Moon, Bujold and McKillip (Was: Re: Slightly OT: Nebula Awards)

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at
Thu Mar 4 04:52:04 EST 2004


>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.

I wish I could think of some of the quirks - all I noticed in 
_Surrender None_ was what struck *me* as an unnecessary number of 
times people lost their breakfast/lunch/dinner/what little was in the 
stomach over atrocities.  But then I just wasn't that engaged so 
wasn't paying too much attention anyway, which feeds back into the 
point you were making originally.

>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.

Interesting - I wonder whether I mightn't have had the same response 
if I hadn't got sucked into Chalion so completely. There was one 
scene at the end I thought slightly lame, and it was the 
heading-for-cliche-romance style that annoyed me. Although I can't 
think of a single complaint I have about Bujold's writing style in 
the Miles books.

To broaden this slightly, I don't think there are that many writers 
in this genre that I do appreciate primarily for their writing style 
- Patricia McKillip being the obvious exception.  Just finished _In 
the Forests of Serre_, btw, which I really liked, but didn't love. 
This is still very nebulous, but my feeling was that the elements of 
Russian folk-tale, which were a wonderful basis for the story, 
somehow seemed to become a bit colourless, though elegant, and even 
fun at times.  I have no idea if this makes the tiniest bit of sense 
to anyone else...


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