I Couldn’t Finish “Triplanetary” by E. E. “Doc” Smith

This is mostly an update for anyone who cares about my progress on these books. I update my Goodreads regularly, so check me out there if you have one!

Honestly, the book Triplanetary was far too outdated for me. It was mainly a problem in how the book communicates, I think, but I’ve read Victorian-era books without a problem, so I don’t know.

My complaints from the van Vogt books I’d read were similar, but overall I enjoyed them much more. In this one I had trouble keeping track of anything from characters to events. I don’t know why that was, but it was too hard to understand anything.

So, I’m giving up. I got 150 pages in, and I can’t remember what’s going on.


 

You might like my A. E. van Vogt book reviews:

Book Review: The Voyage of the Space Beagle by A. E. van Vogt

Book Review: Slan by A. E. van Vogt

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Book Review: Willful Child by Steven Erikson

20518786Steven Erikson is well known for his series “Malazan Book of the Fallen”, a dark fantasy series. When I heard he had written a Star Trek parody called Willful Child, I was intrigued.

There are a few points that I should tackle up front. First, I understand there have been comparisons made between Willful Child and Redshirts by John Scalzi. To be fair, I’ve never read Mr. Scalzi’s Redshirts, so I can’t speak to any comparisons. Second, the book is considered by many to be lacking in the quality department. I don’t believe this is accurate, as I’ll explain later, but there is an element of humor related to the original series of Star Trek that many people may not catch.

With that out of the way, let me say this: I loved this book. I wouldn’t say it’s a masterpiece, as people have said about Malazan, but I would say it was entertaining and drove me to read it within a short time period.

Erikson hit a perfect stride with the character of Captain Hadrian Sawback. The character is an extreme parody of Captain Kirk. He’s brash, intelligent, extremely chauvinist, and sexually driven. He hits on basically every female character and breaks protocol to travel on away missions (despite being the captain).

Honestly, some of the jokes don’t hit. He makes many jokes and absurd situations, many of which made me smile or outright laugh. There’s many that don’t work, though, and it’s a shame.

To be fair, the book is entertaining and fun and exciting. It’s somewhat episodic (it’s a parody of Star Trek: The Original Series, remember?) but it’s a good read.

I’d recommend it if you like absurd science fiction.


If you like this review, you may like these others:

Book Review: The Voyage of the Space Beagle by A. E. van Vogt

Book Review: Space Cadet by Robert Heinlein

Book Review: Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon

Life Update – 2017/10/28

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I have a lot to say today. First off, thank you so much for all the followers! I am approaching a hundred on WordPress alone, which is amazing. What’s more is I am above a hundred on my Twitter account, which is also such a great thing to see, so thank you for that as well!

I suppose I should update you, my dear reader, on my life events:

Dragon Con

My first convention didn’t happen this year. I’ve never been to one, but was hoping to go to Dragon Con in Atlanta. It’s not too far from me, so it would be a good one to visit. There’s a great scifi/fantasy scene, and I was hoping to get to know some people there.

However, it looks like I’m clear to go to it in 2018. I hope to see you there!

 

My First (Real) Novel

As for my first non-NaNoWriMo novel, I hope I’ll be done by the end of the year. I had three short stories over the last two months that distracted me, but I think that should be fixed soon.

I’ve only even written one novel before this one, and it had far less in the way of crafting an entire universe. It was also half as long as this, as NaNoWriMo requires 50k words, and this one is looking to be around 100k.

To be honest, I have sat down to write novels in the past, but never completed them. When I completed my first one in NaNoWriMo, I realized it was possible, and saw in my future the reality of a finished work. I can write a novel, and so can you.

 

Poetry Still

I still love poetry, even if I think the medium is a shadow of what it once was. The self-reflective aesthetic of the 19th century was lost to a modern interest in conceptual messaging. I much prefer poetry with both form and beauty, and I think I will begin to share with you, my dear reader, my poems.

If you’re interested in poetry, leave me a comment so I know. I’ll share some in the future if this is the case.

 

Submissions, Submissions, and More Submissions

I have two completed short stories that are nearing submission quality. One is much closer than the other, so I want to get that one out tomorrow to various publications. The second one needs a solid 5% reduction in word count.

There’s a last short story that’s not at all finished. Oh, it’s a complete story, it’s just terribly dull. I’ll need to either gut it or restructure it to be a stronger contender for an interesting story.

 

My Future

I mentioned in my last blog post about my concerns over taking my hobby of writing and turning it into a career.

The thought weighs on me like a heavy backpack. I wonder about whether trying to do such a thing is beyond me, but then I remember that I shouldn’t be lacking the business acumen (I studied the subject, after all), the marketing knowledge (I have a background in such), and the writing skills (I still polish these ad infinitum).

Perhaps I can make this a career. Perhaps not. However, if I don’t try, it won’t happen either way.


 

Thank you for reading.

That’s what’s happening in my life, dear reader. If you liked this, please read some of my other posts below, and make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram. My Instagram is devoted mostly to the books I buy, and my Twitter has random RTs of interest to me (generally science and the arts).

Check out some of my book reviews:

Book Review: The Voyage of the Space Beagle by A. E. van Vogt

Book Review: Space Cadet by Robert Heinlein

Book Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

You may like more of my work on writing:

Where the First Draft Ends and Second Draft Begins

How to Tell if Your Writing is Improving

Going from Outline to Manuscript

Turning a Hobby into a Career

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I’ve wrestled with my decisions, wondering whether I should have a full time career for income and security. Right now, it’s a no-brainer. I need a job in order to pay the bills. But what about writing?

Is it just a hobby?

Well, it is. I love doing it. I love weaving ideas into characters and plot points, building worlds from my mind, and structuring out a story that I would find interesting. I love everything about writing, even the garbage parts like editing spelling mistakes.

But does it have to stay a hobby?

I suppose it’s a pipedream to actually make a living doing it, but I can certainly try. I love reading science fiction, so why shouldn’t I try to turn what I love into what I love doing?

Do you have any thoughts? Is it a waste of time?

Busy All Around

I apologize for the lack of updates. My life has been busy with family and friends occupying my free time. Aside from that, writing and reading take most of my extra time, with movies, games, and TV filling what’s left over.

To be honest, I have a lot in the works:

  • I have a short story that I’m polishing up. It should be ready for the submission circuit within a week.
  • I am just over the half-way mark on my main science fiction novel, which is progressing at a decent pace.
  • I have an additional short story that I’m in the early stages with. It’s written but it needs that second draft rewrite that really brings out what’s best in a story.
  • I have a new science fiction novel that I’m outlining and starting to draft for a future project, but I’m going to do minor progress on it until I’m done with my current project.

Keep in mind, this is progress despite working full time, having a family, and trying to maintain sanity while reading and entertaining myself aside from writing. It’s a balancing act. It always is.

Book Review: The Hermetic Millennia by John C. Wright

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(This is Book 2 of the Eschaton Sequence, and the sequel to Count to a Trillion, which I reviewed in the past.)

The Eschaton Sequence, these five books published by Tor and written by John C. Wright, are interesting and imaginative. There’s a lot to sort through, and a vast amount of world-building not easily summed up in one blog post about a single volume in the series.

But I’ll do my best.

This book is fantastic for those who don’t mind large swaths of information dumped on you within the first three chapters. Ultimately, I enjoyed it towards the end, finding some of the best writing towards the latter half of the book. Some of the personal accounts, as they were relayed from specific characters’ points of view, struck me as either a A Canterbury’s Tale or Hyperion type of influence (Hyperion was itself influenced by A Canterbury’s Tale). The editing is awful, however, as obvious spelling errors seemed to fly by the editor’s watch; I expected more from Tor for this volume (of which I paid for the hardcover full price to treasure on my shelf).

The Hermetic Millennia is a direct sequel to Count to a Trillion, so if you hadn’t read that one yet, I recommend stopping here. Spoilers ahead! You have been warned. You can skip ahead to where it says “Spoilers Over”.

This book jumped quickly from the mid-third millennia of the first book (2050ish AD?) to the year 10,000 AD (with a couple slight stops on the way). Menelaus is trying to maintain control of human history and evolution while being thwarted by the Hermeticists every step along the way. Multiple evolutionary off-shoots of humanity spring up over time, and the reasons for their specific focuses are explored early on and later in the book. It’s an interesting element.

As far as the characters go, Menelaus himself is as fascinating as he was before, but the Blue Men, the main antagonists in the book, are lifeless and boring. The younger of their group, and a female that’s introduced later, are interesting, but by the time they got development it was too late. Likewise, the Chimerae, the militaristic group of caste-based genetically-created humans, have interesting elements to them, but not enough time to develop and I honestly forgot about the characters, since they faded away in the story over time.

The build up in the book is towards the mystery of the Blue Men as they dig into a tomb of Menelaus’ design, while searching for the person they refer to as “the Judge of Ages”. This is the mythological term for Menelaus himself. All of this builds to the ending of the book, and…

…nothing happens. The planning for an attack, a revolution, goes nowhere. The book just ends. I get that it’s essentially part two of a five part series, but a complete story would have been nice.

Spoilers Over

Despite this, Wright’s writing is on point. He’s a fantastic writer with a great handle on metaphor and imagery. I love the use of dialogue to tell the story, especially in interviews of specific characters.

I would recommend this if you liked the first book.


 

See if you like my other posts!

Book Review: The Voyage of the Space Beagle by A. E. van Vogt

Book Review: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

 

Book Review: The Voyage of the Space Beagle by A. E. van Vogt

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Older science fiction can be a little tricky. Sometimes you find yourself bored while reading the yellowed pages of an old hard sci-fi novel, or become enamored by the simple pleasures of pulp covers and ray gun wielding heroes.

In the case of The Voyage of the Space Beagle, I found myself fascinated.

Here is a set of basically found stories crammed together in a singular setting: the Space Beagle, a human vessel using futuristic technology (from the 1930’s) to travel through space and explore galaxies.

The book itself is interesting and fun. I’ve found that van Vogt’s writing style is a huge plus to his ability to address philosophical and psychological concepts in science and apply them to specific characters. In this book, the main character is a scientist named Dr. Elliott Grosvenor, a Nexialist.

Nexialism was coined in this book, and it is defined as the science that mixed all other disciplines together to the benefit of the whole. Interestingly, it was almost prescient in its understanding of cross-disciplinary studies, but modern science is still fractured by fields of study.

There are certainly interesting ideas in the book, but ultimately it’s a simple exploration story with several aliens and confrontations. The final story I found the most interesting, with an enemy that has to be read to be believed, and Grosvenor coming into his own finally.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes hard science fiction or older science fiction. It’s definitely a good read!

Where the First Draft Ends and Second Draft Begins

BookEditingThere is no scientific consensus on when to stop revising a first draft and how to move into a second. Stephen King mentions it in his “On Writing” (and I find I’m the same), that he’s the kind of writer who always wants to add things into his stories.

That’s probably a good place to stop your first draft and go into your second.

Here are the ideas I had for moving from a first draft to a second:

1. You’re done adding elements to your story.

The first draft is where you add things, where you add your foreshadowing, your themes between chapters, your exposition, etc. Hit your points and once you’re done, that’s it. There’s a time to stop and a time to move on. In this case, hit what you need to and move on.

2. Read it for consistency.

The truth is, a first draft is never good enough. Oh, if you’re Hemingway or something you can try to get away with it, but chances are you need to make revisions.

And every writer needs to read what he or she has written.

3. Make sure it flows.

I would make this your last chance to add anything. A good bit of advice I got early on was to add or move elements so that the story hits something important every three chapters.

4. Begin removing the unnecessary.

Clunky dialogue, exposition that feels forced, and any number of added elements can be removed to make it flow. There’s some great books on how to do this, but just know it’s important to stop adding things and start taking them away.

A good rule of thumb is to remove about 10% of the word count. For long science fiction stories (my forte) you can go from 120,000 words to 108,000-ish.

Also remember, with this, to show don’t tell. That means a ton of what you have in narrative form shouldn’t be telling your reader what to think, but leading them to think it.


 

You may like some of my other posts about writing:

Going from Outline to Manuscript

Revising Your First Draft Novel

Also check out my book reviews:

Book Review: Space Cadet by Robert Heinlein

Book Review: Slan by A. E. van Vogt

Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Also make sure to follow my on Twitter and Instagram!

Book Review: Space Cadet by Robert Heinlein

Sc48The story of a military recruit entering into a space program seems commonplace in science fiction these days. There have been any number of attempts, from Marko Kloos’ Terms of Enlistment to Ender’s Game, but the original “Space Cadet” novel was by Robert Heinlein in 1948.

This book was one of Heinlein’s “Juveniles“. These were books meant to appeal to a teenage boy audience and inspire scientific ideas. Interestingly, he also wrote three stories for girls with a female protagonist, but that’s for another day.

The main character is Matt Dodson, but he often takes a secondary role. In the beginning, we learn about the Patrol and their efforts in our solar system. We learn about aliens and colonists and the state of governments in the future. It’s explained early on that the Patrol exists to make sure war never breaks out again.

However, things are a little more confusing than that. 

Space Cadet is one of those books that grabs you half-way through and forces you to keep reading. I was hooked at that point and refused to put it down. The part on Venus is a little odd, and almost jarring. It was interesting to see the characters interact in a situation like that, but the main character stopped feeling like the main character at that point. Also, the ending felt a little underwhelming.

Ultimately, I would recommend this for anyone who’s interested in some of Heinlein’s earlier work; it was the second of his “Juveniles”, which culminated in Starship Troopers as his thirteenth attempted entry.

Revising Your First Draft Novel

typewriter_keys_letters_numbers_type_old_vintage_antique-1167460Writing a novel is an exhausting, time-consuming process. But finishing the first draft gives you an excellent feeling! Dorothy Parker said, “I hate writing. I love having written.”

I already did one post about when to completely rewrite your novel, but what do you do if you finish it and want to revise it?

Here’s 5 tips for revising:

  • 1. Read It

Captain Obvious, to the rescue! It’s useful to also keep a pad nearby and jot down any themes or images you want to reference later in the story. It’s a nice idea to have some idea of symbolism or foreshadowing as you go through.

  • 2. Correct Grammar/Spelling

Really, basic correction from the first edit. These sorts of things should be fixed right away to avoid wasting time in the future.

  • 3. Add a Blank Page Between Chapters

I owe this idea to James Duncan from Writer’s Digest. An excellent idea that really helped me! I highly recommend it, as it’ll help you go through your manuscript easily.

  • 4. Write Down any Plot Elements You Need to Address

Sometimes you have things you want to address that are missing. This is easily fixed! Figure out where you wanted to go, and jot it down as well.

  • 5. Create a Checklist for Updates

Now that you have both the symbolism and plot elements you need to address, get down and dirty and create a check list for this. It’s useful, because it helps you figure out what’s missing in the story.

From there, you have rewriting and creating your second draft.

Have a good time writing!


Check out my other posts:

Finding Your Writing Style

How to Tell if Your Writing is Improving

Going from Outline to Manuscript

And maybe you’d like to read one of my book reviews:

Book Review: 1632 by Eric Flint

Book Review: Slan by A. E. van Vogt

Book Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram!