Tuesday, August 30, 2022

How High We Go in the Dark Sequoia Nagamatsu: Book Review

This was recommended to as literary sci-fi which also involves grief over a grown daughter's death. Indeed, the writing is pretty good. But the first POV seemed quite distant, and not too believable to me in how disconnected from his daughter's death the father seems, as well as angry at her for behaving exactly as he (apparently) had. Maybe that is realistic but it isn't fun to read.

But the second POV, about an amusement park where parents put their terminally-ill children on a rollercoaster to die, was too hard for me to believa. I can imagine wanting to save your child from suffering, but not being with them at the time is unthinkable. And roller coasters are scary: I don't thinksmall children would enjoy them that much, especially when they know they are really going to die.


Tuesday, August 23, 2022

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan: Book Review


The writing was good, and the author does a great job keeping you  hooked in the story, making it difficult to put down. I liked how the futuristic/dystopian nature leaked in; a refreshing change from the modern (stated) requirement that every story reveal it's genre in the first paragraph.  The choice to omit presenting key scenes was similarly against conventional wisdom; I didn't find it worked well..

However, by the 20% mark, things were so bad for the protagonist, and clearly going to get so much worse, that I just couldn't put myself through it.  The worst for me was how the protagonist just ingests all the negativity about herself, and this definitely gets worse and worse. She has a strong character voice, but it was too depressing for me. I skipped to 95% and it was pretty much exactly where I expected. There is, however, a twist at the end which was interestingly late for novel conventions and also suprisingly hopeful.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Artemis by Andy Weir: Book Review

I'd heard that this book's biggest failing was the author's attempt to write from a female perspective and yeah, that was pretty distracting. It's unbelievable to me that the author, and his editors, are not aware that women don't walk around thinking about how great their bodies are. (Note: even if a woman seems to have a great body, she probably just notices her flaws.) Add on to this to concept of 'sex for service' to repay the kindness of a friend; it is not what I want my daughters to learn about the world!

My next hurdle was the paragraphs of scientific explanation. There are clear places where the author's voice comes through heavy to explain something that really isn't necessary. Since I'm writing a book based on the moon, in a similar time frame, I was very interested in what science issues I've missed, and the science itself, so it didn't bother me. On the occasions he manages to get the science into the story (like when she is welding for the first time out on the surface of the moon and discovers the need to add oxygen to the flint and steel sparks system) then it is really cool. I'm sure many of his fans are reading *for* the scientific details, so it works in the genre. 

And, I finished the thing, which puts it in the top 10% of books I've read lately...

Monday, August 15, 2022

Presenting at RMFW conference in September: The Heroine's Journey


Last year, at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer's Conference in Denver, I took a master class from author Gail Carriger on the Heroine's Journey. Like many writers, I was familiar with the Hero's Journey as a skeleton to build my stories around--very many tools for plotting essentially use this as a base. And it isn't necessarily formulatic: Joseph Campbell developed the theory, and beats of the Journey, by analysizing existing myths. It basically is a distillation of a common story pattern that is found in many myths in the Greco-Roman/Egyption tradition. (Probably Norse, too.. care to chime in, Chuck?)

The Heroine's Journey is comparable, and apparently well-known in anthrolpological/classical circles (Gail Carriger's background).  I'd never heard of it before, and indeed its lack of appearance in writing advice is what motivated her to write a book (and give the class). So much clicked into place for me: how it just didn't seem to be working to get one of my protagonists to 'go it alone' at the climax of my current novel, and even realizing that the other protagonist is trying to be a Hero in a society that values the strengths of a Heroine, which is why she ultimately fails.

Yes, she. Because it turns out that characters on a Hero's Journey don't have to be male, and those on a  Heroine's don't have to be female. Gail analyzes the latest Wonder Woman movie to show that she is on a Hero's Journey, and it turns out that Harry Potter's path is that of a Heroine.

So what makes a Heroine's Journey different from a Hero's? Well, you'll just have to come to the conference to find out... prices go up Friday, Aug 19!   If you can't, you could order the book. Even better, do both!  (She gave me permission to present the material, since my agenda is to share the message and help other writers see a whole new dimension to explore).