Customer Review

222 of 287 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Warning--Poorly written, June 21, 2012
This review is from: 2312 (Hardcover)
I've read science fiction for over 50 years. I was excited to see this new Robinson book at the bookstore, and thought I'd give it a read.

I was disappointed.

In the first part, "The dialogue looks like this," he said. "You mean a statement with a simple attribution in the tag?" she said. "Yes." he said. "And it goes on like that for quite a while I suppose," she said. "Yes," he said. "So he doesn't even bury the tag in the text, then" she said. "No, just hangs it on the end," he said. Etc.

"Later in the book, the dialogue tags become infested with adverbs," he said, critically. "Really?" she inquired, doubtfully. "Yes," he said, forcefully. "Are there any Tom Swifties?" she asked, quizzically. "Close," he said, knowingly. Etc.

The characters aren't adequately described. Swan, the key POV character, isn't physically described at all until about 20% of the book has been read.

There are beautiful, lyrical descriptions of some settings, but some of the settings thus described have no bearing on the plot.

The author inserts John Dos Passos-like lists here and there in the text. Not quite sure that works, however (These lists are distorted and truncated in the Kindle edition). John Brunner did that sort of thing much better.

I do not recommend the book.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 24, 2012 11:46:16 AM PDT
TomK1 says:

That's a hilarious review.

Posted on Jul 15, 2012 5:32:07 AM PDT
islandreader says:
TomK1, you might think Mr. Richards review hilarious but with all due respect to you and him, it is simply misleading. The dialogue does not follow that pattern that he suggests and I really can't imagine that he read the same book that I have just finished! This book does attempt to bring something different to the writing of Science Fiction and everyone is entitled to judge that as the see fit but this one dimensional attempt at a review is demeaning to the reader.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 22, 2012 10:34:37 AM PDT
My intent was not to criticize the author but point out that, in several respects, the book is poorly written. There are many examples of the type of dialogue I satirized in the book.

Posted on Feb 20, 2013 9:50:43 PM PST
James May says:
A city on Mercury that moves on rails round and round the planet to escape the sun is a tip off that this novel may be a time waster. It's a childish idea, one I expect to find in an SF pulp from 1929, and I mean that in a bad way since there are many things I admire about SF pulp fiction from that era. One of those things is the directness and fun of the work. It's generally considered today that too much plot, fun or immediate gratification is stupid and the slow burn is art. I say there's another way to look at that: slow burn can mean boring or a work that is sadly in need of ruthless editing or maybe an author who simply had a lot to say about nothing. People who are ashamed of SF's more direct expressions bewilderingly continue to work in SF and try and transform it into something it is fundamentally not very good at, and that is a form of overrefined intellectualization that's long on exposition and short on actually interesting ideas. I'm not surprised that people who have little to say like the slow burn and have a disdain for craftsmanship. It hides their weakness as story tellers. Philosophizing plus tech without an intrinsically interesting bridge is boredom. As for dialogue, if you're writing much beyond "he said," you know you may be going off the rails since both the characters motivations and personalities are non-existent.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 12, 2013 3:02:36 PM PDT
If I knew whether you had read and enjoyed KSR's previous books, that would be helpful to me in making use of your review.

Posted on Jun 22, 2013 4:06:47 AM PDT
Despite this comment's satirical nature, I found it helpful, as it underscored, and brought my attention to, the ratings this book has received; after 177 reviews, the book is carrying a solid 3 out of 5 stars. I too read the Mars trilogy, and I thought it was an amazing work. So why would this book by the same author be ranked so low? The other one- and two-star reviews built upon my previous exposure to Robinson's writing style to create a plausible answer: quite simply, apparently, he described humanity's technological achievements in great detail (an act at which he excels, in my opinion) at the expense of character and plot development.

If I were looking to read a novel right now for the purpose of being wowed by an author's visions of what humanity has built and achieved technologically in one probable future, it sounds like I'd likely give this book a five-star rating. As it is, though, I am seeking a balance between those "wow" moments and a compelling _story_, and so I think I'll pass on this book for now.

When 4+ stars fall out of another couple hundred reviews, then I shall give it a read.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 22, 2013 12:08:27 PM PDT
Kevin, Yes. I have read The Gold Coast, Red Mars and The Years of Rice and Salt, and I liked them all very much. This one though? Not so much.

Posted on May 2, 2014 7:16:56 PM PDT
miclaroc says:
I have no idea what book the reviewer Frank Richard read and find it sad he seems to have completely missed the point. His loss....

Posted on Mar 13, 2015 6:10:46 PM PDT
James Kenney says:
Very amusing review. For those who remember the Tom Swifty jokes (where the adverb is a pun of the quote commented upon), I think my mother came up with the best one I've ever heard:
"Look at those men coming down the stairs chain-gang style," said Tom, condescendingly.
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