Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I So Wanted To Love Crimson Worlds

My politics are apparent to anyone with access to NSA intercepts. So, I read a comment about a series of Military Science Fiction novels by Jay Allan that led me to believe him to be a fellow-traveler. No, he's not a Whig, but he loves freedom like I do and he believes in TANSTAAFL, which is close enough to make traditional publishers dismiss his prose out of hand.

So, sight unseen, I bought a prequel (Tombstone) and Marines, The Cost of Victory, A Little Rebellion, The First Imperium, and The Line Must Hold. Are these bad novels? Not really. Are they badly written? Not really. Are the stories bad? Not really. Should I have purchased books so indiscriminately? Not really.

It's not that these books are full of typos and misspellings. Really, they're quite clean for self-published work. Mr. Allan should be happy with his copy editor(s) who have done a good job. And it's not as if Mr. Allan is a bad writer. I think he displays several rookie mistakes, but they're not as bad as some others I've complained about here.

I'm not happy with these novels because I wanted to love them, but they let me down. They let me down by peeving me.

Do you write with an Omniscient POV? You shouldn't. Do you tease the reader with what you know and what the reader does not? You shouldn't overdo it. Do you repeat things you already disclosed to the reader previously? You shouldn't overdo it. Do you write scenes wherein the antagonist and his cabal explain to the reader what insidious plans they have in mind for the protagonist? You shouldn't overdo it. Does Mr. Allan do all these things? Yup.

In short, I was repeatedly peeved with Mr. Allan's novels. But I kept on hoping my peevishness would go away by the end of the series. Ultimately, I ran out of patience.

Should you read Jay Allan's novels? Yes. Should you stop at A Little Rebellion? Yes. Should you stop at  First Imperium and read Perry Rhodan translations instead? Yes.

Specifically, what disappointed me with First Imperium was the physics of anti-matter. I'm pretty good at handwavium and I can tell when someone is faking it. In the case of Mr. Allan, I could tell that he was just taking big numbers and multiplying them by 10x or 1000x depending upon whether he's talking about g-loads or about megaton-yields.

And I'm disappointed with his vision of technological advancement. Consider if you will, the difference between the technology of today with the technology of a thousand years ago. The stuff we're doing today is completely incomprehensible to William the Conqueror. We have things like arrows, shields and cavalry, but they're not just quantitatively scaled-up versions, but qualitative improvements and categories of warfare inconceivable and unimaginable to him.

Further, consider the rate of technological change that has dramatically accelerated over the last few decades. The some stuff we're doing today is completely incomprehensible to William Tecumseh Sherman or William Westmorland.

Should humanity encounter advanced aliens who are above our level of technological development, the difference won't be that they have antimatter and we don't. They are far less likely to be deploying robotic infantry, but making our sun go nova or opening big-bang-style white-holes near our space fleets. At least that's what I have my advanced aliens intending to do.

I like the idea of a young human race encountering an old alien race in decline, but I am peeved by the way that Mr. Allan handles it.

For these reasons, I want to give these novels more than 4 stars, but am so peeved at them that I think this unduly generous.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Those more worthy than I: