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Posts about books (old posts, page 26)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Extraordinary Voyages, #6)


The prose is not easy to read, be­cause of the book's age, but it's what it is, and it's a clas­sic tale.

Should a kid read it? No. He should prob­a­bly try a mod­ern­ized or abridged ver­sion if there's any good ones. But some old­er kids may en­joy the im­mer­sion in an­oth­er era that comes from it.

Al­so, it's writ­ten pret­ty much like a blog, if you want to be all hip about it ;-)



Some may com­plain about the sci­ence in the book and they would be right. I will com­plain about some­thing else: the plot and the writ­ing.

Not on­ly is the plot fu­eled by co­in­ci­dence in a scale that would make any­one no­tice (ex­am­ples? the jour­nal­ist is the son of the bad guy bil­lion­aire *and* the old flame of the ar­chi­tec­t/­ex­per­i­men­tal sub­ject who is the sis­ter of the bad guys's CFO kind of co­in­ci­dences).

There is al­so the ran­dom de­tailed de­scrip­tion of things that don't mat­ter in the least, but al­so make no sense. Here's the de­crip­tion of Alan the door­man:

"When Ally and Knickers walked into her lobby, Alan, the morning doorman, was there, just arrived, tuning
his blond acoustic guitar.
Watching over her condominium building was his day job, but writing a musical for Off Broadway (about
Billy the Kid) was his dream. He was a tall, gaunt guy with a mane of red hair he kept tied back in a ponytail
while he was in uniform and on duty. Everybody in the building was rooting for him to get his show mounted,
and he routinely declared that he and his partner were this close to getting backers. "We're gonna have the
next Rent, so you'd better invest now" was how he put it. Alan had the good cheer of a perpetual optimist and
he needed it, given the odds he was up against."

Then he pats the dog and exchanges two phrases with the protagonist.

I marvel at the idea of a doorman that's allowed to play guitar on the lobby on working hours. With this introduction you may wonder what role Alan plays in the plot. Well, let me quote the only other mention of Alan in the whole book. It comes very near the end.

"The condominium no longer had a doorman. In hopes of trimming costs, the condo board had sent out a secret
ballot on the subject. By a narrow margin the owners had voted to dispense with that particular frill. Although
she missed Alan and his early morning optimism about his Off-Broadway hopes, she realized the economy
was probably timely. "

I rest my case. The plot is just lazy, the science is contrived, and the writing lame. Not a good book.



Imag­ine a book writ­ten com­plete­ly from the point of view of a mis­an­thrope. Now imag­ine said mis­an­thrope is prone to sopho­moric men­tal ram­blings. Add some en­dear­ing fea­tures such as be­liev­ing he is smarter than any­one else. Add a lot of oth­er var­ied mis­an­thropes as char­ac­ter­s. Now make them com­plete­ly uni­di­men­sion­al, so you can de­fine each of them in one line ("On­ni is nice and makes mu­sic"). Put those char­ac­ters in a brief, not very in­ter­est­ing jour­ney where not much hap­pens ex­cept that they are all de­struc­tive mo­ron­s.

Now, take those in­gre­di­ents and use them to write a book. That book is Ve­rac­i­ty by Mark La­vo­ra­to.

The Space Pioneers


It's pulp. It's very old. It's aimed at kid­s. It's part of the "Tom Cor­bet­t: Space Cade­t!" se­ries. So, it is kin­da fun, if you can look the oth­er way when­ev­er it gets re­al­ly sex­ist, or sil­ly, but I can't quite rec­om­mend it to any­one.

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