Literary Disappointments (was: The LKH thing)

Mon Feb 17 17:12:12 PST 2003

 --- David Silberstein <davids at kithrup.com> wrote: > 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.

So, any actual philosophy is being satirised. Are you sure?

> >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".

You may not be trying to be snarky, but that sure as anything is what
this is sounding like. I read, as should have been clear, all of his
earlier works up to Lords and Ladies. I tried again with Feet of Clay.
Picking one book and then 'snarking' someone who has already suggested
that they had given up with the author for the present hardly seems

> > 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. 

Bill the Galactic Hero in particular. The loss of form of his Stainless
Steel Rat books is one of the more lamentable happenings in the SF
genre. As for Flann O'Brien, the Poor Mouth is savage and funny. For TV
satire, it might be worth seeking out the British series 'Brass Eye' or
the Australian 'The Games' - one is mean-spirited and the other pretty
light, but both are fine examples.

> >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?

Ummm, no? I'd argue that his ambition / vision is small rather than

> 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
> miserably.

Whereas I see it as a very effective satire.

> > and possibly reduce the humour. 
> Perhaps you mean "whimsy" here.  Some of the overly-silly stuff might
> indeed turn people off.

Arguably yes. Whimsy was more Piers Anthony's game I thought, and I
never developed a taste for him.

> > 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
> already.


> >Fair?
> Oh, I suppose.  De gustibus non est disputandum.
Big of you. 


"Sophistry is the most heinous crime known to man"

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