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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Asimov  |  Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 7:56 am
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I just started re-reading the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, first the original trilogy, and then subsequent add-on books like Foundation's Edge and Forward the Foundation

what struck me most was (1) that although Asimov can spin a good yarn, his conversations come across as dreadfully stilted; and (2) the more spun out later books suffer from excess wordage and ponderous plot movement

and still, the yarn is good enough to continue reading and re-reading them

does anyone have similar feelings about Asimov's writings (or that of any other SF writer, for that matter ?
I seem to remember that Heinlein's later books are equally more bulky than his earlier works

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Pong
Post  Post subject: Re: Asimov  |  Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 9:55 am
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I think it true of writing in general that most of the work - if one's nature is to write anyway - most of the work is in deleting the unnecessary. A reader cannot know how larger the raw draft was.

And with success an author feels that maybe all those words are valued by readers. Heck it's easier to leave it bulky.


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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Asimov  |  Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 2:24 pm
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and I assume as a writer becomes well known and sells more books, editors feel less empowered to ask for less wordage

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Asimov  |  Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 4:51 pm
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You're not alone in the sentiment expressed in the OP. I also find the Foundation series a bit dense and verbose/heavy. At the same time, there's a sizable group of people who enjoy the series for exactly that reason; folks with a desire to explore every detail, all minutia, and dig DEEP into the weeds.

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Asimov  |  Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 6:31 pm
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still, the conversations come across as very stilted and unnatural
if I were to speak like that in normal life, people would look at me as if to say "what's wrong with you ?"

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Falconer360
Post  Post subject: Re: Asimov  |  Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 9:03 pm
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marnixR wrote:
still, the conversations come across as very stilted and unnatural
if I were to speak like that in normal life, people would look at me as if to say "what's wrong with you ?"

Another author that suffers from that problem is Clive Cussler. I've always found the conversations in his books to be very unnatural. Part of that is because he writes about grizzled characters that are ex military and speak as if they just got out of Sunday school.

Stephen King consistently gets character dialogue right and he has taken flack for it in the past. If a character is a racist, illiterate redneck, then that character will speak like they do in real life, and if the character is a rough and tumble ex police officer, he will speak like one, and etc. And I know King isn't a science fiction writer, although some of his works do tend towards that genre.

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Asimov  |  Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 11:40 pm
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marnixR wrote:
still, the conversations come across as very stilted and unnatural
if I were to speak like that in normal life, people would look at me as if to say "what's wrong with you ?"

Could it be because he wrote so often about robots, and robots as a general rule do not tend to worry about social perceptions, graces, or expectations? Could be a carry over from that, or even representative of how his mind works, like a subtle form of aspergers, even.

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Asimov  |  Posted: Sun Jul 24, 2016 6:48 am
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another up art of the problem is that he makes characters explain what normally happens in thought in actual conversations, and it feels contrived

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Judith
Post  Post subject: Re: Asimov  |  Posted: Thu Sep 29, 2016 7:01 pm
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marnixR wrote:
I just started re-reading the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, first the original trilogy, and then subsequent add-on books like Foundation's Edge and Forward the Foundation

what struck me most was (1) that although Asimov can spin a good yarn, his conversations come across as dreadfully stilted; and (2) the more spun out later books suffer from excess wordage and ponderous plot movement



I agree and I have to admit that as I was reading Foundation's Edge, I was really getting annoyed, plus I thought that Gaia stuff started out all right but got to sound really creepy and strange. Also, as with most writers, they have a point of view and stack the deck. Book was too long anyway. I do like Asimov FTL drives (Nemesis contains an interesting explanation of its superluminal drive) and how sometimes, doesn't describe how they work--smart SF author. :!:

Another interesting author, but his books are 700 hardcover size pages and are heavy and make good doorstops, is Peter Hamilton. I enjoyed (and recommend) Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained, but way tooooo long.

Judith


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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Asimov  |  Posted: Thu Sep 29, 2016 8:02 pm
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not familiar with Peter Hamilton - what period is he from, plus what type of SF does he write ?
on the other hand a 700-page book is only a burden if the length is due to excess wordage - if the story manages to stay tight and interesting then I don't the length

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Dywyddyr
Post  Post subject: Re: Asimov  |  Posted: Thu Sep 29, 2016 8:25 pm
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Hamilton started with some "psychic detective" stories (actually an ex-military type who'd undergone the army's programme to find reliable precogs/ mindreaders etc).
I enjoyed those greatly - in part because they're set in a part of England where I used to live (Stamford/ Oakham/Peterborough/ Empingham Water), but he made his name with the Night's Dawn trilogy.
Ian Banks type super tech meets spirits coming back from the dead and taking over bodies to make a galactic threat.
His later books are as weighty as each volume (~1000 pages each) of that trilogy (the Greg Mandel "detective" ones were "normal" paperback sized) and are equally "super tech"[1] but not the same background universe.
Really goes into the background of his worlds/ characters and builds the story through multiple sub-plots.

1 One of my favourite parts was one character's ship departing from a planet: doing 1,000 times the speed of light until he was clear of surveillance system and then he accelerated.


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Judith
Post  Post subject: Re: Asimov  |  Posted: Fri Sep 30, 2016 5:16 pm
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Dywyddyr wrote:
1 One of my favourite parts was one character's ship departing from a planet: doing 1,000 times the speed of light until he was clear of surveillance system and then he accelerated.


WOW! Now that's FTL! I assume the pilot survived the acceleration?


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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Asimov  |  Posted: Fri Sep 30, 2016 6:08 pm
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Judith wrote:
Dywyddyr wrote:
1 One of my favourite parts was one character's ship departing from a planet: doing 1,000 times the speed of light until he was clear of surveillance system and then he accelerated.


WOW! Now that's FTL! I assume the pilot survived the acceleration?


usually in SF you then rely on some sort of inertial drive (whatever that may be) where the pilot does not feel any sign of acceleration, however much or fast your speed increases or decreases

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Falconer360
Post  Post subject: Re: Asimov  |  Posted: Fri Sep 30, 2016 7:08 pm
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Ah the good old inertial dampener. That's right up there with the flux capacitor.

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