On Higher Powers, Pt 2.

On Higher Powers, Pt 2.

I know I have once mentioned Tim Powers, and specifically the book of his that left an impression on me for nearly 40 years to the point of tracking it down and buying it. Drawing of the Dark was as good as remembered, possibly better and weirder - and so I bought a couple more of his books. While one of his better known works, Anubis Gates, is in my reading pile, I ended up reading a much more recent work first, the hidden-world modern fantasy Alternate Routes. Per the blurb: Something weird is happening to the Los Angeles freeways—…

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Style inNeon

Style inNeon

Alexandru Constantin recently put up two posts I'd like to tie together. The first was a review of "Neon Harvest" by Jon Mollison. Neon Harvest does something different, something cool. It’s not a true sci-fi nor a true cyberpunk. Jon takes the technological baseline of the early 80’s and stagnates it. It’s a pre-digital cyber-thriller. The heroes still use pay-phones, newspapers are still on paper, and cash is still used. Yet, colony ships take off, planets are terraformed, and the internet used to exist. I don’t want to spoil anything, because the whole concept is really…

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Style is Part of the Substance

Style is Part of the Substance

Alexandru Constantin notes that not only is much of modern fantasy shallow in substance, but it also posesses no depth of style, rendering it almost unreadable. Most of all, all three of the books had pedestrian writing that lacked any hint of style. The prose felt like early young adult, middle school grade, nothing fancier than early Animorphs, and the plot and characters felt stolen from a overwritten D&D module. But to get back twitter and the whole point of this post. I posted about giving up on most fantasy because the writing sucks. People responded, we had…

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Pop Kult

Via Castalia house, an excellent post on how pop culture is more accurately, as Brian Neimeier puts it, Pop Kult (or "Cult"). The Epistle of Captain America – The Pop Cult is Truly a Cult That said, I do think he's overlooked something: When my viewers were upset about the corporate destruction of Star Wars, calling the franchise a cultural institution, I thought it a bit hyperbolic – after all, these are just stories, and you can’t uncreate what George Lucas did. I see things better now. Star Wars is part of the religious reverence for popular franchises. When Disney…

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False Depth in Storytelling

False Depth in Storytelling

One thing I often get - most recently regarding the show "Succession" and mostly from people who don't know me that well in my circle of acquaintances - is shock that I don't like [Stephen King | Game of Thrones | Whatever piece of dross that's popular today that involves horrible people being horrible to each other ] "But you should try it out instead of dismissing it right away / after a few minutes" The answer I give echoes Alexandru Constantin's - I don't like it, why should I continue to waste time on that? "But you could…

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On Higher Powers

On Higher Powers

I keep tabs on Bruce Charleton's blog, and so the recent post on Phil K Dick caught my eye. In the past couple of months I have read/ listened-to a dozen Philip K Dick novels, and most of the Exegesis - his philosophical and spiritual journal written during his last eight years. I haven't enjoyed a fiction writer so much, in such quantity, for several years. Certainly, I appreciate his work more fully this time round than when I read a batch of his novels more than thirty-five years ago (triggered by watching Blade Runner - one of the half-dozen…

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A Few Good Books

A Few Good Books

John C Wright recently reviewed The Hidden Truth by Hans Schantz, describing it as "part alternate history, part coming-of-age story, and part techno-thriller, peppered with wry observations about the nature of people, politics and power as seen through the eyes of a youth learning a hard lesson about the evils men hide." He is entirely correct. I found the first book engaging enough to go ahead and buy the second and third while I was on what, at the time, started as a vacation of sorts, and ended with a very difficult time in my life almost precisely one year…

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More Miscellany from the Internet

More Miscellany from the Internet

First, Brian Neimeier discusses that "works of art last" - the second half of an old saying many of us, including me until recently, only knew as "life is short." The equivalent Greek word is techne. That's a big clue that everybody before the Modern era would have put Michelangelo and Steve Jobs in the same general category. Both made stuff according to a standard. That's really what writing is. A carpenter makes a birdhouse by putting wood, nails, and glue together in the right configuration. An author makes a book by doing the same thing…

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