exactly what publishers want, go unpublished?"

I'm just speculating (wink), but I think luck plays a really big part in it. At least, that's the only explanation I can come up with for some of the real hacks out there that get published by traditional means, when there are so many unpublished or lesser known authors who write much better.

I only laugh at people who are so clueless that they don't realize how bad what they've written is, or who are so convinced of their own talent that they ignore or rationalize away all criticism. (A particular favorite are the ones who tell you HOW LONG they worked on something, implying that effort is more important than result. This isn't Little League, and you don't get a ribbon for just trying.)

I haven't looked at your sample because I haven't overcome my inertia and bought a Kindle or downloaded the reader for Mac (office machine's processor is too old to run it, and I've just been too lazy to bring a copy home to install on this MacBook). Based on what I've read of your comments here, I would not expect there to be any grammar or mechanical problems with the writing, or any "stupid science" problems. I'm pretty sure you don't have to worry about me showing up unexpectedly some morning on your figurative/cyber doorstep like a storm-bedraggled berserker. ;)

Posted on Feb 5, 2011 9:58:34 PM PST
All right, Ronald. Mea culpa for the "Indie authors: don't edit" forum. At the time, we were coming off authonomy. Everytime I found an author with a voice, someone who could actually write, the "I know what publishers want crowd" would dig in. It was a cri du coeur. I still maintain that, as an author, if you will not defend your voice, who will? I do not defend those who will not/cannot proofread. If your native language isn't English, you probably shouldn't be writing a book in it (Yes, I know you think you're fluent because you were born and raised here... And I don't mean immigrants.)
As an aside, will someone explain to me why so many authors who know exactly what publishers want, go unpublished?
May I conjecture that you have not found our efforts laughable (or perhaps you have not looked?)
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Discussion in:  Science Fiction forum
Participants:  34
Total posts:  170
Initial post:  Nov 7, 2009
Latest post:  Sep 28, 2014

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