Sunday, April 21, 2013


I just finished reading Mindjammer by Sarah Newton.
I only managed to read half this book as I found it just too annoying. This is only the second time I can remember bailing on a book, but it's quite long and I have lots of books lined up that I'd like to read.
First, the good things. I like some of the tech, hack descriptions, locations and scenery. Mostly the writing wasn't too bad, some cool descriptive word choice and language generally interesting with good flow.
Unfortunately, it was also littered with things that really annoy me. The things below can be found in many if not most books a little, but when they happen constantly and often, I find myself rolling my eyes and sighing and it breaks me out of any captivation.
Naming. Naming is important. OK, calling the activity of going through hyperspace "planing" is borderline, but then calling hyperspace ships "planeships"? Just no. Also, one of the main characters is called Max Proffitt. Guess what his character is like. Eye rolling time.
Use of an interesting, unusual descriptive term is really effective when used occasionally. When everything is coruscating or has coruscation, it's eye rolling time. I found 42 hits on the word variform. Apparently everything is variform in this universe. Which is fine, but after being used the fifteenth time in a descriptive way, it's more eye rolling time. If someone is incandescent with rage, which is a really cool description, each and every time they are upset...
There is a cool instant messenging tech through implants which the characters use to 'cast' eachother. Instead of using quotes, Newton uses a dash at the beginning of the line, like
- Max is right, cast Clay.
to indicate the communication. However, there is no way to tell in such lines, aside from context, whether the last part of the line is being said/cast by the character, or a is follow-up description. Most of the time it's obvious but sometimes I had to re-read it to check, and it started to get very annoying. I've seen other authors use italics, angle brackets, different fonts, to much better effect.
Is it just me, or should the editor be picking this stuff up?

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