Literary Disappointments (was: The LKH thing)

David Silberstein davids at kithrup.com
Mon Feb 17 16:49:35 PST 2003

On Tue, 18 Feb 2003, Jim Boutcher wrote:

>Okay, clearly a fan.

"How can you tell?" he asks ironically.

> Depth of philosophy would be a personal perception based on whether
>someone appeared to be repeating something they'd read in a book, or
>heard someone mention down the pub.

I am not aware of any of the philosophical points in the books as
being "pub-fare" *except* when they are being satirized.

>I've not read Jingo.

Then which ones *have* you read?  I am not trying to be snarky, but it
appears you are tarring his entire corpus of works based on your
opinion of his later relapses to "mere whimsy".

> As a satirist I believe he lacks a sharpness to his vision
>which works fine in fantasy, but the parallels are not sufficiently
>piercing to stand up next to, for example, Swift or Flann O'Brien. Or
>even Harry Harrison if you want a satirist on militarism

Perhaps.  I will have to read Harrison & O'Brien.  Which works of
theirs did you have in mind?  I've read some Harrison, but nothing
that seemed to be an explicit satire on militarism. 

>As for the content, again my opinion, I'd say that he could easily
>become a single idea author - one per book - milking to its logical
>or illogical conclusion. I'd rather see him take longer, mix more
>ideas in, run them through each other

And yet above you complained about lack of sharpness of vision.  Now
you seem to be decrying that his vision *is* sharp?

Satire that is over-complicated runs the risk of diluting or confusing
its own message.  I recently re-watched the movie of "Starship
Troopers", which is an example of a satire on militarism that fails

> and possibly reduce the humour. 

Perhaps you mean "whimsy" here.  Some of the overly-silly stuff might
indeed turn people off.

> As I have said, his use of language seems to be improving with the
>years, and I'd say a masterpiece would be well within his reach. 

I would be showing my bias if I were to say that he has one or two


Oh, I suppose.  De gustibus non est disputandum.