Slightly OT: Nebula Awards

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at
Mon Mar 1 12:03:18 EST 2004

On Mon, 1 Mar 2004 14:00:46 +0000, Hallie O'Donovan wrote:

>>I liked _Crescent City Rhapsody_, which is the only other thing I've read by
>>Kathleen Goonan, so I'm looking forward to hers.  Never read anything by
>>Emshwiller or Hopkinson.  I'm not--I have to say this carefully--I have
>>liked a lot of what Elizabeth Moon writes, but I'm not enough of a fan to
>>rush out and buy every new book, so I'm not really eager for _Speed of
>Do you have any preference for her space opera or fantasy?  I like 
>the former much more than the latter, but have never exactly figured 
>out why.  If you shared the preference, you could save me the bother 
>of trying. :)  Of course if you've the opposite preference, I'm in 
>twice as much mental trouble...

Hmmm.  I loved _The Deed of Paksenarrion_, but most recently I really prefer
her space opera.

Here's what I think.  Elizabeth Moon is one of those writers who is a
fantastic storyteller, but only nominally good at the craft of writing.  Her
style is clear enough to understand, but not intrinsically beautiful, and
she has some quirks that would normally drive me nuts.  BUT with space
opera, the fast-paced story and engaging characters are more important than
anything else.  I keep reading because I want to know not just what happens
next, but what happens next *to the people.*  When she writes books that are
not driven by the fast plot, she has to rely a little more on style, and
that's where I lose interest--or get frustrated by her writing style.

I think pretty much the same about Lois McMaster Bujold, by the way.  Though
in her case the breakdown is not along SF/fantasy lines, but by individual
book.  If I don't get drawn in for whatever reason, the writing style gets
on my nerves.  I noticed this more with _The Curse of Chalion_, though it
sounds like I didn't have as serious a reaction as you did with _Paladin of
Souls_.  I liked the first book just fine, but didn't *love* it, and after a
while the writing started to become too obvious for comfort.  There was a
scene where I could have sworn it was Miles and Ivan arguing, for example.

I don't know if this is a universal reason for preferring Moon's space
opera, or just my own, but that's more or less what I've figured out.  I
came back to her books after many years when I read the first Heris Serrano
book, and didn't know why they seemed so much more interesting than what
she'd been writing up till that point.

Melissa Proffitt

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