March 17th, 2006

ozarque figure

Personal note....

I haven't forgotten the questions that you posted when I asked for them recently, and I haven't discarded them; they're all safely filed, and I'll be getting to them over time.

Even before those questions, mountainkiss asked for a discussion on stem cell research, and I've been working on a post on that issue. The more research I do, however, the more intricate it gets, and I'm not ready to do the post yet. If there's anything in particular on the Net that you think I should read on the subject before posting, just let me know.
ozarque figure

Writing science fiction/fantasy badly; Shadowmancer...

I was looking forward to reading G.P. Taylor's book Shadowmancer (G. P. Putnam/s Sons/Penguin 2003), for three reasons. Because of the waves of publicity calling it "a Christian Harry Potter book," something I wanted to see for myself. Because of the irresistible tale of the author -- said to be an actual vicar who originally self-published the book with money he got by selling his motorcycle. And because of the passionately positive blurbs and reviews, some comparing Taylor's work to Tolkien's, even from British publications that I expect to be snobbish.

And then I did read it. All the way through -- which wasn't easy. Mercy!.

Determining precisely what makes Shadowmancer so monstrously bad might well provide a complete set of grammar rules for the production of awful novels that sell gazillions of copies and promptly become a "major motion picture"; by all means, have at it if that appeals to you. I don't have the strength, myself. I have not disliked a bestselling book this much since I read The Christmas Box, which was also first self-published and then sold at auction for $3.8 million dollars.

Here's a typical paragraph from Shadowmancer to give you an idea of the style, from page 124:

"Demurral began to lash out wildly with the candlestick, repeatedly hitting the wall, altar and Beadle. He screamed with rage as he thrashed each double-handed blow into its target before falling in a heap on the floor. For several moments he did not move as he sat staring blankly at the patterns made by the leaded windows."

In my opinion the plot is incomprehensible, the characters are wooden, the setting is tainted, the theology is unacceptable, and the dialogue is foul. If I were a Christian parent searching for an alternative to Harry Potter, I certainly wouldn't feel that I'd found it here. I'm with reviewer Dave Luckett [at http://www.daveluckett.com/reviews/rev-mancer.html#start ], who writes: "The description of the writer on the fly-leaf tells us that he 'has spent the whole of his life searching for the hidden secrets of the universe.' Perhaps some time spent in perfecting his craft would not go amiss."

What he said.