Valentines’ Day

The title isn’t a typo.

I’m not especially big on Valentine’s Day. I’m single, so all that stuff that gets rammed down my throat this time of year appears to be just some form of suggestion that I’m abnormal. I probably am, but not because I’m single.

However, today is February 14th so… Well, those of you who have read Hunter’s Kiss will get the reference. Here’s a render of Pat from that book in a ludicrous outfit with hearts on it.

pat-pinup3

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4 responses to “Valentines’ Day

  1. So I’ve read Hunter’s Kiss about a week ago and I’ve been trying to formulate what I wanted to say about it. This isn’t meant to be a review of the book so much as a review of my reaction to it; which is one of the reasons I’m posting this here instead of on an actual review site.

    To start off, it’s going to be critical, because that’s what inspires these sorts of things. Again though this is just my personal feelings, I’m not trying to speak for a larger audience, or from some sort of position of authority.

    That being said I wanted to note that I think your dialogue and characterization has gotten much better in your newer books. The characters speak more naturally and fluidly and generally act in ways that don’t completely confuse you.

    However, no real pun intended, I feel like a lot of the magic has gone out of your recent books. They leave me feeling overall unexcited about what’s going to happen next and I think that’s basically the core problem. If I can illustrate with some brief examples: we go back to the Thaumatology books and mostly what comes to mind is change and lots of it. Ceri starts the book as shy, awkward, magicless, inexperienced and so on. Then she meets new and interesting people (then fucks them), learns magic, hosts conferences, travels to other worlds, learns about plots and conspiracies and politics and so on. I feel like Ceri is basically a different character at the end of every book because something she’s learned or experienced has changed her.

    Aneka has many of the same virtues. She starts off considerably more experienced and self-confident, aside from being older and more mature, she’s literally been there and done that. But she’s introduced to a completely new world with a whole new set of challenges she’s not familiar with. She’s confident in her ability with a rifle but less so with spaceship so there’s areas of uncertainty she has to overcome, not to mention the whole complication of being a robot, whatever that actually means. The future world she ends up is also completely new to her, so since she’s the point of view character, we get to learn all the differences in the new world along with her. We’re explicitly shown all the differences between our world and theirs because it’s all new to her and she needs to learn it.

    Contrast that with Fox (feel free to substitute for mike instead); when we meet her she’s already a trained soldier, an experienced and respected detective and enmeshed in the politics of the environment. She literally grew up in the future world so basically none of is new to her. Instead of a feeling of awe and wonder from advanced technology it’s just drab and business as usual. So she’s an experienced and skilled soldier/detective/agent/whatever and things challenge those skills to some degree but nothing causes her to change as a result of the challenge. She just applies her existing skills and overcomes the problem. Even her “romance” isn’t a challenge or a change she just decides at some point she wants whatshername and then within 5 pages she has her. No real chase, no compatibility issues, no love triangles, etc. it just happens.

    Now obviously all these things aren’t required to be a good book but I think at least *one* is required. The type of books of books that actually manage to avoid most of the above types of drama are detective novels but I think the key thing there is the focus on the central mystery above all. These ‘pure’ detective stories tend to be shorter than traditional novels for what I assume is the necessity to focus the story on the mystery. I think the main trick in those types of stories is that the reader must at least feel like he/she has all of the required facts to solve the mystery. e.g. the room was locked from the inside, there’s only one key, there’s no secret passages, someone else in the house stands to gain from the person’s death, where was that person when the murder occurred and so on.

    In the Fox books it’s like, there’s a guy killing people and he could be anywhere in a city of XX million oh wait maybe it’s a computer but there’s millions of computers so who knows and there’s no real evidence or motive except whatever random stuff the computer forensics pull up. So we’re introduced to the mystery, then we sort of wander around on some side plots that don’t change much, then basically the key piece of evidence is more or less randomly introduced and we go and shoot the bad guy. There’s no real dramatic tension to the mystery because we as the reader are never introduced to the victim and none of the characters seem to care a great deal, the solution to the mystery isn’t really a result of a supreme effort of logic combining all of the clues so far into one perfect solution and when we find the bad guy they aren’t terribly threatening. As a result Fox never feels particularly challenged and never has to change in response. You could argue that this is all perfectly realistic, and it is, just not very fun to read.

    I loved the Ceri books because every time I opened a new one I was excited to see how the events of the last book would affect her and what new and interesting things/people/places she’d see.

    Anyway, sorry for being so ridiculously long-winded, I’ve been kind of saving it up for a while and it kinda got away from me.

    • Wow… uh… Assessment noted.
      One thing, however, the Fox books aren’t mysteries, they’re “police procedurals.” I don’t have the mindset for writing proper mysteries. But I’m still working on the genre and I hope to get better at writing it.

      • Yeah, it’s a bit much to actually reply to, and honestly, trying to offer specific advice seemed a bit presumptuous. I’m certainly not a writer and you are.

        I do love taking about books though.

        I wasn’t trying to say I thought the Fox books were mysteries, I was just trying to discuss how the different types of books change what you focus on while reading.

        I think when you get right down to it most of the current novels that we describe as urban fantasy are basically police procedurals, they start with a mystery, the main character gets involved, the plot progress while solving it and then the book is over when the mystery is solved. However basically all of these books have gigantic romantic subthemes to them, presumably because that’s the easiest way to insert a second plot without detracting from the first one.

        If I can be so bold, I’ve noticed that most procedurals focus on either Motive or Means for solving the mystery. Show like NCIS, CSI, Bones and friends focus on the means. “It turns out the guy was killed by africanized honey bees accidentally imported by chinese smugglers!”. Shows closer to JAG or the Law and Order franchise seem to find the bad guy pretty quickly but then spend the rest of the episode figuring out why or why not the guy would be interested in murder. That fox book (which I suppose annoyed me more than I realized) with the virus-ai-thing jumping from person to person was like, how did they kill? By sneaking up behind them. Why did they do it? Because they’re (basically) insane. It’s hard to spend too much time pondering that sort of thing.

        Anyway. Procedurals rely on a continuing cast of characters doing character things and I do like the cast of the Fox books, despite not actually being excited, but then you go and write a completely new series with a whole new cast. Makes it hard to stay attached you know?

  2. Even looking at the super successful police procedurals (in america) like NCIS, I like show, I enjoy watching it, but I hardly care about it. If a new episode comes out or I miss an episode or whatever I barely notice. It’s just a not-awful way to spend 45 minutes. And this makes me sad to compare your books to that when I think of how excited I was about the earlier series =[

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