Literary Disappointments (was: The LKH thing)

Gomi no Sensei gomi at speakeasy.net
Mon Feb 17 17:41:17 PST 2003

On Mon, 17 Feb 2003 15:54:57 -0800 (PST), Dennis Higbee 
<den at epia.monger.net> wrote:

> On Mon, 17 Feb 2003, Gomi no Sensei wrote:
>> On Mon, 17 Feb 2003 13:05:49 -0800, Richard Malena 
>> <rmalena at softhome.net> wrote:
> [Terry Goodkind and bad books]
>> OTOH, Tad Williams could have been a decent author at some point. 
>> Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is a solid duology spread out over three 
>> books. Given that after its success he's probably less subject to 
>> editing than before, I have little interest in plowing through the 
>> verbal underbrush for 'Otherland'.
>> In fact, a lot of the junky fantasy on the shelves today can be laid at 
>> editorial feet, or the absence thereof.

> I think that's brutally unfair to editors.  They're not miracle workers, 
> you know and turning a 900-page doorstop into a tightly plotted story a 
> third that size in the time frame that most editors have isn't bloody 
> likely.

Would you consider it unfair to say that most fantasy today reads as if it 
has been lightly edited, to the detriment of the quality of the 

I don't think it's unfair to say that most authors don't turn out their 
best work on the first draft, and that a good editor plays a large part in 
polishing material to a high standard. Or that a lot of near-miss fiction 
could have been good with a few more revisions -- Tad Williams' 'Memory, 
Sorrow, and Thorn' has a number of excellent moments. And a great deal of 
sloppy plotting and sheer gratuitious bulk that needed to stay home, and 
nobody told Tad 'hey, you could cut a few of these subplots and improve the 
flow of the story'.

> Not to mention the fact that people LIKE doorstop fantasy.  Just because 
> your taste doesn't match the market doesn't mean that editors aren't 
> doing their jobs.

That's perilously close to saying value judgements on good vs. bad 
literature are impossible, nu?

paul e.