Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Saga of Seven Suns

Warning to impending readers of Horizon Storms: Here be Dragons. Avert thy eyes.

The Saga of Seven Suns
continues with Horizon Storms, an Aspect (TM) Paperback.

This post does not contain a synopsis. Please feel free to write your own.

Well, Horizon Storms was a mere continuance in Kevin J Anderson's style and plot development. Roamers are marginalized. Hansa is demonized. Peter is glorified. Theron is rasterized. Jess Tamblyn is transformed into a motif of Wental power. Klikiss robots continue to lug DD around everywhere. Robb Brindle is not dead! Beneto (in a move of dubious wisdom and tact) is resurrected. As a golem. Kevin, why? Why?

As always, Anderson continues in his distinctive writing style, which is rather irritating in the way that each sentence always ends of with an unnecessary expansion, or interjected by extraneous outgrowths. Transmuted to a tape recorder, Anderson can be said to ramble. The sheer superfluidity of his prose and the resulting awkwardness in his structuring cause a sort of empty feeling in the reader.

Maybe a small part of the issue can be explained by the fact that that's exactly what Anderson does. He goes off on treks in the mountains, alone, carrying a tape recorder, and rambles storylines into it while he walks.

The phenomenon becomes doubly bad when it comes to passages describing tragedy. The rambling profuseness of his dialogue and the painful lengths that the prose goes in stating tragic events again and again, without any attempt at masking it with poetic window-dressing, coupled with the insuficient graphicity of the said tragedies, turns the tragedy so-called into an unwitting farce that has no emotional impact on the reader. Anderson would have done well with clipped, brusque statements and broken, incomplete sentences, arranged in artfully exquisite fashion to compound agony for agony, graphic detail for graphic detail, instead of the superfluous and precariously arranged prose with not a dose of poetic drapery.

Anderson also likes separating sentences with commas, bringing out their meaning, thinking that this gives a surreal atmosphere, a veritable life, to his sentences, and ending them by trailing off...

Because of this writing style, characters like Celli, Nira, and many Therocs come across as naive and innocent. And the corresponding dialogue is embarrassingly stilted (because it, too, contains elements of extraneity).

"Embarrassed by their gratitide, her newly green skin flushed dark. Nira said, "I'm glad I could do one last thing to help my family before I embark on my great adventure." Or, "His shoulders slumped. "That is who we are, though sometimes it is a difficult thing.""

Those two were extracts from Hidden Empire, where the effects of this style were most pronounced. Thankfully, its less apparent in the following novels.

Anderson's plotting, world-creation and sheer ambition overcome this prediliction. Three books already and Anderson's saga spans epic proportions and has a sense of primal scale. The aliens, modelled after the Elements, are purveyors of an ancient conflict which has destroyed worlds. For a space opera, Anderson has been successful in portraying the historical depth of the Saga of Seven Suns world. This world is carefully crafted, and conceived as a very plausible future scenario with realistic enough economic and political undercurrents. Anderson has a proclivity for making Deus Ex Machinas that work. Faeros at Theroc, for example. And he is not afraid to let his characters die, even if some of them do come back afterward. Like they do in Horizon Storms, much to my chagrin. His plot is a complex tapestry of survival, betrayal, love, and danger, set in a brilliantly realized universe that seethes with new concepts.

If only he could improve that writing style of his, that has plagued all his works, he would truly shine.

"When accosting a wall, be sure to put on our reliable safety vest. The wall does not take lightly to being accosted by unprotected people, whether brick or metal, having the troubling penchant for collecting large amounts of bloodstains and angrily scrawled graffiti."
-Adapted from Joshua

No comments: