Monday, August 8, 2011

And now some things I didn't vote for

Last week I talked about what I voted on for NPR's top 100 SF/F novels of all time.  Voting is now closed, but the winners haven't been announced yet.

So I thought I'd talk about some specific things I didn't vote for.  Of course, books that I never read I wouldn't count.  This is stuff that I've read and strongly felt shouldn't be on such a list.

The Incarnations Of Immortality Series, by Piers Anthony: I was shocked to see this on the voting.  I mean, the first book of the series, On a Pale Horse, is solid and interesting.  But each subsequent book falls further and further apart, to the point that the "crucial choice" Luna will make that is hinted at in the first book turns out to be a vote in the US Senate declaring that God is Dead.  Because what the Senate votes on has actual, binding affects on the Almighty in this series. Add in the level of virginity-fetish Anthony has with most of his female characters and a bit where statutory rape is justified with time travel ("We've moved four years into the future, so legally you're nineteen now!") and the interesting things early out are pretty well sullied.

Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson: As often as I've complained about Stephenson's failure to end many of his books well, this one takes the cake as being the worst, at least for me. Mostly because it seemed to be moving towards accomplishing a certain goal, and then at the end the actual thing the characters were trying to achieve turned out to be completely different for no reason.  Plus there's the random attack from a well-forgotten character from early in the book.  One comparison I saw (I can't take credit for this) which I thought was apt: "It was as if Lord of the Rings ended with Frodo climbing up Mount Doom to be suddenly attacked by one of the Sacksville-Bagginses, and after Frodo kills him, he blows up Mount Doom. The End."

Time Enough For Love, by Robert Heinlein: After being nigh-immortal for a couple thousand years, Lazarus Long decides he really has done it all, and it's time to let himself lie down and die.  Until he realizes he hasn't done it all, since at least two things were missing: A. clone teenage female versions of himself, and have sex with them, and B. travel back in time to his youth so he can have sex with his mom.  I AM NOT MAKING THESE THINGS UP.


Michael Caton said...

Funny you should mention Piers Anthony. I was just thinking about him yesterday - for all the books he sold in the 80s, you don't hear very much about him today. There's something interesting about that - as soon as someone stops pumping out books, people forget about him. Of course it could be just the demographic we were in that made him seem so well-known to us - I wonder what kind of audience he ever had outside of thirteen year-olds.

Marshall Ryan Maresca said...

Clearly he had enough of an audience-- or enough of fond memories-- that both Incarnations and Xanth made the NPR nomination list.

I think he's still writing, but he's now using self-publishing or small press. Which he can probably do, because he's Piers Anthony. People who REALLY WANT to read Book Eight of Seven of Incarnations will seek it out. (And, yes, that's real.)

Abby Goldsmith said...

LOL! I 100% agree with you. I haven't read Cryptonomicon or Time Enough for Love, but I've read several books by both Stephenson and Heinlein ... so I get it.

dbonfitto said...

On a Pale Horse wasn't bad, but it was all downhill from there. Xanth is only good if you read it with a rimshot sound effect running in the background. The story is crap, but the puns are terrible (which is what you want from puns.)

I'm currently reading Time Enough For Love and it's some creepy shit. I'm less bothered by the Warren-Jeffs-In-Space aspects than the constant manic narcissism. It's never good when the author is completely in love with his protagonist.